Canadians in the NCAA (2012) – Week 2

submitted by Jason Donville

Polar Bear Edition

While much of the north east has been blanketed in cold weather of late, lacrosse season has slowly come to life with a couple of important early season games already in the books. These include Delaware’s upset win over Bucknell and Detroit’s win over Michigan in its inaugural game in Division I. Duke’s Coach Danowski also picked up his 300th career win this week. The women’s schedule is still barely underway but on the men’s side of the ledger, players like Schuss, Houtby, Matisz, Buchanan, Magnan, Leung, Jackson and Keane are showing terrific early season form.  Here’s my recap of the week that was in NCAA lacrosse.

Delaware upsets Bucknell while Ohio State is off to a great start

No.19 Delaware followed up its win over Detroit with an 11 to 10 overtime win over No. 12 Bucknell. Dan Keane (Elora) had a hat trick including the game winner for the Blue Hens. Ohio State has started the season strong with two convincing wins this week. In the first, an 11 to 6 win over Detroit, Logun Schuss (Delta) scored 4 goals and added 2 assists while grabbing 5 GB’s while Jesse King (Victoria) and Brock Sorenson (Peterborough) also added hat tricks each. A few days later, the Buckeyes downed Mercer 15 to 8 with Sorenson scoring a hat trick, Schuss a goal and an assist and Reegan Comeault (Pitt Meadows) adding a pair. Robert Morris won a close one over Bellarmine 9 to 8 with Kyle Matisz (Stoney Creek) scoring 3 goals, 2 assists and grabbing 3 GB’s and a CT in the victory. Rookie Luc Magnan (Pine Falls) grabbed 4 GB’s and Jake Hayes (Calgary) had a hat trick while Kyle Buchanan (Nepean) had a goal, 2 assists and 5 GB’s. Karsen Leung (Victoria) led Bellarmine with 3 goals and an assist, 2 GB’s and a CT. Cameron Mann (Hamilton) picked up 3 goals and an assist in Jacksonville’s 12-10 loss to Towson.

What’s going on in Division II men’s lacrosse this year?

Division II lacrosse had a few lopsided wins to start the year but in this edition of “Canadians in the NCAA” we are going to focus on the year ahead. This means we will look at either “teams to watch” with a decidedly Canadian flavor or individual players that should have a high impact in 2012.  Here are five teams we think look particularly interesting in the season ahead.

Limestone – Enters the year ranked #3 in the USILA Coaches Poll and this team is loaded with guys that can score including Shayne Jackson (Bowmanville), Riley Loewen (Burnaby), Jeremy Serraglio (Coquitlam) and Tyler Baker (Peterborough). These four scored a combined 128 goals in 2011. 

Pfeiffer – Pfeiffer starts the year ranked 10th in the USILA poll. There are 10 Canadians on the Pfeiffer team this year and while many are young, players like James Sheppard (St John), Robert Hope (Peterborough) and Tom Buckley (Edmonton) all put up big numbers in 2011 and should be even stronger this year. However, Pfeiffer also has four freshmen from up north and thus this team is one to watch not just for 2012 but how it evolves into 2013 and 2014.  

Mercyhurst – Given its proximity to the Can/US border, Mercyhurst has always had a significant Canadian connection and 2012 is no different. The defending NCAA Div II champs and pre-season #1 ranked team in Division II lacrosse welcome back Kyle Kallay (Orangeville) who scored 35 goals last year along with Brady Heseltine (Elora) and Zac Reid (St Catharines), both of whom should see more field time this year. Rookies Eric Wales (Burlington) and Ryan McCrory (Whitby) could become impact players as the season progresses.

Lindenwood – New to Division II this year, Lindenwood has nine Canadians on its roster. Jordan McKay (Winnipeg) should lead the team in scoring in 2012 while Sophomore Carter McCracken (Lakefield) will be busy playing midfield and some attack on man-up situations. Two new faces in the Lindenwood roster this year include Graeme Hossack (Port Perry), a freshman who will start at LSM and Joe Roy (West Whitby), a 6”8” medical red shirt freshman who will start at attack.

Lake Erie – Has two strong Canadian returnees in Keegan Bal (Coquitlam) and Trevor Tarte (Amherstburg) and three rookies coming in from Western Canada including Reagan Harding (Saskatoon), MacGregor Johnston (Nanaimo) and Adam Bakular-Evans (Courtenay). Lake Erie Coach Greg Stocks is a Mercyhurst Alum and hails from Nanaimo and is quietly building a quality program in Painesville, Ohio. This program and coach is worth keeping an eye on. 

Players to watch in Men’s Division II action in 2012

Shayne Jackson – The only player in Division II to be nominated for the Tewaaraton last year was Shayne Jackson. Jackson is a great part of Limestone’s offensive chemistry because he is a superb set-up man. Jackson can score if he has too but he might be the best passer in Division II lacrosse and a great compliment to all the off-ball finishers at Limestone.

Chris Cudmore – Cudmore (Whitby) is an excellent LSM and perennial all-star. Mars Hill has seen a number of its stars graduate this past year but with Cudmore controlling the middle, Mars Hill won’t slip that far and might even surprise a few pundits.

Mike Melnychenko – Melnychenko (St Catharines) scored 50 goals as a rookie and should be a horse for Chestnut Hill this year. That said, he won’t sneak up on anyone this year and will receive a lot of attention from top defenders.

Riley Loewen – Scored 54 goals last year and will probably exceed that number in 2012. Unlike some teams with only one goal scorer, Loewen is the best sharpshooter on a team that is loaded with talent and as such, Loewen will be left alone on the off-ball side from time to time. This means he’s going to have another big year.

Jordan McKay – Is Lindenwood’s top gun and should lead the team in scoring again this year. McKay scored 36 goals last year in 17 games and while the competition will be tougher this year, McKay is a year stronger and smarter.

The number of Canadian women playing Division II lacrosse is up 90% this year

The number of Canadian women jumps from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012 which is a 90% increase. The addition of Catawba and Lindenwood to Division II lacrosse helps the numbers but regardless, the growth in the number of women playing lacrosse in the NCAA is a big story. Looking into 2012, there are several players and teams that will be of interest

Limestone – Like the men, Limestone is ranked #3 in the preseason polls. Sarah Oor (Uxbridge) is a big part of the team’s success having scored 25 goals and 29 assists last year in helping lead Limestone to a . Samantha Cock (Terra Cotta) should see more action.

Lindenwood – There are four Canadians playing for Lindenwood and this team could surprise in its debut in Division II. Justine Groothuis (Kitchener) is the star here while rookies Lindsey Palmer (Whitby), Jordyn Constance (Calgary) and Meghan Chase (Sherwood Park) will all vie for playing time.

Catawba – Also new to Division II lacrosse, Catawba has three Canadians on their roster that know how to play the game. Catawba’s schedule is tough but Kim McConnery (Welland), Juliana Conte (Hampton) and Jessica Leroux (Ajax) can handle it. Season one – bring it on!

Players to watch In Division II Women’s Lacrosse

Sarah Oor – Is the best Canadian player in Division II lacrosse and should follow up her strong rookie season with another big year in 2012.

Jill Dixon – Dixon (Fenwick) had a good season last year with Notre Dame of Ohio scoring 8 goals and 7 assists in 14 games. Expect those numbers to go up in 2012.

Justine Groothuis – Is the top scorer with Lindenwood and could be one of the top scorers in Div II lacrosse this year. Sadly, Groothuis is a senior so we are probably only going to have one season to watch her play.

Games upcoming

There is not a lot of lacrosse going on close to the Canada/US border this weekend. Best bet is to head to Syracuse where they are playing a double header. In the first game, Syracuse hosts Albany at 2PM and then at 5PM Siena plays Hobart.

Final thoughts

While most of Canada’s top lacrosse players come from Southern Ontario and the BC Lower Mainland, top caliber players do from time to time emerge in other parts of Canada. Those of you who have carefully read the preceding text closely will note two players from Manitoba who have had and will continue to have a significant impact on their team’s success in 2012. They are of course Robert Morris’ Luc Magnan who is a beast of a talent and who is starting in Division I on defense and Jordan McKay who will almost certainly lead Lindenwood in scoring this year. And they of course are not alone. Alberta and Saskatchewan are already loaded with field lacrosse talent while the sport is growing by leaps and bounds in Quebec and Nova Scotia.  Nice to see Canada’s national sport go national!

Yours in lacrosse – JP Donville


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