What’s better than watching the top seeded team get upset? Or seeing a powerhouse ultimately come crashing down in the finals?
Below are my personal predictions as to who has shots at seeing postseason action this season in Baltimore. I’m not saying all these teams, or any of these teams, will make it. I’m not saying others won’t. But based on underdog criteria I will outline below, these schools have something to prove:
The Mountainhawks are my #1 underdog, mainly because they thoroughly impressed me last year. First, so everyone understands, I’m torn in my opinion of Lehigh. Though they impressed me I still think they are a lower caliber than Duke. It had to be said.
However, they had the powerhouse of Loyola (Md) added to their conference last year. The Hawks put up a fight against the Greyhounds, and though they lost, it was a real learning curve. I expect Lehigh to be ready for even higher caliber lacrosse in 2015, and hope they prove my broken opinion wrong.
Lehigh had one of the best defenses in the nation in 2014, and have five team leaders returning for their senior performances. A source close to the team feels very strongly these 5 will take Lehigh deep in the postseason.
Patrick Corbett – From Canada (Ontario) had 37 points (33 goals) last year, recovered 26 ground balls, scored 7 extra-man goals, and has ten different hat trick games in his college career.
Daniel Taylor – 2014 All-American, this offensive powerhouse led the team and league with 76 points and shot 41.2% (47-of-114). Having grown up in Calgary, Alberta lacrosse is in his blood.
Kurtis Kaunus – in 2014, the Lehigh Valley native went 2nd team All-American. He recorded 20 goals and 8 assists, but my source thinks his performances will also skyrocket in 2015.
Lukas Mikelinich – All-League Defenseman in 2014, the defensive spider man recovered 37 ground balls and caused 18 turnovers. He missed his junior year, and will get a final season with the Mountainhawks as a “super-senior.”
Matt Poillon – Three-time All-American as a goalie, has been known to stand tough and play through injuries. Had surgery over the offseason, but is expected to fully succeed in 2015.
They had something to prove last year, that they are good guys who messed up under their coach. Big Red needed to re-establish its reputation, and show the country they could correct their wrongs.
This year, Cornell has something bigger to prove, to themselves that they can go the whole way after coming so close in 2014 (Elite Eight).
Four new captains will lead the Big Red army into the harsh jungle their 2015 season lineup is.
In the first half of the season, Cornell will face Maryland, Syracuse, Binghamton, U.Albany, and Virginia. The second half of their schedule shows Hofstra and Princeton who are also worthy opponents.
The four commanding officers recently named are Connor Buczek, Matt Donovan, Dan Lintner and Jordan Stevens.
Connor Buczek – Named the 2014 Team Offensive MVP, he was also a 2014 All-American and Ivy-League Player of the Year. He also participated at First Team All-Ivy.
Matt Donovan – Named the 2014 Team MVP, he was also an All-American and All-Ivy player. He led the team in both points (58) and assists (23).
Dan Lintner – Named an Honorable Mention All-American and Second Team All-Ivy, Lintner tallied up 10 hat trick games and was 7th in the nation for goals per game with 2.94.
Jordan Stevens – Named the Team Defensive MVP, Stevens was Honorable Mention All-American, as well as First Team All-Ivy.
These four captains and their squad have a death trap of a schedule in 2015, but with increased shot opportunities, they’ll acquire more goals leading to W’s.
College Park, MD
After falling short in the Final Four to Notre Dame, Maryland will most definitely be a semifinal participant again this year.
They have an easy first half to their 2015 season; it’s not until the 2nd half that they’ll have worrisome opponents in Penn State, Loyola, Ohio State, and Johns Hopkins.
Team awards were appropriately handed down, and I expect to see more from these players this year:
Mike Chanenchuk – Team MVP and led the team in points, goals and assists. First Team All-American, best known for his 2014 clock-dying, game-winning shot against Cornel in the Elite Eight.
Michael Ehrhardt – Splits Team MVP Award with Chanenchuk. First Team All-American and accumulated 69 ground ball recoveries and caused 28 turnovers.
Matt Rambo – 2014 Offensive MVP
Niko Amato – 2014 Defensive MVP
An obvious choice for underdogs, Denver lost to Duke in the semifinals last year in one of the closest matches of the postseason (by in-game play).
However, Coach Bill Tierny and Asst. Matt Brown (Canada) seem to be a dynamic duo, coming up with new and creative offenses, while strengthening their defense (which is where they fell short in the 2014 postseason in my opinion).
In 2015 preseason polls, seven different players were named All-Americans (on different levels) and the team No. 1.
When is the last time you saw 19 different US states and 4 different regions of Canada represented on one team? States include:
New York (Upstate and Long Island)
This is a deadly team loaded with knowledge, experience, and a wide variety of playing styles. Their most definitely a threat to be reckoned with in 2015.
The thing about big, established programs is that they always find a way to be good. They may lose great players to senior year graduation or some may think they can’t do well following a championship run.
Maryland and Denver should be confident in their abilities because they are established programs, such as I speak of. No matter the year, they’ll always find a way to stay strong and make postseason advances.
Lehigh and Cornell are smaller programs. They are still established, but they are also just beginning to adjust to the NCAA’s conference realignment. Once the transition pains are over, I expect they’ll only grow further (esp. Lehigh). I expect to see Lehigh in the Elite Eight at least this year, potentially the Final Four, but I don’t think they’ll go the whole way.
I think Maryland will show in the Final Four again and it’ll be one or the other between them and Denver.
Cornell is my oddball favorite. They’ll either make a fantastic impression in 2015, or their season will plummet and it will become a rebuild year.