The 2016 NCAA season is upon us and we couldn’t be more excited. This year we wanted to take a closer look at some of the top programs that are certain to make a splash. These programs are also ones known for their storied legacies in the sport of lacrosse. A lot of these programs have cases full of Championship trophies and are poised to add to them this year and years to come. It’s no wonder that these programs have thus decided to partner with a brand such as Nike to provide them with the equipment to empower their players on field. Below you will find a few of the top Nike men’s and women’s collegiate programs with some professional insight from our friends at Lacrosse All Stars on just how they think these teams will fair in 2016.
Photo Credit: Larry French
Syracuse – The Orange look flat out superb on paper. Goaltending, a returning defense, a top flight face off man, a quick and dangerous midfield and an attack with slick sticks. Will it all come together at a national title level? Who knows, but it sure will be fun to watch! Syracuse should be a very exciting team in 2016, but they also have the talent to win it all. Their season is going to be a fun one to follow.
UNC – The Tar Heels seem to be one intangible away from true title contention most years. They are a Top 10 staple, but somehow it just doesn’t come together for them in the NCAAs. With a big, experienced D and some really dangerous offensive guys, I’d expect them to be in the hunt for a locked down Top 10 spot once again. If somethings sparks though, this UNC team definitely has the talent to go even further.
Ohio State – OSU lost a lot to graduation last year, but they have done that before, and there are some younger guys who look ready to step up. The big concern for OSU is going to be quality of depth. How do they respond to injuries? Can freshmen find ways to contribute? It’s a strong group at Ohio State, but the national landscape has never been more competitive.
North Carolina – The ACC is bringing the heat again this year and North Carolina is no exception. The Tar Heels are returning major firepower including all four of their top leading scorers (Aly Messinger, Maggie Bill, Sydney Holman, and Sammy Jo Tracey respectively). While the squad is young on the defensive end, Team USA goal keeper, Caylee Waters and her partner in split-time-crime, Megan Ward both return in net. With a veteran line-up and an innovative staff, the Heels will be tough to stop and should be a likely candidate for this year’s Final Four.
Syracuse – With an exhibition showcase already under their belt against Team USA in this year’s ‘Spring Premiere’, the Orange are slotted for greatness. The creativity of this squad will not disappoint fans bringing a fun-to-watch flash-factor to their offense, a charge led by big-names like Kayla Traenor. This year, we might see that there is strength in numbers. With Gait’s 51 rostered players and the weight of their returners, ‘Cuse might be looking at larger leads and bigger wins vs. last year’s four overtime nail-bitters and 7 tight losses (all by 3 goals or less).
Stay tuned to Lacrosse.com and Lacrosse All Stars this season for more insights into the college game this year and don’t forget to check out our selection of Nike collegiate apparel so you can support your favorite squad.