Part one: 2009 preseason poll
It's been almost a week since there's been some lacrosse-related news, so I thought I would take a crack at a preseason (some would say premature) poll for the 2009 season. I will break up the top 20 into four installments with today's entry looking at teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16. Wednesday will feature Nos. 15 to 11, Thursday Nos. 10 to 6 and Friday Nos. 5 to 1.
This is just my take on the poll and does not include contributions from my colleague (and lacrosse "Godfather") Mike Preston. It also contains scant information on incoming freshmen and potential transfers. But let's get it started.
20. Loyola (2007 record: 7-7; Tournament finish: first round)
Losses: 12 seniors including starters in attackman Shane Koppens, midfielder Paul Richards and faceoff specialist Tim McDermott.
Returners: Three of the team's top four scorers in attackmen Cooper MacDonnell, Matt Langan and Collin Finnerty, two starting defensemen in Steve Layne and Steve Dircks, and starting goalkeeper Jake Hagelin.
Reason for pessimism: Losing Koppens, the team's quarterback, could be a severe blow to an offense that averaged 9.3 goals per game this past season.
Reason for optimism: Hagelin was an underrated presence in his freshman year, and long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci will gobble up more ground balls for what could be a solid defensive unit.
19. Hofstra (10-6; first round)
Losses: Seven seniors including starting midfielder Mike Unterstein and one of the country's top short-stick defensive midfielders Kevin Unterstein.
Returners: Four of the team's top five scorers in midfielder Anthony Muscarella and attackmen Jay Card, Dan Stein and Tom Dooley and starting goalie Danny Orlando.
Reason for pessimism: The graduation of Kevin Unterstein and starting defensemen Connor Hagans and Collin Stabler depletes a defense that surrendered just 8.6 goals a contest.
Reason for optimism: When you return four starters who punched in no fewer than 22 goals each, maybe the Pride can borrow Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala's line: "Your best defense is a good offense."
18. Albany (8-8; no tournament)
Losses: 11 seniors including three starters in midfielder Jordan Levine, defenseman Craig McDonald and goalkeeper Brett Queener.
Returners: Seven starters including attackmen Brian Caufield and Corey Small and defensemen Chris Schongar, Mike Banks and Mark Phelan.
Reason for pessimism: Can Dan McKeon offset the graduation of Queener, a three-year starter for the Great Danes?
Reason for optimism: Attackman Frank Resetarits left Albany after the 2007 season as the program's first first-team All American. His brother Joe is an Under Armour All American who will make his freshman debut next spring.
17. Georgetown (9-4; no tournament)
Losses: 15 seniors including two of the team's top three scorers in starting attackmen Brendan Cannon and Andrew Baird, defensemen Jerry Lambe and Craig Stevenson and starting goalie Miles Kass.
Returners: Three starters in attackman Craig Dowd, midfielder Andrew Brancaccio and defenseman Chris Nixon.
Reason for pessimism: Backups Christian McCormack and Matt Winter have combined to play 31 minutes in goal in their careers.
Reason for optimism: Coach Dave Urick is usually pretty adept at surprising his critics.
16. Princeton (7-6; no tournament)
Losses: Two starting attackmen in Bob Schneider and Alex Haynie, but the biggest void will be on defense. Top defenseman Dan Cocoziello and goalie Alex Hewit are playing for the Denver Outlaws and the New Jersey Pride, respectively, of the Major Lacrosse League.
Returners: Starting attackmen Tommy Davis and Jack McBride, midfielders Mark Kovler and Rich Sgalardi and defensemen Chris Peyser and Jeremy Hirsch.
Reason for pessimism: The Tigers, not known for boasting explosive offenses, have to get more from that end.
Reason for optimism: Word is that Under Armour All-American goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito (McDonogh) is primed to fill in for Hewit immediately.
Check back in Wednesday for Nos. 15 to 11.