Way-Early 2018 Rankings: Nos. 21-25 (Division I Men)


Attackman Morgan Cheek will lead the Crimson offense to keep his team in the conversation in 2018.

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: 5-8 (3-3 Ivy)
Last seen: Dropping 18 goals on Princeton in the regular-season finale, the first of a few Jeff Teat-vs.-Michael Sowers scoring duels the Ivy League will be treated to in the next few years.
Senior starts lost: 18 of 130 (13.8 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 16 of 255 points (6.3 percent)

Initial forecast: Admittedly, this is a wild card. On the surface, a team coming off consecutive losing seasons probably doesn’t warrant a mention. Plus, the Big Red was dreadful in the early stages of 2017, and it goes into next year with the uncertainty of an interim coach (Peter Milliman, who takes over after Matt Kerwick’s resignation). So why the cautious optimism? It starts with Teat, an honorable mention All-America selection after piling up 33 goals and 39 assists this spring. Cornell should have a more mature team, and it desperately needs an improved faceoff presence after going 38.3 percent there last year. It’s anyone’s guess how Milliman will fare without any job security, but the Big Red showed enough offensive punch (and general improvement) in the final two months of the season to hint at a potential jump forward in 2018.

No. 25 (tie) MARQUETTE

2017 record: 8-8 (2-3 Big East)
Last seen: Dismissed in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Notre Dame, though even getting that far required a run as the No. 4 seed in the Big East tournament.
Senior starts lost: 80 of 160 (50 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 138 of 226 points (61.1 percent)

Initial forecast: It’s funny how a single weekend can change the perception of a program. On a large scale, that describes North Carolina in 2016. To a lesser degree, it applies to Marquette after it defeated Denver and Providence in May’s Big East tournament. The Golden Eagles went from a team experiencing some logical regression after the departures of a large senior class to a bunch that has gone to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and further established coach Joe Amplo as a rising star. As much work as Marquette had to do to plug holes this season, it has even more of a chore in front of it next spring. Joseph Dunn and honorable mention All-America pick Ryan McNamara were seniors, and figuring out how to score after mustering less than 10 goals a game will be a challenge. Goalie Cole Blazer and defenseman Nick Grill, a pair of second-team all-Big East honorees, will lead a unit that will likely anchor the Golden Eagles next spring.


2017 record: 6-7 (2-4 Ivy)
Last seen: Upsetting Yale 9-8 in its final game to salvage something of a largely forgettable season.
Senior starts lost: 18 of 130 (13.8 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 2 of 214 points (0.9 percent)

Initial forecast: Much like its Ivy League brethren at Cornell, the Crimson doesn’t graduate a whole lot. In fact, it graduates nothing on offense; defenseman Ryan Norton accounted for the only two points in the senior class. Harvard was a borderline NCAA tournament team in 2016 and came a victory away from making its second postseason trip under coach Chris Wojcik. If a second one is coming, it will probably happen in 2017. The strength of Harvard’s roster was in its junior class this spring, and that group (led by Morgan Cheek) will be asked to provide even more of a bump next year. Harvard dropped seven of its last nine games, but it didn’t suffer a completely befuddling loss along the way. At the same time, it didn’t lose a one-goal game in 2017, so poor luck wasn’t much of a factor here. The Crimson should be better, though it’s not hard to imagine another season spent hovering around .500.


2017 record: 10-7 (3-2 Big East)
Last seen: Coming within a game of its first NCAA tournament berth since joining the Big East, thanks largely to a stingy and capable defense.
Senior starts lost: 53 of 170 (21.2 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 53 of 254 points (20.9 percent)

Initial forecast: The Friars enjoyed a modest breakout (which included victories over Bryant, Marquette and Villanova) thanks in large part to an ability to keep opponents’ offenses in check. Defenseman Jarrod Neumann graduates after earning a second-team All-America nod, but goalie Tate Boyce (a third team pick) is back along with Providence’s top two scorers, Brendan Kearns (32 goals, 13 assists) and Nick Hatzipetrakos (22 goals, 19 assists). All three will be juniors in 2018, and are a promising core for coach Chris Gabrielli to build around. The school has clearly increased its investment in the sport (notably in the form of Anderson Stadium, which hosted the Big East tournament), but there’s a growing number of pieces in place. Providence probably isn’t contending for an at-large postseason berth next year, but it is becoming more of a handful after spending years at or near the bottom of the Big East.


2017 record: 12-5 (5-3 Patriot)
Last seen: Dropping consecutive games to Army and Duke to close out a year that saw the Terriers spend time in the national rankings in only their fourth season of existence.
Senior starts lost: 72 of 170 (42.4 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 99 of 295 points (33.6 percent)

Initial forecast: First the bad news for the Terriers: They lose arguably their three most heralded players in attackman Cal Dearth, defenseman Dominick Calisto and goalie Christian Carson-Banister. It won’t be easy to replace a leading scorer, an all-conference goalie and an impressive close defense anchor. They were part of the first class to play four years at Boston University, but coach Ryan Polley did a fine job building depth in his program. The Terriers finished third in the Patriot League’s regular season and knocked off eventual conference champion Loyola, and they’ll bring back Jack Wilson (29 goals, 18 assists), James Burr (24 goals, seven assists) and Ryan Hilburn (17 goals, 17 assists) to provide offensive stability. Boston University enjoyed a fabulous start this year; in 2018, look for the Terriers to enjoy their best moments at the end of the season.

No. 21 BROWN

2017 record: 10-6 (4-2 Ivy)
Last seen: Falling to Yale in the Ivy League final, a loss that brought 2016 Tewaaraton winner Dylan Molloy’s college career to an end.
Senior starts lost: 71 of 160 (44.4 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 131 of 353 points (37.1 percent)

Initial forecast: The Bears’ encore to their first trip to Memorial Day weekend since 1994 didn’t turn out to be much of a surprise. Molloy (44 goals, 27 points) and long pole Larken Kemp were excellent, and defenseman Alec Tulett enjoyed a fine senior year as well. But the key to Brown thriving at a rapid pace in 2016 was dominance on faceoffs and in goal, and it had to replace both contributors. Now, senior-to-be Ted Ottens (59.7 percent) has a year of starting experience, and goalie Phil Goss has grown into his role after being thrown into a prominent role as a freshman. As for the offense, expect that unit to remain strong even after Molloy’s departure. The Bears will have four of their five 20-goal scorers back, and Jack Kniffin and Luke McCaleb have the potential to be centerpieces on attack for the next three years.


2017 record: 9-6 (4-1 Big East)
Last seen: Out of sorts in the Big East semifinal, losing to Providence just five days after handling the Friars with ease on the same field
Senior starts lost: 62 of 150 (41.3 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 139 of 319 points (43.6 percent)

Initial forecast: The Wildcats have a consistent identity (at least at the offensive end, anyway), and that’s always a plus. It will be even more valuable than usual next year with the loss of Jack Curran (46 goals, 19 assists) and Jake Froccaro (34 goals, 14 assists). Most teams that lose their top two scorers take a hit, and that will probably be true of Villanova in 2018. Of course, the Wildcats opened this past season 1-4 before a strong stretch that included defeats of Maryland, Marquette and Brown. Two things stand out when looking at Villanova’s accomplishments this year — a .477 faceoff percentage (45th nationally) and a .459 save percentage. Those two areas need to improve, especially if it takes a little time for an offense led by Christian Cuccinello (33 goals, 31 assists) to get rolling next year.

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