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Division I women's lacrosse team-by-team previews

College SportsNCAAMetalMaryland TerrapinsLoyola GreyhoundsNorth Carolina Tar Heels

Projected NCAA seeds

1.North Carolina

Last season: 18-3, NCAA champion

Coach: Jenny Levy (19th season, 242-95)

Top returning point-getter: Abbey Friend, senior A (61 goals, 22 assists)

Other key returnees

Sloane Serpe, senior D

Margaret Corzel, junior D

Aly Messinger, sophomore, A (31, 15)

Key newcomers

Maggie Bill, freshman M

Sydney Holman, freshman A

Outlook: The Tar Heels won their first national championship in dramatic fashion, edging previously-unbeaten Maryland, 13-12 in triple overtime in the longest game in NCAA women's lacrosse tournament history. Much of that talent returns for what Carolina hopes is an encore. Although they lost 87 points with the graduation of tournament MVP Kara Cannizzaro's and 41 more when senior midfielder Brittney Coppa tore an ACL in a Jan. 26 scrimmage against the U.S. national team, the Tar Heels return four of their top scorers and add a host of talented freshman. Defensively, the Tar Heels bring back a strong defense backed by sophomore goalie Megan Ward, one of the heroes of the national title game who had three of her six saves in overtime.

**

2. Maryland

Atlantic Coast Conference

Last season: 22-1, NCAA finalist

Coach: Cathy Reese (eighth season, 139-16, 11th season overall, 160-45)

Top returning point-getter: Brooke Griffin (49, 24)

Other key returnees

Taylor Cummings, sophomore, M (43, 14)

Beth Glaros, senior M (27, 9)

Kelly McPartland, junior M (25, 20)

Key newcomer

Zoe Stukenberg, freshman M

Outlook: The Terps defeated every team they played last season, including North Carolina twice, but they couldn't quite finish off their third meeting with the Tar Heels, falling a triple-overtime goal short of their 11th NCAA championship. Despite graduating two-time Tewaaraton Award winner Katie Schwarzmann and All-American Alex Aust, who combined for 210 points, the Terps return plenty of talent and experience on offense, especially in Cummings — a freshman All-American — Griffin and Glaros. They may have even more depth than last year, when eight players scored 23 or more goals. Defensively, the Terps will be rebuilding around returning starters Megan Douty and Shanna Brady while Abbey Clipp and Emily Kift compete for playing time in the goal.

**

3. Syracuse

Atlantic Coast Conference

Last season: 18-4, NCAA semifinalist

Coach: Gary Gait (eighth season, 94-31)

Top returning point-getter: Alyssa Murray, senior A (64, 40)

Other key returnees

Kayla Treanor, sophomore A-M (71, 24)

Katie Webster, senior M (25, 1)

Natalie Glanell, senior D

Key newcomers

Taylor Poplawski, freshman A

Lisa Rogers, sophomore M

Outlook: The Orange, aiming for its fifth trip to the final four in seven years after falling to Maryland 11-10 in last year's semifinals, jump from the Big East to the ACC, adding more strength to what has historically been Division I's toughest conference. With an offense that has scored 46 points in its first two games — wins over Jacksonville and Stetson — Syracuse returns a lot of firepower from an attack that averaged 15.09 goals last season, second in Division I. Murray and Treanor, both Player of the Year contenders, combined for 41 percent of the Orange's goals last season. Defensively, Glanell, Kasey Mock and goalies Kelsey Richardson and Alyssa Costantino lead a unit that gave up just 8.55 goals per game last season.

**

4. Duke

Atlantic Coast Conference

Last season: 14-6, NCAA quarterfinals

Coach: Kerstin Kimel (19th season at Duke, 230-110; 20th season overall, 234-118)

Top returning point-getter: Kerrin Mauer, junior A (35, 35)

Other key returnees

Taylor Virden, senior D

Maddy Morrissey, senior M (20, 4)

Taylor Trimble, junior M (37, 5)

Top newcomers

Isabelle Montagne, freshman D

Maura Schwitter, freshman M-D

Outlook: The Blue Devils got off to a quick start last season, but stumbled a bit in April, especially in a first-round loss to Virginia in the ACC Tournament. Many of the nine returning starters have played significant roles since they were freshmen. With talent, experience and depth up and down the field, the Blue Devils could be poised to get past the NCAA quarterfinals, in which they fell to Maryland last season. With Mauer, Trimble and Virden — an All-American — Duke has leadership in each unit. The defense looks exceptionally strong, backed by sophomore goalie Kelsey Duryea, who earned second-team All-America honors last season and is the program's first freshman All-American.

**

Others in Maryland

Johns Hopkins

American Lacrosse Conference

Last season: 10-7

Coach: Janine Tucker (21st season, 220-120)

Top returning point-getter: Taylor D'Amore, senior A (29, 49)

Other key returnees

Sammy Cermak, senior M (24, 11)

Sarah Taylor, senior M (43, 3)

Dene' DiMartino, sophomore M (35, 3)

Key newcomers

Haley Schweizer, freshman M

Caroline Federico, freshman G

Outlook: The past two seasons, the Blue Jays scored some big wins but also lost games they should not have, notably to American last season and UMBC the year before. Those losses kept them out of the NCAA tournament and Tucker's main goal is to improve consistency as well as game-day focus. In their final season in the ALC before going independent, the Blue Jays have a stalwart defense that boasts three full-time starters in the field and returning goalie KC Emerson. They also return the top five scorers, led by D'Amore, a second-team All-American. The attack is getting a bit of an overhaul with the addition of assistant coach Steele Stanwick, the 2011 Tewaaraton Award winner, who brings elements of the men's attacking style with more movement all around.

**

Loyola

Patriot League

Last season: 11-9, NCAA second round

Coach: Jen Adams (sixth season, 64-31)

Top returning point-getter: Marlee Paton, senior M (39, 25)

Other key returnees

Annie Thomas, junior A (26-27)

Taryn VanThof, redshirt junior M (28, 18)

Molly Wolf, sophomore G

Key newcomers

Cami Whiteford, freshman M

Emily Clark, freshman, M

Outlook: The Greyhounds say goodbye to the Big East and move to the Patriot League this spring. While the competition isn't as strong — only Navy is ranked — Loyola still has a tough nonconference schedule. Last season, the Greyhounds sputtered a bit on offense after a prolific 2012 campaign, but Adams expects a much smoother attack this season with six of the eight top scorers from 2013 returning. There's a solid framework in place with maturity all over the field. Ten players started at least 14 games last season, including key All-American midfield leaders Paton and VanThof. The Greyhounds have reworked their defense, but have veterans Maddy Lesher and Katie Reinhard back as well as Wolf, who started every game last season and posted a 10.18 goals-against average.

**

Mount St. Mary's

Northeast Conference

Last season: 7-12

Coach: B.J. Johnson (fourth season, 23-39)

Top returning point-getter: Erin Seipp, junior A (23, 7)

Other key returnees

Gabe Little, senior D

Lindsay Diaz, senior M (25, 3)

Hannah Gutcher, senior A (13, 13)

Key newcomer

Kelly Maloney, freshman M

Outlook: The Mountaineers graduated just three players, but those included their leading scorer and starting goalie. The biggest problem last season was goal production. Mount St. Mary's managed just 7.89 goals per game — three fewer than they allowed. A mix of veterans and talented freshmen should help boost those numbers, and it doesn't hurt to have two-time Tewaaraton Award winner Katie Schwarzmann, who scored 228 goals during her four years at Maryland, joining Johnson's staff as an assistant coach. The Mountaineers are looking for their 12th straight trip to the NEC tournament, where they fell in the semifinals last spring. They won the title in 2004 and 2005.

**

Navy

Patriot League

Last season: 19-2, NCAA second round

Coach: Cindy Timchal (seventh season, 95-24; 32nd season overall, 431-110)

Top returning point-getter: Aimee Gennaro, senior A (64, 16)

Other key returnees

Loren Generi junior A (62, 13)

Casey Browne junior M

Annie Foky junior G

Key newcomers:

Kaitlan Moynihan, freshman A

Aislinn Probst, freshman M

Outlook: The Midshipmen won their fourth straight Patriot League championship last season, but they face a tough new challenger as Loyola joins the conference. With holes to fill on both ends of the field, the Mids will rely on a lot of players who saw action last season as well as some of their 15 freshmen. Last year's defense had tremendous depth, and that will help, along with the return of sophomore Lizzy Rullan, who missed much of last season with a fractured femur. Gennaro and Generi lead an attack that needs to replace the 127 points that graduated with Patriot League Player of the Year Jasmine DePompeo, who scored 56 goals and assisted on 32 percent of those scored by her teammates.

**

Towson

Colonial Athletic Association

Last season: 10-9, NCAA first round

Coach: Sonia LaMonica (fourth season, 37-20; fifth season overall, 45-29)

Top returning point-getter: Ashleigh Rohrback, redshirt senior A (19, 32)

Other key returnees

Andi Raymond, redshirt junior A

Kelsea Donnelly, junior G

Kaitlin Sheridan, senior D

Key newcomers

Sam Brookhart, freshman M

Gabby Cha, freshman A

Outlook: The Tigers graduated just five starters, and the newcomers fit in well enough for the two-time defending CAA champs to beat the U.S. national team last fall in a scrimmage. That bodes well for a team aiming to break into the nation's elite. That win continued the momentum after the Tigers won nine of their last 11 games in 2013. The offense boasts plenty of firepower led by Rohrback, the CAA Player of the Year, and Raymond, who led the Tigers in scoring in 2012 but missed last season with a stress fracture in her lower spine. LaMonica looks to improvement on the draw as a key to boosting the offense, and senior midfielder Katie Leech will handle that role. A stingy defense returns almost intact after allowing just 8.7 goals per game against through a schedule that included seven ranked opponents.

**

UMBC

America East Conference

Last season: 8-8

Coaches: Amy Appelt, Tony Giro (second season)

Top returning point-getter: Alyssa Semones, junior M (32, 12)

Other key returnees

Abby Wilson, junior A (23, 19)

Kristen Bilney, senior M (28, 10)

Devan Hibbs, senior D

Top newcomers

Ali Carpenter, redshirt junior A (Loyola)

Mackenzie Reese, freshman A

Outlook: The Retrievers got off to a great start last season before losing their final five games. Injuries were a big part of the problem, with more than half the starting lineup sidelined at one point. They still can't shake the injury bug — 17 players missed time in preseason — although with mostly minor issues. The defense, however, is not at full strength. Starter Courtney Thompson could be out for the season with a torm labrum in her hip and goalie Anna Barnett has been sidelined the past two weeks with a concussion. While the defense regroups, the attack is experienced, deep and up-tempo, so increased goal production by the Retrievers could counter some of their defensive inexperience.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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