Outlook: With six starters back and 18 letter winners in all, the Crusaders could get back to the title game and leave with smiles this go around. Scoring goals won't be a problem with a deep attack led by four-year starter Carter Flaig, who is on pace to become the program's all-time leading scorer. Goalie AJ Barretto enters his third season in the cage and will be leaned on while a new defense gets settled.
Outlook: With important pieces in place and some talented newcomers in the fold, the Eagles are capable of making a formidable run in the MIAA playoffs. Goalie Jacob Stover and faceoff specialist Jordy Elardo join midfielder Robby Black and attackman Robert Clark — both four-year starters. An inexperienced defense features a surplus of talent, but will have to develop during the season.
Outlook: The Lakers graduated a wealth of talent from last year's undefeated team — including the program's all-time leading scorer, Shack Stanwick — but they have 19 players back who know how to win games. Seniors Patrick Spencer and Devin Shewell are prepared to pick up the slack on attack, and junior goalie Jack Pezzulla is a strength on defense. The defending champions have extra incentive with Shriver set to step down after 36 years.
Outlook: The Dons, two years removed from winning an improbable MIAA A crown as the sixth seed, feature the country's No. 1 recruit in Virginia-bound midfielder Ryan Conrad and a strong supporting cast that has championship experience. Attackman Alex Roesner, midfielder Jack Lombardo and goalie Acie Newton — all seniors — are among the returnees who could help the Dons pull off another surprise at season's end.
Outlook: The Saints have pieces in place to challenge in the MIAA A, returning 21 letter winners from last year's playoff team, including seven starters and 20 seniors. All-Metro second-team midfielder Alex Woodall is the area's top faceoff specialist (72 percent won last season) and will be asked to do more as a captain this season. Attackman Timmy Hardy, defenseman Hunter Smith and goalie Tim Troutner — also seniors — further bolster the strong lineup.
6. Calvert Hall
Coach: Bryan Kelly
Last season: 13-6, No. 5
Postseason: MIAA A quarterfinals
Outlook: All-Metro first-team senior Timmy Kelly (50 goals, 41 assists in 2014) brings explosive skills and fierce competitiveness to a dangerous attack that is accompanied by a deep midfield. But the question is how quickly a completely new defense can physically handle the rigors of MIAA A attacks. Junior goalie Joe McSorley, a three-year starter, provides much-needed stability in back.
Coach: Brooks Matthews
Last season: 13-7, No. 3
Postseason: MIAA A semifinals
Outlook: After taking significant graduation hits all over the field, the Greyhounds will lean on their senior class and a tough nonconference schedule early in the season to get up to speed for MIAA A play. Attackman Andy Matthews (27 goals, 26 assists last season) and long-pole midfielder Jack Halpert are the seniors who will set the tone. With depth a concern, the newcomers will have to quickly emerge for the Greyhounds to become a factor.
8. South River
Coach: Paul Noone
Last season: 17-2, No. 8
Postseason: Class 4A-3A champion
Outlook: Few, if any, programs could lose 15 seniors and go on to win a state championship. South River did just that last season with a balanced attack and foolproof defensive scheme. Grant Maloof, Dylan Mansur, Gunnar Schmolar and Craig Chick are the anchors as the Seahawks look to make it six title-game appearances in seven years with an eye on their fourth crown. They are the team to beat in the deep 4A-3A ranks and the area's top public school.
Coach: Sal Picataggi
Last season: 17-4, No. 10
Postseason: Class 3A-2A final
Outlook: The Bulls' run of six straight state titles ended last season with a loss to upstart Kent Island. Also new is first-year coach Picataggi, who served as an assistant last year to departed coach Brian King. What's the same this season is a hardworking, tight group that is preparing to meet the high standards always set for the program. With eight starters back, led by midfielder Ben Bittner, the Bulls have the goods to match past success.
Coach: Jimmy Creighton
Last season: 18-1, No. 9
Postseason: Class 4A-3A final
Outlook: After 18 straight wins last season, the Lions fell one game short of perfection when they lost to South River in the title game. A strong senior class is determined to take the final step to bring home the coveted state crown. Scott Bruner and Cody Ford are a dynamic one-two punch on attack, and Adam Friedman is the glue on defense. South River has been the stumbling block for the Lions, who also lost to the Seahawks in the 2013 semifinals.
Coach: Brian Wood
Last season: 8-11
Postseason: Did not qualify in the MIAA A
Outlook: Are the Admirals ready to make a big move in the MIAA A? With nine starters and 17 varsity players returning, they should make strides and be in the hunt for a coveted playoff spot. Attackman Max Bailey and faceoff specialist-midfielder Michael Bucci are the only senior starters, so Severn is a team to watch for the future, as well.
Coach: Steve DeFeo
Last season: 15-1, No. 11
Postseason: Class 4A-3A North quarterfinals
Outlook: Replacing a stellar graduating class will be a challenge for the Owls, but plenty of talent remains with a successful system in place. Attackman Hunter Davis, defensemen Chad Patterson and Ryan Troxell, and goalie Matt Nichols are four-year varsity players who are primed to lead the Carroll County power back to the state tournament.
Coach: Kyle Fiat
Last season: 14-4, No. 12
Postseason: Class 4A-3A semifinals
Outlook: With talented returnees at every position and the experience of last year's state tournament run, the Lions have the makeup of a championship-caliber team. Cameron Carter runs the show on attack, Connor Benhoff takes the lead at midfield and senior goalie Brooke McManus is the glue in back with a cohesive defense in front of him. The Lions take aim at the program's ninth state title, its last coming in 2008.
14. Bel Air
Coach: Chuck Muir
Lastseason: 14-3, No. 13
Postseason: Class 4A-3A South quarterfinals
Outlook: A state title been elusive, but the program has developed the consistency that regularly puts the Bobcats in the conversation. With 20 varsity returnees — including seven starters — and talent up from last year's undefeated junior varsity, could this be the team's breakthrough season? Attackman Tom Pfeiffer and faceoff specialist Anthony Sampayo are impact players for the defending Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference champs.
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Outlook: The Cougars continued their dominance in the Class 2A-1A ranks with a third straight title last year and have no plans to slow down. Every position is covered with experienced talent and impact players. Senior attackman Nick Esser and senior defenseman Zach Roberts bring skill and leadership, and sophomores Ben Claffee and Dylan Wolf are among the promising underclassmen.