Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference 2019 Projections
In this article, we will be going over my projected order of finish in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. 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!
8. St. Bonaventure
The Bonnies come in last on my projections, not for anything they’ve done wrong, but due to them being a first year program. It’s hard to project a first year program anything higher than last since you haven’t seen how they compare to other conference foes. Good luck with your first season in D1 lacrosse St. Bonaventure!
The Jaspers struggled last year and it showed. When you only score 8.71 goals per game while allowing 11.5, you’re going to have a bad time. Some bright spots from 2018 are that the man down defense was stellar (.184% conversion rate) and the team only had 193 total turnovers. Anything below 200 is pretty good.
I expect both sides to be improved as the offense returns both Parker Giarratana (23 goals, 23 assists) and Luke Hanson (20 goals, 18 assists). If one unknown player steps up and contributes, at a minimum, 15 goals, the offense will be good enough to win some games they lost in 2018. The defense returns Luke Pacher (27 groundballs) for his sophomore year, and one can only expect him to be an upgraded groundball vacuum. Despite all this, unless the Jaspers can show improvement from 2018, and help the three guys out mentioned above, I have them struggling to beat some of the better teams in conference.
Marist’s final record is not completely indicative of their total talent. When I watched film on them, they actually looked pretty good. However, it doesn’t matter how good you look if you still lose most of your games, so I have them down low on my projections. The offense only scored 121 goals in 2018, and I don’t know how much that will improve with the loss of leading scorer Gannon Morrison (28 goals, 26 assists). The Red Foxes do return Joe Tierney (11 goals, 14 assists) at attack though; however, his stats will need to improve significantly if he wants to be “the guy” on offense. I struggled to find any other standouts on the roster returning for 2019, so until some newcomers show out, I’m going to stick with Marist being competitive, but not making the conference tournament.
The Saints had a good offense in 2018, but it was overshadowed by its underwhelming defense. Averaging 10.33 goals per game is great, but when your defense allows 13.33, it doesn’t matter. The good news is the offense should still have a high output as it returns attackmen Chris Robertson (26 goals, 16 assists) and Mike Reilly (18 goals, 10 assists). The reason I have them just missing out is because of the defense. I couldn’t find any true standouts on the roster, and I can’t get the thought of a .50% man down unit out of my head. Unless the defense shows significant improvement, a good Siena offense will not matter.
The Bobcats had a solid 9-6 campaign in 2018, going 6-0 in regular season conference play. The offense was very good—scoring 176 goals is impressive; however, they could be better on the man up, where they only scored .364% of the time. The defense was also good. It only allowed 153 goals in 2018. The team only turned the ball over 199 times as well. Add those factors together, and it’s easy to see why the Bobcats did so well in conference play last year. The reason I have them knocked down to fourth is due to off-the-field issues surrounding the program. I have no inside information, so I cannot say whether things happened or did happen, but I do know that being investigated causes a lot of problems around a program, and it will be a distraction. The team does bring in some leadership with the return of attackmen Foster Cuomo (33 goals, 16 assists) and Jake Tomsik (27 goals, 17 assists), but until I see how well they’ve handled their rough offseason, I have the Bobcats finishing fourth in conference play.
Sadly, I could not get access to the Golden Griffins’ stats for the 2018 season, as they were not on the athletic site; therefore, this projection is basically a shot in the dark. All I know is Canisius struggled to an 8-9 regular season, going 3-3 in conference play, but then got hot. In the MAAC tournament they beat Quinnipiac 11-10 and then crushed Detroit Mercy’s NCAA hopes in a 10-9 overtime victory in the title game. This earned them a play in game against Robert Morris where they ultimately bowed out. I do not know who the best returning players are, but I have confidence that Canisius will at least make the conference tournament. I would not be surprised if they make me look silly and repeat as conference champs, but until then, I have them slotted in at number 3.
Monmouth went 7-8 in 2018 but lost 5 of those games by one goal. The hawks were tough last year—scoring 10.20 goals per game, while allowing 9. The man down was solid with a .310% conversion rate, the team collected 402 groundballs, caused 108 turnovers, and had an outstanding .936% clear rate! One knock on the Hawks is they were only 2-6 at home, which is tough on the home crowd.
One question mark for Monmouth is who will replace Bryce Wasserman (34 goals, 17 assists) on offense? The obvious answer is attackman Griffin Figel (19 goals, 11 assists), but we will have to wait until the season opener to get a clear answer. The defense should be good as it returns Chris Hervada, who had an outstanding freshman season with 38 groundballs. I think the Hawks will turn some of those one goal losses into one goal wins in 2019, which will allow them to surprise some folks and make the conference championship.
1. Detroit Mercy
The Titans made the NCAA tournament a couple years back, and fell to Notre Dame in the first round. I see this as the year where Detroit finally returns. The offense averaged 10.31 goals per game while the defense only allowed 9.38. Those numbers should stay the same or become better as both sides of the field return their key players. The offense returns senior attackman Matthew Vangalen (31 goals, 20 assists) and sophomore attackman Brett Erskine (22 goals, 13 assists). The defense returns Alex Akins (23 groundballs) to cause problems for opposing offenses. All these factors combined make the Titans my favorite to take the MAAC.