Scott McCall

The return of 100-point scorer Bryanna Fazio will help defending champion Le Moyne make another title run in 2019.

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

With the 2018 season now in the rear-view mirror for all of three weeks and Le Moyne still celebrating its first national championship, it seems like a good time to, what else, start looking ahead to 2019.

Some would argue that it’s way too early for this exercise, and they are probably correct. But lacrosse people love to talk lacrosse, so we’re actually just doing this as a public service to help stir the conversation.

It’s important to note that the 2019 NCAA Tournament is expanding from 12 to 16 teams, with each of the four regions (Atlantic, East, Midwest, South) adding a fourth spot. The first round bye awarded previously to the top seed in each region is eliminated. 

So, we’ve looked at rosters. We’ve taken notice of programs that were on the rise in 2018. Which teams are losing impact players? Which ones have a solid nucleus returning? We mix it all together and make, ultimately, semi-educated, semi-delusional projections.

Let’s get started.

1. Adelphi

The Panthers lose seven seniors, including two-time All-American Michele Scannell and first team all-region defender Kaitlin Stackpole, but the cupboard is certainly not bare. Rising juniors Alison Johnson, the 2018 NE10 Player of the Year, and Kole Pollock, a first team all-conference performer who scored a school-record 85 goals in 2018, will help keep the program among the national contenders. Adelphi finished 13-0 in the conference’s regular season and 19-3 overall, with its only losses coming at Florida Southern and twice to Le Moyne. The Panthers are 104-6 over the past four seasons. 

2. Le Moyne

They finally broke through. In 2018, the Dolphins got past their NE10 nemesis, Adelphi, which had knocked out Le Moyne in the national semifinals in 2015, 2016, and 2017. But this past spring, the Dolphins were nearly flawless, starting the season with 15 straight wins and closing the year with seven straight victories to capture the title. Le Moyne's 22 victories tied the NCAA Division II record for wins in a season. Despite losing NE10 defender of the year Kelly Gaffney, three all-conference first teamers are back, including leading scorer Bryanna Fazio (78 goals, 105 points) and NE10 goalie of the year Hannah George.

3. West Chester

Given WCU’s track record as one of the nation’s elite teams over the past 15 years, its 19-1 campaign in 2018 should have been no surprise, even if the Rams did exceed most preseason expectations. Four returning all-region players, including leading scorer Tatum Altman (84 points), midfielders Maggie Stella and Sami Barnett, and defensive anchor Molly Reinhart, make the Rams a strong championship contender again in 2019.

4. Florida Tech

Similar to Le Moyne’s historical struggle to get past its league rival Adelphi, the only apparent obstacle to FIT’s national success is getting past Sunshine State Conference-foe Florida Southern. Tech finished 17-3 overall in 2018, with all three losses coming against FSC, including a 19-10 setback in the NCAA’s quarterfinals. With SSC Player of the Year Lauren Tybor joined by returning all-region selectees Olivia Going and Sam Schiano, 2019 may be the 
year that the tide turns in the SSC.

5. Florida Southern

The Mocs have made three straight national championship game appearances, winning the title in 2016, finishing as the runners-up in 2017 and 2018, and posting a school-record 21 wins in back-to-back seasons. The departures include do-everything midfielder Emily Santoli (72 goals), and attackers Meghan O’Brien (98 points) and Shannon Gilfedder, the top three scorers in 2018. FSC will count on returning all-region performers Dani Bursinger and Sam Keesey to lead the way back to championship weekend in 2019.

6. Lindenwood

The 2018 season ended unexpectedly for the undefeated Lions with a 15-14 overtime loss to Regis in the NCAA quarterfinals, snapping a streak of four straight national semifinal appearances. Despite a 76-8 record over the past four seasons, LU is still searching for its first breakthrough to the finals. Sophie Buelow, third in program history with 229 points, is gone, as is four-time RMAC goalie of the year Rachel Ortell, leaving a few holes to fill in order to make another title run.

7. LIU Post

The Pioneers have won four straight East Coast Conference titles and expect to return four all-region players in 2019, including rising juniors Alyssa Mallery (77 goals) and Brianna Feldman (60 goals). The biggest hole will be replacing All-American goalie Olivia Kirk, a four-year starter between the pipes.

8. East Stroudsburg

The Warriors earned their second straight NCAA Tournament berth in 2018 and advanced to the final four after upsetting PSAC-rival West Chester in the national quarterfinals. ESU loses All-American midfielder Chessie Rahmer, but welcomes back the PSAC’s freshman of the year Krista Mitarotonda (67 goals) and all-conference goalie Tatyana Petteway.

9. Regis 

Back-to-back 17-win seasons and a first ever appearance in the national semifinals has the Rangers trending in the right direction. All-America midfielder Jada Bonner is among the seven departing seniors, but leading scorers Sarah Myres (72 goals, 107 points) and Kyleigh Peoples (78 points) are among the returnees.

10. Indianapolis

The Greyhounds were one of the breakthrough teams in 2018, setting a new school record with 16 wins, capturing the GLIAC title and earning their first NCAA appearance. The third-year program loses just one senior, Anna Rulapaugh, who finished as the program’s all-time scoring leader after transferring from Pfeiffer. 

The Rest

Limestone is always a strong contender in the South Region and will challenge for one of the region’s four tournament berths…Mercyhurst has made five straight appearances in the PSAC league final and should contend for top honors again in 2019…Mercy has won 30 games in the past two seasons and will challenge LIU Post again in the ECC…Rollins could be a third SSC team in line for an NCAA berth in 2019…Colorado Mesa and Grand Valley State may emerge as teams to watch in the Midwest region.

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