Patriot League men's lacrosse outlook for 2016

An assessment of the race for the Patriot League men's lacrosse title that is sure to go wrong.

With the start of the 2016 college lacrosse season just a couple of weeks away, here is the eighth 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. Sunday’s visit was with the Northeast Conference. Monday takes a spin through the Patriot League.

Team on top: For the first time since capturing at least a share of five regular-season conference titles in its first five years in the Patriot League, Navy earned co-champion status in 2015. The wait for another crown might be shorter because the Midshipmen return eight starters, including their attack of seniors Patrick Keena (14 goals and 22 assists) and T.J. Hanzsche (20 G, 13 A) and sophomore Jack Ray (22 G, 4 A). Junior defenseman Chris Fennell (40 ground balls and 17 caused turnovers) and senior goalkeeper John Connors (8.57 goals-against average and .509 save percentage) anchor a defense that allowed 8.6 goals per game.

Team on the rise: In just its second season on the Division I level, Boston University finished in a three-way tie for sixth, but was left out of the conference tournament because of a tiebreaker. The future is bright for the Terriers, who welcome back all 10 starters. Another year of maturation should help junior midfielder Cal Dearth (19 G, 23 A) and sophomore attackmen Ryan Hilburn and Jack Wilson (25 G, 15 A each) improve. And junior Sam Talkow, who ranked fifth in the nation in faceoff percentage (65.9 and 104 GB), will give the offense many chances.

Team on the decline: Lehigh has qualified for each of the past five Patriot League tournaments, but a return to the postseason might be a difficult proposition. The team bade farewell to four of its top five scorers. The biggest loss might be the graduation of attackman Dan Taylor, who posted 41 goals and 36 assists en route to being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2015. The Mountain Hawks also will have to play without defenseman Lukas Mikelinich (30 GB, 11 CT) and goalie Matt Poillon (10.32 goals-against average and .489 save percentage).

Prime-time player: The league had just two representatives on the first three All-American teams: Army attackman John Glesener and Fennell. After a freshman campaign cut short by a broken leg, Fennell rebounded to be named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year last spring. With 30 caused turnovers in two seasons, Fennell ranks seventh on Navy’s all-time list. Fennell should team with Connors, senior defenseman Jules Godino (22 GB, 13 CT), and junior long-stick midfielder Matt Rees (44 GB, 20 CT) to hone a defense that finished last spring ranked 13th in the nation.

Underrated player: Tyler Albrecht isn’t the leading scorer on Loyola Maryland and isn’t regarded as the team’s top midfielder. But the senior can score goals, scoop up ground balls (63 in the past two seasons) and play defense. That versatility contributed to Albrecht, who registered 23 goals and five assists last year, being the first Patriot League player selected in the Major League Lacrosse draft Friday. Chosen with the 15th overall pick in the second round by the Atlanta Blaze, Albrecht was picked ahead of a pair of Greyhounds teammates in defenseman David Manning and attackman Zach Herreweyers.

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