Here is the third 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 Thursday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 10 to 6. Tuesday featured teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16, and Wednesday featured teams ranked from Nos. 15 to 11. Friday will highlight 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.
10. Army (2014 record: 9-5; NCAA tournament finish: no tournament)
Losses: Two starters in defensemen John Burk (19 ground balls and 7 caused turnovers) and Pat Hart (15 GB, 13 CT).
Returners: Eight starters, including all six in the attack and midfield and the top seven scorers.
Reason for pessimism: Junior goalkeeper Sam Somers (5.43 goals-against average and .622 save percentage), sophomore defenseman Austin Schultz (6 GB, 5 CT) and junior long-stick midfielder Jimbo D’Aprile (29 GB, 18 CT) are back, but can they help the defense lead the country again at 7.2 goals per game?
Reason for optimism: Junior attackman John Glesener (43 goals and 14 assists) could be the first Black Knights player since Jeremy Boltus in 2011 to earn a finalist distinction for the 2015 Tewaaraton Award.
9. Duke (17-3; national champion)
Losses: Six starters, including attackmen Jordan Wolf (64 G, 39 A) and Josh Dionne (49 G, 7 A) and midfielder Christian Walsh (22 G, 26 A) from an offense that ranked second in Division I at 14.9 goals per game.
Returners: Four starters, including a trio of sophomores in midfielders Deemer Class (38 G, 27 A) and Myles Jones (37 G, 26 A) and attackman Case Matheis (23 G, 19 A).
Reason for pessimism: In addition to the losses on offense, the defense graduated three starting defensemen in Casey Carroll (49 GB, 22 CT), Henry Lobb (28 GB, 8 CT) and Chris Hipps (31 GB, 7 CT) and long-stick midfielder Luke Duprey (35 GB, 22 CT).
Reason for optimism: The incoming freshman class includes six Under Armour All Americans, which is the most of any program.
8. Cornell (11-5; first round)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Dan Lintner (47 G and 5 A), midfielder Joe Paoletta (18 G, 7 A) and defenseman Tom Freshour (39 GB, 21 CT).
Returners: Seven starters, including junior defenseman Jordan Stevens (52 GB, 19 CT), freshman defenseman Marshall Peters (37 GB, 9 CT) and freshman goalie Christian Knight (9.98 GAA, .542 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: An offense that ranked seventh in the nation at 12.8 goals per game could see a reduced number of opportunities with the graduation of faceoff specialist Doug Tesoriero (2 G, 11 A, 126 GB, 52.2 percent on 199-of-381 draws).
Reason for optimism: Junior and first-team All American Connor Buczek (30 G, 17 A) may be poised to succeed Ivy League rival and two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist Tom Schreiber as the sport’s top midfielder.
7. Virginia (10-6; first round)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Mark Cockerton (47 G, 16 A), midfielder Rob Emery (14 G, 5 A) and defenseman Scott McWilliams (28 GB, 24 CT).
Returners: Seven starters, including a pair of attackmen in sophomore James Pannell (39 G, 7 A) and junior Owen Van Arsdale (11 G, 27 A), and a pair of midfielders in junior Ryan Tucker (24 G, 6 A) and sophomore Greg Coholan (13 G, 14 A).
Reason for pessimism: A defense that surrendered an average of 11.1 goals could be weaker after the departures of long-stick midfielder Joseph Lisicky (46 GB, 19 CT) and a trio of short-stick defensive midfielders in Chris LaPierre (50 GB, 7 CT), Bobby Hill (12 GB, 10 CT) and Blake Riley (9 GB, 5 CT).
Reason for optimism: The graduation of Cockerton and Emery could be mitigated by the development of a pair of freshmen in attackman Ryan Lukacovic (10 G, 8 A) and midfielder Zed Williams (6 G, 9 A).
6. Maryland (13-4; semifinals)
Losses: Two starters and first-team All Americans in attackman Mike Chanenchuk (36 G, 23 A) and goalkeeper Niko Amato (7.46 GAA, .559 save percentage).
Returners: Eight starters, including the entire close defense of juniors Goran Murray (17 GB, 11 CT) and Casey Ikeda (29 GB, 17 CT) and sophomore Matt Dunn (17 GB, 9 CT).
Reason for pessimism: The team will be searching for an offensive quarterback to replace Chanenchuk and a defensive anchor to succeed Amato. And a defense that ranked third in Division I at 7.2 goals per game bade farewell to two key contributors in long-stick midfielder and first-team All American Michael Ehrhardt (2 G, 2 A, 69 GB, 28 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Brian Cooper (42 GB, 17 CT).
Reason for optimism: The offense can rely on the faceoff duo of junior Charlie Raffa (5 G, 1 A, 114 GB, 68.6 percent on 194-of-283) and sophomore Jon Garino (26 GB, 58.6 percent on 41-of-70).