The Sun's Gary Lambrecht analyzes his picks for the 12-team NCAA tournament field, as well as other state and national contenders (x-long-stick midfielder).
1999 record: 13-3 (national champion)
Coach: Dom Starsia (79-27, eighth season)
Key losses: Tucker Radebaugh, A; Michael Leahy, M; Doug Davies, D.
Attackmen: Conor Gill, So.; Drew McKnight, Sr.; Ian Shure, So.
First midfield: Jay Jalbert, Sr.; Hanley Holcomb, Jr.; Aaron Vercollone, Jr.
Second midfield: Chris Rotelli, Fr.; A.J. Shannon, Fr.; Will Quayle, Jr.
Defensive midfield: x-Peter Rogosa, Sr.; Brenndan Mohler, So.; Nick Russo, So.
Close defense: Ryan Curtis, Sr.; Mark Koontz, So.; Court Weisleder, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Derek Kenney, So.
Faceoff: Jason Hard, Sr.; David Jenkins, Jr.
Outlook: A year after finally winning a national title under Starsia, the Cavaliers return to defend their crown with a wealth of talent and experience. Gill and McKnight should compensate for the loss of Radebaugh on offense, while Jalbert and Curtis give Virginia more All-America talent across the field. Kenney could emerge as one of the premier goalies in the nation. Deep, talented and rich in tradition, this is the team to beat.
X-factor: It took Virginia four straight trips to the final four before the Cavaliers finally finished on top. Now that they are the prohibitive favorites to repeat, they must contend with enormous expectations from Day One. Opponents will constantly gear up for their best efforts against them. They are young at starting midfield, but with so much depth in the middle it will not be a major hindrance.
1999 record: 12-5 (NCAA runner-up).
Coach: John Desko (12-5, second).
Key losses: Matt Cutia, A; Chris Cordisco, M; Jeff Cordisco, M; Josh Ruhle, D.
Attackmen: Ryan Powell, Sr.; Mike Springer, So.; Liam Banks, So.
First midfield: Matt Caione, Sr.; Tim Byrnes, Sr.; Josh Coffman, So.
Second midfield: Stu Smith, Sr.; Jason Januszkiewicz, Jr.; Tom Hardy, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Joe Ceglia, Sr.; Sam Bassett, Sr.; Dan Stessen, Jr.
Close defense: Marshall Abrams, Sr.; Billy St. George, So.; John Glatzel, Jr.
Goalkeeper: Rob Mulligan, Jr.
Faceoff: Chris Cercy, Jr.
Outlook: The Orangemen made a memorable run at Virginia in the second half of last year's 12-10 loss in the championship game, and look poised to make a similar run at the Cavaliers this spring. Eight of Syracuse's top 10 scorers are back, along with a close defense that should be one of the nation's stingier units. If Mulligan can carry them when needed, the Orangemen will be playing in the final round in College Park come Memorial Day.
X-factor: Powell is one of the premier talents in the country, and he will be among the top scorers by season's end. But with Cutia gone, another big-time scoring threat must emerge among a group that includes Caione, Springer, Banks and Byrnes. Syracuse needs that balance to go far in May.
1999 record: 11-3 (NCAA semifinalist).
Coach: John Haus (11-3, second).
Key losses: Dylan Schlott, A; Matt O'Kelly, M; Rob Doerr, D.
Attackmen: Dan Denihan, Sr.; Ryan Quinn, Jr.; Chris Pforr, Jr.
First midfield: A.J. Haugen, Sr., Conor Denihan, Jr.; Justin Shaberly, Sr.
Second midfield: Rob Fratarolla, Jr.; Jamie Hubbard, So.; Dave Rabuano, Sr.
Defensive midfield: x-Shawn Nadelen, Jr.; Donald Scott, Fr.; Rich Schwester, Sr.
Close defense: Brandon Testa, Jr.; Brendon Shook, Jr.; P.J. DiConza, So.
Goalkeeper: Brian Carcaterra, Jr.
Faceoff: Wedin or C. Denihan.
Outlook: Five returning All-Americans, led by Haugen, Dan Denihan and Carcaterra, return and will try to lead Hopkins to the championship game for the first time since 1989. The Jays' outstanding defense took some major graduation hits, although Carcaterra, maybe the nation's best goalie, should hold the unit together just fine in the early going.
X-factor: The Jays have never shied away from competition, and their always-tough schedule includes a brutal first month, including consecutive road dates with Hofstra, Syracuse and Virginia.
1999 record: 9-4 (NCAA quarterfinalist).
Coach: Bill Tierney (134-44, 13th).
Key losses: Lorne Smith, A; Kurt Lunkenheimer, D; John Harrington, D.
Attackmen: Matt Striebel, Jr.; B.J. Prager, So.; Sean Hartofilis, Fr. and Josh White, Fr.
First midfield: Josh Sims, Sr.; Rob Torti, Sr.; Owen Daly, Fr.
Second midfield: Ryan O'Shaughnessy, Sr.; Chris Harrington, Jr.; Matt Bailer, Jr.
Defensive midfield: x-Ryan Mollett, Jr.; Chris Berrier, Sr.; Kyle Baugher, So., and Chris Berrier, Sr.
Close defense: Scott Farrell, So.; Damien Davis, Fr.; Brian Lieberman, Fr.
Goalkeeper: Trevor Tierney, Jr.
Outlook: This is one of Tierney's younger squads, which should not be mistaken as a sign of rebuilding. No coach recruits better or gets more results out of "untested talent." The Tigers could have the nation's deepest midfield, with Sims leading the way as one of the game's top performers. Striebel and Prager should replace the 41 points lost when Smith graduated.
X-factor: The Tigers need to continue a tradition of excellence on defense, where they always shine with stickwork, patience and positioning. Farrell and Mollett must lead a group that lost All-Americans in Lunkenheimer and Harrington.
1999 record: 13-3 (NCAA semifinalist).
Coach: Dave Urick (93-42, 11th).
Key losses: Greg McAvera, A; Tyler Gamble, M; Anderson Bell, D.
Attackmen: Scott Urick, Sr.; Andy Flick, Sr.; Jamie Sharpe, Jr.
First midfield: Mike Henehan, Jr.; Steve Dusseau, So.; Art Price, Sr.
Second midfield: Trevor Walker, Fr.; Keith Baker, Jr.; Tom Tamberino, Jr.
Defensive midfield: x-Kyle Sweeney, Fr.; Matt Gallagher, Sr.; Mike Chiara, Fr.
Close defense: Greg Papa, Sr.; Brian Samson, Jr.; Roger Colbert, Jr.
Goalkeeper: Dan Mooney, Jr.
Faceoff: Ryan Perraut, Jr.
Outlook: No program has improved as steadily in recent years as the Hoyas, who made their first final four appearance a year ago after making the postseason tournament for the third straight season. They finished second in the nation in scoring and extra-man offense in 1999 and should be able to compensate for the loss of McAvera with a potent attack.
X-factor: Stability in goal. Mooney appeared in goal in only one game in 1999, but is coming off an encouraging fall showing. He will be pushed by sophomore Scott Schroeder, who played with the U.S. under-19 team last summer.
1999 record: 13-3 (NCAA quarterfinalist).
Coach: Mike Pressler (87-44, 10th).
Key losses: Scott Diggs, M; Adam Dretler, M.
Attackmen: T.J. Durnan, Sr.; Jared Frood, Sr.; Greg Patchak, Jr.
First midfield: Nick Hartofilis, Sr.; Chris Kakel, Sr.; Alex Lieske, So.
Second midfield: Chris Hartofilis, Jr.; Hunter Henry, Jr.; Craig Schubert, Sr.
Defensive midfield: x-Michael Keating, Jr.; Nick Schmitz, Sr.; Scott Bross, Jr.
Close defense: Stephen Card, Sr.; Keat Crown, Sr.; Joe Watt, Jr.
Goalkeeper: Matt Breslin, Jr.
Outlook: The Blue Devils had one of the top extra-man offenses a year ago and return five players from that unit. They were so deep offensively that Pressler addressed needs at midfield this year by shifting Kakel and Lieske from attack to the middle, which took the biggest graduation hits. If Breslin lives up to All-America expectations in goal, the Blue Devils could reach the final four.
X-factor: Nick Hartofilis must carry a midfield unit that lost some tremendous talent to graduation. Then again, if Kakel and Lieske can make their midfield transition smoothly, Duke will be looking good in late May. Having one of the premier faceoff men in the game sure helps.
1999 record: 13-3.
Coach: John Dankowski (147-98, 15th).
Key losses: Brad Obloj, A.
Attackmen: Chad Eisenhart, Sr.; Scott Dooley, So.; Tom Kessler, So.
First midfield: Doug Shanahan, Jr.; Chris Korzonkiewicz, Sr.; Mike Tierney, Jr.
Second midfield: Joe Barlie, Jr.; Frank McDermott, Jr.; Bryan Walker, Fr.
Defensive midfield: x-Brian Spallina, Sr.; Dave Sweeney, Fr.
Close defense: Richard Sullivan, Jr.; Lance Yeagle, So.; Erik Fitez, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Mike Demeo, Sr.
Outlook: Defense will be the Flying Dutchmen's strong suit once again, with Spallina and Sullivan returning to anchor a unit that allowed only 7.8 goals per game last year. Shanahan is the most indispensable player. He scores, plays defense, wins faceoffs and digs out ground balls.
X-factor: Hofstra had its hands full against Towson last year before pulling out a 9-6 victory during the regular season. That battle this spring could decide the America East champion, which gets an automatic tournament bid.
1999 record: 12-1 (NCAA quarterfinalist).
Coach: Dave Cottle (160-63, 18th).
Key losses: Tim O'Shea, A; Gewas Schindler, A; Mark Frye, M; Jim Brown, G.
Attackmen: Tim Goettelmann, Sr.; Gunnar Goettelmann, So.; David Fields, Jr.
First midfield: Mike Battista, Sr.; Peter Haas, Sr.; Brad Bevis, Jr.
Second midfield: Chris Summers, Fr., Alex Dufour, Jr.; Jon Neal, Fr.
Defensive midfield: x-Michael Stromberg, So.; Nick Wilson, So.; Bryan England, So.
Close defense: David Metz, Jr.; Joe Rodrigues, Sr.; Billy Armstrong, Jr.
Goalkeeper: Jason Born, Jr. and Mark Bloomquist, Fr.
Faceoff: Joe Maier, Sr.
Outlook: After failing as the tournament's top seed with arguably the most talented team in the school's history, the Greyhounds begin anew after losing six All-Americans, including their top four scorers and a four-year starter in goal. Tim Goettelmann, Battista, Haas and Metz still give Loyola a sound nucleus. Don't be surprised if Cottle gets this underrated crew into the playoffs and near the final four.
X-factor: Brown was a four-year starter who will be difficult to replace at goalie. That position could be shared for a while. Cottle also could be forced to put several players at multiple positions until he finds some effective combinations. It promises to be an interesting transition year.
1999 record: 9-5.
Coach: Dick Edell (147-68, 17th).
Key losses: Scott Hochstadt, A; Kevin Healy, G; Chris Lamy, D.
Attackmen: Marcus LaChapelle, Sr.; Mike Mollot, Fr.; Andrew Combs, Jr.
First midfield: Brian Zeller, Sr.; Mike Lamonica, So.; Chris Malone, Jr.
Second midfield: Alex Poole, Fr.; William Passavia, Fr.; Ricky Sears, Fr.
Defensive midfield: x-Geoff Burnham, Sr.; Jeff Shirk, Sr.; Nate Watkins, So.
Close defense: Casey Connor, Sr.; Jason Carrier, Jr.; Mike Howley, Fr. and Carrington King, So.
Goalkeeper: Pat McGinnis, Jr.
Faceoff: Brian Carroll, So.
Outlook: Unlike typical teams in the past, this year's Terrapins might not be able to fall back repeatedly on their defense. Talents like LaChapelle, Mollot and Zeller, who must improve on his team-high 30 points from a year ago, will be relied on to spark the offense. Losing Healy, who left school last fall, was a big blow to the defense. Losing midfielder Matt Brock to a season-ending knee injury will hurt, as well.
X-factor: Midfield depth and goalkeeping are huge question marks. Zeller and Malone are outstanding first-teamers, but the position gets extremely young beyond there. McGinnis has waited his turn in goal for two years. If he falters badly, Maryland could miss the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
1999 record: 8-6.
Coach: Kevin Corrigan (94-55, 12th).
Key losses: Chris Dusseau, A; Brad Owen, M.
Attackmen: David Ulrich, Jr.; Tom Glatzel, Jr.; Jon Harvey, Jr.
First midfield: Todd Ulrich, Jr.; Steve Bishko, Jr.; Stedman Oakey, Sr.
Second midfield: Chris Young, Jr.; Andy Santoriello, Jr.; Devin Ryan, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Mike Pfeffer, Sr.; Kevin Higgins, Sr.; Chad DeBolt, So.
Close defense: Mike Adams, Jr.; Steve Flamingo, Sr.; A.J. Wright, So.
Goalkeeper: Kirk Howell, Sr.
Outlook: Despite the loss of Dusseau, the second-leading scorer in school history, the Fighting Irish should have enough depth and balance offensively to earn an automatic tournament bid as the class of the Great Western Lacrosse League. David Ulrich and Glatzel should carry the offense, while Howell should steady a young defense that needs time to mature.
X-factor: Defensive consistency will dictate how well the Irish fare against the likes of proven powers such as Loyola and Hofstra, whom Notre Dame recorded near-misses against a year ago. Defensive consistency also will dictate whether the Irish can advance beyond the national tournament's first round.
1999 record: 7-7.
Coach: Richie Meade (30-33, seventh).
Key losses: Jamie O'Leary, A; Kevin Meehan, M; Brad Gilroy, A.
Attackmen: Chris Roesgen, Sr.; Brendan Power, Jr.; Ed McKinnon, So.
First midfield: Adam Borcz, Sr.; Brett Duthie, Sr.; Bart Orr, Sr.
Second midfield: Michael Sheedy, Jr.; Perry Taylor, Sr.; Andy Beal, Sr.
Defensive midfield: x-Greg Pfarr, Jr.; Jamie Doffermyre, Sr.; Chris Pintauro, So.
Close defense: Chad Donnelly, Sr.; Justin Hawkins, Sr.; Brian Blaney, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Mickey Jarboe, Sr.
Faceoff: Jay James, Sr.
Outlook: Twelve seniors, including the top three scorers, are gone. That means former midfielders such as Roesgen and McKinnon must settle in quickly on attack. It also means Borcz must take over games on a regular basis. He is the lone, legitimate go-to guy right now. The Midshipmen returned to the NCAAs in 1999 after a four-year drought. Look for them to scratch their way back by winning enough close, low-scoring games.
X-factor: Jarboe is the first Midshipman to be honored as the nation's top goalie in 30 years. Coming off his superb 1999 season, he holds the key to Navy's playoff hopes. If Jarboe gets on a roll late in the season and gets Navy into the tournament, he can take the Mids places they otherwise would not go.
1999 record: 11-4 (NCAA tournament first round).
Coach: Don Zimmerman (43-37, seventh).
Key losses: Chris Turner, A; Andrew Hampson, G.
Attackmen: Dan Marohl, Sr.; Collin Meerholz, So.; Joey Kesterman, Fr.
First midfield: Charlie Gibson, Jr.; Jon Harasym, So.; Josh Hahn, Jr. and Jeff Radcliffe, Sr.
Second midfield: James Watton-Galbraith, So.; Adam Shiley, So.; Chris Ogle, Jr. and Luke Gilbert, Fr.
Defensive midfield: x-Michael Hicks, Sr.; Brian Lawton, Jr.; Mark Tschaggeny, Fr. and Eric Barger, Sr.
Close defense: Zach Burke, Sr.; Dave Smith, Fr.; Eric Hester, So.
Goalkeeper: Steve Cusa, Jr.
Outlook: Zimmerman refers to this year's team as a "remodeling" project, which is appropriate, considering only four starters return from the team that went to its second consecutive NCAA tournament in 1999. Twenty-six of the team's 38 players are either freshmen or sophomores. Among the first line of defense, only Burke returns to bolster a unit that gave up just 8.2 goals a game, a school record. Cusa is coming off an outstanding fall season in goal. Zimmerman will be mixing and matching attackmen and middies early in the season, but the Retrievers will stay in the East Coast Athletic Conference title hunt.
X-factor: Team captain Dan Marohl will have much to say about how far UMBC goes. He no longer has Turner and Hard to complement, but he looks poised to become one of the premier attackmen in the country after three strong seasons. He and Hahn must combine to put consistent pressure on opposing defenses.
Other state contenders
1999 record: 5-8.
Coach: Tony Seaman (5-8, second).
Key losses: Kevin Strum, A; Spencer Ford, A.
Attackmen: Todd Paradise, Sr.; Ryan Obloj, Fr.; Brad Reppert, So.; Josh Cornett, Fr.
First midfield: Mike Murray, Sr.; Mike Haertel, Sr.; J.D. Jones, Sr.
Second midfield: Keith Smith, Sr.; Jay Horowitz, So.; Josh Tankersley, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Danny Cocchi, Fr.
Close defense: Mike Machiran, Jr.; Wesley Speaks, So.; Kevin Meyran, Jr.
Goalkeeper: John Horrigan, Jr.
Faceoff: Justin Berry, Jr.
Outlook: The Tigers move forward after losing the best one-two offensive punch in the game in Ford and Sturm, who led the nation last year in goals and assists, respectively. They will count on Paradise to make a successful move from midfield to attack, where he will assume the role of team leader. With 21 freshmen on its roster, Towson figures to make noticeable strides with Seaman's second recruiting class, but the NCAAs are probably a year away.
X-factor: Berry could be the best faceoff man in the country. An extraordinary year from him means the Tigers would win enough possessions to let their promising offense keep them in games consistently. An average year from him probably would put too much pressure on Horrigan to keep Towson in playoff contention. Offensively, the ability to spread the scoring around will be the Tigers' key to success.
1999 record: 11-6.
Coach: Tom Gravante (37-43, sixth).
Key losses: Steve English, M.
Attackmen: Trevor Harvey, Sr.; Nick DeFelice, Jr.; Pat Whitty, So. and Matt Radebaugh, So.
First midfield: Doug Thompson, Sr.; Mark Hargrave, Sr.; Steve Ricker, Sr.
Second midfield: Phil Rossetti, So.; Bryan Cole, So.; Matt Downs, Jr. and Mark Cox, So.
Defensive midfield: x-Mike Cleary, Sr.; Jace McMahon, Sr.; Bryan Leone, Fr.
Close defense: Kevin Carroll, Sr.; Sean McKenna, Sr.; Rick Gupman, Sr.
Goalkeeper: Sean Elder, Sr.
Outlook: Eleven seniors return from a team that went undefeated in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last year. The Mount lost just two starters and should be especially strong on defense and at attack, where Harvey and DeFelice combined to record 67 goals and 43 assists in 1999.
X-factor: Gravante has risen the level of play consistently since taking over, and he is pushing the Mount harder than ever with a nonconference schedule that includes Maryland, UMBC, Delaware and Navy.
Others to watch
North Carolina: Coach Dave Klarmann heads into his 10th and final season with his entire attack unit back, with Matt Crofton and Jeff Sonke leading the way. But the Tar Heels must shore up a defense that allowed 11.33 goals per game in 1999.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions are commonly refered to as the best team not to have received an NCAA tournament bid in the past five years. Chances are they will miss for the sixth consecutive season. They have good midfield depth, led by Eric Wood and Sean Russ. But they are a little too thin elsewhere.
Delaware: The Blue Hens face the daunting task of compensating for the loss of superb attackman John Grant, one of four All-Americans who have departed. In all, 10 seniors are gone from the team that was perfect in the America East conference and won its first NCAA tournament game in school history.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen, 4-8 a year ago, lost five games by one or two goals. With much depth at attack and midfield, they could be primed for a move to the postseason tournament.