Let’s look at the top 5 teams this year.
The saying, they don’t rebuild, the re-load is true this year. In addition to an already impressive offense, they add:
Randy Staats – Another Onondaga Community College transfer. However did you know he set the record for points and assists at OCC? 295 and 165 respectively in two years. Already in scrimmages, he looks very impressive.
Nicky Galasso – He transferred from UNC and was set to play last year for Syracuse until a preseason injury washed his season away. IF he can stay healthy it will be interesting to see if he can get back to his Freshman form when he tallied 24 Goals, and 32 Assists as a Freshman for UNC.Jordan Evans – Garnering the coveted 22. I have seen Jordan Evans play on the HS level and this kid is good. Add to that the muscle he added in the offseason, and he will be a force to be reckoned with. The only question is with all the other offensive weapons, how much of a factor will Evans be THIS year.
Now with all the positives about Syracuse’s offense, and knowing they’ve got a solid Defense, the only worry is Face-offs. It is a concern Syracuse has had for the past 4 seasons. They try to address it, but they still have not FOCUSSED on it. Last year, they made it to the Championship only winning 42% of the draws which is impressive…on the other hand, they lost to Duke in part because they could not control the draws.
The Blue Devils bring back much of the same group that won the Championship last year…their whole attack unit, their ridiculously good FO man (Brendan Fowler), most of their defense, and goalie. Where Duke lost a step is in their transition game, but like Syracuse, they have a line of good athletes waiting to fill the empty shoes.
There really is not any weakness for Duke. If I had to pick one, I would suggest that typically a Championship caliber team needs to have an excellent goalie. While I think Turri is good, I would not consider him in the top tier. Having a FO guy that wins 65% of the time does take the number of shots Turri faces down. (Turri faced 283 shots with save percentage of 49.8%)
They have had Final Four level talent for years…well talent on the books. However they just can’t seem to put all the pieces together to make it. There is no reason not to think history will repeat itself.
Probably the biggest stretch is Denver being 4. Their preparedness seemed to be exposed in their scrimmage against UNC. They will need to figure things out quick. However it is hard to ignore the fact that they were 58 seconds from making it to their first NCAA Championship game.
They led Syracuse the whole game up until 58 seconds left. Syracuse scored 2 goals to snatch the victory away from a Denver team that looked VERY good.
This year will be a different looking team. The loss of 4 of their top 5 in points certainly hurts. However Denver returns Wes Berg on attack, lots of middies, and Jamie Faus in goal. The biggest concern for Denver is not their offense, or defense but FO. The loss of Carrero will be hard to replace.
Side note…how does Colin Siracuse not go to Syracuse?
Albany is being overlooked in my opinion by many. They run a fast exciting offense that many times left their defense open. The Thompson trio is fun to watch if you are not their opponent as they make goals pretty.
Blaze Riordan faced alot of shots (405) and put up a respectable save percentage of 49.1% as a freshman. With a year under his belt, if Riordan can build upon last year, The Danes have a legit chance.
The struggle they face is the same struggle as all teams but Duke…who will be their go-to Face-off man.
With a solid returning squad, if there was ever a time for Albany to make a run…this is it.