OUTLOOK FOR 2004

THE BALTIMORE SUN

It wasn't long after Virginia finished its victory lap around M&T; Bank Stadium last Memorial Day with the national championship in tow that discussion turned to the 2004 season, when the Cavaliers and their spectacular goalie Tillman Johnson will face a host of challengers in their bid to repeat.

Front and center on that list is Johns Hopkins, last year's runner-up, which returns a boatload of talent in the quest for its first national championship since 1987. Syracuse, with its star attackman Michael Powell, will be formidable, as always. And coaches warn not to forget about a Princeton squad of unprecedented youth, nor upstarts like Rutgers or Massachusetts.

With the ECAC losing its automatic bid with the departure of UMBC and Navy, the tournament field will consist of six league champions and 10 at-large selections. The battle for those 10 spots will be waged by independents, like Johns Hopkins, Syracuse and Loyola; by the eight schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the ECAC; and by second- and third-place finishers in conferences with automatic bids.

On this page, The Sun projects the field.

Top four seeds

No. 1 Johns Hopkins

Coach: Dave Pietramala (fourth season, 34-8; seventh season overall, 57-25).

2003 record: 14-2, NCAA finals.

Conference: Independent.

Top returning point-getter: Kyle Barrie, junior A (37 goals, 20 assists).

Also back: Peter LeSueur, junior A (24, 21); Conor Ford, senior A/M (18, 28); Kevin Boland, senior M (21, 25); Kyle Harrison, junior M (22, 14, .626 faceoff pct.); Joe McDermott, senior M (12, 9); Corey Harned, senior LSM; Tom Garvey, junior D; Chris Watson, junior D.

Key additions: Matt Rewkowski, junior A/M (transfer from Duke); Jesse Schwartzman, freshman G (Pikesville).

Sun's take: Though Hopkins returns six starters, Pietramala stressed that this year's Blue Jays are a far different team from last year's. They will be more athletic and versatile on offense with the interchangeable Ford and Rewkowski. The preseason All-America teams included six Blue Jays on the offensive end of the field, and long-stick midfielder Harned, whose ground ball work often starts his team's attack, could easily count as seven. Whoever will start in goal - Schwartzman or sophomore Scott Smith - will have an underrated defense in front of him.

No. 2 Virginia

Coach: Dom Starsia (12th season, 125-42; 22nd season overall, 226-88).

2003 record: 15-2, NCAA champion.

Conference: Atlantic Coast.

Top returning point-getter: Joe Yevoli, junior A (23, 26).

Also back: John Christmas, junior A (36, 12); Matt Ward, sophomore A (26, 20); Jack deVilliers, junior M (.588 faceoff pct.); Kyle Dixon, sophomore M (9, 8); Foster Gilbert, sophomore M; Matt Poskay, sophomore M; Brett Hughes, senior D; Tillman Johnson, senior G.

Key additions: Drew Thompson, freshman M.

Sun's take: Starting the first weekend of March, the reigning champs play Syracuse, Princeton, Towson, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, North Carolina and Duke in that order. By the time that brutal stretch hits, the Cavaliers' young midfield likely will have found its feet. However, Virginia has plenty of other weapons to get by, starting with perhaps the nation's best attack. And then there's Johnson, whose fabulous display in last year's final four elevated the goalie to long-deserved superstar status.

No. 3 Syracuse

Coach: John Desko (sixth season, 65-17).

2003 record: 10-6, NCAA semifinals.

Conference: Independent.

Top returning point-getter: Michael Powell, senior A (31, 33).

Also back: Brian Crockett, sophomore A (20, 10); Brian Nee, senior A (24, 6); Sean Lindsay, senior M (29, 7); Greg Rommel, sophomore M (8, 1); Steve Vallone, senior M (20, 4); Dan DiPietro, senior D; Jay Pfeifer, junior G.

Key additions: Kevin Dougherty, senior M (transfer from Hofstra); Scott Ditzell, junior D (transfer from Herkimer CC); Steve Panarelli, freshman D.

Sun's take: Though they took their 21st consecutive trip to the final four, last season was a disappointment for the Orangemen, who hadn't suffered six losses in a season since 1977. Syracuse has retooled its defense in front of Pfeifer, and is more athletic on that end, thanks in large part to Panarelli. Crockett's move from the midfield will make Syracuse's attack even more formidable. Powell is aiming for a proper sendoff on Memorial Day.

No. 4 Massachusetts

Coach: Greg Cannella (10th season, 79-47).

2003 record: 13-3, NCAA quarterfinals.

Conference: ECAC.

Top returning point-getter: Jeff Zywicki, senior A (41, 20).

Also back: Kevin Glenz, senior A (9, 13); Gene Tundo, junior A (14, 12); Chris Doyle, junior M (19, 4); Sean Morris, sophomore M (14, 8); Matt Garcia, junior D; Chris Gervat, senior D; Jack Reid, sophomore D; Bill Schell, junior G.

Key additions: Andrew Reccione, freshman M.

Sun's take: Injuries have become a major concern for the Minutemen, who open tomorrow against North Carolina at Calvert Hall with three of their major players (Zywicki, Morris and Schell) hampered by various ailments. With Zywicki, the up-tempo Minutemen have the offensive firepower necessary to make a final four run. A loss to the Tar Heels wouldn't be disastrous as UMass' opportunity to impress the NCAA selection committee will come in the season's last three weeks against Georgetown, Syracuse and Rutgers.

Automatic qualifiers

Mount St. Mary's

Coach: Tom Gravante (10th season, 72-76).

2003 record: 10-8, NCAA first round.

Conference: Metro Atlantic.

Top returning point-getter: Matt Warner, sophomore A (36, 15).

Also back: Dan Hatton, junior A (27, 8); Jason Werner, sophomore A; Joe Bello, sophomore M; Jay Duffy, senior M; Billy Jautze, sophomore M; Pat Farrell, sophomore D; Matt Prior, senior D; Dan Whitehurst, sophomore G.

Key additions: Eric Seifert, freshman M (transfer from NAPS).

Sun's take: The Mountaineers' defense of the MAAC title and their first NCAA bid is off to a rocky start as injuries, academic issues and the weather, which has kept the Mount indoors for most of the preseason, have taken their toll. A lot of talent returns on offense, starting with Warner, last year's MAAC Rookie of the Year. However, the Mount will need steady goaltending from Whitehurst to hold off Providence and St. Joseph's.

Navy

Coach: Richie Meade (10th season, 61-54; 13th season overall, 88-77).

2003 record: 6-7.

Conference: Patriot League.

Top returning point-getter: Ian Dingman, sophomore A (23, 17).

Also back: Jon Birsner, sophomore A (9, 9); Joe Bossi, senior A (17, 12); Ben Bailey, senior M (14 goals); Graham Gill, junior M (13, 9); Thomas Morris, senior LSM; Mike Felber, junior D; Mitch Hendler, junior D; Seth DiNola, junior G.

Key additions: Billy Looney, freshman M.

Sun's take: The Army-Navy game has much more riding on it this year with a meeting in the Patriot League tournament potentially having an NCAA automatic bid on the line. Three of the Mids' four ECAC losses last season came by one goal, but the margin of error won't be as small in the Patriot League. A matchup nightmare, Dingman (6 feet 3, 248 pounds) is healthy after playing through injuries in his plebe year. The Mids are well-stocked in goal with DiNola and sophomore Matt Russell.

Notre Dame

Coach: Kevin Corrigan (16th season, 132-74; 18th season overall, 142-89).

2003 record: 9-5.

Conference: Great Western.

Top returning point-getter: Patrick Walsh, sophomore A (20, 32).

Also back: Dan Berger, senior A (32, 2); Matt Howell, senior A (15, 19); Steve Clagett, senior M; Brian Giordano, junior M (13, 5); Mickey Blum, senior D; Brennan Creaney, senior D; Stewart Crosland, senior G.

Key additions: Brian Boyle, freshman A; Joey Rollo, freshman D (Boys' Latin).

Sun's take: After a two-year youth movement, the Irish bring back nine starters and a veteran core that gives them an edge in the Great Western over Ohio State, which the Irish host in March, and upstart Denver. A do-it-all attackman, Walsh is Notre Dame's most heralded player; however, the Irish have a number of players who can finish. In one fall scrimmage, 13 players scored for Notre Dame.

Princeton

Coach: Bill Tierney (17th season, 181-57; 20th season overall, 215-64).

2003 record: 11-4. NCAA quarterfinals.

Conference: Ivy.

Top returning point-getter: Ryan Boyle, senior A (10, 48).

Also back: Jason Doneger, junior A (41, 3); Mac Bryson, junior M (5, 3); Drew Casino, senior M (.457 faceoff pct.); Jim O'Brien, sophomore M; Ricky Schultz, senior D; Tim Sullivan, junior D.

Key additions: Scott Sowanick, freshman A; Peter Trombino, freshman A; Zachary Jungers, freshman D (Dulaney).

Sun's take: Princeton and rebuilding? Maybe not, but after losing 13 seniors, Tierney will field one of his youngest teams ever. Eight of the Tigers' top 10 scorers last year are gone, though the two returnees (Boyle and Doneger) are All-Americans. Tierney hasn't ruled out a goalie rotation with sophomore Dave Law and junior Matt Larkin. Even with its youth, Princeton has won nine straight Ivy titles and earned the right to be considered the favorite.

Towson

Coach: Tony Seaman (sixth season, 38-33; 23rd season overall, 202-106).

2003 record: 9-6, NCAA quarterfinals.

Conference: Colonial.

Top returning point-getter: Drew Pfarr, senior M (16, 5).

Also back: Steve Mull, sophomore A (8, 6); Ben DeFelice, senior M (.574 faceoff pct.); Matt Florio, senior M (10, 5); Brian Myers, senior M (13, 1); Joe Smith, senior D; Reed Sothoron, junior G.

Key additions: Bobby Griebe, redshirt freshman A (Boys' Latin); Phil Grillo, junior A (transfer from UMBC); Jonathan Engelke, freshman A.

Sun's take: With a solid goalie and dominant faceoff man, the Tigers remind Seaman a lot of his 2001 final four team, though the current Tigers do lack a proven scorer. They may start two freshmen (Griebe and Engelke) and a sophomore (Mull) up top, until Grillo returns from an ankle injury. Turnovers have been the Achilles' heel in the past for the run-and-gun Tigers, but Seaman is hoping that six seniors on the first two midfields will help matters.

UMBC

Coach: Don Zimmerman (11th season, 67-63; 18th season overall, 140-79).

2003 record: 7-6.

Conference: America East.

Top returning point-getter: Brendan Mundorf, sophomore A (22, 11).

Also back: Andy Gallagher, sophomore A (11, 7); Franklin Berry, senior M (12, 5); Joe Cahill, junior M; James Hyland, sophomore M; Pat Muston, senior M (.540 faceoff pct.); Jeff Clark, senior D; Kevin Cepelak, junior G.

Key additions: Drew Westervelt, freshman A (John Carroll); Corey Warner, junior A/M (transfer from Herkimer CC).

Sun's take: Zimmerman has warned his team not to take the America East lightly after playing for four years in the tough ECAC. Gallagher was on his way to a huge year last year before a season-ending injury in Week 4, and his return and pairing with Mundorf creates a dynamic one-two punch. Berry is another threat from the midfield. Faceoff ace Muston and Cepelak, who replaces Tim Flanagan in goal, will be keys.

Other at-large selections

Dartmouth

Coach: Bill Wilson (first season).

2003 record: 11-3, NCAA first round.

Conference: Ivy.

Top returning point-getter: Jamie Coffin, sophomore A (18, 19).

Also back: Ryan Danehy, sophomore A (11, 7); Tom Daniels, senior M (15, 18); Ben Grinnell, junior M (26, 6); Russell Radebaugh, senior M (11, 12); Patrick Keeley, junior D; Kane Russell, senior D; Adam White, junior D; Andrew Goldstein, junior G.

Key additions: Nick Bonacci, freshman A (St. Mary's).

Sun's take: Along with a new coach - former Cornell and Princeton assistant Wilson takes over for Rick Sowell who will guide St. John's next year - the Big Green's biggest adjustment is dealing with increased expectations. After last year, Dartmouth will get everyone's undivided attention, especially with the return of Coffin and Goldstein. If the Big Green doesn't take the Ivy, nonconference contests against Rutgers and Notre Dame will be vital.

Georgetown

Coach: Dave Urick (15th season, 139-55; 24th season overall, 261-85).

2003 record: 11-4, NCAA quarterfinals.

Conference: ECAC.

Top returning point-getter: Neal Goldman, senior A (21, 11).

Also back: Andy Corno, junior M (.653 pct.); Walid Hajj, senior M (23, 7); Nick Miaritis, junior M; Brice Queener, junior M; Brodie Merrill, junior LSM/D; Andy Braziel, senior D; Reyn Garnett, sophomore D; John Trapp, sophomore D; Rich D'Andrea, junior G.

Key additions: Trevor Casey, freshman A.

Sun's take: The Hoyas' calling card will be their defense, which set a school record last year, allowing only 7.3 goals per game. Back on that unit is Braziel, a potential All-American, and Merrill, who will get time at both long stick and close defense. Georgetown should get plenty of possessions with Corno, but does it have enough firepower besides Goldman and Hajj?

Hofstra

Coach: John Danowski, (19th season, 163-103; 22nd season overall, 190-19).

2003 record: 11-6, NCAA first round.

Conference: Colonial.

Top returning point-getter: John Keysor, sophomore M (12, 12).

Also back: Ryan Lucas, sophomore A (12, 7); Chris Unterstein, sophomore A (10, 8); John Orsen, sophomore M; Tim Treubig, sophomore M (11, 4); Brett Moyer, sophomore D; Brian Zuchelli, senior D; Matthew Southard, sophomore G.

Key additions: Athan Ianucci, freshman A; Rob Bonaguro, sophomore M (transfer from Nassau CC).

Sun's take: Thirty of the Pride's 39 players have one year of Division I experience or less. Preseason All-America defender Zuchelli is back from a torn ACL, joining an impressive defense, and Hofstra should have a variety of contributors on offense. The wild card is Ianucci, a freshman from Vancouver, B.C., who Danowski said looks like Gary Gait at his best moments, and a confused newcomer at his worst.

Maryland

Coach: Dave Cottle (third season, 21-8; 22nd season overall, 202-78).

2003 record: 12-4, NCAA semifinals.

Conference: Atlantic Coast.

Top returning point-getter: Joe Walters, sophomore A (33, 13).

Also back: J.R. Bordley, senior A; Paul Gillette, senior M; Justin Smith, senior M (12, 4); Bill McGlone, sophomore M; Chris Passavia, senior D; Lee Zink, senior D.

Key additions: Michael Phipps, freshman A (Severn); Xander Ritz, sophomore A (transfer from Delaware); Tim McGinnis, senior G (transfer from Gettysburg); Harry Alford, freshman G.

Sun's take: Cottle knows less about this team than any in the past, especially on the offensive end, where the Terps will ride Walters and Ritz, and hope their young midfielders can compensate for some of the scoring the team lost to graduation. There are no concerns on the other end with Passavia and Zink, both first-team preaseason All-Americans, and two talented goalies in McGinnis, the two-time Division III Goalie of the Year and now a grad student in College Park, and Alford, a heralded freshman. The Maryland-Johns Hopkins game at Homewood on April 17 will be the 100th meeting between the two schools.

North Carolina

Coach: John Haus (fourth season, 21-17; 10th season overall, 88-45).

2003 record: 7-6.

Conference: Atlantic Coast.

Top returning point-getter: Jed Prossner, junior A (25, 13).

Also back: Scott Falatach, sophomore A (13, 7); Mike McCall, junior A (24, 11); Kevin Frew, senior M (.540 faceoff pct.); Bryant Will, junior M (11, 11); Lance Zimmerman, junior M (10, 3); Charley Conkling, junior D; Stephen McElduff, sophomore D; Ronnie Staines, senior D; Paul Spellman, junior G.

Key additions: Ryan Walterhoefer, freshman M (Boys' Latin).

Sun's take: Once again, Carolina is loaded, but must find consistency. Prossner and Falatach are tough one-on-one matchups for anyone, and the level doesn't drop off with the other two attackmen (McCall and Ryan Blair). The midfield is anchored by the unselfish Will, while the defense returns everybody, including All-Americans Staines and Spellman. Even though the Heels haven't made the NCAAs since 1998, the expectations in Chapel Hill, the site of the ACC tournament, are very high.

Rutgers

Coach: Jim Stagnitta (third season, 12-17; 15th season overall, 148-59).

2003 record: 10-5, NCAA first round.

Conference: ECAC.

Top returning point-getter: Delby Powless, senior A (32, 4).

Also back: Matt Apel, senior A (8, 15); Leif Blomquist, junior A (10, 19); Austin Rodgers, sophomore A (4, 2); John Flanagan, junior M (7, 8); Jamie Lovejoy, junior M (7, 7); Tim White, senior M (12, 14); Andrew Conforti, senior D; Joe Duncan, senior D; Greg Havalchak, sophomore G.

Key additions: Daren Ohiokpehai, freshman D (McDonogh).

Sun's take: One year after a miraculous turnaround, the Scarlet Knights should keep rising. The talent is there as Powless and Havalchak are among the best in the country at their positions, and the team's attack should be much improved. There are questions in the midfield and the challenge to duplicate last year's magic against an unforgiving schedule, but optimism reigns in Piscataway.

On the bubble

Loyola

Coach: Bill Dirrigl (third season, 16-10; seventh season, 43-39).

2003 record: 7-6.

Conference: Independent.

Top returning point-getter: Stephen Brundage, senior A (23, 3).

Also back: Chris Einhorn, junior A; Parker Adams, junior M; Bernie Cannon, senior D; Grant Halford, junior D.

Key additions: Matt Monfett, junior A (transfer from Duke); Matt Cassalia, freshman M; Joe Landry, freshman M; Greg Leonard, freshman M; Andrew Spack, freshman M.

Sun's take: No team in the country underwent a bigger facelift than the Greyhounds, who will surround Brundage with 10 new faces on offense. Looking to upgrade his team's athleticism and play-making ability, Dirrigl brought in nine freshman midfielders - almost all of them will play. The Greyhounds' top seven defenders are back and will be counted on to take pressure off a first-year starter in goal, either Michael Fretwell (St. Mary's) or T.C. Behm, a Maryland transfer.

Division III

Goucher

Coach: Kyle Hannan (31-17, fourth season).

2003 record: 8-8.

Conference: Capital Athletic.

Top returning point-getters: Matt Wilson, senior A (24, 4), Patrick Tracey, junior A (13, 15).

Also back: Reeves Craig, junior G; Chris Webber, junior, D; John Hanley, senior D; Binz Hansen, sophomore M.

Key additions: Dan Flamholz, freshman A (transfer from Colgate); Brent Shea, freshman M; Jerod Richardson, freshman M; Mike Zirrolli, sophomore M (transfer from Rochester Institute of Technology).

Sun's take: When a goalkeeper (Craig) and two defensemen (Webber and Hanley) are three of a team's top six returnees, it is obvious this is a team that thrives on defense, and the national Division III stats back that up. The Gophers had the No. 4 scoring defense in the country last season, surrendering 6.06 goals a game. Craig had a .683 save percentage, which was seventh among D-III goalies in the nation, enabling him to become Goucher's first All-American (honorable mention) in the 12-year history of the men's lacrosse program.

McDaniel

Coach: Jim Townsend (10-3, second season).

2003 record: 10-3.

Conference: Centennial.

Top returning point-getter: Rob Weaver, junior A (16, 43).

Also back: Josh Hanlon, senior D; Justin Merson, senior A; Mike Korba, senior G.

Key additions: Jared Nutter, freshman M; Steve Hoffman, freshman M; Brad Baer, freshman M.

Sun's take: Weaver and Hanlon headline seven returning starters from last season, with Hanlon gaining preseason notice as a second-team D-III All-America. Korba is strong in the net, and the Green Terror has gained a lot of youthful athleticism in the midfield. Baer is one of three freshman midfielders, and his presence on the field should be a plus. He proved himself a winner last fall when he took over the starting quarterback job early in the season and injected some fire into the team.

St. Mary's

Coach: Jayme Block (12-17, third season).

2003 record: 7-7.

Conference: Capital Athletic.

Top returning point-getter: Dave Mueller, sophomore A (23, 34).

Also back: Kevin Whalen, junior A; Ryan McCauley, senior M; Alex Redmond, senior M; Miguel Snyder, junior G.

Key additions: Pat Schmidt, junior M (transfer from Penn State); Jamie Waring, sophomore M (transfer from University of Massachusetts); Jim Mitchell, sophomore M (transfer from Nazareth College).

Sun's take: The Seahawks already had a strong talent base returning from last year, before Division I transfers Schmidt and Waring came aboard. They will provide a major shot in the arm to a midfield that already has a preseason All-American in McCauley. Mueller was the CAC Rookie of the Year last season, leading the league in assists. There is plenty of depth in goal as Snyder will be pushed by freshmen Rich Barr and Matt Wiost.

Salisbury

Coach: Jim Berkman (216-29, 16th season).

2003 record: 19-1, national champions.

Conference: Capital Athletic.

Top returning point-getter: Andy Arnold, senior A (27, 26).

Also back: Andy Murray, senior M (2003 National Player of the Year); Eric Martin, senior D; Jeff Bigas, junior D; Sean White, senior LSM; Scott Simmons, senior A; Corey O'Neil, senior A; Evan Howard, senior D; Dan Korpon, junior G.

Key additions: Casey Olejniczak, junior M (transfer from Ohio State); Chris Swierczek, junior G (transfer from Elizabethtown); Ryan DeRose, freshman M.

Outlook: Four national championships, 15 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances which is the longest active streak in D-III, a 54-0 record that has led to nine consecutive Capital Athletic Conference titles and a 216-29 record in 15 seasons under Berkman. The Sea Gulls are the preseason favorites to repeat as national champions. They have last season's national Player of the Year returning in Murray, the national Defenseman of the Year back returning in Martin and eight starters from last season's team that was No. 1 in the nation in scoring (17.85 goals a game) and No. 7 in scoring defense (6.35 goals allowed a game).

Villa Julie

Coach: Whit Morrill (9-3, second season).

2003 record: 9-3.

Conference: Pennsylvania Athletic.

Top returning point-getter: Nate Montayne, junior A (13, 16).

Also back: Matt Smoot, junior M; Greg Keller, junior M; Brian Bacon, senior M; Matt Easter, sophomore D.

Key additions: Matt Miller, sophomore M (transfer from Hofstra); Ryan Hogan, freshman D; Dan Deaver, freshman M; Brooks Beaty, freshman G; Mike MacSherry, junior M (transfer from Randolph-Macon).

Sun's take: This lacrosse team gained respect around its Green Spring Valley campus last spring, winning the school's first-ever championship in any sport (the Eastern College Athletic Conference Southern Region title). Ten seniors, including five All-PAC choices, from that team are gone, with the nation's sixth-best defense (yielding just 6.17 goals a game) taking a hard hit. Easter is the only returnee on defense.

Washington College

Coach: J.B. Clarke (58-23, sixth season).

2003 record: 12-4

Conference: Centennial

Top returning point-getter: Stephen Berger, senior M (33,40)

Also back: Richard Yost, senior G; Kyle Mitten, junior D; Gregory Vetter, junior D; Matt Krug, senior D; Jon Spivey, junior A; Brent Renner, senior M; Tom Parr, senior LSM.

Key additions: Kevin Nolan, freshman A; Andrew Ostrusky, freshman A; Brendan Hopkins, freshman A.

Outlook: The Shoremen owned the Centennial Conference last season with an 8-0 march through the league and a record 10 All-Centennial selections. While their Eastern Shore rivals Salisbury had the country's top offense, Washington had the No. 1 defense. When the two teams collided, eventual national champion Salisbury walked off with a 17-12 victory. The Shoremen's 10-8 loss to Hampden-Sydney in the second round of the NCAA tourney last season sent Clarke out on the recruiting trail to bring in 18 freshmen.- Bill Free

KEY QUESTIONS

1. What's different this year?

The tournament field will be unveiled on Monday, May 10 - not on Sunday as in years past - giving the selection committee another day to mull over the results of conference tournaments, like the one in the Patriot League, which is using that format for the first time to decide its NCAA qualifier.

The ECAC lost its automatic bid, but will get it back in 2007, two years after the league welcomes aboard Loyola, Hobart and St. John's.

2. Could all seven Maryland teams make the NCAAs?

It is possible. UMBC, Navy and Mount St. Mary's are all favorites to win their conferences and automatic entry. Towson has beaten Hofstra, its biggest hurdle in the CAA, four of the past five meetings. Minus a historic meltdown, Johns Hopkins will be there, leaving the onus on Maryland and Loyola, whose schedules present opportunities for the high-profile wins that the NCAA selection committee looks for.

3. Who will be last year's Rutgers?

This year's surprise could come from as far west as the University of Denver, where the Pioneers have one of the most athletic teams in the country. Villanova will probably continue to rise, but if you're looking for a real long shot, take a peek at Albany, last year's America East champion.

4. What happened to Rob Scherr?

Johns Hopkins goalie Rob Scherr expected to be back for a fifth year after an All-America 2003 campaign, but the NCAA ruled that the 15 minutes he played in a fall scrimmage during his freshman year negated what was thought to be a redshirt year and denied his request for an extra year of eligibility.

5. Who will score for Maryland?

The Terps lost five of their top six midfielders and four of their top five scorers. The development of sophomore Joe Walters, who led the Terps last year with 33 goals, into more of an all-around attackman will help, as will the arrival of transfer Xander Ritz, Delaware's leading scorer in 2003.

Somebody from an unheralded midfield will need to take a lead role.

6. How will Michael Powell go out?

With 218 career points, Syracuse's star attackman is 70 away from surpassing his older brothers, Casey and Ryan Powell, and becoming the all-time leading scorer in Syracuse history.

Considered the nation's top player, Powell could become a four-time first-team All-American and Attackman of the Year.

7. Will UNC make its move?

You won't get lauded for your brashness by picking Johns Hopkins, Virginia and Syracuse to win a national title.

The far sexier pick is North Carolina. The Tar Heels haven't made the tournament since 1998, but the lineup coach John Haus will put out is on par with those at Johns Hopkins, Virginia and Syracuse.

8. Why so much youth?

Coaches have no choice but to trust their underclassmen - 20 of 35 All-Americans last year graduated. Princeton coach Bill Tierney will get major minutes from some of his 14 freshmen.

The attack that Towson sends out tomorrow against Loyola will have a total of 12 games of college experience, but that's an eternity to the Greyhounds, who feature seven rookie midfielders.

9. What transfers will make the biggest difference?

Matt Rewkowski makes Hopkins more versatile, but the Jays have plenty of young guns behind him. Ditto for Syracuse, which expects Hofstra transfer Kevin Dougherty to run on the first midfield.

Loyola and Maryland were desperate to improve their offense and the arrival of Matt Monfett from Duke and Xander Ritz from Delaware could do just that.

10. Can host Baltimore top last year?

Yes, by selling about 4,000 more tickets and praying that Mother Nature cooperates.

Despite awful weather, last year's final four at M&T; Bank Stadium drew 37,944 fans - the highest attendance ever at an outdoor championship - but fell short of the 42,000 needed to sell out the stadium's lower concourses.

Ticket sales are up 50 percent from this time last year, and the goal is to set a high standard for Philadelphia, which beat out Baltimore to host the championships in 2005 and 2006.

Men's schedules

Division I

Johns Hopkins

Date Opponent Time

2/28 at Pennsylvania 1

3/6 Princeton 1

3/9 Albany 3

3/13 at Hofstra TBA

3/20 Syracuse 1

3/27 at Virginia 7:30

4/3 North Carolina 1

4/10 at Duke 1

4/17 Maryland 7:30

4/24 at Navy 12

5/1 Towson 3

5/8 at Loyola 1

Loyola

2/28 at Towson 2

3/6 at Hofstra 1:30

3/13 Duke 1

3/20 Notre Dame 1

3/27 at Brown 1

4/3 Quinnipiac 1

4/10 at Syracuse 1

4/17 Georgetown 1

4/21 at UMBC 7:30

4/24 Pennsylvania 1

5/1 Yale 12

5/8 Johns Hopkins 1

Maryland

2/28 at Georgetown 1

3/6 at Duke 1

3/13 Towson 1

3/16 at Bucknell 3

3/20 at UMBC 1

3/23 Butler 7

3/27 at North Carolina 1

4/3 Virginia 1

4/10 Navy 1

4/17 at Johns Hopkins 7:30

4/23 ACC semifinals/a TBA

4/25 ACC finals/a TBA

5/1 Notre Dame 1

5/8 Pennsylvania 1

a-at North Carolina

Mt. St. Mary's

2/28 at Bucknell 1

3/10 at Delaware 4

3/13 Providence 2

3/17 Manhattan 3

3/20 Siena 2

3/27 at Marist 1

4/3 at Wagner 1

4/6 at Towson 7:30

4/10 at VMI 1

4/17 Penn State 2

4/24 Canisius 2

4/28 at Georgetown 4

5/1 at St. Joseph's (Pa.) 7

5/7 MAAC Tourn./a TBA

5/9 MAAC Tourn./a TBA

a-at Buffalo, N.Y.

Navy

2/21 at Lafayette 1

2/28 Ohio State 12

3/5 at North Carolina 7

3/13 Bucknell noon

3/16 Hobart noon

3/20 vs. Colgate/a 1

3/27 at Army 1

4/3 at Georgetown 1

4/10 at Maryland 1

4/16 Lehigh 7

4/18 Holy Cross 12

4/24 Johns Hopkins 12

a/at Orlando, Fla.

Towson

2/28 Loyola 2

3/7 Providence 1

3/13 at Maryland 1

3/21 Virginia 1

3/27 at Rutgers 3

4/3 Villanova 7:30

4/6 Mt. St. Mary's 7:30

4/10 Sacred Heart 1

4/24 Drexel 7:30

4/14 Delaware 7:30

4/27 UMBC 7:30

5/1 at Johns Hopkins 3

5/5 CAA semifinals TBA

5/8 CAA finals TBA

UMBC

2/28 at Duke 1

3/6 Ohio State 1

3/13 Hartford 1

3/20 Maryland 1

3/27 Delaware 1

4/3 Albany 1

4/7 at Binghamton 3

4/10 at Quinnipiac noon

4/17 at North Carolina 1

4/21 Loyola 7:30

4/24 Stony Brook 1

4/27 at Towson 7:30

5/1 at Vermont 1

5/5 America East semifinals TBA

5/8 America East finals TBA

Division III

Goucher

Date Opponent Time

2/28 at Virginia Wesleyan 1

3/3 Salisbury 3:30

3/6 Swarthmore 2

3/10 at York 3:30

3/13 at Randolph-Macon 2

3/17 vs. Trinity TBA

3/20 at Marymount 1

3/24 Franklin & Marshall 3:30

3/27 at Mary Washington 1

3/31 Dickinson 3:30

4/3 Catholic 2

4/10 St. Mary's 2

4/14 at Wesley 4

4/17 CAC Tourn. quarterfinals TBA

4/20 CAC Tourn. semifinals TBA

4/23 CAC Tourn. finals TBA

4/28 Villa Julie 4

McDaniel

2/28 Widener 1:30

3/3 Roanoke 3

3/6 at Hartwick 1

3/10 Messiah 3

3/16 vs. W'rn N.E. Col.-a TBA

3/20 at Washington C. 1:30

3/27 at Haverford 1:30

4/3 Dickinson 1:30

4/10 Salisbury 1:30

4/14 Swarthmore 4

4/17 at Villa Julie 1

4/21 at Gettysburg 4

4/24 Ursinus 1:30

4/27 Franklin & Marshall 4

5/1 at Muhlenberg 1

5/7 Centennial Conf. Tourn. semifinals TBA

5/9 Centennial Conf. Tourn. finals TBA a-at Orlando, Fla.

St. Mary's

2/29 Roanoke 1

3/3 Neumann 3:30

3/6 at Hampden/Sydney 1

3/10 Lynchburg 3:30

3/13 Wittenberg (Ohio) 1

3/16 at Greensboro 3:30

3/19 at Salisbury 3:30

3/24 Marymount 3:30

3/27 at Virginia Wesleyan 1

3/31 Mary Washington 3:30

4/3 at York 1

4/7 at Wesley 3:30

4/10 at Goucher 2

4/14 Catholic 4

4/17 CAC Tourn. quarterfinals TBA

4/20 CAC Tourn. semifinals TBA

4/23 CAC Tourn. finals TBA

Salisbury

2/14 Virginia Wesleyan 1

2/21 at Catholic 1

3/3 at Goucher 3:30

3/7 Ohio Wesleyan 1

3/10 Marymount 3:30

3/14 at Roanoke 1

3/19 St. Mary's 3:30

3/22 vs. Williams-a 4

3/27 Whittier 1

3/30 York 3:30

4/3 at Gettysburg 1

4/6 at Mary Washington 4

4/10 at McDaniel 1:30

4/17 CAC Tourn. quarterfinals TBA

4/20 CAC Tourn. semifinals TBA

4/23 CAC Tourn. finals TBA

5/1 Washington College 1

a-at Port Richey, Fla.

Villa Julie

2/28 Ursinus 1

3/6 at Montclair State 2

3/13 at Elizabethtown 1

3/20 Neumann 1

3/27 at Wesley 1

3/31 at Alvernia 3

4/3 Shenandoah 2

4/7 York 3:30

4/13 Cabrini 3:30

4/17 McDaniel 1

4/21 Randolph-Macon 4

4/24 Centenary 2

4/28 at Goucher 4

5/1 at Misericordia 2

5/5 PAC semifinals TBA

5/8 PAC finals TBA

Washington College

2/21 Widener 1:30

2/28 at Washington & Lee 1:30

3/6 vs. Springfield-a 11 a.m.

3/10 Ohio Wesleyan 3

3/13 at Hampden/Sydney 1

3/17 Skidmore 3

3/27 at Dickinson 1

3/31 at Cabrini 3:30

4/3 Ursinus 1:30

4/10 Gettysburg 1:30

4/17 Franklin & Marshall 1:30

4/21 at Haverford 3:30

4/24 at Muhlenberg 4

4/28 at Swarthmore 4

5/1 at Salisbury 1

5/7 Centennial Tourn. semifinals TBA

5/9 Centennial Tourn. finals TBA

a-at Fairfield

Inside Lacrosse Preseason Media Poll

The Inside Lacrosse Media Poll will be published in The Sun every Tuesday. It is voted on by the writers and radio and television personalities who cover college lacrosse.

No. School (1st-place votes) Points Last yr.

1. Johns Hopkins (8) 266 14-2

2. Virginia (3) 261 15-2

3. Syracuse 248 10-6

4. Princeton 224 11-4

5. North Carolina 217 7-6

6. Massachusetts 204 13-3

7. Georgetown 202 11-4

8. Maryland (1) 196 12-4

9. Rutgers 186 10-5

10. Duke 165 8-7

11. Cornell 147 9-4

12. Towson 138 9-6

13. Hofstra 135 11-6

14. Notre Dame 128 9-5

15. Loyola 117 7-6

16. Dartmouth 111 11-3

17. Penn State 106 7-7

18. Navy 84 6-7

19. Ohio State 73 9-5

20. UMBC 67 7-6

Also receiving votes: Army 45, Denver 37, Yale 30, Harvard 17, Bucknell 17, Albany 3, Hobart 2, Delaware 1.

TV Schedule

Ch. 2 Game of the Week

Date Game Time

March 6 Princeton at Hopkins 1

March 13 Towson at Maryland 1

March 20 Syracuse at Hopkins 1

March 27 Delaware at UMBC 1

April 3 Albany at UMBC 1

April 10 Navy at Maryland 1

April 17 Maryland at Hopkins 8

April 24 Penn at Loyola 1

May 1 Towson at Hopkins 3

May 8 Hopkins at Loyola 1

May 28 Final Four preview 7:30

On Baltimoresun.com

Read our readers' Q&A; with the area's Division I men's lacrosse coaches by logging on to www.baltimoresun.com/sports.

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