The Sun's Jamison Hensley analyzes his picks for the 12-team NCAA tournament field as well as other state and national contenders (x-long-stick midfielder):
1998 record: 10-4 (NCAA quarterfinalist).
Coach: John Haus (first season).
Key losses: Dudley Dixon, A; Andrew Godfrey, M.
Attackmen: Dan Denihan, Jr.; Dylan Schlott, Sr.; Ryan Quinn, So.
First midfield: A. J. Haugen, Jr.; Matt O'Kelly, Sr.; Rob Frattarola, So.
Second midfield: Conor Denihan, So.; Eric Wedin, So.; Dave Rabuano, Jr.
Defensive midfield: x-Brendan Shook, So; Paul LeSueur, Sr.; Shawn Nadelen, So.
Close defense: Rob Doerr, Sr.; John Paleologos, Sr.; Brandon Testa, So.
Goalkeeper: Brian Carcaterra, Jr.
Faceoff: Wedin or Denihan.
Outlook: The Jays, who haven't been to an NCAA tournament final in 10 years, have the most all-around talent in the nation but will lean on its top-flight defense. Haus, who won the Division III national title last year at Washington College, begins his first Division I head coaching job with the only school that returns three first-team All-Americans this season. Haugen is a dazzling playmaker, while Carcaterra and Doerr are the best at their positions.
X-factor: Dan Denihan. The attackman who withdrew from school last spring returns when Hopkins needs him the most. With only one starting attackman back and Haus' half-field strategies being installed, Denihan must glue the offense together with his world-class skills.
1998 record: 11-4 (NCAA quarterfinalist).
Coach: Mike Pressler (74-41, ninth).
Key losses: John Fay, A; Craig Seyffer, G.
Attackmen: Greg Patchak, So.; Jared Frood, Jr.; T.J. Durnan, Jr.; Chris Kakel, Jr.
First midfield: Scott Diggs, Sr.; Adam Dretler, Sr.; John O'Donnell, Sr.
Second midfield: Nick Hartofolis, Jr.; Brandon Keaney, Sr.; Craig Schubert, Jr. or Hunter Henry, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Tim Knowles, Sr.; Marc Amen, Jr.; Keat Crown, Jr.
Close defense: Steve Card, Jr.; Dan Umbel, Sr.; Palin Archer, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Matt Breslin, So.
Faceoff: Scott Bross, So.; or Diggs.
Outlook: Although the Blue Devils have only been to one Final Four, they already have the country quaking with their size and athleticism. Duke replaces its top-scoring attackman and starting goalkeeper with sophomores who may be more talented than their predecessors. The attack can finish, the midfielders can shoot and the defense can flatten opponents. Experience and balance can go a long way in the tournament.
X-factor: Patchak. The Boys' Latin grad assumes Fay's role in the offensive scheme. He won't have to match the numbers, but the Devils will need his production in clutch situations.
1998 record: 11-3 (NCAA semifinalist).
Coach: John Desko (first).
Key losses: Casey Powell, A; Ira Vanterpool, M; Jason Gebhardt, G.
Attackmen: Ryan Powell, Jr.; Matt Cutia, Sr.; Devin Darcangelo, Jr.
First midfield: Josh Coffman, Fr.; Brian Solliday, So.; Matt Caione, Jr.
Second midfield: Tim Byrnes, Jr.; Chris Cordisco, Sr.; Jeff Cordisco, Sr.
Defensive midfield: x-Joe Ceglia, Jr.; Matt Alexander, Sr.; Jeff Lowe, Jr. or Matt Sofarelli, Jr.
Close defense: Marshall Abrams, Jr.; Josh Ruhle, Sr.; Devin Ockerman, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Rob Mulligan, So.
Faceoff: Jason Deniker, Sr.; Chris Cercy, So.
Outlook: Desko, a Syracuse assistant for the past 19 years, will carry on the tradition of shoot now and ask questions later. After losing one of their all-time greats in Casey Powell, the Orangemen will spread out the scoring among several proven scorers as well as the nation's most talented recruiting class. The defense took a hit when starter John Glatzel left school.
X-factor: The No. 22 legacy. From Gary Gait to Charlie Lockwood to Casey Powell, the player who wore No. 22 symbolized the premier showstopper. Ryan Powell now dons this jersey and must act accordingly if the 'Cuse wants the gold.
1998 record: 13-2 (NCAA semifinalist).
Coach: Dave Cottle (148-62, 17th).
Key losses: Jamie Hanford, D; Mike Day, D; Jourdan Kurtz, LSM; Chris Georgalas, A.
Attackmen: Tim O'Shea, Sr.; Gewas Schindler, Sr.; Tim Goettelman, Jr.; Kyle Campbell, Fr. and Gunnar Goettelman, Fr.
First midfield: Mark Frye, Sr.; Todd Vizcarrondo, Sr.; Mike Battista, Jr.
Second midfield: Bobby Horsey, So.; Peter Haas, Jr.; David Mascarella, So.; or Campbell.
Defensive midfield: x-Mike Stromberg, Fr.; Kevin Quinn, Sr.; D.J. Knott, Jr.
Close defense: Tim O'Hara, Sr.; David Metz, So.; Joe Rodrigues, Jr. or Billy Armstrong, So.
Goalkeeper: Jim Brown, Sr.
Faceoff: Joe Maier, Jr.
Outlook: Loyola has never had such a combination of depth, veteran leadership and complementary play on offense. In any given game, more than a handful of 'Hounds can burn you. Loyola will score in bunches, and its defense and faceoff situation might not be in such dire straits as once thought.
X-factor: Brown. A four-year starter in goal has the power to eradicate the mistakes of an unproven defense. Displaying flashes of brilliance last season, Brown could be the deciding factor for a championship season.
1998 record: 14-1 (NCAA champion).
Coach: Bill Tierney (125-40, 12th).
Key losses: Jesse Hubbard, A; Jon Hess, A; Chris Massey, A; Christian Cook, D.
Attackmen: Lorne Smith, Sr.; Matt Striebel, Soph.; Matt Trevenen, Fr.; or B.J. Prager, Fr.
First midfield: Josh Sims, Jr.; Rob Torti, So.; Chris Berrier, Jr.
Second midfield: Ryan O'Shaughnessy, Jr.; Matt Bailer, So.; James McIntyre, Sr.
Defensive midfield: x-Ted Martell, Sr.; Winship Ross, So.; Gardner LaMotte, Sr.
Close defense: Kurt Lunkenheimer, Sr.; John Harrington, Sr.; Jason Farrell, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Corey Popham, Sr.; Trevor Tierney, So.
Outlook: Sure, the Tigers have only lost two games the past three seasons while winning three national championships. Nevertheless, Princeton has to feel some effects from trying to fill the void left by one of the modern era's best attack groups. Princeton will remain in the hunt with superstars Smith and Sims and a veteran defensive corps who have been drilled in Tierney's system.
X-factor: Offensive chemistry. The departed attack exhibited a certain presence that made everyone around it better. While the Tigers have enough reliable scorers and young prospects on attack, it's still questionable how soon they will establish a rhythm.
1998 record: 14-3 (NCAA runner-up).
Coach: Dick Edell (138-63, 16th).
Key losses: Matt Hahn, A; Andrew Whipple, A; Frank Radin, M; Billy Ruhl, M; Brian Reese, LSM; Mike Bonanni, D.
Attackmen: Scott Hochstadt, Sr.; Marcus LaChapelle, Jr.; Jon Kemezis, So.
First midfield: Brian Zeller, Jr.; Chris Malone, So.; Dan Hughes, So.
Second midfield: Nate Watkins, Fr.; Erik Osberg, Sr.; Mike LaMonica, Fr.
Defensive midfield: x-Geoff Burnham, Jr.; Jeff Shirk, Jr.; Kyle Rannigan, Jr.
Close defense: Casey Connor, Jr.; Chris Lamy, Sr.; Jason Carrier, Jr.
Goalkeeper: Kevin Healy, Jr.
Faceoff: Brian Haggerty, Sr.; Chris Nohe, Sr.
Outlook: Besides Princeton, Maryland suffered the biggest blow from graduation. Still, the Terrapins have shown in years past that their patented tough defense can carry them beyond preseason expectations. Add in faceoff specialists Haggerty and Nohe, who consistently provide their offensive unit with more possessions than the opposition.
X-factor: Hochstadt. One of the game's most dangerous players, Hochstadt will face various double teams and plans primed to shut him down. How he handles the delicate decision-making will reflect in Maryland's goal production.
1998 record: 8-5 (NCAA quarterfinalist).
Coach: Dom Starsia (66-24, seventh).
Key losses: Drew Melchionni, M; David Wren, M; Chris Sanderson, G.
Attackmen: Tucker Radebaugh, Sr.; Conor Gill, Fr.; Drew McKnight, Jr.
First midfield: Jay Jalbert, Jr.; Jamison Mullen, So.; Michael Leahy, Sr.
Second midfield: Henry Oakey, Sr.; David Baruch, Sr.; Hanley Holcomb, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Peter Ragosa, Jr.; David Jenkins, So.; Brenndan Mohler, Fr.
Close defense: Ryan Curtis, Jr.; John Harvey, So.; Doug Davies, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Derek Kenney, Fr.; Ben O'Neil, Jr.
Faceoff: Jason Hard, Jr.; or Jenkins.
Outlook: There's an uneasy feeling around lacrosse when the Cavaliers aren't one of everyone's favorites to make the Final Four. While Virginia has all the talented components to overwhelm teams, it has yet to put a cohesive effort together in the fall and in recent scrimmages. If the goalkeeper situation pans out and the attack gels, be prepared for a major Cavaliers push.
X-factor: Midfield toughness. The first midfield consists of two converted attackmen and Holcomb, a question mark after summer knee surgery. No one disputes its talent, but Virginia must find a way to compensate for the gritty intangibles that Wren and Melchionni provided.
1998 record: 10-5 (NCAA quarterfinalist).
Coach: Dave Urick (80-39, 10th).
Key losses: Dan Shea, M; Mike Corry, M; Matt Cassin LSM.
Attackmen: Greg McCavera, Sr.; Scott Urick, Sr.; Andy Flick, Jr.
First midfield: Greg Hubschmann, Sr.; Tyler Gamble, Sr.; Steve Dusseau, Fr.
Second midfield: Mike Henehan, So.; Art Price, Jr.; Scott Doyle, M; or Keith Baker, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Rodger Colbert, So.; Dan Kanach, Sr.; Matt Gallagher, Jr.
Close defense: Anderson Bell, Sr.; Greg Papa, Jr.; Brian Samson, Jr.
Goalkeeper: Brian Hole, Sr.
Faceoff: Ryan Perraut, So.; Scott Baughman, Sr.
Outlook: The Hoyas have improved a level in each of the past two NCAA tournaments, and the next step is the Final Four. Georgetown returns its entire starting attack and close defense as well as an unheralded goalkeeper. The Hoyas shouldn't have a problem plugging up some holes in the midfield.
X-factor: Faceoffs. The pieces are in place, but they could resemble a puzzle if the Hoyas get dominated on draws. A revolving door here could negate their strengths and lead to a tailspin.
1998 record: 7-6.
Coach: Richie Meade (23-26, fifth).
Key losses: Mike Newton, M; Jason Hull, FO; Phil Emery, LSM; Howie Meehan, D.
Attackmen: Jamie O'Leary, Sr.; Brad Gilroy, Sr.; J.L. Reppert, Sr.
First midfield: Kevin Meehan, Sr.; Adam Borcz, So.; Ed McKinnon, Fr.
Second midfield: Brett Duthie, Jr.; Mike Sheedy, So.; Chris Roesgen, Jr.
Defensive midfield: x-Clint Burke, Sr.; Drew Ball, Sr.; Matt Maloney, So.
Close defense: Chad Donnelly, Jr.; Brent Cower, Sr.; Justin Hawkins, So.
Goalkeeper: Mickey Jarboe, Jr.
Faceoff: Jay James, Jr.; Bart Orr, Jr.
Outlook: It's the most experienced Navy squad under Meade, and the Midshipmen appear locked into returning the program back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994. After enduring three one-goal losses last season, the Mids' seasoned attack and defense have some strong emotional motivation. Plus, it doesn't hurt having Jarboe, one of the five best Division I goalkeepers.
X-factor: O'Leary. Navy has struggled offensively, averaging only 10 1/2 goals per game over the past two years. O'Leary has put the offensive burden on himself too much at times and must become more of a catalyst in other ways during close games.
1998 record: 9-5.
Coach: Don Zimmerman (32-33, sixth).
Key losses: John McDonnell, M; Al Hernandez, DM.
Attackmen: Chris Turner, Sr.; Jeff Ratcliffe, Jr.; Josh Hahn, So.
First midfield: Dan Marohl, Jr.; Mark Cornes, Sr.; Casey Hard, Sr.
Second midfield: Eric Barger, Jr.; Charlie Gibson, So.; Chris Ogle, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Mike Hicks, Jr.; Brian Lawton, So.; Dave Lock, Jr.
Close defense: Jason Quenzer, Sr.; Dave Ford, Sr.; Zack Burke, Jr.
Goalkeeper: Andrew Hampson, Sr.
Outlook: The Retrievers turned their season around by ending the regular season with an upset of Maryland, vaulting them to their first NCAA tournament. The cast remains virtually intact with Turner quarterbacking the attack and Hampson looking better than last season.
X-factor: Overall consistency. UMBC seemed pumped up in upsets over Maryland and Georgetown, and appeared lethargic in losses to Navy, Towson and Penn State. If the Retrievers want to prove last year wasn't a fluke, they can't afford these types of losses.
1998 record: 9-6.
Coach: Bob Shillinglaw (156-154, 21st).
Key losses: Kevin Gattie, A.
Attackmen: John Grant, Sr.; Kevin Levey, Sr.; Jason Levey, So.
First midfield: Jim Bruder, Sr.; Dennis DeBusschere, Sr.; Jay Motta, So.
Second midfield: Chris Purpura, Jr.; Dennis Byrne, Sr.; Pete Duncan, Jr.
Defensive midfielder: x-John Ciliberto, Jr.
Close defense: Mark Traverso, Sr.; Jeff Krafft, Jr.; Chris Miemis, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Ron Jedlicka, Sr.
Faceoff: DeBusschere or Motta.
Outlook: The Fighting Blue Hens, whose lone NCAA tournament invitation came in 1984, may be fielding their best team in school history. Delaware has a trio of legitimate scoring threats in Grant, Bruder and Kevin Levey. Ciliberto, the Junior College Player of the Year out of Essex, provides a feared take-away presence.
X-factor: Attitude. Most of these Blue Hens weren't even in grade school when Delaware was last in the playoffs. The guys from Newark have to find a killer instinct in pressure situations and realize they won't creep up on anyone this year.
1998 record: 11-4.
Coach: Jon Hind (51-35, seventh).
Key losses: D'Arcy Sweet, A; Kevin DeLury, G.
Attackmen: Chris Vosburgh, Jr.; Doug Patterson, So.; Mike Nicolosi, Sr.
First midfield: Cory Kahoun, Sr.; Mike Regan, Jr.; Matt McSweeny, Jr.
Second midfield: Curt Buss, Jr.; John Tamerlano, Sr.; Garrett Ruecker, Jr.
Defensive midfielder: x-Ben Focht, Sr.
Close defense: Kevin Grizzle, Sr.; Pete Lamb, So.; Ryan Stopper, So.
Goalkeeper: Brel McCoy, Jr.
Faceoff: Regan or Buss.
Outlook: With the heart of their attack and defense gone, the Bulldogs will have a much tougher time repeating as the best of the Midwest. Butler gets the nod over Notre Dame and Ohio State with seven of its top nine goal scorers back and some momentum left over from a team that racked up 11 wins, the most by a Western school in six years.
X-factor: Depth. The Bulldogs don't run a lot of players, and face an Atlantic Coast Conference weekend at Duke and North Carolina as well as a three-day, high-altitude trip to play Air Force and Denver. If Butler can catch its breath in just four home games, the Bulldogs will know they are in good shape for a second NCAA bid.
Other state contender
1998 record: 5-7.
Coach: Tony Seaman (first).
Attackmen: Kevin Sturm, Sr.; Spencer Ford, Sr.; Phil Palumbo, Jr.
First midfield: Todd Paradise, Jr.; Keith Smith, Jr.; Steve Preis, Sr.
Defense: x-Steve Wohltmann, Sr.; Chris Anzelone, Sr.; Mike Machiran, So.; John Campbell, Sr.
Goalkeeper: John Horrigan, So.
Faceoff: Ryan Lachowicz, Sr.; Justin Berry, So.
Outlook: During his days at Pennsylvania, Seaman made a living off getting the most out of his players, especially when out-manned. So the Tigers could sneak up on teams if they remain healthy and receive above-average play in goal. There's experience on attack with the feeding ability of Ford and the finishing moves of Sturm.
Others to watch
Brown: The Bears, who started last season 0-5, will rely on the dodging of Rob Lyle and Jed DeWick and the goaltending of Strider Dickson.
Hobart: The Statesmen look to make their second straight Division I tournament appearance behind the firepower of Jason Ouellet, Jared Bebee and Alex Mitchell.
Hofstra: Losing their top-notch goalkeeper and two leading scorers, the Flying Dutchmen need last year's role players to step up.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels return their top five scorers and a talented core of midfielders, but their goalkeeping might be suspect.
Mount St. Mary's: Although it lost more than half of its squad to graduation, the Mount appears to have more depth than previous years. Attackmen Steve Ricker and Nick DeFelice will supply the scoring, and goalkeeper Sean Elder returns to back up a deep defensive group.
1998 record: 6-9.
Coach: Jim Lyons (15-31, fourth season).
Key players: Tim Asher, Sr., A; Brad Brache, Sr., M; Dan McQuirter, Sr., M; Jonas Seigel, Jr., D; Graham Hopkins, Sr., D; Will Kolodziej, Jr., D.
Top newcomers: Mike Amash, Fr., G; Jed Cestaro, Fr., A; Max Agee, Fr., M.
Outlook: The Gophers continue to build for the future, welcoming 19 newcomers and possibly their most talented recruiting class. Amash will step in immediately and play behind a trio of defensemen who all started games last year. "Mike has the size and skills to be an outstanding goalie in Division III," Lyons said. But the Gophers have to limit their mistakes after logging in 138 1/2 minutes in penalties. The big question lies on the offensive end, where Goucher lost three of its four top scorers, returning only Asher.
1998 record: 10-5.
Coach: Jason Hurley (72-46, 10th season).
Key players: C.J. Lauer, Sr., A; Kris Lindh, Sr., A; Dan Driscoll, Jr., A; Jeff Jeffers, Sr., M; Jim England, Sr., M; Chris Gable, Sr., D; Tim Kelly, Sr., D; Tom Newberry, Sr., G.
Top newcomers: Andrew Toussaint, Fr., A; Ben Frank, Fr., A.
Outlook: The Seahawks return eight starters from last year's team, which recorded its third 10-win season since 1995. The season depends on games against perennial powers Washington College and Salisbury State, both of which play at St. Mary's in March. St. Mary's has depth and experience on offense, but must increase its .272 shooting percentage. Look for Lauer, a crease attackman, to take on more ball-handling responsibilities. "We are quick in the midfield, smart on defense and big and strong on attack," Hurley said.
1998 record: 14-2, national semifinalist.
Coach: Jim Berkman (133-18, 11th season).
Key players: Peter Troup, Sr., A; Brian Smith, Sr., A; Chris Turner, Jr., M; Jason Tarnow, Sr., G; Hirbod Azmi, Jr., D.
Top newcomers: Jimmy Barnes, Jr., M (Herkimer JC transfer); Dave DiPaola, Soph., D (Essex CC); Tim Parks, Jr., M (Towson Univ.); Anthony Pisciotti, Soph., A (Nassau JC); Jimmy Polucha, Jr., M (Anne Arundel); Josh Bergey, Fr., M; Pat Tewes, Fr., G.
Outlook: The Sea Gulls have to replace two of their top three scorers. But remember, this is Salisbury State, which in the past five years has lost just two regular-season games while winning two national championships. Troup (41 goals, 16 assists) and Turner (26, 17) are two of Division III's top offensive weapons, and Tarnow (.594 save percentage) can be dominating at times in goal. Expect the Sea Gulls to contend for their first NCAA title since 1995. "We have several players who can be as good as anybody in the country at their positions," Berkman said. "If they play to their capabilities, and some new guys emerge as we expect, we can be a very good team." Salisbury is ranked No. 3 in Face-off Magazine.
1998 record: 7-8.
Coach: Scott Linzey (17-26, fourth season).
Key players: Eric Schmith, Sr., A; Mark Krastel, Soph., M; Rob Ruff, Soph., M; Travis Williams, Soph., M; Dan Giordano, Soph., D; Adam Childs, Jr., D; Kjeld Lauritzen, Jr., G.
Top newcomers: Nick Brownlee, Jr., M (UMBC transfer); John Doby, Soph., D (Towson U.).
Outlook: The Eastern College Athletic Conference runner-up will be carried offensively by Schmith, a Curley graduate, who set a Villa Julie record with 92 points (37 goals, 55 assists). Schmith will set up midfielders Krastel and Ruff, a combination that produced 69 goals last season. Division I transfers Brownlee, who also faces off, and Doby raise the Mustangs' talent level immediately.
1998 record: 14-4, national champion.
Coach: JB Clarke (first season).
Key players: John Fuller, Sr., A; Matt Swift, Sr., A; Justin McCarthy, Sr., M; Chris Bieberbach, Sr., M; Bill Grothmann, Sr., M; J.D. Radebaugh, Jr., M; Scott McGilvray, Sr., D; Michael Kent, Jr., D; Jeremy Stoehr, Sr., DM.
Top newcomers: Jon Fellows, Fr., A; Craig Rentch, Fr., M; Chris Johnson, Fr., M.
Outlook: Washington College will look to defend its first NCAA lacrosse title with a senior-dominated group and a new coach in Clarke, a former Loyola College assistant. He replaces John Haus, who took over as coach of Johns Hopkins. But the loss of two starting attackmen, two seasoned midfielders, a key defensemen and its star goalkeeper have created some doubts about chances for a repeat. The Shoremen, however, have found ways to put it all together in the postseason, advancing to the NCAA championship game the past three years. The offensive punch will come from Fuller (35 goals, four assists), Washington College's leading scorer, and McCarthy (22, 13), its all-around playmaker. Defensively, McGilvray must step up to offset the inexperience in goal. Senior goalkeeper Shawn Walter seems to have the edge for the starting job, but played only 35 minutes last season. Washington is picked No. 2 by Face-off Magazine. The Shoremen play at Nazareth on March 13 in a rematch of the past three national championship games.
1998 record: 5-9.
Coach: Keith Reitenbach (seventh year, 49-34).
Key players: Jeremy Kober, Sr., M; Tony Burgos, Sr., M; Rob Witte, Jr., A; Matt Moscato, Sr., D; Gaelen Cross, Jr., D; Brett Sweeney, Soph., M.
Top newcomers: Tom Brown, Fr., A; Mike Coleman, Fr., A; Bob Bennett, Fr., G; Tim Mascari, Fr., G.
Outlook: With four one-goal losses, the Green Terror stumbled after winning over 10 games the previous two years. Western Maryland will be rebuilding with just four returning starters. It lost three of its top four scorers, who accounted for nearly 30 percent of its goals. Witte, who led the Green Terror with 40 goals, is the lone offensive threat back. Western Maryland is leaning toward starting a freshman in goal for the second straight season.