- ReLaxing Luke
Colonial Athletic Association 2019 Projections
In this article, we will be going over my projected order of finish in the Colonial Athletic Association. This article does not take into account how far a team may go in the postseason. It is only focused on how a team will finish in their conference during the regular season and conference tournament, if they qualify for a spot. Enjoy!
The Dragons had a rough 2018. They scored 135 goals while allowing a total of 162. They lose their best player in Matthew Varian (28 goals, 21 assists). The good news is they return attackman Reid Bowering (31 goals, 7 assists) and defenseman Sean Quinn (17 groundballs, 4 turnovers). Those two can help lead the team to a better spot, but overall, I’m underwhelmed by Drexel; therefore, they win the bottom slot in my projections.
The Stags limped out of 2018 with a 4-11 record. They averaged a low 8.8 goals per game while allowing 10.6. Clearly, you will lose 11 games with stats like that. The odd thing is the offense had a great .476% man up conversion rate while the defense only allowed a .270% man down conversion rate. So the special teams do deserve credit! A killer for the struggling Stags offense, is that it loses its two best players in Colin Burke (17 goals, 23 assists) and Joe Rodrigues (30 goals, 8 assists). Jack Brennan (16 goals, 11 assists) must shoulder the load if the offense is to improve. The biggest issue for the Stags is that they got crushed out of halftime. That is the best way to lose a game. In the third quarter alone, Fairfield lost the scoring battle 30-47. It’s as if the other teams made better adjustments, Fairfield didn’t adjust at all, or if the players were just too tired by that point. Whatever the reason, until Fairfield can win the third quarter or at least keep it close, they will continue to have 4-11 seasons.
The 2018 Blue Hens had an impressive offense that was overshadowed by its average defense. Delaware averaged 10.57 goals per game while allowing 10.50. It will be up to junior Zach Strassner (16 groundballs, 2 turnovers) to lead the defense towards a better season. If the defense improves, this would be a huge help to Charlie Kitchen (37 goals, 14 assists) and Dean DiSimone (24 goals, 12 assists). One thing that helps the Blue Hens is they are well-disciplined. The blue and yellow only had 152 turnovers and 34 total penalty minutes. Keeping out of the penalty box and holding onto the ball is a great way to help out a defense that isn’t your strongest point.
The Hofstra Pride come in off a 6-8 season where they scored 120 goals while allowing 110. The Pride deserve credit for winning the ground ball battle 332 to 308 while having a clearing percentage of .901%. The one problem for the Pride is they lose their three best offensive players: Ryan Tierney (27 goals, 22 assists), Jimmy Yanes (24 goals, 11 assists), and Dylan Alderman (14 goals, 13 assists). Someone will have to step up on the offensive end. What I do like about the returning players is short stick defensive midfielder Mark Ellis (1 goal, 25 groundballs, 8 turnovers) comes back for one final year. Ellis is one of the better short stick defenders in the country and bolsters a strong defensive unit. There weren’t too many strong offenses in the CAA last year, so if Hofstra can keep their strong defense and have one or two guys step up on offense, I’m confident they will at least make the CAA tournament.
Towson is a few years removed from a dream season where they marched into NCAA championship weekend. In 2018, they took a step back with a 7-8 record. The bad news is they only averaged 8.93 goals per game and lose their top scorer in Jean-Luc Chetner (17 goals, 15 assists). They also turned the balled over 212 times while being outscored in every quarter but the second (35-32). The good news is the Tigers return Timmy Monahan (15 goals, 13 assists) and Alex Woodall (.609% on faceoffs). That should help in terms of improving the offense. The defense will be good again as it returns Gray Bodden (22 groundballs, 1 turnover) and other contributors. The one knock on the defense is the man down conversion percentage was way too high at .462%. For Towson to knock off UMass as top dog, they will have to improve on offense; otherwise, things are looking up for the Tigers.
The Minutemen had an outstanding 2018 season. They went 12-5, won the CAA, and almost beat eventual national champion, Yale, in the first round of the NCAA tourney (lost 13-15). UMass will be favored by many to repeat as conference champs as they return important pieces of an offense that averaged 11.59 goals per game and a defense that allowed 10. The team will have to work hard to bring the goals against average down, along with 231 turnovers. The Minutemen always played hard and it shows in their groundball statistics. They beat their opponents 491 to 434. One question mark is who will replace Buddy Carr (39 goals, 25 assists)? It looks like this honor will go to Jeff Trainor (28 goals, 22 assists): a junior midfielder who has all the intangibles. Again, the defense will need to give up less goals, but there is hope with the return of junior defender Jackson Suboch (23 groundballs). UMass definitely suffered a loss with the loss of Buddy Carr, but they have enough returning pieces that it wouldn’t be shocking to see them repeat as conference champs.