Preseason Top 20

March 03, 2000|By Katherine Dunn

The preseason Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll (last season's record in parentheses):

1. Maryland (21-0): The five-time defending national champs return everyone, including six All-Americans, from a team that scored a school-record 331 goals. The only question is, can anybody stop the Terps?

2. Duke (13-5): In their first trip to the final four, the Blue Devils missed the title game by one goal, a 9-8 loss to Virginia in the semifinals. Ready to make another run at the top, they return nine starters and their top nine scorers. However, the three starters lost all came from the defense.

3. Virginia (15-6): Runners-up to the Terps three of the past four years, the Cavaliers are looking to shake their bridesmaid status and win their first national title since 1993. Returning three All-America defenders -- Amy Fromal, Ashley Widger and Stephy Samaras (Annapolis) -- will spark an explosive transition.

4. Dartmouth (11-5): The three-time defending Ivy League champion returns almost everyone, including All-Americans Jacque Weitzel (Garrison Forest, 48 goals, 22 assists), Kate Graw (Severn, 36, 16) and Melissa Frazier (4, 12). With such a loaded attack, the Big Green is hungry to return to the final four after falling in the NCAA quarters last year.

5. North Carolina (8-7): Coming off a disappointing season in which they lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Tar Heels are looking to return to the final four for the third time in four years. The defense took a hit from graduation, but eight of the top nine scorers return, led my Meghann Mohler (Catonsville, 25G, 15A).

6. Georgetown (11-6): To improve on the two most successful seasons in their history, the Hoyas will have to replace three four-year starters on defense. However, their attack returns intact, including All-Americans Sheehan Stanwick (Notre Dame Prep, 51G, 26A) and Erin Elbe (47, 12).

7. James Madison (13-5): The Colonial Athletic Association champ has one of the toughest schedules in the nation with 11 ranked teams, including the entire final four, on its 14-team schedule. The attack will be more balanced after the graduation of Megan Riley (South River), who set every school scoring record.

8. Loyola (12-5): With one of their youngest, most inexperienced teams in years, the Greyhounds were surprisingly successful last season. Now, the youngsters are ready to move up.

9. Princeton (12-5): The Tigers suffered the biggest graduation hit of any Top 10 team, losing six starters, including all-time leading scorer Cristi Samaras (Annapolis). With Kim Smith (Bryn Mawr, 30G, 10A) back on attack and a veteran midfield, the Tigers are looking for big things from the youngsters on defense.

10. Penn State (15-5): A final four team last year, the Nittany Lions have also seen a lot of change. They graduated seven seniors and have a new coach, Karen Schnellenbach, who takes over after Julie Williams resigned. Key feeder Julie Tice (Severn, 23G, 41A) will look to shoot more in a young attack.

11. Rutgers (14-3): The Scarlet Knights were a team on the move last year, beating four ranked teams and every unranked opponent and making the NCAA tournament for the first time. Four of the top five scorers graduated, so many youngsters will contribute.

12. Yale (14-4): After matching a school record for wins last season, the Bulldogs return veterans almost everywhere except in goal. Finding a youngster to step up in the cage will be the key.

13. George Mason (7-8): The Patriots lost just four seniors, but one tough spot to fill will be in the cage after the graduation of three-year starter Bettina Guevara (Loch Raven), the CAA's top keeper.

14. Boston U. (14-5): The Terriers return six players who contributed more than 30 points last season, including America East Player of the Year Chrissy Lombard (Mount Hebron, 45G, 21A)

15. Delaware (13-5): The three-time defending America East champs have won 23 straight conference games. They return six all-league players, including Christy Buck (Mount de Sales, 19G, 10A) and Megan Fortunato ((40, 19).

16. Syracuse (12-4): The Orangewomen return 21 players, the best in their short history. The Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament champs remain young, with 17 underclassmen.

17. William and Mary (6-9): Tara Kelly is the Tribe's third coach in three years, and she has a young group to work with. There are 84 points to replace with the graduation of top scorers Dani Vissers (Mount Hebron) and Mary Beth Noel.

18. Vanderbilt (5-10): The Commodores went 1-9 against Top 20 teams last season, but three of those losses were by one goal and another came in overtime. Cutting down on the 10 goals allowed a game is a priority.

19. Old Dominion (6-8): The Monarchs will look to boost their scoring stats from last year's 111 goals. With no one returning who contributed more than 17 points, the Monarchs will spread the scoring chores around.

20. Brown (7-6): Two years ago, the Bears lost four one-goal games. Last year, they won three one-goal games. They'll try to keep that up with a talented young squad.

Also receiving votes: Cornell, Temple, Virginia Tech.

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