PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

The offense was slow to get going in 2018, but with Tre Leclaire (26g, 11a) and company back, the Buckeyes should be even more dangerous in 2019.

Way-Early 2019 Rankings: No. 10-No. 6 (Division I Men)


2019 has a tough act to follow.

The 2018 college lacrosse season sent us on a wild ride, a journey that on Memorial Day ended with first-time champions in five of six divisions, men and women. It’s entirely too early to predict what’s in store for next spring. We’ll try, anyway. 

Way-Early 2019 Rankings

Division I Men
No. 25- No. 21
No. 20- No. 16
No. 15- No. 11
No. 10- No. 6
No. 5-No. 1
Division I Women
No. 25-No. 21
No. 20-No. 16
No. 15-No. 11
No. 10-No. 6
No. 5-No. 1
Division III Men
Top 10
Division III Women
Top 10
Division II Men’s Top 10
Thursday, June 14
Division II Women’s Top 10
Thursday, June 14

There were two versions of the Irish this spring; the one when attackman Brendan Gleason and midfielder Bryan Costabile were healthy (11.33 goals per game) and the one when they weren’t (5.0 goals per game).


10. OHIO STATE

2018 record:  8-7 (3-2 Big Ten)

Last seen: Nearly knocking off eventual Big Ten tournament champion Johns Hopkins in the event’s semifinals after closing the regular season on a three-game winning streak.

Senior starts lost: 64 of 150 (42.7 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 49 of 204 points (24.0 percent)

Initial forecast: By the end of this spring, the Buckeyes were the scariest team to miss out on the NCAA tournament. Ohio State beat Maryland and Rutgers the final two weeks of Big Ten play and then forced Johns Hopkins into a tough slog in the conference tournament. Ohio State will have one of the most dangerous offensive players in the country in Tre Leclaire (26 goals, 11 assists), and both Jackson Reid and Jack Jasinski are capable of 25-goal seasons as well for an offense that should find its bearings a little earlier than it did this year. The Buckeyes have great options on faceoffs, with Justin Inacio contributing immediately in 2018 by winning 61.3 percent of his draws, and they also can deploy one of the nation’s top defensive midfielders in Ryan Terefenko. Defensemen Erik Evans and Ben Randall, along with long pole Freddy Freibott, will be missed, but Ohio State hasn’t allowed more than 10 goals a game since 2005. That streak should survive despite the graduation hits. The Buckeyes have a habit of alternating good seasons and mediocre ones; in 2013, 2015 and 2017, they reached at least the NCAA quarterfinals, while in 2014, 2016 and 2018 they didn’t earn a postseason invite. Consider this ranking a vote of confidence things will once more swing back in favor of Nick Myers’ team in an odd-numbered year.

9. NOTRE DAME

2018 record: 9-6 (1-3 Atlantic Coast)

Last seen: Having its underrated streak of eight consecutive NCAA quarterfinal appearances ended with a 9-7 loss to Denver in the first round of the tournament.

Senior starts lost: 58 of 150 (38.7 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 64 of 222 points (28.8 percent)

Initial forecast: There were two versions of the Irish this spring; the one when attackman Brendan Gleason and midfielder Bryan Costabile were healthy (11.33 goals per game) and the one when they weren’t (5.0 goals per game). Gleason missed three games in late March and early April, and Costabile sat out one of those. The bottom line is their absences make it easier to reconcile Notre Dame’s midseason struggles with the team that plowed through the ACC tournament. The good news? Costabile (30 goals) will be back for his junior year after earning second team All-America honors, with Gleason anchoring a tremendous senior class that should also include defenseman Hugh Crance, attackman Ryder Garnsey and short stick midfielder Drew Schantz --- all of whom were honorable mention All-America picks. Coach Kevin Corrigan is fond of pointing each team is different and that one season doesn’t impact the next, but the pieces are in place for the Irish to be their typically competitive selves. One early bit of curiosity: Senior long pole John Sexton was arguably the best player in the country relative to the peers at his position. Considering Notre Dame’s long history of defensive success, the Irish will probably find a more-than-able replacement. Still, it’s a noteworthy hole entering 2019.








8. JOHNS HOPKINS

2018 record: 12-5 (3-2 Big Ten)

Last seen: On the wrong side of a patented Duke spurt in the NCAA quarterfinals, bringing an end to a season that featured a Big Ten tournament title.

Senior starts lost: 65 of 170 (38.2 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 157 of 323 points (48.6 percent)

Initial forecast: At least initially, the Blue Jays’ defense might have to carry the day next year. With the entire starting close defense (including third team All-America pick Patrick Foley) plus pole Robert Kuhn all back, a group that grew considerably in 2018 looks like it could be a strength for Hopkins. That’s a good thing considering the pieces that depart. The Blue Jays lose attack mainstay Shack Stanwick (18 goals, 35 assists), midfielder Joel Tinney (21 goals, 32 assists), midfield finishers Patrick Fraser (16 goals) and Brinton Valis (15 goals), faceoff man Hunter Moreland (.570) and starting goalie Brock Turnbaugh. Perhaps the most interesting position (again) for the Blue Jays will be goalie, where Turnbaugh played all but a little more than five minutes this season. That effectively ensures coach Dave Pietramala will turn to an untested option in 2019. Pietramala and offensive coordinator Bobby Benson have done an excellent job of maximizing things on offense, so chances are good some of this past spring’s supporting cast emerges to help set up Kyle Marr (41 goals, 17 assists) and Cole Williams (35 goals, 14 assists). The Blue Jays looked like they were in for a rough season after back-to-back February losses to Loyola and North Carolina; they proceeded to win 11 of their next 13. Don’t be stunned if next season’s arc is similar.

7. LOYOLA

2018 record: 13-4 (7-1 Patriot)

Last seen: Managing little in the face of Yale’s smothering defense and lousy weather conditions during a rainy quarterfinal loss on Long Island.

Senior starts lost: 51 of 170 (30 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 74 of 349 points (21.2 percent)

Initial forecast:  It feels as if Pat Spencer has played for the Greyhounds for about five seasons now, but the Tewaaraton finalist still has another year left to play for Loyola. That’s a good thing for Loyola, which should head into next season as a clear-cut favorite in the Patriot League --- in other words, like any other year --- and a threat to reach the final weekend for the third time this decade. The strength will be the Spencer-led offense, which must replace midfielder Jay Drapeau (41 goals) but little else. A group that includes sophomores Kevin Lindley and Aidan Olmstead on attack and senior John Duffy as the top returning midfielder will need to be sharp as Loyola retools its defense around veteran goalie Jacob Stover. The most obvious losses are defensemen Foster Huggins and Ryder Harkins, but the Greyhounds’ rope unit takes a major hit with Brian Begley, Zac Davliakos and Jared Mintzlaff all graduating. So much of Loyola’s identity is tied to its willingness to generate transition with its defensive midfield, and it could take time for that to come along. Expect Loyola to be a top-10 (or better) team by year’s end, but their chances of generating a favorable postseason path will again be defined by how well they handle a challenging nonconference slate.




PHOTO BY RISLEY SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

It only feels like Pat Spencer has been at Loyola for five years. In his first three seasons, he's poured in 266 points and is a two-time Tewaaraton finalist. He needs just 46 points to become Loyola's all-time leading scorer.


6. DENVER

2018 record: 13-4 (5-0 Big East)

Last seen: Unable to stop Albany’s dynamic offense, resulting in a 15-13 loss that left them a game shy of the program’s sixth trip to Memorial Day weekend in eight years.

Senior starts lost: 41 of 170 (24.1 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 80 of 307 points (26.1 percent)

Initial forecast: There might not be a greater graduation loss for anyone in Division I than Denver faceoff maestro Trevor Baptiste. It’s not just that he was a four-time first team All-America pick. Rather, he was an insurance policy the Pioneers could always turn to when their defense wasn’t as stout as it needed to be or its offense wasn’t quite as efficient as normal. The latter was the case more than usual in 2018, and Denver will have much of the same group back next spring. Attackmen Ethan Walker (48 goals, 22 assists) and Austin French (29 goals, 31 assists) should again pace the offense, with Colton Jackson (22 goals, 12 assists) anchoring the midfield. A pair of Dylans (Gaines and Johnson) provide a good start for the close defense, and Alex Ready is a tested in the cage after starting for much of the last three years. But faceoffs are anyone’s guess, with Ryan Harnisch (17 of 44), Danny Logan (5 of 9) and Sean Penna (4 of 9) the only options on the roster who have taken a draw for the Pioneers. Denver will still be the favorite in the Big East, but their margin for error just won’t be the same as it was the last four seasons.