Review & preview: Premature 2014 poll, Part 1

An early attempt at looking into the crystal ball for next season's preseason rankings

June 06, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Duke captured its second national title in four years, Cornell’s Rob Pannell earned the Tewaaraton Award after sitting out the 2012 campaign with a broken left foot, and Johns Hopkins announced it would join the Big Ten for the 2015 season.

Now that the dust has settled from a 2013 postseason that did not involve the aforementioned Blue Jays or Virginia for the first time since an NCAA tournament was instituted in 1971 to determine a national champion, perhaps now is a good time to compile a premature poll for 2014.

The Top 20 will be broken up into four installments, with Thursday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16. Friday will feature Nos. 15 to 11, Monday Nos. 10 to 6 and Tuesday Nos. 5 to 1. Wednesday will include three schools not mentioned in the poll that could make some waves.

Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2013 will not return next year. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here’s a spin anyway:

20. Penn (2013 record: 8-5; NCAA tournament finish: no tournament)

Losses: Three starters in attackmen Tim Schwalje (15 goals and 26 assists) and Ryan Parietti (13, 6), and defenseman Anthony Santomo (23 ground balls and 27 caused turnovers).

Returners: Six-sevenths of the starting defense including junior goalkeeper Brian Feeney (7.29 goals-against average and .589 save percentage), junior defenseman Maxx Meyer (36 GB, 20 CT) and sophomore defenseman Matt McMahon (19 GB, 15 CT).

Reason for pessimism: Aside from Schwalje, no other player on the roster finished with more than 10 assists. Finding a playmaker should be a top priority in the offseason.

Reason for optimism: The offense could be powered by a midfield that includes juniors Zack Losco (23 G, 6 A) and Drew Belinsky (14 G, 9 A).

19. Villanova (7-8; no tournament)

Losses: Four starters including the entire attack trio of Jack Rice (37 G, 0 A), Nick Doherty (13 G, 13 A) and Will Casertano (8 G, 10 A).

Returners: The entire defense, including junior long-stick midfielder John LoCascio (85 GB, 53 CT), and junior defensemen Christopher Conroy (23 GB, 19 CT) and Chris Piccirilli (30 GB, 15 CT).

Reason for pessimism: An offense that ranked 21st in Division I in scoring may be hard-pressed to average the 10.7 goals it scored this past spring.

Reason for optimism: The offense could get its fair share of possessions courtesy of junior Thomas Croonquist, who won 55.9 percent (199-of-356) of his faceoffs and scooped up 107 ground balls.

18. Towson (10-8; first round)

Losses: One starter in goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage (9.33 GAA, .592 save percentage) and one key contributor in attackman Matt Hughes (10 G, 0 A).

Returners: Nine starters, including the starting midfield of junior Andrew Hodgson (27 G, 14 A), sophomore Greg Cuccinello (23 G, 6 A) and sophomore Justin Mabus (8 G, 16 A).

Reason for pessimism: Candidates to succeed Wascavage include junior Jake Graves and freshman Ryan Adler, who combined to play almost 22 minutes last spring, and sophomore Tyler White, who did not take the field.

Reason for optimism: The attack could use more consistent production from the third spot, but junior Thomas DeNapoli (41 G, 19 A) and sophomore Cory Dobyns (19 G, 3 A) are good beginning pieces for that unit.

17. Fairfield (8-7; no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in attackman Sam Snow (20 G, 15 A) and defenseman Dan Niebler (10 GB, 5 CT) and one key contributor in short-stick defensive midfielder Marshall Johnson (5 G, 3 A, 46 GB, 6 CT).

Returners: Eight starters, including the first midfield of sophomore Colin McLinden (10 G, 19 A), junior Eric Warden (15 G, 4 A) and freshman T.J. Neubauer (14 G, 2 A).

Reason for pessimism: Junior attackman Jordan Greenfield (34 G, 8 A) and sophomore Tristan Sperry (17 G, 5 A) are back, but the offense still managed just 8.9 goals per game, which ranked 45th in the country.

Reason for optimism: A defense that was a respectable 22nd (9.7 goals per game) should be anchored again by junior defensemen Toby Armour (17 GB, 14 CT) and Greg Perraut (20 GB, 9 CT) and sophomore goalie Jack Murphy (9.66 GAA, .532 save percentage).

16. Bucknell (12-4; no tournament)

Losses: Three starters in attackman Chase Bailey (36 G, 10 A), defenseman Mike Huffner (35 GB, 24 CT) and goalkeeper Kyle Feeney (8.42 GAA, .508 save percentage), and one key contributor in faceoff specialist Ryan Gutowski (75 GB, 122-of-243 for 50.2 percent).

Returners: Seven starters, including the first midfield of sophomore David Dickson (8 G, 48 A), junior Peter Burke (11 G, 9 A) and freshman Brock Ghelfi (16 G, 3 A). And don’t forget about freshman Thomas Flibotte (29 G, 1 A).

Reason for pessimism: Junior defenseman Jackson Place (43 GB, 30 CT) and freshman long-stick midfielder Alex Spring (53 GB, 19 CT) will have to anchor the defense until a goalie emerges to replace Feeney.

Reason for optimism: Bailey’s departure will sting, but 2013 Patriot League Rookie of the Year Sean Doyle (27 G, 15 A) and junior Todd Heritage (34 G, 5 A) will help ease some of the pain at attack.

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