Here is the fourth installment of the 2011 poll compiled after last year's national championship. These rankings could – and probably will – change based on transfers and seniors granted fifth years of eligibility, so please take this with a grain of salt.
5. Maryland (2010 record: 12-4; Tournament finish: quarterfinals)
Losses: Two starters in attackman Will Yeatman (15, 7) and goalkeeper Brian Phipps (8.20 GAA and .556 save percentage) and three key contributors in face-off specialist Bryn Holmes (63 GBs, 149-of-275 for .542), midfielder Adam Sear (11, 1) and short-stick defensive midfielder Dean Hart (15 GBs).
Returners: Eight starters including the entire starting attack of juniors Grant Catalino (34, 20), Ryan Young (18, 30) and Travis Reed (21, 18) and the entire starting close defense of juniors Brett Schmidt (36 GBs, 28 CTs), Max Schmidt (39 GBs, 21 CTs) and Ryder Bohlander (30 GBs, 19 CTs).
Reason for pessimism: It’s up to redshirt sophomore Mark White, redshirt freshman M.J. Leonard or freshman Niko Amato to succeed Phipps as the starter in the net.
Reason for optimism: An already tough defense also returns a pair of long-stick midfielders in junior Brian Farrell (6, 6; 53 GBs, 26 CTs) and freshman Jesse Bernhardt (2, 2; 34 GBs, 15 CTs) and junior short-stick midfielder Dan Burns (2, 5; 28 GBs).
4. Princeton (11-5; first round)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Rob Engelke (17, 21), midfielder Scott Mackenzie (10, 11) and defenseman Jeremy Hirsch (15 GBs).
Returners: Seven starters including junior attackman Jack McBride (35, 16), freshman midfielders Mike Chanenchuk (28, 8) and Jeff Froccaro (15, 7), junior defenseman Long Ellis (26 GBs, 22 CTs), sophomore defenseman Chad Wiedmaier (12 GBs, 12 CTs) and sophomore goalie Tyler Fiorito (8.58 GAA, .569 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: Froccaro (44 GBs, 90-of-177 for .508) and sophomore Peter Smyth (25 GBs, 57-of-114 for .500) lead a face-off unit that won just 50.6 percent this past season.
Reason for optimism: With sophomore long-stick midfielder John Cunningham (54 GBs, 13 CTs), sophomore defenseman Jonathan Myers (25 GBs, 11 CTs) and Under Armour All American Robert Posniewski in the fold, the defense should continue to be a strength for the Tigers.
3. North Carolina (13-3; quarterfinals)
Losses: Four starters in midfielders Sean DeLaney (25, 9) and Cryder DiPietro (10, 10), attackman Gavin Petracca (25, 23) and defenseman Michael Jarvis (16 GBs, 21 CTs).
Returners: Six starters in junior attackman Billy Bitter (22, 22), sophomore attackman Thomas Wood (30, 13), sophomore midfielder Jimmy Dunster (17, 13), junior defenseman Ryan Flanagan (51 GBs, 36 CTs), sophomore defenseman Charlie McComas (40 GBs, 14 CTs) and junior goalkeeper Chris Madalon (8.86 GAA, .522 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: The Tar Heels’ inability to find depth at midfield figures to be an even tougher task with the graduation of DeLaney and DiPietro.
Reason for optimism: Eight Under Armour All Americans – the most of any school – will join the team, including attackman Nick Galasso, the top senior according to Inside Lacrosse.
2. Virginia (16-2; semifinals)
Losses: Three starters in a pair of defensemen in Ken Clausen (56 GBs, 37 CTs) and Ryan Nizolek (31 GBs) and midfielder Brian Carroll (26, 14) and two key contributors in face-off specialist Brian McDermott (43 GBs, 105-of-180 for .583) and short-stick defensive midfielder Mikey Thompson (3, 3; 31 GBs).
Returners: The entire starting attack of sophomores Chris Bocklet (53,14) and Steele Stanwick (29, 32) and freshman Matt White (19, 14), junior midfielders Shamel Bratton (24, 17) and Rhamel Bratton (23, 8), sophomore defenseman Matt Lovejoy (32 GBs, 12 CTs) and junior goalie Adam Ghitelman (8.24 GAA, .548 save percentage) and a key contributor in junior long-stick midfielder Bray Malphrus (50 GBs, 24 CTs).
Reason for pessimism: Is freshman Chris LaPierre (10, 9; 51 GBs), junior John Haldy (11, 5) or sophomore Colin Briggs (10, 2) poised to join the Brattons on the first midfield line?
Reason for optimism: Finding a defensive leader to replace Clausen will be a challenge, but offense should not be an issue with Bocklet and Stanwick leading the charge.
1. Syracuse (13-2; first round)
Losses: Three starters in attackmen Chris Daniello (28, 25) and Cody Jamieson (28, 13) and defenseman Matt Tierney (31 GBs) and two key contributors in attackman Max Bartig (13, 3) and face-off specialist Gavin Jenkinson (99-of-173 for .572).
Returners: Seven starters including the entire starting midfield of juniors Josh Amidon (14, 13), Jeremy Thompson (15, 8) and Jovan Miller (15, 6), junior defenseman John Lade (32 GBs), freshman defenseman Brian Megill (39 GBs) and junior goalkeeper John Galloway (7.16 GAA, .595 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: The Orange must find a playmaker to replace Daniello and feed junior attackman Stephen Keogh (31, 5). Could freshman JoJo Marasco (9, 8) fill that void?
Reason for optimism: Scoring goals against a defense that includes junior long-stick midfielder and Tewaaraton Award finalist Joel White (6, 4: 78 GBs) could be an unenviable task for Syracuse’s opponents.
Previous polls: Nos. 20-16, Nos. 15-11, Nos. 10-6.