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College Lacrosse Preview

February 22, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff

Who's in the goal?

Who's handling faceoffs?

Those are the pertinent personnel questions as the college lacrosse season begins in earnest this weekend. A number of perennial powers had to replace their goalies, and the more one's team controls possession, the easier its transition. Syracuse and Towson enjoy putting big numbers on the scoreboard, but the other serious contenders for the NCAA championship that will be awarded at Rutgers on May 27 prefer a slower pace.

With the number of automatic qualifiers to the NCAA tournament up to six, a third of the 12-team field will supplant teams with higher computer ratings. Regular-season games that were important have become crucial.

Top eight seeds

No. 1 Syracuse

Coach: John Desko (fourth season, 40-9).

2001 record: 13-3, NCAA finalist.

Conference: Independent

Top returning point-getter: Mike Powell, sophomore A (30 goals, 40 assists).

Also back: Josh Coffman, senior A (34, 17); Mike Springer, junior A (40, 13); Tom Hardy, senior M; Brian Solliday, senior M (20, 8); Spencer Wright, senior M; Sol Bliss, junior D; John Glatzel, senior D; Billy St. George, senior D.

Key addition: Jay Pfeiffer, freshman G (Gilman).

Sun's take: When it comes to returning talent, there's a three-team logjam at the top, and the Orangemen may be more gifted than either brand of Tiger, whether it's Princeton or Towson. Pfeiffer is standing in the back after a redshirt season and a lengthy competition to find Rob Mulligan's replacement. Desko has star power at both ends, as Glatzel (Boys' Latin) and Powell made the U.S. men's team.

No. 2 Princeton

Coach: Bill Tierney (15th season, 194-54).

2001 record: 14-1, NCAA champion.

Conference: Ivy.

Top returning point-getter: Ryan Boyle, sophomore A (16, 37).

Also back: B.J. Prager, senior A (36, 4); Sean Hartofolis, junior A (33, 5); Owen Daly, junior M (11, 4); Brad Dumont, junior M; Will MacColl, junior M; Joe Rosenbaum, junior LSM; Damien Davis, junior D; Scott Farrell, senior D.

Key addition: Matt Larkin, freshman G (Severn).

Sun's take: The Tigers made it six NCAA titles in 10 years with an overtime win over Syracuse that avenged their lone loss, and are primed to repeat. Boyle (Gilman) directs an offense that lost some midfield firepower but remains slick and experienced. The defense lost two All-Americans, and Davis needs to hold things down while new goalie Julian Gould settles in.

No. 3 Towson

Coach: Tony Seaman (fourth season, 22-22; 21st season, 186-95 overall).

2001 record: 14-4, NCAA semifinalist.

Conference: Colonial

Top returning point-getter: Brad Reppert, senior A (35, 35).

Also back: Kyle Campbell, junior A (53, 16); Ryan Obloj, junior A (30, 24); Josh Tankersley, senior M (26, 4); Hunter Lochte, junior M (19, 15); Danny Cocchi, junior LSM; Adam Baxter, junior D; Wesley Speaks, senior D.

Key additions: Kyle Cunningham, freshman A; Reed Sothoron, freshman G (St. Mary's Ryken).

Sun's take: If 2001 Coach of the Year Seaman can fill a few holes, the Tigers could take their first Division I championship. Towson will replace faceoff ace Justin Berry by committee, and Sothoron is challenging sophomore John Hunt for the goalie position vacated by John Horrigan. The Tigers enjoyed the greatest one-season turnaround in NCAA history; how will they react to being marked?

No. 4 Maryland

Coach: Dave Cottle (first season; 20th season overall, 181-70).

2001 record: 13-3, NCAA quarterfinalist.

Conference: ACC.

Top returning point-getter: Dan LaMonica, sophomore A (25, 26).

Also back: Mike Mollot, junior A (19, 21); Mike LaMonica, senior M (15, 5); Alex Poole, senior M; Nate Watkins, senior M; Brett Harper, junior LSM; Michael Howley, junior D; Chris Passavia, sophomore D; Dan McCormick, junior G.

Key addition: Drew Virk, sophomore M (transfer from Denison).

Sun's take: After Cottle won the hearts and minds of his players, he moved personnel and altered the Terps' offense. Buggs Combs and Chris Malone left with 66 goals and 19 assists, and Mollot and the LaMonica brothers need points from a group of midfielders that is deep but unproven. Graduation also took All-America G Pat McGinnis, but fourth-year junior Dan McCormick has looked solid.

No. 5 Johns Hopkins

Coach: Dave Pietramala (second season, 8-4; fifth season overall, 31-21).

2001 record: 8-4, NCAA quarterfinalist.

Conference: Independent.

Top returning point-getter: Bobby Benson, junior A (28, 14).

Also back: Conor Ford, sophomore A (22, 6); Adam Doneger, junior M (18, 12); Joe McDermott, sophomore A; Tim Muir, junior M; P.J. DiConza, senior D; Michael Peyser, junior D; Nick Murtha, senior G; Rob Scherr, junior G.

Key addition: Peter LeSueur, freshman A.

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