Loyola will have the next eight months to enjoy and reminisce about its run to the 2012 national championship. Until then, how about taking a gander at fashioning a premature poll for the 2013 campaign?
The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Wednesday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16. Thursday will feature Nos. 15 to 11, Friday Nos. 10 to 6 and Monday Nos. 5 to 1. Tuesday will include three schools not mentioned in the poll that could make some waves.
Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2012 will not return next year. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here’s a spin anyway.
20. St. John’s (2012 record: 8-7; Tournament finish: no tournament)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Harry Kutner (20 goals and 9 assists), midfielder Terence Leach (21, 5) and defenseman Harrison Freid (28 groundballs and 12 caused turnovers) and a key contributor in short-stick defensive midfielder Matt Hurst (19 GBs, 2 CTs).
Returners: Three-fourths of the starting defense in sophomore defenseman Joe Addona (19 GB, 16 CT) and freshman defenseman Mark DiFrangia (19 GB, 8 CT) and junior goalkeeper Jeff Lowman (9.66 goals-against average and .556 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: The Red Storm upset Notre Dame in the Big East tournament semifinals, but their path to the championship will involve overcoming hurdles in the Fighting Irish, Syracuse and Villanova.
Reason for optimism: The offense is headlined by the return of the team’s top two leading scorers in sophomore attackman Kieran McArdle (28 G, 32 A) and sophomore attackman Kevin Cernuto (24, 11).
19. Princeton (11-5; first round)
Losses: Five starters including defensemen Chad Wiedmaier (32 GB, 33 CT) and Jonathan Meyers (50 GB, 14 CT), attackman Alex Capretta (23 G, 11 A), midfielder Mike Grossman (22 G, 8 A) and goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito (7.07 GAA, .595 save percentage) and two key contributors in long-stick midfielder John Cunningham (53 GB, 5 CT) and faceoff specialist Peter Smyth (8 GB, 52-of-110 for 47.3).
Returners: The entire starting midfield of sophomore Tom Schreiber (32 G, 28 A) and juniors Jeff Froccaro (27 G, 12 A) and Tucker Shanley (20 G, 8 A).
Reason for pessimism: For the first time in four years, the Tigers won’t be able to rely on Fiorito to anchor the defensive end of the field and Wiedmaier to lock down opponents’ top attackmen.
Reason for optimism: Schreiber enjoyed first-team All-American status in his sophomore campaign, and the return of freshman attackman Mike McDonald (22 G, 8 A) adds to a potent offense.
18. Penn State (9-6; no tournament)
Losses: Four starters including attackmen Matthew Mackrides (30 goals and 12 assists) and Jack Forster (27 G, 15 A).
Returners: Six starters including the entire defense of sophomore goalkeeper Austin Kaut (7.93 goals-against average and .584 save percentage) and sophomore defensemen Kessler Brown (14 groundballs and 11 caused turnovers) and Steven Bogert (21 GB, 7 CT) and freshman defenseman Jack Donnelly (17 GB, 13 CT).
Reason for pessimism: The departure of Mackrides and Forster depletes an offense that averaged just 8.7 goals and ranked just 45th in scoring in Division I.
Reason for optimism: The onus will be on Kaut, who ranked sixth in save percentage, and the rest of the defense to anchor the team until the offense finds its legs.
17. Bucknell (9-7; no tournament)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Billy Eisenreich (34 G, 32 A), midfielder Nick Gantsoudes (22 G, 9 A) and defenseman Jason Neithamer (31 GB, 12 CT) and two key contributors in long-stick midfielder John Scally (35 GB, 6 CT) and defenseman Matt Spagnoli (13 GB, 13 CT).
Returners: Seven starters including sophomore attackman Todd Heritage (35 G, 8 A), freshman midfielder David Dickson (14 G, 26 A), junior attackman Chase Bailey (28 G, 10 A) and sophomore midfielder Peter Burke (22 G, 12 A).
Reason for pessimism: A defense that allowed just 9.1 goals per game for the season and returns three-fourths of the starters surrendered 11.3 goals in each of the team’s last three contests, which were all losses.
Reason for optimism: The midfield could get a significant boost with the return of senior midfielder Charlie Streep (28 G, 9 A in 2011), who sat out the past spring due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and could apply for a fifth year of eligibility.
16. Fairfield (12-4; no tournament)
Losses: Five starters including three-fourths of the defense in defensemen Drew Palmer (33 GB, 14 CT) and Brendan McTague (26 GB, 11 CT) and goalkeeper Charlie Cipriano (8.76 GAA, .566 save percentage).
Returners: The entire starting attack of junior Sam Snow (35 G, 8 A), sophomore Eric Warden (17 G, 6 A) and freshman Drew Federico (8 G, 9 A).
Reason for pessimism: The Stags return a starting defenseman in sophomore Greg Perraut and their starting defensive midfield, but the departure of Cipriano leaves them with a gaping hole to fill.
Reason for optimism: The offense should continue to get plenty of opportunities courtesy of sophomore Michael Roe, who ranked seventh in Division I with a 60.8 success rate on faceoffs.