A team that was playing at the Division 2 level as recently as 2012, the Panthers have proven that they always belong in the conference-contending conversation after winning the regular season title over Michigan State. However, the CCLA was only strong enough to send one team to the tournament, and so Davenport’s season came to a close with a CCLA Championship loss to the Spartans. Will 2015 be a vengeance year? This is part of an ongoing series during which we will focus on one of the MCLA’s top teams each day, counting down till Christmas to the true “cream of the crop.”
Postseason finish: CCLA Tournament Championship
Quick season recap: In the program’s second year of play at the MCLA Division 1 level, the Panthers made a big statement with a first-place regular season finish in the CCLA. An undefeated record in conference play (highlighted by a narrow road win over Michigan State) and wins against high-powered Liberty and UMLC-powerhouse Minnesota-Duluth are signs of a great year, but it was one that was weighed down by a home loss to Division-2 Grand Valley State and a brutal three-goal loss to UNLV. After being bounced in the CCLA championship game, Davenport’s tournament hopes were thrashed, but keep an eye on the Panthers as a team that could potentially be a bubble tournament team this year.
Roster losses: One name rises above the rest, as All-American Dominic Boggiano’s 79 points in 2014 is going to be heavily missed. No. 1 in points in the CCLA and No. 7 in the country is not an easy player to replace. Captains Nathaniel Adkins and Chapin White, who combined for 54 points last season, are also graduating. Defensively, the team is losing long-poles Tadas Anuzis and Samuel White, both of whom were All-CCLA selections. Goalie Bill Linhardt will be taking an All-American Honorable Mention title with him as well, leaving behind a goalie competition to determine who will be the starter in front of the net in 2015.
Who to watch for: Parker Horvath, senior attackman
The departure of Boggiano will sting for an offense that relied on him for 56 goals last season, but a distributor like Horvath could come in handy to make up for the absence. In 2014 Horvath led the CCLA and was in the MCLA’s top-10 in assists, with 32. He’ll probably need to ramp up those numbers to help the progression of goal-scorers like midfielder Daniel Hume (honorable mention All-American) and Coltin Borthwick (20 goals last season). He’s not just a distributor, though, as his total points had him in the top-12 of the MCLA, with 39 goals to accompany his high assist total.
They’re dangerous if their defense can step up to the plate despite its losses. While losing two starters and a goalie is hard to overcome, this is a Davenport team that has arranged most of the pieces to the puzzle already on the offensive and coaching side of things. If the defense can tighten up the screws in 2014 and give this offense enough support to take on titans (such as games against Colorado State and Colorado last year, during which the defense allowed an average of 13.5 goals per game), the Panthers will be making another hard push for the CCLA title.
Achilles’ heel: Struggling to take care of business against non-conference foes. This team proved last year that it can handle anyone in the CCLA, with its only loss coming to Michigan State in the conference championship game, but its out-of-conference games were the reason this team wasn’t dancing its way into the MCLA Tournament. Losses to UNLV and Grand Valley State (who’s technically in the CCLA but in Division 2) aren’t reflective of what this team was able to accomplish with some big wins over Michigan State and Pittsburgh during the CCLA’s regular season. If the Panthers can find a way to start consistently winning outside of the conference, they could very well be getting attention as a potential at-large bid for the MCLA Tournament in 2015.
Trey Lanthier is a lacrosse reporter and editor at WCSN, as well as a contributor for Inside Lacrosse. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter, @TreyLanthier.