LA CROSSE, Wis. – Next week, the 2022 New Balance Coaches Preseason poll will be released on this site, officially ushering in the season and giving us a glimpse as to what the 27 pollsters in each division are thinking.
Whereas most preseason polls are just a paint-by-numbers project – insert the previous season’s semifinalists in the one-through-four slots and methodically project out from there – this year will be trickier.
Because the usual metrics got scrambled over the last two years with some teams competing and others not, how do you judge?
I supposed Division II is a little bit easier. Put the six UMLC teams into a hat and draw a name. Any of those squads could easily be holding up the trophy on May 14, although I’m not sure if there is a presumptive favorite.
Just kidding. It will always be St. Thomas.
As one looks at the D-II schedules crafted so far, Montana, Montana State and Utah State are making a serious run at a quality seed in Round Rock, as well.
I’m not sure about the back-half of the 16-team field in D-II yet, but the Top 8 should be solid.
In Division I, I’m not even sure where to start.
We could call Brigham Young the favorite based off it’s “Invitational” win this past spring. It was important at the time to hold that event, but I’m not sure how much of a springboard it will be into 2022.
Granted, the Cougars have a competitive schedule and solid roster to parlay last May’s friendlies into hardware. Let’s not lock them in quite yet, however.
South Carolina is still technically the defending D-I champion and stud Sam Weis is back to lead the offense. A coaching change can always alter the dynamic, but the Gamecocks have a case.
Liberty, Georgia Tech, Cal, Utah Valley, Cal Poly, Clemson and Concordia-Irvine have quality players returning. Teams that went dark for 18 months, like Michigan State and New Hampshire, could be sleeping giants.
All of those teams, and others, will be starting their engines here in a couple of weeks with the eternal quest of grabbing a top four seed at nationals – a nearly essential spot for a true contender.
The Road to Round Rock in 2022 could be the most entertaining journey we’ll witness in a long time, as predicting a favorite is nearly impossible.
SLIDES & RIDES
- Interested in playing a tournament in Ireland this August along with other MCLA players in conjunction with the U21 World Championships being held in Limerick? Contact Southwestern Lacrosse Conference (SLC) Director Matt Holman for more information.
- Because of some rescheduling, the first games of the year have been bumped to the weekend of Jan. 29. UC Davis battles Cal while UT-San Antonio clashes with Houston. There a bunch of scrimmages, as well. If you're looking to track games this year, check out the daily schedule, which can be filtered by date and division.