By Matt Noonan
We’re a few days into the final month of the regular season for NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse, which seems hard to fathom. But luckily, there is still plenty of lacrosse to be played – don’t worry, the season is not over yet!
However, I believe there are a few teams – may be more than a few? – that we should certainly keep our eyes on down the stretch and possibly next month once the postseason begins.
Yet, before we look too far down the road, allow me to share the five teams I’ll be watching this month.
Salisbury University: I believe the Sea Gulls are the best team in Division III. But that’s my opinion.
Salisbury secured 23 first-place votes for this week’s United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) D-III Top 20 Poll after capping the second month with three big wins over Colorado College, Whittier College, and Stevenson University.
Their most recent matchup with Stevenson was a challenging one, which saw the Mustangs outscore the Sea Gulls, 5-3 in the third quarter (Salisbury led 9-4 at the break).
The Sea Gulls will certainly be challenged over the next few weeks with upcoming matchups against a pair of ranked teams, including Christopher Newport, which secured the second position on this week’s USILA Top 20 Poll after checking in fourth one week ago. Neither team has dropped a game this spring, so their matchup next Saturday, April 16 could feature a pair of unbeaten squads.
Christopher Newport: The Captains looked impressive in their last outing, beating Williams College by a score of 15-2.
The non-conference meeting with the Ephs was highlighted by a career-high 18 saves by Zac Hanway. Andrew Cook tallied six goals, which is the most any member of the team has recorded against a nationally-ranked opponent.
Christopher Newport will compete later today against Southern Virginia University before turning its attention to Salisbury, along with the University of Mary Washington and Colorado College.
The Captains have scored five wins this season against nationally-ranked foes and will certainly look to continue their momentum over the next few weeks.
Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears head into this evening’s meeting with Bates College riding a nine-game winning streak.
Bowdoin has won five New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchups, along with a pair of regional victories over Babson College and Western New England.
I believe the Polar Bears are the best team in the NESCAC, however, I am interested to see how they do against Tufts University later this month. But given the way they have played these last few weeks; I find it hard to see this team losing its current momentum down the stretch.
Keep an eye on Will Byrne, a sophomore from Darrien, Connecticut, that tied the school’s single-game program record with 11 points (five points and six assists) last month against Western New England.
RPI: The Engineers have certainly bounced back following a 12-9 setback to Williams last month with a pair of wins, including a 13-12 victory last weekend against RIT.
Cooper Urban concluded his team’s meeting with the Tigers with three goals and three assists while Joseph Perry recorded 23 saves.
The win over RIT provided RPI with the top spot in the Liberty League (LL) with a 3-0 record (the Engineers currently boast a 9-1 overall record).
RPI has certainly been on my radar this spring by commencing its current campaign with seven-straight wins. They will certainly face some challenges down the stretch, beginning next Saturday with a big matchup with Union College.
Union College: The Dutchmen have scored some impressive wins thus far, including recent victories over Middlebury College, St. Lawrence University, and Tufts.
Their next three matchups will certainly tell us more about a team that I believe can compete for both a conference crown and national championship.
Union will visit St. John Fisher College this afternoon (face-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.) and RIT this Saturday, April 9.
Keep your eyes on goalie Dan Donahue, who was recently named the Liberty League’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this spring.