PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Andrew Pettit and Lucas Spence return for Lehigh in 2019 as two of the top point scorers from this season.

Way-Early 2019 Rankings: No. 20-No. 16 (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

LEHIGH'S WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY WILL BE ITS BIGGEST YET IN 2019.


20. NAVY

2018 record: 9-5 (7-1 Patriot)

Last seen: Getting bounced in the Patriot League semifinals by Lehigh, an abrupt end for a team riding high after winning at Army and Syracuse the previous two weeks.

Senior starts lost: 72 of 140 (51.4 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 93 of 202 points (46.0 percent)

Initial forecast: Out of all teams, you tend to expect service academies to concentrate more of their production among upperclassmen than civilian schools. So while the data suggests Navy is losing a bunch – and make no mistake, it is – it’s reasonable to believe the Midshipmen will figure things out enough to stop yo-yoing up and down the Patriot League standings. From the last at-large team into the field in 2016 to a forgettable 2017 to a 2018 campaign capped by another regular-season defeat of Army and Joe Varello’s memorable goal in the final second in the Carrier Dome, Rick Sowell’s program has been all over the map the last few years. Navy was about as balanced as can be on offense, with three 33-point scorers and another player with 31 points. Three of those major contributors – midfielders Greyson Torain and Ryan Wade and attackman Christian Daniel – will be back, as will solid goalie Ryan Kern. Can Navy effectively replace two starting defensemen and its top two short stick defensive midfielders? Recent history says yes. The biggest problem might be finding a successor to the valuable Varello. The Mids’ projected returnees are a combined 6 of 27 lifetime on faceoffs at the college level, including a 3 of 22 showing in a season-opening loss to Jacksonville when Varello was suspended. Solve that, and Navy joins Lehigh as the biggest threats to Loyola’s continued Patriot League hegemony next spring.

19. TOWSON

2018 record: 7-8 (3-2 Colonial)

Last seen: Falling a game short of its fifth NCAA tournament appearance in six years, dropping a 12-8 decision to Massachusetts in the CAA final.

Senior starts lost: 22 of 150 (14.7 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 37 of 201 points (18.4 percent)

Initial forecast: The Tigers took the sort of step back that would be anticipated anytime a final four team loses five of its top six offensive players. But despite some suspensions to key players this spring – when everyone was reminded that few in the sport respond to shenanigans as forcefully as Towson coach Shawn Nadelen – the Tigers played fairly well in the final quarter of their schedule. There isn’t much exiting after this season, and Towson will begin next year with arguably the nation’s best short stick defensive midfielder (Zach Goodrich), a sturdy defense with a goalie entering his second year as a starter (Shane Brennan), a capable faceoff man in Alex Woodall (60.9 percent) and an offense that could return all but one of its regulars. Grad transfer Jean-Luc Chetner departs, but Towson has four other 20-point scorers eligible to return. That group tentatively includes Jon Mazza, the team’s top scorer prior to a midseason suspension that lasted through the spring. Regardless of Mazza’s status, Towson will head into next year with a better sense of its offensive personnel and should find itself at or near the top of the CAA.








18. MASSACHUSETTS

2018 record: 12-5 (5-0 Colonial)

Last seen: Dropping 13 goals on Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament – in retrospect, a pretty impressive accomplishment against a defense that held Loyola and Albany in check the following two rounds.

Senior starts lost: 45 of 170 (26.5 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 107 of 323 points (33.1 percent)

Initial forecast: Can the Minutemen build off their superb in-season turnaround? That’s the pressing question for Massachusetts, which followed up a 1-4 start with an 11-game winning streak and a perfect run through the Colonial. There are major graduation losses, but they are scattered across the field: Attackman Buddy Carr (39 goals, 25 assists), faceoff man Noah Rak (59.3 percent) and defenseman Luc Valenza. Nonetheless, both of the Minutemen’s honorable mention All-America selections will be back, including midfielder Jeff Trainor (28 goals, 22 assists) and defenseman Isaac Paparo (25 caused turnovers). Sean Sconone (.588 save percentage) will again be a presence in the cage and help stabilize the UMass defense. The Minutemen went 0-3 against tournament teams in 2018 (two losses to Yale and one to Albany), and the absence of high-end victories is a reason to rein in expectations a little. Even with that caveat, a team that didn’t feast on close games (just three victories by less than four goals) that brings back seven guys with at least 10 goals, its best defenseman and its goalie probably isn’t due for regression. Massachusetts should be in the hunt for another CAA title next year.

17. GEORGETOWN

2018 record: 12-5 (3-2 Big East)

Last seen: Controlling play at Johns Hopkins for nearly three quarters in the program’s first NCAA tournament game in 11 years before the Blue Jays rallied to earn an overtime victory in the first round.

Senior starts lost: 58 of 170 (34.1 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 89 of 304 points (29.3 percent)

Initial forecast: The offense is probably going to carry the day, at least initially, for the Hoyas next season. First-year offensive coordinator Mike Phipps did a stellar job of tightening things up this spring, and the result was a balanced offense that cut down on its mistakes. Georgetown had four 20-20 guys, and while senior Craig Berge graduates, the Hoyas have Daniel Bucaro (34 goals, 21 assists), Jake Carraway (44 goals, 20 assists) and Lucas Wittenberg (23 goals, 20 assists) to provide the fine start on offense. But getting those guys the ball – and getting stops – will probably be more complicated in 2019. Georgetown graduates a first team All-America goalie (Nick Marrocco), primary faceoff man Peter Tagliaferri (54.1 percent) and third team All-America short stick Ryan Hursey. There’s also the intangibles provided by the entire senior class, which had slogged through a combined 6-22 record the previous two years before bagging a surprise Big East tournament title. How strong was the cultural foundation they built? And do the Hoyas remain hungry? And is a capable replacement for Marrocco in the pipeline? All are questions Kevin Warne’s team will have to answer next spring. Here’s guessing Georgetown eventually figures things out and again contends for an NCAA berth, but there could be some early stumbles while sorting through everything.




PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Towson will head into next year with a better sense of its offensive personnel and should find itself at or near the top of the CAA with leaders like faceoff specialist Alex Woodall.


16. LEHIGH

2018 record: 10-7 (5-3 Patriot)

Last seen: Playing three good quarters in a Patriot League title game loss to Loyola, the Mountain Hawks’ third game in a six-day span.

Senior starts lost: 28 of 170 (16.5 percent)

Senior scoring departing: 42 of 293 points (14.3 percent)

Initial forecast: Lehigh’s window, at least over the next few seasons, isn’t going to get bigger than it will in 2019. The Mountain Hawks had three players with at least 20 points this spring, but they produced at a magnificent level – Andrew Pettit (46 G, 20 A), Lucas Spence (35 G, 23 A) and Tristan Rai (23 G, 25 A). All three will be seniors next year. Craig Chick has established a reputation as one of the top takeaway artists in his career, and he forced 41 turnovers this past spring. He’ll also be a senior. In fact, Lehigh will have six seniors who started at least half of its games from a 2018 team that had no inexplicable losses and was competitive in losses to Cornell, North Carolina and Rutgers and managed a split with Navy. The Mountain Hawks, who made a pair of NCAA tournament appearances earlier this decade, are trending in the right direction and look to be the biggest threat to Loyola’s grip on the Patriot League next spring.