PROJECTED TOP SEEDS
Last season: 23-0, NCAA champion
Coach: Cathy Reese (12th season, 228-19; 15th season overall, 259-48)
Top returning scorer: Megan Whittle, senior attacker (71 goals, 16 assists)
Other key returnees: Megan Taylor, junior goalkeeper; Jen Giles, junior midfielder (41 G, 32 A), Kali Hartshorn, sophomore A (58 G, 12 A), Caroline Steele, junior A (55 G,15 A)
Top newcomers: Meghan Siverson, junior M (Louisville); Kathy Rudkin, senior defender (Syracuse); Grace Griffin, freshman M
Outlook: For the second straight season, the Terps must replace the Tewaaraton Award winner, midfielder Zoe Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge). Last spring, they had to replace three-time winner Taylor Cummings (McDonogh), but that didn’t stop the Terps from polishing off the fifth undefeated season in program history with their third national championship in four years. The Terps should have no problem scoring goals again, returning six of their top eight scorers, including five who combined for 15 goals in the 16-13 national championship win over Boston College. Whittle (McDonogh) has led the Terps in goals every year of her career as the Terps led Division I with a 16.96 scoring average last season. They also return draw control ace Hartshorn and National Goalkeeper of the Year Taylor (Glenelg). On defense, they’re rebuilding after graduating two starters, including Nadine Hadnagy, the National Defender of the Year. Reese is looking to two returning starters — junior Julia Braig (St. Paul’s) and redshirt sophomore Meghan Doherty (Mount Hebron) — along with sophomore Lizzie Colson (Manchester Valley) and Rudkin to rebuild the chemistry that, along with Taylor’s .535 save rate, held opponents to just 9.39 goals per game last season. The Terps open Sunday at home against William & Mary before taking to the road the following two Saturdays to play Florida and North Carolina. They begin Big Ten play at Johns Hopkins on March 17.
2. STONY BROOK
Last season: 20-2, NCAA quarterfinalist
Coach: Joe Spallina (seventh season, 101-20; 11th season overall, 174-22)
Top returning scorer: Kylie Ohlmiller, senior A (78 G, 86 A)
Other key returnees: Courtney Murphy, redshirt senior A; Brooke Gubitosi, redshirt senior D; Taryn Ohlmiller, sophomore A (65, 36)
Top newcomer: Rayna Sabella, freshman M
Outlook: The Seawolves, who host the final four Memorial Day weekend, are coming off their first 20-win season in program history. They were one goal away from making the final four last spring, falling to eventual champion Maryland, 13-12, in the NCAA quarterfinals. Before that, the America East champions won 15 straight games after an early loss to Florida. The Seawolves led the nation in scoring margin, winning by an average of 8.82 goals. A lot of that was because of some of the most prolific attackers in the country. Kylie Ohlmiller, a Tewaaraton Award finalist, broke Division I single-season records for points and assists. Her younger sister, Taryn, also scored more than 100 points. Add Murphy, who scored a Division I-record 100 goals before missing all but four games last season with an injury, and that’s three players who combined for 381 points in their previous seasons on the field. However, the Seawolves also had the stingiest defense in Division I, allowing just 7.27 goals per game. Well known for their backer zone, the Seawolves have been one of the nation’s toughest defenses to solve for several years. Although they have a few holes to fill, they bring back first-team All-America defender Gubitosi and junior goalie Anna Tesoriero, the America East Goalie of the Year with a .486 save percentage. The Seawolves open Feb. 16 at Southern California.
3. NORTH CAROLINA
Atlantic Coast Conference
Last season: 17-3, NCAA quarterfinalist
Coach: Jenny Levy (23rd season, 312-109)
Top returning scorer: Ela Hazar, senior A (32 G, 40 A)
Other key returnees: Marie McCool, senior M (50 G, 19 A); Maggie Bill, senior M (19 G, 11 A); Erin Kelly, sophomore D
Top newcomers: Jamie Ortega, freshman A; Ally Mastroianni, freshman M
Outlook: The Tar Heels graduated 11 players, including five All-Americans, but they bring in plenty of talent for the transition with Inside Lacrosse’s No. 1 ranked freshman class. Levy’s teams have won two straight ACC championships and have been to the final four six times in the past nine years with two national titles, so they’re no strangers to reloading. Their season came to an early end when Navy upset the defending national champions, 16-14, in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tar Heels have a veteran core in the midfield and on attack with McCool, a two-time All-American; Bill, who returns after missing the second half of last season with a torn ACL; and Hazar, who set a program record with 40 assists last season and needs just 19 to set Carolina’s career record. Add some of the top attacking freshmen in the country and the Tar Heels shouldn’t lose any ground offensively. Defensively, there’s more rebuilding to do after graduating three key field defenders and stellar goalie Caylee Waters. Kelly is the lone starter returning on defense although the Tar Heels have several other players back who saw considerable time on the defensive end. North Carolina opens the season Saturday at James Madison and will also host defending national champion Maryland on Feb. 24.
4. PENN STATE
Last season: 17-4, NCAA semifinalist
Coach: Missy Doherty (eighth season, 93-46; 15th season overall, 172-92)
Top returning scorer: Madison Carter, junior M-A (70 G, 11 A)
Other key returnees: Katie O’Donnell, senior M (65 G, 6 A); Maggie Gallagher, senior M (23 G, 16 A); Maria Auth, sophomore A (18 G, 12 A)
Top newcomers: Lucy Lowe, freshman G; Quinn Nicolai, freshman M
Outlook: The Nittany Lions reached the final four for the second straight season before falling to eventual champion Maryland, 20-10. Although they bring back just six starters, they return most of the firepower from an offensive unit that set program records of 303 goals and 427 points with a top-20 scoring offense that averaged 14.43 goals. The Lions graduated playmaker and top scorer Steph Lazo (St. Mary’s) but bring back four of their top six scorers, including Carter (South River), a second-team All-American who led them in goals and draw controls, as well as O’Donnell, Gallagher (C. Milton Wright) and Auth (North Harford), who came on strong with 12 goals and four assists in the four NCAA tournament games. On defense, however, the Lions have a lot of holes to fill, returning only senior Madison Day and junior Lucy Haubold, but Doherty has a lot of quick, athletic defenders that she said should only grow with experience. In goal, Lowe (Notre Dame Prep) and returning sophomore Madison Cunningham, last season’s backup, are battling for the starting job. The Lions open at Towson on Saturday and begin Big Ten play at Rutgers on March 17. Runners-up in the Big Ten regular season last year, they will meet conference champion Maryland on April 19 in College Park.
OTHERS IN MARYLAND
Last season: 11-7
Coach: Janine Tucker (25th season, 271-144)
Top returning scorer: Maggie Schneidereith, sophomore A (20 G, 24 A)
Other key returnees: Emily Kenul, senior A, (26 G, 16 A); Shannon Fitzgerald, senior M (33 G, 10 A), Nicole DeMase, junior M-A (23 G, 6 A)
Top newcomers: Shelby Harrison, freshman, M; Jeanne Kachris, freshman M-D
Outlook: In their first season in the Big Ten, the Blue Jays finished in the middle of the pack at 3-3, but they pushed eventual national champion Maryland before falling, 19-16, in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. A stunning 18-5 loss to Towson just before the Big Ten tournament likely doomed the Blue Jays’ NCAA tournament hopes despite the strong showing against the Terps. The Blue Jays return eight of their top 10 scorers, who combined for 73 percent of the team’s goals. Although Schneidereith (Towson High) led the team in scoring, the Jays had a balanced attack with six players contributing 29 or more points. Defensively, however, they have a lot of rebuilding to do with just one starter back, senior Emily Verica. Tucker said she expects to see a mixture of veterans and newcomers emerge as strong defenders. Last year’s backup goalie Haley Crosson has an edge on two newcomers in the battle to step in after two-year starter Caroline Federico (Maryvale) graduated. Freshman Kathleen Garvey and sophomore Robyn Lipschultz, a Blue Jays soccer goalie who did not play lacrosse last season, are pushing her for the starting spot. Hopkins opens Friday afternoon against Marquette at Homewood Field and begins Big Ten play at home against Maryland on March 17.
Last season: 11-8
Coach: Jen Adams (10th season, 128-56)
Top returning scorer: Hannah Powers, junior A (45 G, 28 A)
Other key returnees: Taylor VanThof, junior M (17 G, 6 A); Kristen Yanchoris, junior D; Katrina Geiger, senior M (13 G, 15 A)
Top newcomer: Livy Rosenzweig, freshman A; Elli Kluegel, freshman M
Outlook: For their first three years in the Patriot League, the Greyhounds didn’t lose a conference game. Last year, Navy ended that run with a win in the conference title game that left Loyola out of the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years. The Greyhounds certainly aren’t trying to build a season on revenge, but that bitter end provides a lot of motivation, especially when the Mids went on to the final four. With eight starters back, the Greyhounds have a veteran squad that should put them back in the hunt for an NCAA tournament berth. Offensively, Powers, VanThof, Geiger and Frankie Kamely (27 G, 14 A) have a lot of experience to lead the way. Defensively, Yanchoris (Century) and goalie Kady Glynn (.470 save percentage) return to anchor the defense while Madison Fahey will move into a starting role. The addition of Kluegel and Sam Fiedler (Garrison Forest) has added energy to the midfield, an area Adams is extremely high on. The Greyhounds are deeper through the middle than they’ve been in a while with strong chemistry during preseason and a blistering transition tempo. Loyola opens Feb. 21 at Johns Hopkins. Patriot League play begins March 17 at home against Army West Point. The Greyhounds travel to Navy on April 7.
MOUNT ST. MARY’S
Last season: 4-11
Coach: Lauren Schwarzmann (fourth season, 15-34)
Top returning scorers: Carly Miller, sophomore A (15 G, 11 A); Kate Kinsella, sophomore M-A (19 G, 7 A)
Other key returnees: Jillian Petito, junior G; Emily Dees, senior D; Marley Heller, redshirt junior M (16 G, 8 A)
Top newcomer: Beanie Colson, freshman M; Zoe Hurlburt, freshman M
Outlook: The Mountaineers graduated just three players, but they will have a new look this season with the addition of 10 freshmen. This is the biggest squad Schwarzmann has fielded at the Mount, and she believes the work of the past three seasons will start to pay off this spring. The biggest problem has been finishing. Last year, the Mountaineers increased their number of shots, averaging 26 per game, but they scored just 10.33 goals per game. They lost four one-goal games, including three in conference play, missing the four-team league playoffs for the second straight year. Despite graduating her top two scores, Schwarzmann saw considerable growth in her offense during the fall and believes her young attackers can raise that shooting percentage. The offense has been balanced with four players returning at least 24 points — Miller (Marriotts Ridge), Kinsella, Heller (Perry Hall) and junior attacker Taylor Carhart (Manchester Valley). Schwarzmann also said this is the most complete team the Mountaineers have fielded with only one starting spot to fill on the defensive end, where Petito posted a .460 percent save rate. The Mountaineers open Feb. 17 at home against Manhattan.
Last season: 18-5, NCAA semifinalist
Coach: Cindy Timchal (11th season, 155-43; 36th season overall, 491-129)
Top returning scorer: Jenna Collins, senior M (72 G, 42 A)
Other key returnees: Kelly Larkin sophomore A (54 G, 54 A), Julia Collins, senior A (48 G, 27 A); Blake Smith, senior D
Top newcomers: Marina Lazarides, freshman M; Nicole Victory, freshman M
Outlook: Coming off the best season in program history, the Mids return a strong core of players aiming for another trip to the final four. Last season, they won the Patriot League championship and went on to upset Penn, as well as defending national champion North Carolina, in the NCAA tournament before falling to Boston College, 16-15, in their first appearance in the national semifinals. Timchal, who guided Maryland to eight national championships before starting the Navy program in 2008, had never taken Navy beyond the first round of the NCAA tournament until last spring. Now, with ten returning starters, the Mids have the foundation for another deep tournament run. The Collins twins (both from River Hill) and Larkin return an almost unstoppable combination on attack, joining forces for 297 points last season as the Mids scored an average of 15.57 goals. Smith (Notre Dame Prep) and Ingrid Boyum lead a defense that allowed 9.83 goals per game. The Mids host Ohio State on Saturday and face a road rematch with Boston College on Feb. 27. On April 7, they host Loyola Maryland in a rematch of their 15-5 conference championship, Navy’s first win over the Greyhounds.
Colonial Athletic Association
Last season: 12-7, NCAA tournament first round
Coach: Sonia LaMonica (eighth season, 85-47; ninth season overall, 93-56)
Top returning scorer: Natalie Sulmonte, junior A-M (45 G, 22 A)
Other key returnees: Kaitlyn Montalbano, senior M (45 G, 13 A); Oliva Conti, sophomore, D; Tianna Wallpher, senior D; Carly Tellekamp, junior A (54 G, 8 A)
Top newcomer: Annie Sachs, sophomore M (Robert Morris); Kaitlin Thornton, freshman A
Outlook: The Tigers had no trouble scoring last season, boosting their goal production by more than three per game over the previous year. They bring back their top four goals scorers — Sulmonte, Montalbano, Tellekamp and senior Emily Gillingham (38 G, 9 A) — and add Sachs (51 G, 27 A), a Dulaney graduate who led Robert Morris in scoring last season as a freshman. While the Tigers were more prolific on offense than in recent seasons, those gains were nearly offset by allowing 9.37 goals per game — 2.5 more than in 2016. In two of their final six games, the Tigers scored 15 goals but lost, including the NCAA first-round game to High Point, 21-15. Inconsistency late in the season cost the Tigers, including in the conference semifinal loss to Elon, 10-9. In their final regular-season game, the Tigers had one of their best outings of the season, an 18-5 win over Johns Hopkins. LaMonica said this team, with eight returning starters, is motivated to be more consistent and get back to the top of the conference. Returning starters Conti, the CAA Defender of the Year; Wallpher (Mount Hebron), an All-CAA selection; and sophomore Sami Chenoweth (Manchester Valley) give the Tigers a veteran core on defense, where they will have a new goalie in last year’s backup Kylie Keating, who played in 11 games and started twice. The Tigers kick off their season at home against Penn State on Saturday.
Last season: 11-6
Coach: Amy Slade (sixth season, 43-40)
Top returning scorer: Sara Moeller, junior A (38 G, 35 A)
Other key returnees: Lauren McDonald, junior A (62 G, 6 A); Kayla Renehan, junior D; Carolyn Jamison, senior M (39 G, 22 A)
Key newcomers: Lily Kennedy, freshman, A-M; Kristyn Staley, freshman A
Outlook: The Retrievers finished last season with the most wins in five years and their attack set several program records, including 248 goals and 130 assists. McDonald also broke the program record for most goals. They ranked 14th in Division I in scoring offense with 14.59 goals per game. Six of their top seven scorers return, including three with more than 60 points — Moeller (St. Paul’s), McDonald (Catonsville) and Jamison (Westminster). Seven starters are back, including three field defenders — Renehan (Glenelg), Jenna Baverman (Roland Park) and Sarah Turco (Mercy) — but they will have to replace goalie Ashley Peacock. Slade said senior Kelsey Major (Liberty), who started 15 games as a freshman, and junior Carly Tolino are in in such a close battle for the starting spot that it might be a game-time decision every week. The Retrievers have all the tools to make another run at the conference tournament, where Stony Brook remains the favorite. Last season, UMBC fell in the semifinals, 14-13, to Albany, which received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. UMBC opens the season Feb. 17 at home against LIU Brooklyn.