PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Rutgers goalie Max Edelmann received a sixth year of eligibility, which is good news for the snakebitten Scarlet Knights, who have finished just outside the NCAA tournament field the last two seasons.

Way-Early 2019 Rankings: No. 15-No. 11 (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

After back-to-back .500 seasons, Carolina’s senior class of Timmy Kelly, Andy Matthews, Jack Rowlett and others will have a large say in shaping their long-term legacy in Chapel Hill.


15. NORTH CAROLINA

2018 record: 7-7 (1-3 Atlantic Coast)

Last seen: Snapping a seven-game losing streak with an upset of Notre Dame in what turned out to be the Tar Heels’ final contest of the season.

Senior starts lost: 35 of 140 (25 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 59 of 236 points (25 percent)

Initial forecast: A look forward here requires a quick look back. North Carolina scored exactly the same number of goals it allowed this spring (153). In other words, there was nothing fluky about the .500 record and the Tar Heels’ first NCAA tournament miss since 2006. But there were some bad breaks along the way, including injuries to defenseman Joe Kenna and goalie Luke Millican two games into the season. Little wonder stops were hard to come by (.472 save percentage), though a team faceoff percentage of .441 didn’t help, either. Bank on that end of the field strengthening some next year. Offensively, the Tar Heels lose 2016 NCAA tournament hero Chris Cloutier (31 goals, 10 assists) but will have five returning starters who are upperclassmen. After back-to-back .500 seasons, Carolina’s senior class of Timmy Kelly, Andy Matthews, Jack Rowlett and others will have a large say in shaping their long-term legacy in Chapel Hill. Better health and greater consistency would go a long way for the Heels, who defeated a pair of seeded NCAA tournament teams (Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame) and nearly knocked off two others (Duke and Syracuse). This should be a better team in 2019.

14. RUTGERS

2018 record: 9-6 (2-3 Big Ten)

Last seen: Bowing out to Maryland in the Big Ten semifinals, once again falling just shy of earning the program’s first NCAA tournament bid since 2004.

Senior starts lost: 68 of 150 (45.3 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 135 of 270 points (50 percent)

Initial forecast: The snakebitten Scarlet Knights have to be wondering what it will take to finally return to the postseason. Once again, attackman Adam Charalambides missed the entire season due to injury, and Rutgers ended up 1-3 in one-goal games (with their six losses by a combined 11 goals). So Brian Brecht’s bunch was close. Real close. Now comes a bit of a reckoning thanks to graduation. Jules Heningburg (37 goals, 35 assists) and Christian Mazzone (29 goals) leave some holes on offense, though a healthy Charalambides could offset that a bit. He might need to given the departures at the other end of the field. Second team All-America selection Michael Rexrode is gone, along with fellow defenseman Alex Bronzo. The Scarlet Knights also need a new primary faceoff specialist (Joe Francisco finished at 47.7 percent as a senior), though they do have the benefit of bringing back goalie Max Edelmann (who played every minute this season) for a sixth year. It’s best not to underestimate Brecht, and an attack with Charalambides and Kieran Mullins (31 goals, 17 assists) in addition to midfielder Casey Rose (21 goals) is a fine place to start on offense. Still, it might be asking a bit much for the Scarlet Knights to take a major step forward in 2019.








13. SYRACUSE

2018 record: 8-7 (4-0 Atlantic Coast)

Last seen: Bowing out in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Cornell, the eighth time in the last nine years the Orange didn’t advance to the final weekend of the season.

Senior starts lost: 30 of 150 (20 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 52 of 266 points (19.5 percent)

Initial forecast: Those who believe in experience above all else will view Syracuse as a darkhorse heading into next year. The Orange graduated only five players, with attackman Brendan Bomberry and goalie Dom Madonna the noteworthy departures. For those who value what’s actually been accomplished on the field, Syracuse will be worthy of skepticism. This evaluation tilts toward the latter school of thought, in large part because of the answer to the most basic of questions: What do the Orange do well? It ranked in the top 20 nationally in shooting percentage (.328, 12th overall) and ground balls (30.47, 17th in the country), but was also in the bottom half nationally in scoring defense (tied for 43rd), man-down defense (46th) and clearing percentage (50th). The offense brings back a bunch of useful pieces but not a dominant centerpiece; midfielder Jamie Trimboli (21 goals, 10 assists) was an honorable mention All-America pick. The defense was rarely a threat for a shut-down day against high-end competition, with just four of 15 foes (Binghamton, Notre Dame, Hobart and Colgate) held to fewer than 10 goals. It’s going to overwhelmingly be the same guys next year, and without a considerable collective step forward, 2019 will be pedestrian — a word almost never used to describe the Orange.

12. PENN STATE

2018 record: 8-6 (2-3 Big Ten)

Last seen: Getting eliminated from Big Ten tournament — and, effectively, NCAA tournament — contention with a loss at home to Michigan to close the regular season.

Senior starts lost: 14 of 140 (10 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 40 of 271 points (14.8 percent)

Initial forecast: Stop if you’ve heard this one before — Penn State could be the breakout team of 2019.  It hasn’t always worked out that way; the Nittany Lions have two NCAA appearances (2013 and 2017) in eight seasons under Jeff Tambroni, and the Big Ten isn’t getting any easier to navigate. Yet the peripheral details suggest this could be a team due a surge in the wake of a disappointing 2018. Penn State only loses a pair of major pieces (short stick defensive midfielder Tripp Traynor and midfielder Ryan Keenan), and it should get attackman Grant Ament (30 goals, 30 assists in 2017) back from a foot injury. The Nittany Lions still scored in bunches without Ament, and four 30-point point scorers (led by Mac O’Keefe and Nick Spillane) will be back as well. Penn State took a major step forward at the defensive end, cutting its goals allowed by more than one per game. Credit the improvement to three areas: Sophomore goalie Colby Kneese settling into his starting role; progress at close defense; and the excellence of faceoff man Gerard Arceri (68.1 percent). There aren’t looming holes in any of those areas, and a team that beat Johns Hopkins and thumped Ohio State should be back in the postseason picture next spring.




PHOTO BY LEE WEISSMAN

Albany attackman Tehoka Nanticoke had 82 points (50 goals, 32 assists) as a freshman.


11. ALBANY

2018 record: 16-3 (5-1 America East)

Last seen: Getting swamped by Yale’s offense in the first quarter of a 20-11 loss in the NCAA semifinals.

Senior starts lost: 89 of 190 (46.8 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 210 of 456 points (46.1 percent)

Initial forecast: Go ahead and pencil in Albany as the favorite to win the America East, because that’s the annual expectation now for Scott Marr’s program. But the Great Danes will take some serious graduation hits across the board — attackmen Connor Fields and Justin Reh, midfielder Kyle McClancy, defenseman Stone Sims and goalie JD Colarusso — that will make it difficult (but not impossible) to make a run at another trip to Memorial Day weekend. Faceoff whiz TD Ierlan, who set Division I single-season records in faceoff percentage (.791) and faceoff wins (359), clocked in at more than 90 percent against conference foes and provides Albany with a massive advantage in a chase for an NCAA tournament berth even if it doesn’t land name-brand victories like it did this year at Syracuse and Maryland. There are still three proven starters on offense — Tehoka Nanticoke (50 goals, 32 assists), Jakob Patterson (42 goals) and Sean Eccles (33 goals, 14 assists) — and few teams share the ball as well as the Great Danes. With a smaller-than-usual senior class, Albany probably takes a modest step back, but it’s not out of the question the Great Danes will make it to the quarterfinals (or beyond) for the fifth time in six years.