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Premature lacrosse poll for 2015, Part 2

Here is the second installment of a very premature attempt to compile a preseason poll for next year.

The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Wednesday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 15 to 11. Tuesday featured teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16. Thursday will highlight 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.

15. Harvard (2014 record: 10-7; NCAA tournament finish: first round)

Losses: Three starters including defenseman Joe Petrucci (10 ground balls and 6 caused turnovers) and faceoff specialist Gabriel Mendola (60 GB, 52.4 percent on 122-of-233).

Returners: Seven starters including the entire attack of sophomores Devin Dwyer (12 goals and 35 assists), Will Walker (35 G, 4 A) and Deke Burns (18 G, 6 A).

Reason for pessimism: The offense bade farewell to its first midfield of Peter Schwartz (25 G, 21 A), Carl Zimmerman (15 G, 8 A) and Daniel Eipp (14 G, 8 A).

Reason for optimism: The defense returns a pair of starting defensemen in sophomores Stephen Jahelka (36 GB, 12 CT) and Robert Duvnjak (32 GB, 17 CT) and junior goalkeeper Jake Gambitsky (9.87 goals-against average and .506 save percentage).

14. St. Joseph’s (11-4; no tournament)

Losses: Only one starter in midfielder Johnny Simanski (17 G, 4 A).

Returners: Nine starters including the entire first attack of junior Ryan McGee (34 G, 22 A), freshmen Mike Rastivo (27 G, 7 A) and sophomore Pat Swanick (16 G, 2 A).

Reason for pessimism: The Hawks lose their most experience faceoff specialist in Will Abbott, who led the team in draws (133) and won 49.6 percent of them.

Reason for optimism: A defense that ranked sixth in Division I at 8.2 goals per game returns three starting defensemen in junior Kevin Barrow (32 GB and 16 CT), sophomore John Winchell (35 GB, 18 CT) and freshman Charles Giunta (11 GB, 5 CT) and junior goalie T.J. Jones (8.34 GAA and .531 save percentage).

13. Loyola (15-2; first round)

Losses: Five starters including attackmen Justin Ward (16 G and 53 A) and Brian Schultz (36 G, 14 A) and midfielder Matt Sawyer (19 G, 7 A) from an offense that ranked sixth in the nation at 12.9 goals per game.

Returners: Five starters including junior attackman Nikko Pontrello (50 G, 12 A) and freshmen midfielders Brian Sherlock (19 G, 10 A) and Romar Dennis (5 G, 4 A).

Reason for pessimism: In addition to graduating the William C. Schmeisser Award winner for Outstanding Defensive Player and Tewaaraton Award finalist Joe Fletcher (76 GB, 28 CT) and goalkeeper Jack Runkel (6.91 GAA, .620 save percentage), a defense that ranked fourth in the country at 7.5 goals also bade farewell to a pair of starting short-stick defensive midfielders in Pat Laconi (11 G, 3 A, 31 GB, 34 CT) and Kyle Duffy (30 GB, 4 CT).

Reason for optimism: Finding a quarterback to replace Ward is priority, but the offense could welcome back sophomore attackman Zach Herreweyers, who registered 19 goals and three assists in 2013 before sitting out this past spring due to academic troubles.

12. Lehigh (13-5; no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in defensemen Ty Souders (44 GB, 14 CT) and Lukas MIkelinich (37 GB, 18 CT) from a defense that ranked second in Division I at 7.2 goals per game.

Returners: Eight starters including the entire attack of juniors Dan Taylor (47 G, 29 A) and Patrick Corbett (33 G, 4 A) and sophomore Reid Weber (27 G, 17 A).

Reason for pessimism: The onus will be on freshman faceoff specialist Casey McAdam (20 GB, 51.6 percent on 47-of-91) to succeed Ryan Buttenbaum (79 GB, 55.2 percent on 159-of-288).

Reason for optimism: The offense also return its first midfield of juniors Kurtis Kaunas (20 G, 8 A) and Alan Henderson (5 G, 8 A) and sophomore Alex Eaton (11 G, 9 A).

11. Colgate (9-7; no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in attackman Brendon McCann (22 G, 14 A) and defenseman Bobby Lawrence (42 GB, 27 CT).

Returners: Eight starters including the entire midfield of sophomores Eric Foote (18 G, 9 A) and Cameron Williams (9 G, 7A) and junior Matt Clarkson (13 G, 13 A).

Reason for pessimism: The Raiders must develop more depth in the midfield as no other player in that unit finished with more than five goals this season.

Reason for optimism: A pair of starting defensemen in sophomores Leo Stouros (19 GB, 10 CT) and John Baker (18 GB, 7 CT) and freshman goalkeeper and Patriot League Rookie of the Year Brandon Burke (8.81 GAA, .524 save percentage).

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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