With the start of the 2016 college lacrosse season just a few weeks away, here is the seventh installment of a series that offers a preview of the battles for conference championships in Division I. The leagues are scheduled to appear via alphabetical order. Friday's visit was with the Ivy League. Saturday takes a spin through the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Team on top: After falling to Siena in the 2014 league tournament final, Marist finally broke through last spring, outlasting Quinnipiac, 16-14, to capture the program's first championship since 2005. The Red Foxes return three of their top six scorers in senior attackman Joseph Radin (55 goals and 18 assists), junior attackman J.D. Recor (29 G, 43 A) and sophomore midfielder Gannon Morrison (16 G, 15 A). There are some holes on defense, which graduated two starting defensemen, one long-stick midfielder and one goalkeeper. But the hope is that the offense can continue its 11.8-goals-per-game pace until the defense settles in.
Team on the rise: In just its second season as a Division I program, Monmouth placed fourth in the regular-season standings and earned a berth in the MAAC tournament. Optimism continues to brew as the offense returns five of its top seven scorers, including sophomore attackman Bryce Wasserman (21 G, 10 A), junior attackman Chris Daly (12 G, 8 A) and junior midfielder Tyler Keen (11 G, 1 A). The Hawks do have to replace goalie Garrett Conaway (7.49 goals-against average and .614 save percentage), but do return two starting defensemen, their top two long-stick midfielders and one short-stick defensive midfielder.
Team on the decline: Siena finished in fifth place in the conference, missing out on the tournament for the first time since 2008. The Saints graduated their top three scorers and four of their top six, including 2014 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Richie Hurley (18 G, 22 A). The defense does welcome back two starting defensemen and senior goalkeeper Tommy Cordts (10.30 GAA, .493 save percentage), but faceoff wins could be difficult to accumulate with the departure of Casey Dowd, who won 50.2 percent of the 311 draws he took.
Prime-time player: Only one goalie ranked in the top five in the nation in both save percentage and saves per game last spring, and his name is Jason Weber. The Detroit junior led the nation in saves per game (14.4) and ranked third in save percentage (.589). His 202 saves set a Titans single-season record. If not for Monmouth's Conaway, Weber – who posted a 10.26 goals-against average last season – might have been named the league's Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive spring.
Underrated player: Despite little press, Radin scored a MAAC-record 55 goals en route to earning the league's Offensive Player of the Year award. He ranked seventh in the country in goals and tied for third in man-up tallies with 11. Radin's 115 career goals is already the fourth-highest total among active Division I players, and his 153 points rank ninth in Marist history. The Red Foxes' fortunes will rely largely on Radin, who was chosen in September to wear No. 34 in honor of former midfielder Edward Coombs, who died a car crash in August 2011 before his sophomore year.