Team on top: Yes, the graduation losses from last season are huge for Albany, especially on offense where the team bade farewell to attackmen Miles Thompson (Division I record-tying 82 goals and 37 assists) and Ty Thompson (41, 12) and midfielder Ryan Feuerstein (22, 7). But the Great Danes return senior attackman Lyle Thompson, who posted a Division I-record 128 points and shared the Tewaaraton Award with brother Miles. And if reports about freshman attackman Connor Fields developing quickly are true, Albany should be able to score its way out of any potential trouble in a bid for the program's third consecutive league championship.
Team on the rise: Stony Brook barely limped into last year's America East tournament with a 2-3 conference record. But that team took top-seeded Albany into overtime, and despite the 17-16 loss, there's a lot to be excited about if you are a Seawolves fan. The biggest ray of hope comes from the return of the offense's top five scorers, including senior midfielder Mike Rooney (31, 22) and junior midfielder Challen Rogers (22, 30). Like the Great Danes, Stony Brook's offensive firepower may have to overcome some defensive deficiencies, but it's a formula that could pay dividends.
Team on the decline: Binghamton surprised many observers by accumulating a 4-1 record in the league and earning the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. But replicating that feat this season figures to be a much more difficult task. The Bearcats graduated four of their top seven scorers, including attackman Matt Springer and his team-leading 39 goals. Binghamton also lost three starters in two defensmen and one goalkeeper and its top long-stick midfielder.
Prime-time player: Fans of "The Fastest Sport on Two Feet" will get one final chance to see the reigning Tewaaraton Award winner in college. Lyle Thompson will be hard-pressed to repeat last season's totals, which includes tying former UMBC attackman Steve Marohl's Division I record for assists in a single season. But there's no denying that Thompson will be priority No. 1 for all 15 of Albany's regular-season opponents.
Underrated player: While everyone pays attention to Thompson and the Great Danes' offense, don't sleep on goalkeeper Blaze Riordan. The junior led all conference goalies in save percentage (.549) and saves per game (13.2), and he turned aside 13 shots in the team's 13-6 upset of No. 3 Loyola in the first round of last spring's NCAA tournament.