Division I Outlook

February 17, 2007|By Katherine Dunn

Johns Hopkins

Coach -- Janine Tucker (157-60, 14th season)

2006 record -- 12-4

Conference -- American Lacrosse

Top returning scorer -- Mary Key, senior attacker (60, 41)

Also back -- Kadie Stamper, junior midfielder; Lauren Schwarzmann, junior M; Sarah Gallion, junior defender; Cherie Michaud, junior D

The Sun's take -- The Blue Jays are still stinging from missing out on the NCAA tournament last season for the first time in three years, giving them the motivation to go with the talent to earn a berth this time. The easiest route would be to win the first American Lacrosse Conference tournament at Homewood Field on May 3-6, and get the automatic bid. The Blue Jays have six returning starters, led by two-time All-American Key, one of the most prolific scorers in school history. They have experience all over the field and good freshman talent. While scoring shouldn't be a problem, neither should defense with a strong speedy unit backed by solid goalies, sophomore Amelia Harris and freshman Lizzie O'Ferrall.

Loyola

Coach -- Kerri O'Day (26-23, fourth season)

2006 record -- 7-8

Conference -- Big East

Top returning scorer -- Kate McHarg, senior M (60, 9)

Also back -- Maura Kenny, junior A; Liz Peregoy, senior M; Kate Filippelli, junior M; Kristen Stone, junior D

The Sun's take -- Don't let last season's record fool you. The Greyhounds were a lot better than that. Take their final game - a 9-8 overtime loss at Georgetown. A win would have given them a tie for the Big East title. This season, there's no doubt about the offense, which returns 63 percent of the scoring. McHarg led the nation in goals per game last season with 4.0. What the Greyhounds need to get back in the tournament hunt is to "connect the dots," O'Day said. With strong players in all three units, the Greyhounds just need to move the ball better between them. If they can become more fluid in their transition, the Greyhounds should go over .500 and break back into the Top 20.

Maryland

Coach -- Cathy Nelson Reese (first season)

2006 record -- 12-8

Conference -- Atlantic Coast

Top returning scorer -- Kelly Kasper, junior M (44, 27)

Also back -- Katie Doolittle, senior M; Casey Magor, junior M; Krista Pellizzi, senior A; Allie Buote, junior G

The Sun's take -- The Terrapins take aim at making the final four for the first time in four years. There's plenty of talent and experience returning, as well as a few high-impact newcomers, especially in the midfield. Dana Dobbie, who played for Canada in the last World Cup transfers in, while freshmen Caitlyn McFadden (Notre Dame Prep) and Amanda Spinnenweber (Chesapeake-AA) could also join Kasper, Magor and Doolittle in the midfield. On attack, the Terps are set with 70 percent of their scoring intact. Defensively, they return a speedy, transition-sparking unit, backed by Buote, who could emerge as one of the nation's top keepers.

Mount St. Mary's

Coach -- Denise Wescott (7-11, second season)

2006 record -- 7-11

Conference -- Northeast

Top returning scorer -- Casey Paris, senior A (37, 15)

Also back -- Jenna Duffy, senior M; Jacqui Ricca, senior D; Rebecca Douglass, junior M; Katelyn Catanese, sophomore M

The Sun's take -- The Mountaineers face a rebuilding season after graduating seven starters, but Wescott has more depth and more balanced scoring, which could offset some of the growing pains. In Wescott's second season, there is also more understanding of her coaching style, and she said this group is more flexible, realizing that a lot of people have to step up and fill in the cracks. The new defense will need time to come together, but the Mountaineers have an experienced goalie in junior Jane Karger. Wescott plans to experiment more than last season to find the right combinations up and down the field.

Towson

Coach -- Missy Holmes Doherty (34-20, fourth season)

2006 record -- 7-10

Conference -- Colonial Athletic Association

Top returning scorer -- Shannon Witzel, senior A (61, 13)

Also back -- Mandy Corry, junior G; Meggie McNamara, sophomore A; Hillary Fratzke, sophomore M; Lindsay Lusignea, senior D

The Sun's take -- The Tigers suffered seven of their losses by two goals or fewer last season, so there's not a lot of ground to make up to get back to the 2005 form that put them into the NCAA tournament for the first time. Eight starters return, and Holmes expects the Tigers to take more control of games rather than reacting to what the opposition does. There's a lot of speed and seven potential scorers on the offense as well as great depth in the midfield, both of which will help make up for graduating Becky Trumbo, the Tigers all-time leader in draw controls and second all-time in goals scored. They also have four strong returning defenders, backed by Corry, who played all but four minutes of last season.

UMBC

Coach -- Courtney Connor (10-7, second season)

2006 record -- 10-7

Conference -- America East

Top returning scorer -- Ali Levendusky, junior A (41, 13)

Also back -- Kelly Fahey, senior M; Jen Kasper, senior A; Kara Dorr, sophomore M

The Sun's take -- Connor earned America East Coach of the Year honors in her first season after leading the Retrievers to a share of the conference regular-season title and a 16-13 upset of Boston University. Returning nine starters, including a strong goalie in sophomore Susie Sweeney, the Retrievers also have a large freshman class that includes up to six potential starters. Freshman G Kate Quick will give Sweeney a run for the starting keeper job. Connor said there are 16 or 17 players who could earn starting spots and the competition for those spots will only make the team better. With that depth and talent as well as a second year of knowing Connor's style, the Retrievers could reach their goal of a conference tournament title.

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