During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the spring season for each conference. Today, we look at the Patriot League:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Army
• Player to watch: Marcus Plunkett, Army: Plunkett was runner up at the Patriot League Championship last year, but he could be gunning for No. 1 after a solid fall.
• Freshman to watch: Matt Oshrine, Loyola: The rookie led Loyola in terms of scoring average in the fall at 73.07. He also shot a 66 en route to a top-five finish at the Stars and Stripes Invitational.
• Conference championship: April 26-27, West Point (NY) GC
• Past champions (since 2009): Lehigh (2013), Navy (2012), Army (2011), Lafayette (2010), Bucknell (2009)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
• Loyola Maryland (146): Loyola will change roles this season as it shifts from being the dominant force in the MAAC to the new kid on the block in the Patriot League. The Greyhounds notched three top-five finishes in the fall. Loyola returns three contributors from the 2012-13 MAAC Championship, including MAAC Rookie of the Year Jimmy Dengler. Dengler posted a Loyola single round record at the Stars and Stripes Invitational, where he shot a 65 in the first round and finished in second.
• Army (159): Army highlighted its fall season with two top-five finishes, including a win at the Stars and Stripes Invitational. The team posted solid numbers top to bottom, with six golfers posting sub-74 scoring averages and five different players posting rounds in the 60s. Sophomore Marcus Plunkett led the team in the fall, nabbing an individual win and posting a 72.93 scoring average. Plunkett finished second at the Patriot League Championship last year. Army finished the fall with two top-notch tournaments and it struggled against the tough competition. But that experience could help the team overcome newcomer Loyola come tournament time.
• Lehigh (202): The reigning champs return all three golfers that placed in the top-five at the Patriot League Championship last year, including All-Patriot League performers Alex DiClemente and Harley Abrams. The team finished in the top five in all four of its tournaments this fall, thanks, in part, to rookie Ethan Wall, who took a runner-up finish at the Lehigh Invitational. Wall nabbed two top 10s in his first semester of play and placed 14th in his first collegiate event.
• Bucknell (248): The Bucknell Bison return five upperclassmen in 2013-14. The team pulled out one top five in the fall in tournaments with more than 10 teams – a fifth -place showing at the Colgate Invitational. Junior Zach Pogust was the only player on roster to post a sub-75 scoring average at 74.9.
• Navy (250): Navy finished last season as the conference runner up. It will have similar hopes this spring as all five contributors from the Patriot League Championship last year return to action, including individual champ Chris House. The team failed to post a top-five finish in the fall against solid competition, but saw freshman Devin Terry record a 73.6 scoring average and a top five. Returner August Jonas posted a solid 73.82 scoring average and a top 10 as he played in all four events for Navy this fall.
• Colgate (256): Colgate finished last at the Patriot League Championship last season, but may be on the road to improvement if the fall is any indication. The team played to two top-fives in the fall, led by a group of underclassmen. The team’s top-three golfers in terms of scoring average in the fall were rookies, including Ryan Allison, who led the team with a 74.93 scoring average and a top-five individual finish.
• Lafayette (283): Lafayette did not nab a top-five in the fall, but was led to its best finish by a freshman. Rookie Jared Mactas took medalist honors at the Colgate Invitational, helping his team to a tie for sixth. Mactas won Patriot League Golfer of the Month honors in September after the win and posting a 73.5 scoring average in that stretch.
• Holy Cross (290): Holy Cross failed to post a top-five finish in five tournaments this fall. The team, which finished sixth at last year’s Patriot League Championship, was led by senior Tim DiStefano. DiStefano was the top finisher for Holy Cross in four of its fall tournaments and led the team with a 77.5 scoring average.