Yesterday, we unveiled a few NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse teams to keep an eye on this upcoming season.
Now, let’s switch gears to the men’s side, however, let’s highlight some teams that are starting to take that “next step” in their journey to competing with RIT, Salisbury University, and Tufts University for the national crown.
All three teams (listed above) will once again be in the mix of the 2022 national championship — the same being be said for Christopher Newport, York College, Cabrini University, and the University of Lynchburg — but there is a slew of other programs that could certainly surprise some small college lacrosse fans in 2022.
Babson College: The Beavers’ 2021 season concluded in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament – the Green and White entered their postseason match with Tufts riding a five-game winning streak, which included a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament championship.
Babson averaged 15.17 goals per game and should once again be the favorite in the NEWMAC — sure, they will be challenged by Clark University, Coast Guard Academy, and Springfield College, but coach Rocky Batty will welcome back some key members of the 2021 squad next spring, including goalie Mac Mowat and Ryan Donovan, who led the squad in assists (eight) and points (18).
Centre College: The Colonels enjoyed perhaps their best season in program history, capturing both the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) regular season and tournament crown while winning the program’s initial national postseason win with a 12-11 victory over Denison University.
Can Centre continue its success in 2022? That is the question, but perhaps they can, especially with some key members of its 2021 squad returning, including goalie Wills McCutcheon and Will Hubbs. Both student-athletes received end-of-year honors from the SAA while coach Grant Zimmerman was tabbed the SAA’s Coach of the Year.
Colorado College: Coach Sean Woods and the Tigers came close to advancing to the NCAA Division III semifinals this past May but lost to RIT in the quarterfinals.
Despite the setback, CC was a team to watch (and yes, follow) in 2021 as they ended their season with 13 victories, which is tied for the fourth-most in a single season. The Tigers earned its eighth trip in program history to the national tournament and scored a pair of wins against Centre (19-6) and Transylvania University (20-12).
This season, Woods won’t be pacing the sidelines as he accepted the head coaching role at Amherst College, but CC will be in good hands with Mike Horowitz, who played lacrosse at Muhlenberg College, but recently spent time as an assistant with Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Anders Erickson returns for his senior season — the Lone Tree, Colorado native led the team last spring with 86 points on 42 goals and 44 assists to go with 105 shots and 23 ground balls. Winston Chodnicki is also back and will be spotted at midfield taking faceoffs.
Denison University: A new era of Big Red lacrosse will begin next spring with Eric Koch being named the new head coach – the former Washington & Lee assistant head coach replaces Mike Caravana, who this past May that he would be stepping down and departing a program he oversaw for 28 seasons.
Denison captured its 19th North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) crown with a 12-10 win over Kenyon College but saw their run toward a national title conclude in the opening round with a 12-11 setback to Centre.
The Big Red produced eight wins in 10 games this past spring but will once again be in the mix for not just an NCAC crown, but also a deep playoff run.
Camden Bowdy returns for his team’s 2022 campaign and will certainly be a player to watch after leading the team with 23 assists. He established a new single-game record in April by tallying 12 assists in his team’s 29-2 win over Wabash College.
Hope College: The Flying Dutchmen captured their second Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) this past spring to go with their first-ever NCAA Tournament win (Hope defeated Benedictine University in the opening round).
Hope has become a team to watch in the Midwest as they have won at least 10 games or more in four of their last five seasons.
Jack Radzville will be the player to watch in 2022 after producing a career-best 104 points on 56 goals and 48 assists to go with 39 ground balls and seven caused turnovers.
Illinois Wesleyan: Last season, the Spartans did what no team in program history has done: advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.
Illinois Wesleyan saw it’s impressive 2021 campaign conclude with a 30-5 setback to Salisbury, but their momentum should continue next spring, especially with some key members of their 15-win squad returning, including Rick Smith, who led the unit with 74 points on 49 goals and 25 assists.
Connor Kiichle returns, as well — the Vancouver, Washington native placed second on the team in points with 66 while Blake Muschewske is back after finishing second on the team with 21 caused turnovers (Jesse Prettner also recorded 21 caused turnovers last season but has graduated).
Illinois Wesleyan concluded its previous campaign one win shy of matching their program record for wins in a single season with 16 (the Green and White won 16 games in three consecutive seasons: 2017, 2018, and 2019).
UMass Boston: The 2021 season was one to remember for the Beacons, which not only captured their first-ever Little East Conference (LEC) crown but also made their debut in the NCAA Tournament.
Gavin Admirand recently became the program’s first student-athlete to secure preseason All-American honors from Lacrosse Magazine — the Mansfield, Massachusetts native led UMass Boston last spring with 54 goals and 68 points while placing second on the team with 23 assists.
Admirand will be one of a few Beacons to watch in 2022, but the biggest question facing UMass Boston heading into a new season is can they repeat as conference champions?
Other teams to watch: Endicott College, Wesleyan University, Western New England, Transylvania University, Union College, Babson College, Coast Guard Academy, SUNY Cortland, John Carroll, Gettysburg College, and St. John Fisher