The Great Conference Realignment of 2013 has now subsided, so we can get to focus how things will be shaping up on campus this fall. Pieces of their respective puzzles have had the summer to recharge their batteries and set their goals for 2014. It is almost had to believe that most early fall meetings have already happened and off-season practice begins this coming week on some campuses. Focusing first on the new stars of 2014, we begin with looking at the ECAC. The Conference lost Denver and Loyola, but is ready to show that it is a power conference within the college ranks.
Matt Puleo – Def – Air Force
Puleo started every game for the Academy and coming into his senior year will be looked at to be the foundation for a productive season. In fact, he is the only player to have started each game for the Falcons. Service Academies are noted for their strength and leadership. To be successful in his senior campaign, the Falcons are going to need someone to step up and take the reigns. Only two penalty minutes on the season for a total of 1.5 minutes means he spends a lot of time on the field. Also Puleo was good statistically in caused turnovers and ground balls.
Jordan Greenfield – A – Fairfield
Greenfield and Snow took a majority of the Stags shots this past season. In fact, combined the two had over 200, while no one else on the team was closer than thirty shots close to either one of them. Snow graduates, so the load of the offense, and defense pressure for that matter, will fall on his shoulders. Fairfield has done a good job of moving forward, so the production of Greenfield will likely correlate to the success they find this season in Connecticut.
Joe Zonino – G – Hobart
Hobart’s production is interesting. Add any two players up on the roster and their goal totals will not match Alex Love’s goal production. So naturally we should start there, right? The roster is loaded with youth, so the goal tending position needs to be the foundation for progress in Geneva. Senior Joe Zonino needs to be the anchor to move the team forward in a league that is asking for someone to lead the pack. Just above a fifty percent save percentage will not equal great success, but there is light in this tunnel. If he can replicate games like the 18 save performance against Syracuse, the youth should be able to grow during the season. The parts are there for the Statesmen, they just need to put it all together.
Kyle Jackson – M – Michigan
Kyle Jackson, your freshman year was good but how will you be able to keep moving forward. As a fan of his game, the speedster was able to get his hands free and produce for the Wolverines. Watching him against Hopkins last spring, it was hard to believe that he was a freshman. His speed sets him apart from most of the players he goes up against. He has a great shot, willing to be the sandpaper that the team needs, and sells out for ground balls. Being the new program on the block is certainly going to be tough to produce, but I think that he will be moving his way onto the All-American list this upcoming season.
Jesse King – M – OSU
Greg Dutton – G – OSU
As the returning champion, I will give OSU two mentions. Jesse King is the high scoring midfielder and Greg Dutton is the last line of defense. King might be an easy choice here. Sixty points, as a midfielder, is exceptional. He is equally adept at scoring and assisting. Having Logan Schuss off the roster, it might be more difficult for him to produce. After watching the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament in 2013, one is able to see that he will be a focal point of the Buckeye offense. Could be less productive statistically, but he will be the center of attention for sure.
Dutton cemented himself as the starter this past year and should be the backbone of the defense for the Buckeyes. Going into his senior season, he needs be more consistent in his production and leave Columbus as one of the best stoppers to don the Scarlet and Grey. I think he will be even more a household name if OSU could use his outlets to spur some easy offense on the other end. He could be just as good a weapon on offense as he is on defense.
Haydon Miller – G – Bellarmine
Max Zandstra – G – Bellarmine
Dillion Ward was quietly one of the most dependable goalies in the nation last year. His nearly 67% save percentage will be sorely missed on campus. The battle is now between two underclassmen. Haydon Miller, a sophomore, and Max Zandstra, a junior, will vie to be the next backstop for Bellarmine. If one of those can cement themselves as the goalie of the future, the Knights will have a foundation to grow on for the next few seasons.
The ECAC has to do some damage early and often this coming season to make sure that there is no second guessing the talent on conference rosters. Denver’s recent Final Four visit and Loyola’s National Championship need to be replaced by a team in conference.