No. 1 SYRACUSE
Coach -- John Desko (ninth season, 97-30)
2006 record -- 10-5, NCAA tournament semifinals
Conference -- Independent
Top returning scorer -- Mike Leveille, junior A (31 goals, 21 assists).
Also back -- Pat Perritt, sophomore M (17, 4); Dan Hardy, sophomore A (11, 10); Steve Panarelli, senior LSM; Kyle Guadagnolo, junior D; Peter Coluccini, sophomore G.
Key additions -- Junior Bucktooth, junior D; Max Bartig, freshman M/A; Matt Tierney, freshman D.
The Sun's take -- The Orange proved to be the most resilient team in the game last year, when season-ending injuries occurred early to outstanding midfielders Greg Rommel and Steven Brooks and sent Syracuse into a 1-4 start. But the Orange grew up fast with lots of young talent, led by Perritt and Hardy. With Rommel and Brooks -- both excellent dodgers and shooters -- back, and another strong recruiting class in the fold, the Orange will seldom stumble. Syracuse might win another title in Baltimore.
No. 2 VIRGINIA
Coach -- Dom Starsia (15th season, 158-54; 25th season overall, 259-100)
2006 record -- 17-0, NCAA champion
Conference -- Atlantic Coast
Top returning scorer -- Ben Rubeor, junior A (34, 24).
Also back -- Danny Glading, sophomore A (26, 21); Garrett Billings, sophomore A (30, 13); Drew Thompson, senior M (17, 23); Ricky Smith, senior D; Kip Turner, senior G.
Key additions -- Ken Clausen, freshman D; Brian Carroll, freshman M; George Huguely, freshman A
The Sun's take -- The Cavaliers lost three, first-team All-Americans, including player of the year Matt Ward on attack, but few programs are more prepared to withstand such losses. Rubeor leads what could be the game's top attack unit once again with unerring smarts and vision around the cage. Thompson might be the sport's most versatile midfielder, and Turner anchors a defense that won't be so overshadowed this spring by an overwhelming offense. The Cavaliers lack last year's depth, but they're still loaded.
No. 3 JOHNS HOPKINS
Coach -- Dave Pietramala (seventh season, 72-15; 10th season overall, 95-32)
2006 record -- 9-5, NCAA tournament quarterfinals
Conference -- Independent
Top returning scorer -- Paul Rabil, junior M (25, 13)
Also back -- Kevin Huntley, junior A (30, 6); Jake Byrne, senior A (18, 10); Stephen Peyser, junior M; Eric Zerrlaut, senior D; Brendan Skakandi, senior LSM; Jesse Schwartzman, senior G.
Key additions -- Chris Boland, freshman A; Mike Kimmel, freshman A; Matt Bocklet, junior LSM.
The Sun's take -- The Blue Jays missed the tournament's final four for the first time in five seasons last year. Count on a more balanced offense and a defense led by Zerrlaut, Schwartzman and Bocklet, a Fairfield transfer, to help prevent a repeat. With Boland and Kimmel providing added spark on attack, Byrne could see some time at midfield, where Rabil became the first Hopkins sophomore since 1998 to garner first-team All-America honors. Peyser, an excellent dodger and shooter, could be primed for a monster year.
No. 4 CORNELL
Coach -- Jeff Tambroni (seventh season, 58-25)
2006 record -- 11-3, NCAA tournament first round
Conference -- Ivy League
Top returning scorer -- David Mitchell, senior A (43, 9)
Also back -- Eric Pittard, senior A (17, 24); Max Seibald, sophomore M (19, 14); Mitch Belisle, senior D; Casey Lewis, senior M; Matt McMonagle, senior G.
Key additions -- Austin Boykin, freshman M; Michael Howe, freshman D; Jake Myers, junior G.
The Sun's take -- The Big Red, which haven't been to the final four since 1988, has won or shared the Ivy League title for four straight years, and they will give Princeton another run. Tambroni has built a program that can weather the loss of someone as good as first-team All-America midfielder Joe Boulukos. Seibald should have a huge year. Junior M John Glynn will offer needed help on faceoffs, after missing last season with a knee injury. Mitchell, a Canadian, will challenge for the Division I goal-scoring lead. McMonagle (.625 save percentage last season) already is one of the best goaltenders in the country.