In 2020, college lacrosse remains the epicenter of the sport. It’s where legends are made. Where young men and women all over the country strive for greatness alongside their teammates and coaches with the hope for a special season.
Whether teams have storied traditions like Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Maryland, Cornell, and other blue blood programs or they have existed for less than a decade, everything is on the line once the season officially starts on February 1st.
There is so much to discuss at all levels in men’s and women’s D1, D2, D3, JUCO, and Club, but for now I’ll focus on the D1 men and what should be a rollercoaster season. 75 teams will chase their dreams on the road to Memorial Day and will showcase the sport at its best when teams play creative up and down lacrosse in the second year of the shot clock.
Expect The Unexpected
There are upsets every college season, but I think fans can expect upsets to become the norm in 2020. There are elite level players on almost every team now and the gap between the top and mid-tier teams is smaller than ever before. The Top 20 rankings will look very different in May than they do right now. I live for those games where the unranked team plays their hearts out and defeats a lacrosse powerhouse like when High Point took down #2 Duke early last season.
Social Media Surge
As athletic departments continue to shift their focus to using social media to promote their teams, there will be a plethora of high quality videos and pictures from teams’ sidelines this season. With the recent success of LSU Football producing dramatic cinematic style videos of Joe Burrow and the Tigers’ National Championship run, college lacrosse teams will emulate and put out as much content as possible. More exposure equals more fans coming to games and also serves as the best recruiting tool available.
More highlights, interviews, and behind the scenes content will be available for young players to watch then ever before and lacrosse will continue to grow because of it.
Merrimack and LIU join the Division 1 ranks from Division 2 and could be playoff contenders in their first seasons. Merrimack won the Division 2 National Championship last season and has a roster of players eager to prove they have Division 1 talent and that knows what it takes to win in May.
Super Seniors/Pro Drafts Stock
It is the Seniors last go at leading their teams to the promised land. Some Seniors may not have played much up until this point, but they could have special seasons as they make the most of their last chance to play in their school’s uniform. Also, with the MLL and PLL drafts coming up in a few months, Seniors will have a chance to raise their stock for a serious chance to play at the next level.
With at-large playoff bids being more scarce than ever, winning their conference to get an automatic qualifier will be at the top of most schools’ list of season goals. Conference games will be hell in a cell type fights to the finish as teams will do anything to have a chance at a conference title that could lead them to NCAA playoff glory.
The Return Of #22
Chase Scanlan will wear the legendary #22 worn by Gary Gait, Charlie Lockwood, and of course the Powell brothers for Syracuse. Scanlan had 58 points at Loyola last season where he made spectacular goals look easy, but will have a new opportunity with the Orange. #22 will once again be making jaw dropping plays in the Carrier Dome.
The 3rd defenseman, the volunteer assistant coach who watches hours of film, faceoff wings, the athletic trainers making sure the players are ready to play, and the teammates who go crazy on the sideline cheering for every big groundball, hit, save, and goal will be more important than ever before. They will be the beating heart of their teams and won’t get recognized with awards, but will be the driving forces behind their teams’ wins. Role players will step up when it matters most.
I hope for another big year of Sportscenter Top 10 plays, new lacrosse fans being made, the creative boundaries of the sport being pushed to the limit, and players having fun with their friends making memories that they will look back on for the rest of their lives.
Who will make the playoffs?
Who will be the surprise team of 2020?
I think the usual top teams will remain dominant, while rising stars like Penn State, Rutgers, Penn, High Point will have a chance at playoff runs. Be on the lookout for programs like Hobart, Delaware, Cleveland State, Jacksonville, Utah, and of course my Canisius Golden Griffins to have break out seasons.
Let us know what other potential storylines you think will emerge during the season and who will raise the trophy on Memorial Day.
College lacrosse is back.