New England D3 Report: Preseason 2016
After a one year hiatus the NED3 report is back. We will be bringing in depth analysis of the D3 scene in New England each and every week. Heading into 2016 its meet the new boss, same as the old boss in the region, the Tufts Jumbos sit atop the mountain. The Jumbos have six consecutive NESCAC titles in their pockets to go along with three National titles (2010, 2014,2015). They bring back plenty of talent and swagger to the party. Amherst, who beat Tufts in regular season play last season, would be my choice to knock the Jumbos off their lofty perch in 2016. We will have a Top 10 each week, three stars and maybe another weekly award as well as some surprises. Here is how I stack’em up to start 2016. As always the rankings have a heavy NESCAC flavor, but other teams from other leagues keep pushing upward.
- Tufts (21-2)- Everyone knows what this program is capable of, can they keep this run going?
On offense preseason POY John Uppgren leads the group. His career numbers are mind blowing, amassing 278 points over the last three seasons. He has gone over 100 pts the last two. Conor Helfrich may be the best FO man in Division 3 lacrosse, he has won 670 faceoffs the last two seasons. Both were drafted by MLL last month as well. Kyle Howard-Johnson emerged last season and may be the best outside shooter in D3. Alex Salazar figures to start in goal once again.
- Amherst (18-3)- Good news is they beat Tufts last season, bad news is they lost to Tufts twice in the post season. Never the less the Lord Jeff’s seem to be the team that can give the Tufts the most issues. Quinn Maroney returns for his SR season to QB the attack. He may be the best distributor of the ball in D3 lacrosse. He had 83 assists on route to a 113 point season in 2015. The Achilles heel for Amherst last season was the faceoff game, as a team they went 233/545 for a 42.7%. If they want to be playing on Memorial weekend this will have to change dramatically.
- Bates (11-6) – Some would say this is a little high for the Bobcats, but they really emerged late last season earning an NCAA bid. Their coming out party was on a cold weeknight at Tufts where they stunned the Jumbos 12-8. Charlie Fay shot 5/10 and was a beast all night. For the season he only made 11 appearances, but had 34g and 6a for 40pts and shot 38%. I had not seen him play before that Tufts game, he looks to be an elite talent, perhaps the best midfielder in the NESCAC this year. Bates may have ambushed some teams last year. That will not be the case this year.
- Western New England (14-6)- Lost a heartbreaker to Endicott in the CCC Final last year. The team will compete for the title once again this year. Coach Klepacki has shown the ability to reload each season. Justin Bard came out of nowhere to be a major factor and one was one of the better attackmen in the CCC last year with 63g, 24a on 38% shooting. Longtime keeper Brandon Body is gone, but no doubt someone is waiting in the wings to take over.
- Middlebury (13-6)- the Panther resurgence continued last season as they returned to the big dance. Jon Broome has led the Panthers offense since his freshman year, he will look to lead this group once again. Although I don’t see them in the Tufts/Amherst caliber, they are certainly one of the better teams in New England
- Williams (9-6)- The Eph’s continued to improve last season, in fact they started out 7-0 before limping home with a 9-6 mark. The top two scorers have graduated, so offense may be an issue.
- Endicott (16-4)- Will fight it out again with Western New England for tops in the CCC. Headline here is Quirk is no longer there. Hagerty has some big shoes to fill. They also lost 6 of their top 8 point men. Colin Bannon is back though, and the Gulls always seem to find elite talent. Goalie Cameron Bell was drafted by Boston in MLL and will lead the defense.
- Keene St (12-5)- The Owls should win Little East once again in a rout. Eastern Ct seems to have taken a step back and there is really no one else that has shown they can compete with Keene St. They scored over 20 goals five different times last season. Open season with home games vs Western NE, RPI and Tufts.
- Wesleyan (9-7)- A solid team without a doubt, but the Cards didn’t have any signature wins last season.
- Babson (11-7)- May be going out on a limb here, but I like the Beavers to supplant Springfield atop the NEWMAC this year. They were able to beat them last year, but fell in championship game for AQ. They seem be gaining on Springfield every year. Spencer Low returns for his Sr season scored 29 goals last year. I like his game in the Boston Box League.
Southwillrise is a voter on the weekly Laxforum Top 20 poll each week in Laxpower.
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