Duke just wrapped up its second straight national championship and third in the last five years, but some of us can't wait to see how the 2015 campaign will unfold. So here is a very premature attempt to compile a preseason poll for next year.
The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Tuesday's post involving teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16. Wednesday will feature Nos. 15 to 11, Thursday Nos. 10 to 6 and Friday 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 2014 will not return next season. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here's a spin anyway.
20. Delaware (2014 record: 7-8; NCAA tournament finish: no tournament)
Losses: Two starters including their top scorer in attackman Dan Keane (27 goals and six assists) and their top defenseman in James Connelly (28 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers).
Returners: Eight starters including the entire first midfield of junior Brian Kormondy (17 G, 13 A) and freshmen Steve DeLargy (16 G, 8 A) and Jackson Finigan (7 G, 13 A).
Reason for pessimism: The Blue Hens have been tied for last place in the Colonial Athletic Association in each of the last three years. Do they have the mental makeup to persevere in one of the toughest leagues in Division I?
Reason for optimism: The offense should get numerous opportunities to score goals thanks to the impending return of junior faceoff specialist Tyler Barbarich (83 GB, 63.8 percent on 153-of-240).
19. Yale (9-5; no tournament)
Losses: Four starters including attackman Brandon Mangan (23 G and 22 A) and defenseman Jimmy Craft (38 GB and 19 CT).
Returners: Six starters including sophomore defensemen Michael Quinn (37 GB, 18 CT) and Reilly Naton (20 GB, 11 CT) and junior goalkeeper Eric Natale (8.47 goals-against average and .510 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: An offense that averaged 10.5 goals might be hard-pressed to repeat that effort due to the graduation of faceoff specialist Dylan Levings (3 G, 3 A, 95 GB, 58.1 percent on 183-of-315).
Reason for optimism: In addition to junior attackman Conrad Oberbeck (38 G, 12 A), the first midfield of juniors Shane Thornton (9 G, 15 A) and Sean Shakespeare (11 G, 3 A) and sophomore Michael Bonacci (9 G, 5 A) returns.
18. Princeton (7-6; no tournament)
Losses: Two starters in midfielder and two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist Tom Schreiber (30 G, 21 A) and midfielder Tucker Shanley (13 G, 3 A).
Returners: Eight starters including the entire starting attack of sophomore Ryan Ambler (24 G, 19 A) and juniors Mike MacDonald (19 G, 22 A) and Kip Orban (21 G, 8 A).
Reason for pessimism: The defense must find a reliable starting goalkeeper between junior Eric Sanschagrin (10.47 GAA, .533 save percentage in five starts) and sophomore Matt O’Connor (10.91 GAA, .464 save percentage in five starts).
Reason for optimism: Whoever the Tigers settle on as goalie, he should have an experienced close defense unit in sophomore Mark Strabo (22 GB, 7 CT) and freshmen Will Reynolds (16 GB, 11 CT) and Bear Goldstein (11 GB, 6 CT).
17. Hofstra (11-5; no tournament)
Losses: Four starters including two attackmen in Torin Varn (32 G, 5 A) and Lance Yapor (18 G, 6 A).
Returners: Six starters including two starting defensemen in sophomore Finn Sullivan (30 GB, 14 CT) and freshman Stephen Satterwhite (5 GB, 6 CT) and junior goalkeeper Chris Selva (8.29 GAA, .498 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: Add the graduation of midfielder Drew Coholan (22 G, 10 A), and the Pride will have bade farewell to three of their top five goal scorers.
Reason for optimism: The defense also brings back junior long-stick midfielder Ryan Rielly (49 GB, 23 CT) and junior short-stick defensive midfielders Steve Romano (32 GB, 10 CT) and John Reicherter (18 GB).
16. Bryant (16-5; quarterfinals)
Losses: Four starters including midfielders Colin Dunster (39 G, 12 A) and Alex Zomerfeld (16 G, 25 A).
Returners: Six starters including two attackmen in sophomore Shane Morrell (44 G, 17 A) and freshman Tucker James (31 G, 20 A) and sophomore midfielder Collins Gantz (16 G, 12 A).
Reason for pessimism: They’re under-noticed, but replacing short-stick defensive midfielders J.K. Poirier (5 G, 8 A, 24 GB, 8 CT) and Rob Goeren (4 G, 3 A, 28 GB and 3 CT) will be a priority in the offseason.
Reason for optimism: The Bulldogs will continue to be strong up the middle with the return of sophomore goalkeeper and third-team All American Gunnar Waldt (7.92 GAA, .593 save percentage) and junior faceoff specialist and first-team All American Kevin Massa (4 G, 1 A, 225 GB, 68.8 percent on 305-of-443).Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun