Ohio State Tabbed as Preseason Favorite in 2014 ECAC Lacrosse
CENTERVILLE, Mass. – After a season in which they captured their first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Lacrosse Tournament Championship, the Ohio State University Buckeyes have been chosen as the favorite to win the 2014 ECAC Lacrosse regular season title. The Buckeyes were selected as the preseason No. 1 by the ECAC Lacrosse head coaches in the 2014 Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Coming off its third consecutive appearance in the ECAC semifinals, Fairfield University was picked to finish second, while the United States Air Force Academy garnered a third-place selection. Bellarmine University was tabbed to finish fourth and the University of Michigan rounded out the voting in fifth place.
Ohio State, ranked No. 14 in the USILA Preseason Coaches’ Poll and No. 9 in the Warrior Media Preseason Top 20, enters the 2014 season on the heels of the program’s first NCAA Tournament win in five seasons. Head Coach Nick Myers is entering his sixth season at the helm of the Buckeyes and returns 34 members of last year’s championship team. On offense, junior midfielder Jesse King (Vitoria, British Columbia) is back for Ohio State after finishing second on the team in points in 2013 with 32 goals and 23 assists. Sophomore Carter Brown (Bel Air, Md.) and junior Turner Evans (Peterborough, Ontario) will also carry much of the offensive load after they each produced over 30 points a season ago.
Senior captain Greg Dutton (Timonium, Md.) will be called upon to anchor the Buckeye defensive corps. Dutton ranked among the nation’s best in saves per game (9.73, No. 40), save percentage (.523, No. 36) and goals against average (8.96, No. 16). Ohio State finished the 2013 season ranked No. 13 in the country in scoring defense, giving up an average of 8.82 goals per game. Senior captain Joe Meurer (Towson, Md.) will be tasked with keeping the opposition away from Dutton after leading the Buckeyes with 17 caused turnovers during his junior season.
Head Coach Andy Copelan enters his sixth season at Fairfield in search of a fourth-straight trip to the ECAC Tournament. The Stag attack will be centered around senior Jordan Greenfield (Dover, Mass.), who led the team with 34 goals and 42 points last season and ranked in the top-50 in all of NCAA Division I Lacrosse with a 1.20 goals per game average (No. 47). Juniors Colin McLinden (Madison, N.J.) and Tristan Sperry (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) each tallied over 20 points as sophomores and are poised for breakout seasons.
Defensively, the Stags return two of their top cover men from a year ago in senior captains Toby Armour (New Haven, Conn.) and Greg Perraut (Bethesda, Md.). Armour caused a team-high 14 turnovers in 2013, while Perraut caused eight turnovers and collected 19 groundballs. Fellow senior captain Jack Murphy (Cohasset, Mass.) is set to have another solid year in goal for Fairfield. Murphy was in the national top-30 in saves per game (11.00, No. 25), goals against average (9.66 No. 26) and save percentage (.532, No. 28) while playing every second of every game in between the pipes last season.
Air Force heads into the 2014 season with one of the most potent offensive units in the ECAC. The Falcons scored 174 goals last season and will return their top-six contributors from 2013. Seniors Mike Crampton (Kinnelon, N.J.) (53 pts.), Tommy McKee (Holt, Mich.)(33 points), Erik Smith (Golden, Colo.) (30 points), Kyle Cassady (Upper Arlington, Ohio)(20 points) junior Keith Dreyer (Malvern, Pa.) (36 points) and sophomore Christopher Allen (Hillsborough, N.J.) (22 points) combined for 194 points last season, as Air Force had the No. 23-ranked scoring offense in the nation (10.69 goals per game).
The Falcons were also in the top-30 nationally in caused turnovers per game (7.71, No. 27), thanks in large part to sophomore Alex Warden (Glen Mills, Pa.) (19 caused turnovers), senior Matt Puleo (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) (17 caused turnovers) and junior Kyle O’Brien (Denver, Colo.) (15 caused turnovers). The trio will lead a defensive unit that will need to play well in the early stages of the season, as the Falcons will be calling upon young goalkeepers Doug Gouchoe (Concord, Mass.), Brett Dadiego (Baldwin, N.Y.) and Mitch Rose (Garnet Valley, Pa.) to replace recent graduate Austin Fox, who played 95% of Air Force’s games in goal.
Bellarmine finished the 2013 season with its first .500 record since 2010 and will look to use a similar philosophy of defense-first to attain even better results in 2014. The Knights boasted the nation’s eighth-ranked scoring defense last season (8.07 goals against per game) and averaged 7.93 caused turnovers per game. With the departure of All-American goalkeeper Dillon Ward, Bellarmine will turn to senior Will Haas (Westerville, Ohio) to make a seamless transition into the starting role. Junior Bobby Schmitt (Louisville, Ky.) will look to repeat his outstanding sophomore season after causing 26 turnovers and raking in 56 groundballs. Schmitt also chipped in with six goals and eight assists in 2013. The offense will run through senior Cameron Gardner (Calgary, Alta.), who is the Knights’ top scoring threat after notching 26 goals and 31 points a year ago.
Michigan looks to utilize a young nucleus of talent to make a splash in the ECAC this season. The Wolverines return All-ECAC Rookie team selections Kyle Jackson (Sarnia, Ontario) and Mike Hernandez (Piedmont, Calif.) in 2014 after stellar freshman campaigns. Jackson was the team’s leading scorer with 17 goals and nine assists for 26 points, while Hernandez also broke the 20-point plateau with 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points. Juniors Will Meter (Beverly Hills, Mich.) and David McCormack (Terrace Park, Ohio) will be expected to facilitate the offense after netting 10 and 11 goals, respectively last season.
On the defensive side, the Maize and Blue return two of their top defenders in sophomore Chase Brown (Annapolis, Md.) (29 groundballs, 13 caused turnovers) and redshirt senior J.D. Johnson (Malibu, Calif.) (25 groundballs, 13 caused turnovers) to help support the team’s new goalkeeper. Head Coach John Paul look to senior Bobby Riso (North Potomac, Md.), sophomore Mike D’Alessio (Eastchester, N.Y.) and freshman Robbie Zonino (Berwyn, Pa.) to earn the starting nod in goal.
|1. Ohio State University|
|2. Fairfield University|
|3. United States Air Force Academy|
|4. Bellarmine University|
|5. University of Michigan|