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A new season means new opportunities have arisen for players looking to make a name for themselves nationally.

It happens every year. An underappreciated player carves out a niche in his team’s rotation in early March and rides that wave of production all the way to the headlines in April. Predicting that is often a fruitless endeavor. It’s something of an oxymoron to predict the breakout of an unknown talent, after all. But let’s take a shot.

Our team of staff contributors highlighted breakout candidates from each team in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20. Check them out below and come back after the season to let us know how we did.


Griffin Schutz, A/M , Fr.

There’s nothing under-the-radar about the freshman, who could function as a fourth attackman (like Ian Laviano last season), a midfielder (like Shellenberger as a redshirt-freshman) or both in his first season with the Cavaliers. “He is the next guy,” Tiffany said. “He is the next impact offensive player for us. The question is, do we keep him exclusively at midfield, which is what he primarily played at Deerfield, or do we rotate him in as well in attack?” — Patrick Stevens


Gavin Tygh, FO, Jr. and Luke Wierman, FO, Jr.

It’s Maryland, so there’s a pretty good chance there will be a tandem of some sort at the X. Tygh won 47.2 percent of his draws at Virginia as Petey LaSalla’s backup before transferring. Maryland recruited him the first time around, so there will be some familiarity. Wierman, a junior (like Tygh), won 45.3 percent of his attempts last season and handled the bulk of the work in the national title game against LaSalla. Together, they should have plenty of opportunities this spring. — Patrick Stevens


Charlie O’Connor, M, So.   

O’Connor started six games as a freshmen (and played in 11 in total) and is one of several sophomore midfielders looking to add experience to the unit in the spring. In his limited time on the field last spring, he scored four goals with one assist. His best game was Feb. 27 against Air Force, a performance in which he scored one goal and secured three ground balls. — Hunter Nelson


Dylan Hess, M, So.

The breakout has already occurred to some extent; three goals against Denver in the Big East title game followed by four more against Syracuse in the first round will get some attention. But the thing is, the sophomore is only going to get better. He concentrated on offense in the fall but will be back to two-way territory in the spring. “He’s the asterisk on the practice plan,” Kevin Warne said. “He’s like a table tennis ball. He goes from one side of the field to the other, from this drill to that drill.” — Patrick Stevens


Morrison Mirer, M, Gr.

While Mirer has suited up in 33 games for the Irish, Kevin Corrigan expects the graduate student to have a big season. Corrigan says the game has really “slowed down for Mo” and thinks “he’s in complete control of his game in a way that he hasn’t been until the end of last year.”  — Katie McNulty


Henry Schertzinger, M, Sr.

Schertzinger bounced back from injuries early in his career to play in 13 games last season and will provide experience to a young midfield group still searching for its identity. A veteran leader on that freshmen-filled midfield unit, the Cincinnati product finished 2021 with eight goals and one assist. — Hunter Nelson


Seth Higgins, M , So.

The sophomore already started to emerge late last season, scoring nine of his 14 points in the Greyhounds’ final five games. “He kind of came back with that mindset of, ‘I can be a little more aggressive out here,” Toomey said. “We’ve kind of seen that translate from last spring into this fall. He’ll be a captain for Loyola at some point. You get that sense not only based on him as a player, but how he goes about his business off the field as well.” — Patrick Stevens


Christian Cropp, M, Sr.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior has 16 goals in his career, and had scored in three consecutive games before the 2020 season was shut down. So he isn’t an unknown commodity, but Yale is certain to lean on him. “He was planning on graduating and I had to beg him to come back,” Shay said. “Thank God [he did]. He’s taken the [fall] semester off. Incredible athlete, great kid. Very excited to have him come back again.” — Patrick Stevens


Jack Schultz, A, Gr.

The graduate student started all five games two seasons ago, finishing with four goals and four assists. With so many departures on the Quakers’ offense, the two-handed Schultz is poised to easily eclipse his career totals of five goals and nine assists in a hurry. — Patrick Stevens


Ross Scott, A, Jr.

The Oregon product won’t be an out-of-nowhere sort after posting nine goals and five assists last season. The Scarlet Knights wanted to get him on the field the last two years and used him as a midfielder, but there’s a good chance he sees extended playing time on attack as a junior. — Patrick Stevens


Quinn Armstrong, A/M, So.

Armstrong has lived up to his last name over the past year, putting on 20 pounds of muscle since his freshman season when he registered five goals and three assists. Now listed at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Armstrong impressed throughout the fall, filling in at attack for an injured Mulé. He’ll likely shift back to midfield in the spring. “He’s someone that’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with this year,” Cassese said. — Nelson Rice


Drew Erickson, A, Sr.

With Jackson Morrill and Ethan Walker gone and Simmons likely playing more midfield, Denver will have an entirely new attack unit than the one it deployed in the NCAA tournament. As a lefty sniper, Erickson, who was a top-40 recruit out of Danville, California, has mostly played on the man-up and second midfield units. Now he’ll slot in for Walker on that side of the attack. Erickson has box lacrosse experience, too, having starred for the USBOXLA U18 national team. — Matt DaSilva

13. ARMY

Reese Burek, M., Jr.

A native of Fairport (N.Y.), where he was a four-year varsity player, Burek has only one collegiate goal on his resume. Expect that to change quickly this season. — Nelson Rice


Owen Seebold, A, Sr.

In the penultimate game of the season, Seebold recorded seven points against Robert Morris. It was a glimpse of what could be for the attackman this year. — Katie McNulty


Brendan Grimes, A, So.

Grimes came to Homewood as the No. 4 recruit in the nation after having his 2020 season at Boys’ Latin (Md.) canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He scored eight goals and started in five games during a freshman year that was as much about getting back to lacrosse as it was blossoming in the college game. With the departure of stalwart Cole Williams, Grimes will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his firepower in 2022. Barring something unforeseen, he’ll have no problem surpassing last year’s totals. — Matt Hamilton


JP Ward, A, So.

There should be enough returning firepower to make up for Charlie Kitchen’s graduation (55 points), but under-the-radar players such as Ward and senior Clay Miller may emerge at X in Kitchen’s absence. Ward has an all-around skillset with a quick shot and a little bit of experience from last season to build on; he appeared in 11 games as a freshman, including two starts. — Will Sammon


George Grippo, M., Sr. and Brent McVicker, M., So.

It’s difficult to only choose one between the Dragons’ standout SSDMs that thrive at the game’s least glamorous position. “They’re maybe two of the best in our league,” Voelker said. “They have kind of everything … the experience to play a little bit on the offensive end, can get ground balls and help you clear, but also understand the defense.” Exhibit A: These takeaways checks by Grippo that flipped the field during Drexel’s 12-9 win over Delaware last April. — Nelson Rice


Chayse Ierlan, G, Sr.

An honorable mention all-Ivy pick in 2019, Ierlan managed just a 40.2 save percentage in 2020. The Cornell staff thinks highly of the fourth-year player, who will be one of the team’s captains this spring, and sees a delayed bounceback year in the offing. “I think he’s poised for a great year,” Buczek said. “We’re really, really proud of him and the way he worked over the time he was away from the field. He certainly looked ready to go, so we’re excited to see him break out this spring.” — Patrick Stevens


Jonas Hunter, A/M, So.

One of the top scorers in Oregon as an attackman at Lake Oswego, Hunter earned a spot on Vermont’s second midfield line as a freshman and appeared in 12 games. He scored a goal in the Catamounts’ NCAA tournament loss to Maryland and opened eyes with his play during the offseason. “He had the best fall of anyone,” Feifs said. — Matt DaSilva


Aidan Goltz, M, So.

Speaking of big California middies with backgrounds on the gridiron, Goltz, a 6-foot-2 specimen out of Newport Beach, started as a true freshman on Bryant’s first line and was drawing long-stick matchups by the end of the season. “They took the pole off [two-time All-NEC midfielder] Trevor Weingarten and put it on Aidan,” Pressler said. “Aidan doesn’t even know a pole is on him. He’ll just run by him.” Recruited by Cal to play football as a split end, Goltz chose lacrosse, the sport his father, Ian, played growing up in Canada. Look for him to build on his 16-goal freshman campaign. Pressler also identified sophomore defenseman LaJhon Jones (31 ground balls, 15 caused turnovers) as a breakout candidate. — Matt DaSilva