Here is the final installment of a preseason and premature poll for the 2010 season, publishing the teams ranked from Nos. 5 to 1.
Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2009 will not be back next season. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here are the teams that I think will fall between Nos. 5 and 1.
5. Johns Hopkins (10-5; quarterfinal)
Losses: Three starters in midfielders Brian Christopher (30 goals and 11 assists) and Mark Bryan (12, 4) and defenseman Michael Evans and three reserves in long-stick midfielder Charlie Wiggins (31 groundballs), short-stick defensive midfielder Andrew Miller (27 gb’s) and attackman Josh Peck (9, 2).
Returners: Seven starters including the entire starting attack of junior Chris Boland (28, 18), sophomore Kyle Wharton (34, 11) and junior Steven Boyle (21, 17) and junior midfielder Michael Kimmel (20, 25).
Reason for pessimism: Despite the return of defensemen Matt Drenan (46 gb’s) and Sam DeVore (23 gb’s, 20 caused turnovers) and junior goalkeeper Michael Gvozden (10.19 goals-against average, .503 save percentage), the unit allowed 10.3 goals per game this season.
Reason for optimism: The Blue Jays welcome five Under Armour All Americans, but they will lean on the suddenly potent offense to carry them to victories.
4. Virginia (15-3; semifinal)
Losses: Four starters in attackmen Danny Glading (32, 31) and Garrett Billings (38, 21), midfielder Steve Giannone (17, 8) and defenseman Matt Kelly (38 gb’s, 28 ct’s) and two reserves in face-off specialist Chad Gaudet (105 gb’s, 54.8 percentage) and long-stick midfielder Mike Timms (60 gb’s, 31 ct’s).
Returners: Six starters in freshman attackman Steele Stanwick (36, 22, 45 gb’s), sophomore midfielder Shamel Bratton (31, 11), junior midfielder Brian Carroll (29, 10), sophomore goalie Adam Ghitelman (8.39 gaa, .538 save) and junior defensemen Ken Clausen (49 gb’s, 29 ct’s) and Ryan Nizolek (33 gb’s, 16 ct’s).
Reason for pessimism: Can Stanwick succeed Glading as the quarterback of an offense that ranked first in the nation with a 13.0-goals average this past spring?
Reason for optimism: The Cavaliers tied Georgetown with six Under Armour All Americans, one of whom is Gilman defenseman Harry Prevas.
3. Syracuse (16-2; NCAA champion)
Losses: Five starters including the entire first midfield line of Dan Hardy (25, 18), Pat Perritt (18, 14) and Matt Abbott (12, 11, 77 gb’s), attackman Kenny Nims (32, 42) and defenseman Sid Smith (39 gb’s).
Returners: Five starters in attackmen Stephen Keough (49, 6) and Chris Daniello (21, 3), defensemen John Lade (53 gb’s) and Matt Tierney (19 gb’s) and sophomore goalkeeper John Galloway (7.64 gaa, .567 save) and three reserves in attackmen Tim Desko (13, 4) and Cody Jamieson (9, 3) and midfielder Josh Amidon (14, 9).
Reason for pessimism: The Orange were spoiled by the presence of one of the most consistent and disciplined midfields in the country, and that hole will be hard to fill.
Reason for optimism: Despite the graduation of Smith, the defense should continue to be solid with the return of sophomore long-stick midfielder Joel White (5, 3, 63 gb’s) and short-stick defensive midfielders Jovan Miller and Kevin Drew.
2. North Carolina (12-6; quarterfinal)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Bart Wagner (38, 15), midfielder Ben Hunt (17, 12) and defenseman Jack Ryan and two reserves in face-off specialist Shane Walterhoefer (145 gb’s, 62.9 percentage) and goalie Grant Zimmerman (7.56 gaa, .561 save).
Returners: Seven starters including three of the team’s top four scorers in sophomore attackman Billy Bitter (46, 25, 61 gb’s), sophomore midfielder Sean Delaney (35, 8) and junior attackman Gavin Petracca (26, 17), defensemen Ryan Flanagan (67 gb’s, 36 ct’s) and Charlie McComas (41 gb’s) and freshman goalkeeper James Petracca (11.53 gaa, .494 save) and two reserves in junior midfielder Sean Burke (7, 18) and sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Chris Hunt (54 gb’s).
Reason for pessimism: Petracca fared well for a rookie thrust into action after Zimmerman tore a ligament in his knee midway through the season, but will he give way to junior Chris Madalon, who red-shirted this past spring.
Reason for optimism: Bitter headlines the Tar Heels offense and could be the nation’s most potent offensive player by midseason.
1. Duke (15-4; semifinal)
Losses: Two starters in midfielder Brad Ross (21, 6) and defenseman Ryan McFadyen (24 gb’s).
Returners: Eight starters including the entire first attack line of senior Ned Crotty (23, 55), junior Max Quinzani (46, 11) and sophomore Zach Howell (29, 19), midfielders Justin Turri (17, 11) and Steve Schoeffel (17, 7), defensemen Parker McKee (93 gb’s) and Mike Manley (34 gb’s) and senior goalie Rob Schroeder (8.20 gaa, .505 save) four reserves in senior midfielder Mike Catalino (20, 3), junior attackman Will McKee (16, 6), freshman long-stick midfielder C.J. Costabile (7, 6, 72 gb’s, 53.8 face-off percentage) and senior face-off specialist Sam Payton (94 gb’s, 54.5 percentage).
Reason for pessimism: After back-to-back disappointing showings in the NCAA tournament semifinals, the Blue Devils’ most intimidating opponent may be more mental than physical.
Reason for optimism: Scoring shouldn’t be a problem with Crotty and Quinzani powering the unit.