During the first week of April I put together a list of teams that had so far impressed and also disappointed at the Division I level.
The two teams that I thought impressed in the early part of the 2013 season were the Providence Friars and the Holy Cross Crusaders. At the time I put the list together Providence was 7-5 while Holy Cross was 6-5. The Friars ended up finishing the season at 8-8 and the Crusaders finished 7-8.
The Providence Friars were playing 2013 under new head coach Chris Gabrielli. They started the season by winning five straight games before dropping the next three contests in a row. The Friars then won three of their final eight games of 2013. Considering the Friars went 2-12 in 2012, their 8-8 record in 2013 was amazing. It was amazing the difference a new head coach can make in a team and in a program. Seeing the underclassman on this squad contribute last season and the recruits that Coach Gabrielli has coming in, the future is bright in Providence.
The Holy Cross Crusaders won two more games in 2013 then they did in 2012. The Crusaders finished 2013 at 7-8 and 5-10 in 2012. This was the second full year with head coach Jim Morrissey at the helm. He served as an interim head coach during the 2011 season. The 2013 season in my mind was their break out year. The highlight of the 2013 season was the win over Navy at Citi Field in New York. The Crusaders played like a different team in 2013 and they showed some promise for the future. If they can keep bringing in solid recruits they can easily make some noise in the Patriot League in the future.
Teams that disappointed in the early part of the 2013 season were the UMass Minutemen, Bryant Bulldogs, Fairfield Stags, and the Harvard Crimson. When I put the list together here were their respective records: UMass 5-6, Bryant 3-8, Fairfield 6-5, and Harvard 4-6.
In UMass’ defense they started the season solid with three straight wins, including a huge non-conference win against North Carolina. After that North Carolina game they began to stumble a bit. I understand they had some injuries, the biggest one being Will Manny. They also were replacing their goalie and a few other key pieces from a 15-1 team in 2012. I just don’t understand how a team like UMass, with the recruits they bring in, can win four out of their final twelve games. I know they will reload for 2014 and I hope they will find that magic from the 2012 season.
The Bryant Bulldogs lost their first seven games of the 2013 season. Luckily they were able to win the Northeast Conference which allowed them to gain a berth into the NCAA tournament despite going 8-11. The 2013 record is a far cry from their 2012 record of 14-4. I understand this was their first year eligible for the NCAA tournament at the Division I but they played a similar schedule in 2012 and they had more success. Knowing Coach Pressler this will be a year that is looked back on as a stepping stone to greater success with the Bryant lacrosse program.
The Fairfield Stags had some big shoes to fill in 2013. The 2012 squad went 12-4 and ended the season losing in the ECAC Championship game. The Stags were inconsistent in the early part of the 2013 season put things together during the middle of the season and then stumbled a bit at the end of the season. A couple of key losses during the 2013 season would be the loss to Hofstra at home and the home loss to Bellarmine. All their other losses were to teams that went to the NCAA tournament. I wouldn’t call an 8-7 season a disappointment but after going 12-4 in 2012 I was expecting the same or better out of the Stags in 2013.
The Harvard Crimson finished the 2013 season just as they finished the 2012 season with a 6-8 record. The first six games in 2013 saw the Crimson trade losses and wins, going three and three in their first six contests. Then they won three of their final eight games in 2013. The biggest win of the 2013 season was the over time win against Penn. It just seems disappointing to me that with the talent of the recruits they are bringing in they can’t get more then six wins in a season. They also have only qualified once for the Ivy League tournament in its short history. Their have been big expectations placed on Harvard the last few years, I guess we are just waiting for them to live up to those expectations. Let’s hope that 2014 is the year for the Crimson.