Review & preview: Three teams under the radar
Last June, I published my version of the 2009 preseason poll and added another entry of three teams that I thought had potential. So in keeping with that tradition, here are three teams that did not finish above .500 and missed the tournament this past season. But what they do have is intrigue in either the form of returning players, a new head coach or a campaign that just fell short of the tournament. In alphabetical order, the teams flying under the radar are:
Denver (2009 record: 7-8)
Outlook: The Pioneers limped to the finish line as sophomore attackman Jamie Lincoln, junior midfielder Ilija Gajic and senior midfielder Brad Richardson were dismissed in late March and head coach Jamie Munro resigned two months later. But the hiring of legendary coach Bill Tierney, the architect of six national championships at Princeton, could change the tide for the Pioneers. The offense returns five of its six top scorers from last season, including the top two in junior midfielder Charley Dickinson (14 goals and 22 assists) and freshman attackman Mark Matthews (24, 9). The defense boast two starting long poles in junior Dillon Roy (47 groundballs and 23 caused turnovers) and sophomore Jamie MacDonald (28 gb’s) and junior goalkeeper Peter Lowell (9.83 goals-against average and .520 save percentage).
Outlook: The Dragons said good-bye to four starters including defensemen Brendan Baker (34 gb’s) and Matt Munoz, but the offense will probably be the bright spot of this squad. The team returns its top five scorers in junior attackman Colin Ambler (21, 16), freshman attackman Kyle Bergman (18, 11), junior attackman Greg Casey (16, 10), freshman attackman Scott Perri (13, 9) and sophomore midfielder Kevin Stockel (16, 5). Freshman Brian Teuber is the only returning starter on close defense, but freshman goalie Mark Manos (8.36 gaa, .595 save) impressed many observers with his play after filling the void left behind by the graduation of Bruce Bickford.
Outlook: The Tigers were just one win away from earning the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament, but fell to Villanova in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament final. Replacing three of the team’s top four scorers in attackman Bill McCutcheon (23, 15) and midfielders Justin Schneider (12, 15) and Randall Cooper (12, 13) will be a difficult task. Junior midfielder Will Harrington (23, 3) exploded onto the scene, while sophomore attackman Tim Stratton (16, 8) will have to tutor freshmen Matt Lamon (4, 8) and Sean Maguire (9,1) until they gain their footing. The strength may be a defense that includes CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year in redshirt freshman Marc Ingerman, freshman long-stick midfielder Michael Landy and junior goalkeeper Rob Wheeler (8.97 gaa, .557 save). The unit also welcomes Under Armour All-American defenseman John Fennessy.