Premature men’s lacrosse rankings for 2018, Part 2

Just two days removed from Maryland claiming its first NCAA men's lacrosse championship since 1975, here is the second installment of a very premature attempt to compile next season's preseason rankings.

The Top 20 will be broken into four installments with today breaking down teams ranked Nos. 15 to 11. Tuesday featured teams ranked Nos. 20 to 16. Thursday will highlight Nos. 10 to 6 and Friday Nos. 5 to 1.

Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use a fifth year of eligibility, it is assumed that seniors will not return next season. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out in February.

15. Penn (2017 record: 7-6; NCAA tournament finish: no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in defensemen Kevin Gayhardt (22 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers) and Eric Persky (14 GB, 7 CT).

Returns: Eight starters, including the entire first defense led by sophomore attackman Simon Mathias (28 goals and 20 assists) and junior midfielder Kevin McGeary (23 G, 12 A).

Reason for pessimism: Even with Gayhardt and Persky, the defense surrendered 10.8 goals per game and ranked 48th of 69 units in saves per game at 10.2.

Reason for optimism: The defense should return junior long-stick midfielder Connor Keating (57 GB, 4 CT, 10 G, 2 A), a first-team All-Ivy League selection and a third-team All-American choice.

14. Notre Dame (9-6; NCAA quarterfinals)

Losses: Four starters, including defensemen Garrett Epple (47 GB, 27 CT) and Pat Healy (21 GB, 7 CT).

Returns: Six starters, including the entire attack of sophomores Ryder Garnsey (20 G, 23 A) and Brendan Gleason (25 G, 6 A) and junior Mikey Wynne (33 G, 4 A).

Reason for pessimism: The graduation of goalkeeper Shane Doss (9.82 goals-against average and .512 save percentage) leaves junior Owen Molloy (8.53 GAA, .500 save percentage in 42:13) as the incumbent.

Reason for optimism: The team will welcome six Under Armour High School All Americans, the most of any program in the country.

13. Ohio State (16-5; NCAA final)

Losses: Five starters, including the entire midfield of Johnny Pearson (26 G, 7 A), J.T. Blubaugh (16 G, 2 A), and Tyler Pfister (9 G, 5 A).

Returns: Five starters, including the entire close defense of juniors Ben Randall (50 GB, 13 CT) and Erik Evans (28 GB, 16 CT) and sophomore Matt Borges (15 GB, 6 CT).

Reason for pessimism: The graduation of goalkeeper Tom Carey (8.32 GAA, .547 save percentage) and faceoff specialist Jake Withers (64.7 percent on 275 of 425, 159 GB, 5 G, 6 A) leaves the team exposed up the middle.

Reason for optimism: An offense that scored 11.3 goals per game should be in capable hands with freshman attackman Tre Leclaire (49 G, 16 A) and sophomore attackman Jack Jasinski (16 G, 11 A).

12. Maryland (16-3; NCAA champion)

Losses: Four starters, including the entire attack of Division I’s Outstanding Player Matt Rambo (42 G, 45 A), Colin Heacock (28 G, 17 A) and Dylan Maltz (29 G, 5 A).

Returns: Six starters, including the entire midfield of junior Connor Kelly (46 G, 11 A), redshirt junior Tim Rotanz (33 G, 11 A) and freshman Jared Bernhardt (20 G, 8 A).

Reason for pessimism: The losses on defense are just as important with the graduation of the nation’s Outstanding Defenseman Tim Muller (36 GB, 20 CT, 4 G, 1 A) and both starting short-stick defensive midfielders Isaiah Davis-Allen (39 GB, 2 CT) and Nick Manis (10 GB, 6 CT).

Reason for optimism: The team will welcome four Under Armour High School All Americans, including two attackmen.

11. North Carolina (8-8; NCAA first round)

Losses: Four starters, including top defenseman Austin Pifani (34 GB, 22 CT) and goalie Brian Balkam (10.45 GAA, .486 save percentage).

Returns: Six starters, including five of the top six scorers led by junior attackman Chris Cloutier (36 G, 14 A) and freshman attackman Andy Matthews (12 G, 27 A).

Reason for pessimism: The team must find a new faceoff specialist after the graduation of Stephen Kelly (52.6 percent on 181 of 344, 103 GB, 3 G).

Reason for optimism: Three midfielders in freshmen William Perry (14 G, 4 A) and Tanner Cook (10 G, 3 A) and junior Brian Cannon (9 G, 4 A) could step into the starting offense.


Twitter: @edwardleesun

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