Here is the third installment of a very premature attempt to compile preseason rankings 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 2018 will not return next season. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out in February, but here’s a spin anyway.
(2018 record: 8-7; NCAA tournament finish: first round)
Losses: Two starters in attackman Brendan Bomberry (28 goals, eight assists) and goalkeeper Dom Madonna (10.84 goals-against average, .465 save percentage).
Returns: Eight starters, including three 20-goal scorers in redshirt sophomore Stephen Rehfuss (20 G, 28 A), junior attackman Nate Solomon (22 G, 15 A) and sophomore midfielder Jamie Trimboli (21 G, 10 A).
Reason for pessimism: Madonna played nearly 97 percent of the available minutes, which means the team will have to break in an inexperienced replacement.
Reason for optimism: Whoever the new goalie is, he will get support from a veteran close defense fronted by redshirt sophomore Nick Mellen (31 ground balls, 22 caused turnovers), junior Tyson Bomberry (26 GB, 15 CT) and redshirt junior Marcus Cunningham (18 GB, 8 CT).
(6-8; no tournament)
Losses: One starter in goalie Cole Blazer (9.67 GAA, .475 save percentage).
Returns: Nine starters, including all six on offense paced by junior attackman John Wagner (30 G, 9 A) and freshman attackman Anthony Orsini (16 G, 7 A).
Reason for pessimism: The team must replace faceoff specialist Zachary Melillo (57.5 percent on 131 of 228, 48 GB), who took 77.6 percent of the draws this past spring.
Reason for optimism: In addition to the return of senior midfielder Tanner Thompson (20 G, 14 A in 2017) from a season-ending lower-body injury, the team has reportedly landed a pair of transfers in redshirt junior attackman Andrew Romagnoli (34 G, 19 A in 2017 at Delaware) and freshman goalkeeper John Hulsman (8.69 GAA, .589 save percentage at Bellarmine).
(10-7; no tournament)
Losses: Two starters in midfielders John Mehok (11 G, 8 A) and Ian Strain (4 G, 9 A).
Returns: Eight starters, including the entire attack of juniors Andrew Petit (46 G, 20 A), Lucas Spence (35 G, 23 A) and Tristan Rai (23 G, 25 A).
Reason for pessimism: Although the defense is expected to welcome back four starters in junior defensemen Craig Chick (50 GB, 41 CT, 3 G, 1 A), Eddie Bouhall (41 GB, 24 CT) and Matt Rimol (11 GB, 3 CT) and freshman goalie James Spence (9.03 GAA, .498 save percentage), that unit did surrender 9.5 goals per game, which ranked fifth in the nine-team Patriot League.
Reason for optimism: A faceoff position headed by sophomore Conor Gaffney (59.4 percent on 214 of 360, 101 ground balls) will be fortified by incoming freshman and Under Armour high school All American Mike Sisselberger.
Losses: Four starters, including two midfielders in Tewaaraton Award finalist Connor Kelly (46 G, 36 A) and Tim Rotanz (20 G, 21 A).
Returns: Six starters, including the entire attack of sophomore Jared Bernhardt (40 G, 16 A), redshirt freshman Logan Wisnauskas (35 G, 15 A) and junior Will Snider (7 G).
Reason for pessimism: A defense that allowed 9.4 goals per game bade farewell to goalkeeper Dan Morris (9.17 GAA, .529 save percentage), defenseman Bryce Young (25 GB, 11 CT, 2 G, 3 A) and long-stick midfielders Matt Neufeldt (56 GB, 11 CT, 4 A) and Michael Adler (13 GB, 11 CT).
Reason for optimism: Among the team’s incoming freshman class are three Under Armour high school All Americans in attackmen Kyle Long and George Wichelns and defenseman Brett Makar.
Losses: Three starters in midfielder Jordan Dowiak (40 G, 7 A), defenseman Jake Pulver (37 GB, 20 CT) and goalie Christian Knight (9.75 GAA, .558 save percentage).
Returns: Seven starters, including the entire attack of sophomore Jeff Teat (37 G, 62 A) and juniors Clarke Petterson (44 G, 19 A) and Colton Rupp (12 G, 6 A).
Reason for pessimism: In addition to Pulver and Knight, the defense also bade farewell to long-stick midfielder Scott Flynn (23 GB, 7 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Jack Bolen (6 GB, 6 CT).
Reason for optimism: As long as Teat is around, an offense that averaged 13.6 goals per game will be in his very capable hands.