Way-Early 2018 Rankings: Nos. 11-15 (Division I Men)


Conor Mackie's emergence on faceoffs helped fule Yale's offense. The Bulldogs might be poised to stick around in the postseason after three straight first-round exits.

The 2017 college lacrosse season concluded just a week ago. While it may seem too soon to look ahead to next year, it's still a fun exercise. Over the next five days, US Lacrosse Magazine will make an early attempt to size up a Division I top 25 for 2018.


2017 record: 12-4 (6-2 Patriot)
Last seen: Making a lot of fans at Michie Stadium happy with an overtime upset of Notre Dame on the final Saturday of the regular season
Senior starts lost: 50 of 160 (31.3 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 102 of 257 points (39.7 percent)

Initial forecastThe last team out of the NCAA field in 2017, the Black Knights beat both Notre Dame and Syracuse but lost to an erratic Navy team. That setback ultimately kept Army out of the postseason, marking the seventh consecutive year Joe Alberici’s bunch missed the NCAA tournament. This seems odd, not because of the improbability of other teams winning the Patriot League, but rather because Army is so consistently good. The Black Knights have averaged 9.3 victories over the last seven seasons, and topped the 10-win mark three consecutive times. They’re well-positioned for similar success next year, with attackman Nate Jones and midfielder David Symmes keying the offense and Johnny Surdick an early favorite to emerge as the best defenseman in the Patriot after the graduation of Navy’s Chris Fennell. The biggest threat to Loyola’s control in the league is the same as the last two years, and it is located on the banks of the Hudson.


2017 record: 8-7 (3-2 Big Ten)
Last seen: On the wrong end of a 19-6 drubbing against Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Blue Jays’ most lopsided loss at Homewood Field since 1954
Senior starts lost: 79 of 150 (52.7 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 81 of 274 points (29.6 percent)

Initial forecast: Let’s get to the white elephant in the room, namely the tepid goaltending the Blue Jays have received three years running. The Hopkins record book lists save percentage for its annual goaltending leaders going back to 1980, and never in that span did its top goalie dipped below 50 percent until 2015. It’s happened three years running, with both graduate student Gerald Logan and rising senior Brock Turnbaugh falling short of stopping half of the shots on goal this past season. The goalie predicament is partially a symptom of progressively shakier defenses, but it’s not all on the guys in front of the netminder, either. Hopkins still enjoys offensive depth, and the trio of Kyle Marr, Shack Stanwick and Joel Tinney are a good place for Dave Pietramala’s team to start. But it isn’t likely to fare much better next spring if its defense and goalie don’t improve. The presumed returned of Patrick Foley should help the close unit, but the play in the goal is a major question the Blue Jays need to solve if they are to contend for a conference or national title.


2017 record: 10-6 (6-2 Patriot)
Last seen: Stymied by the Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA tournament; outside of perhaps Maryland, the Greyhounds couldn’t have gotten a draw that suited them worse.
Senior starts lost: 59 of 160 (36.9 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 121 of 332 points (36.4 percent)

Initial forecastIt will start (again) with Tewaaraton finalist Pat Spencer, who is well on his way to obliterating nearly every relevant offensive mark in the Greyhounds’ record book at the midpoint of his career. Nonetheless, Loyola must retool in the fall as attackman Zack Sirico, midfielders Romar Dennis and Brian Sherlock and faceoff ace Graham Savio all exit. The Greyhounds were probably better than their record in 2016, though they were not a particularly sharp group as they made their way though conference play and suffered losses to Boston University and Bucknell. When Loyola is on, it’s unlikely to have much trouble in its conference, and such was the case once late April arrived and it hammered Army twice in nine days. Charley Toomey’s bunch will be the team to beat in the Patriot, but there is work to be done if the Greyhounds are to be anything beyond a one-and-done team in May.


2017 record: 12-4 (3-2 Big Ten)
Last seen: Managing a total of 14 goals in tournament losses to Maryland (Big Ten semis) and Towson (NCAA first round) to end a year that saw the Nittany Lions briefly rise to No. 1 in the country
Senior starts lost: 56 of 160 (36.9 percent)
Senior scoring departed: 122 of 338 points (36.1 percent)

Initial forecastAt this point last year, the biggest problem for Penn State was its defense. That hasn’t completely changed, but the Nittany Lions start in a healthier place heading into 2018. Jeff Tambroni’s bunch allowed at least 10 goals in each of its first seven games (and won all of them, anyway), but managed to keep foes to single digits five times in its final nine outings. Encouraging though that is, Penn State was still 1-4 against eventual NCAA tournament teams over the course of the season. It enjoyed exceptional offensive balance, and the return of Grant Ament (30 goals, 30 assists) and Mac O’Keefe (51 goals) provides immediate identity on an offense that loses Matt Florence, Mike Sutton and a few other useful pieces. The Nits still have never won an NCAA tournament game, and that is a reasonable goal next spring for a growing program that took a couple steps forward in 2017 but has some work to do to cement itself among the sport’s elite.


2017 record: 10-6 (5-1 Ivy)
Last seen: Dropping a one-goal decision to Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA tournament
Senior starts lost: 37 of 160 (23.1 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 45 of 334 points (13.5 percent)

Initial forecastIn every college sport, there are guys who it feels like are roughly seventh- or eighth-year seniors. In another 11 months or so, that’s what the lacrosse world will be saying about Yale’s Ben Reeves, a two-time Tewaaraton finalist and exceptional offensive player who will get one last chance to help nudge the Bulldogs toward a deep tournament run. Yale has evolved from a tough, rugged defense-first team no one wants to play (its 2013 quarterfinalists topped 12 goals just three times in 17 games) to a tough, rugged, balanced offensive team no one wants to play. Conor Mackie made a big jump as a junior at the faceoff X, which only amplified the Bulldogs’ offensive capabilities. Until proven otherwise, Yale is a conference favorite — there’s some truth to “Death, taxes and Yale in the Ivy League lacrosse tournament” — and it might be poised to stick around the postseason longer after three consecutive first-round exits.

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