Here is the third installment of an attempt at a premature poll for next season.
The top 20 will be broken up into four installments, with Monday's post involving teams ranked from Nos. 10 to 6. Thursday featured Nos. 20 to 16 and Friday Nos. 15 to 11. Tuesday will highlight teams ranked Nos. 5 to 1. Wednesday will include three schools not mentioned in the poll that could make some waves.
Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2013 will not return next year. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here's a spin anyway.
10. Loyola (2013 record: 11-5; NCAA tournament finish: first round)
Losses: Five starters, including the entire first midfield of Chris Layne (14 goals and 10 assists), Sean O'Sullivan (18 G, 4 A) and Davis Butts (8 G, 11 A), and two members of the second midfield in Harry Kutner (3 G, 3 A) and Phil Dobson (4 G, 1 A).
Returners: Five starters, including junior defenseman and first-team All-American Joe Fletcher (64 ground balls and 17 caused turnovers), sophomore defenseman Pat Frazier (24 GB, 12 CT) and junior goalkeeper Jack Runkel (8.75 goals-against average and .536 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: Junior short-stick defensive midfielder Phil Laconi (4 G, 6 A, 24 GB, 20 CT) should return, but replacing long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff (14 G, 4 A, 77 GB, 29 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins (11 G, 2 A, 25 GB, 13 CT) figures to be a tall task.
Reason for optimism: While the midfield goes about reloading, the attack could be fully loaded if sophomore Nikko Pontrello (16 G, 19 A) joins junior Justin Ward (27 G, 35 A) and freshman Zach Herreweyers (19 G, 3 A).
9. Virginia (7-8; no tournament)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Nick O'Reilly (23 G, 38 A), midfielder Matt White (29 G, 14 A) and defenseman Harry Prevas (47 GB, 19 CT).
Returners: Seven starters, including four of the offense's top six scorers in junior attackman Mark Cockerton (49 G, 7 A), junior midfielder Rob Emery (22 G, 6 A), sophomore Owen Van Arsdale (11 G, 17 A) and sophomore midfielder Ryan Tucker (15 G, 5 A).
Reason for pessimism: A defense that surrendered 10.5 goals per game appeared to settle on sophomore goalie Rhody Heller (11.52 GAA, .482 save percentage), but freshman Dan Marino opened the season by starting the first six contests and recording a 9.09 GAA and a .455 save percentage. More instability in the net is not a positive sign.
Reason for optimism: Inside Lacrosse reported that defenseman Joe Lisicky (89 GB, 41 CT at Lynchburg in 2012) will use his final year of eligibility with the Cavaliers, who are also expecting the return of redshirt senior midfielder Chris LaPierre (4 G, 2 A, 63 GB, 8 CT) from a sprained knee ligament.
8. St. John's (9-4; no tournament)
Losses: Two starters in midfielder Alex Lagodich (16 G, 3 A) and goalie Jeff Lowman (10.30 GAA, .567 save percentage), and three contributors in long-stick midfielder Dillon Ayers (0 G, 4 A, 50 GB, 16 CT), short-stick defensive midfielder Brandon Ayers (5 G, 0 A, 33 GB, 9 CT) and faceoff specialist Jordan Rothman (51 GB, 116-of-246 for 47.2 percent).
Returners: Eight starters, including three starting defensemen in juniors Andrew Viscusi (17 GB, 10 CT) and Joe Addona (15 GB, 6 CT) and sophomore Mark DiFrangia (29 GB, 17 CT), and two midfielders in juniors Ryan Fitzgerald (12 G, 6 A) and Keith Switzer (13 G, 2 A).
Reason for pessimism: With Rothman gone, the faceoff duties could fall to sophomore Mario Carrera, who won just 44.3 percent (39-of-88) of his draws and scooped up eight ground balls this past season.
Reason for optimism: An offense that ranked fifth in scoring in the nation (12.5 goals per game) will be headlined by a returning starting attack of juniors Kieran McArdle (36 G, 49 A), Kevin Cernuto (32 G, 16 A) and Colin Keegan (26 G, 5 A).
7. Yale (12-5; quarterfinals)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Kirby Zdrill (30 G, 2 A) and defensemen Michael McCormack (2 G, 5 A, 64 GB, 24 CT) and Peter Johnson (36 GB, 35 CT).
Returners: Seven starters, including the entire first midfield of sophomores Colin Flaherty (17 G, 10 A), Shane Thornton (6 G, 12 A) and Harry Kucharczyk (7 G, 3 A), as well as junior attackman Brandon Mangan (39 G, 25 A) and sophomore attackman Conrad Oberbeck (36 G, 8 A).
Reason for pessimism: A defense that ranked sixth in the country after allowing just 7.9 goals per game returns sophomore goalie Eric Natale (7.88 GAA, .538 save percentage) and freshman defenseman Michael Quinn (27 GB, 14 CT). But only two other returning defensemen who played in more than 10 games this past spring.
Reason for optimism: The offense should get plenty of opportunities courtesy of junior Dylan Levings, who ranked seventh in the nation in both faceoff percentage (59.7 percent on 212-of-355) and average ground balls (7.6).
6. Albany (13-5; first round)
Losses: Two starters in defenseman Jack Nickla (24 GB, 20 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Anthony Ostrander (47 GB, 20 CT), and one key contributor in midfielder Will Fuller (18 G, 10 A).
Returners: Eight starters and five midfielders who each scored at least 10 goals this past season (freshman John Maloney with 18, junior Ryan Feuerstein and sophomore Tim Cox 16, redshirt freshman Derrick Eccles 13, and sophomore Matt Garziano 10).
Reason for pessimism: The defense does boast the return of freshman goalkeeper Blaze Riorden (11.93 GAA, .491 save percentage) and junior defensemen Jon Newhouse (44 GB, 22 CT) and Cody Futia (11 GB, 9 CT). But this is still a unit that surrendered an average of 12.5 goals to opponents.
Reason for optimism: Then again, with sophomore and Tewaaraton Award finalist Lyle Thompson (50 G, 63 A) and juniors Miles Thompson (43 G, 30 A) and Ty Thompson (54 G, 14 A) back on attack, the defense may get a reprieve if the offense can tilt the possession battle in the Great Danes' favor.