Here is the second installment of our premature poll for next season.
The Top 20 will be broken up into four installments, with Friday’s post involving teams ranked from Nos. 15 to 11. Thursday featured Nos. 20 to 16. Monday will highlight teams ranked Nos. 10 to 6 and Tuesday 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:
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15. Johns Hopkins (2013 record: 9-5; NCAA tournament finish: no tournament)
Losses: Six starters including three of team’s top four midfielders in John Ranagan (14 goals and nine assists), Lee Coppersmith (11 G, 7 A) and John Greeley (3 G, 13 A).
Returners: Two of this past season’s three starting attackmen in sophomore Wells Stanwick (24 G, 23 A) and junior Brandon Benn (34 G, 1 A).
Reason for pessimism: A defense that ranked third in Division I after allowing just 7.8 goals must replace two-time Outstanding Defensive Player Tucker Durkin (32 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers), defenseman Chris Lightner (36 GB, 9 CT) and goalkeeper Pierce Bassett (7.59 goals-against average and .604 save percentage).
Reason for optimism: The losses in the midfield will cut deep, but junior Rob Guida (3 G, 4 A in six games), freshman Ryan Brown (17 G, 4 A), junior Rex Sanders (13 G, 0 A) and freshman Holden Cattoni (6 G, 3 A) give the Blue Jays some options to refresh that unit.
14. Denver (14-5; NCAA semifinals)
Losses: Four starters including attackman Eric Law (43 G, 35 A) and midfielders Cameron Flint (37 G, 15 A) and Chase Carraro (6 G, 2 A), and two key contributors in attackman Colin Scott (10 G, 13 A) and midfielder Taylor Young (5 G, 9 A).
Returners: Six starters, including sophomore attackman Wesley Berg (56 G, 16 A), sophomore midfielder Eric Adamson (27 G, 13 A) and freshman attackman Gordie Koerber (20 G, 4 A).
Reason for pessimism: The Pioneers must replenish a faceoff unit that graduated Carraro (76 GB, 167-of-289 for .57.8 percent) and Chace Calkin (20 GB, 75-of-164 for 45.7 percent).
Reason for optimism: Despite bidding farewell to defenseman Kyle Hercher (28 GB, 16 CT), the defense does return a pair of starting defensemen in junior Harley Brown (11 GB, 14 CT) and sophomore Carson Cannon (17 GB, 3 CT), a pair of starting short-stick defensive midfielders in sophomore Garret Holst (49 GB, 11 CT), redshirt junior long-stick midfielder Drew Babb (10 GB, 4 CT), and a pair of goalies in sophomore Ryan LaPlante (9.85 GAA, .576 save percentage) and junior Jamie Faus (9.37 GAA, .554 save percentage).
13. Maryland (10-4; first round)
Losses: Four starters in attackmen Kevin Cooper (20 G, 22 A) and Owen Blye (22 G, 8 A), and midfielders John Haus (18 G, 10 A) and Jake Bernhardt (17 G, 7 A).
Returners: Despite the graduation of first-team All-American long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt (4 G, 3 A, 59 GB, 25 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Landon Carr (2 G, 3 A, 17 GB), the defense will be anchored by redshirt junior goalkeeper Niko Amato (7.98 GAA, .594 save percentage); three starting defensemen in junior Michael Ehrhardt (53 GB, 15 CT) and sophomores Goran Murray (19 GB, 13 CT) and Casey Ikeda (14 GB, 10 CT); and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Brian Cooper (10 GB, 10 CT).
Reason for pessimism: How does an offense that averaged just 10.3 goals in the team’s final seven contests replace the combined 77 goals and 47 assists lost with the graduation of Cooper, Blye, Haus and Bernhardt?
Reason for optimism: The Terps welcome an incoming freshman class that includes six Under Armour All Americans – four of whom are attackmen (Connor Cannizzaro, Colin Heacock, Matt Rambo and Tim Rotanz).
12. Ohio State (13-4; quarterfinals)
Losses: Two starters in attackman Logan Schuss (44 G, 28 A) and midfielder Dominique Alexander (9 G, 20 A), and one key contributor in faceoff specialist Trey Wilkes (68 GB, 174-of-300 for. 58.0 percent).
Returners: Eight starters, including four of the team’s top six scorers in sophomore midfielder Jesse King (32 G, 23 A), freshman attackman Carter Brown (27 G, 16 A), sophomore attackman Turner Evans (26 G, 8 A) and sophomore midfielder David Planning (17 G, 9 A).
Reason for pessimism: King and Brown enjoyed career-best seasons, but it will be interesting to see whether either can succeed Schuss as the quarterback of the offense and still be as productive against an opponent’s top long-pole.
Reason for optimism: A defense that finished 13th in the country (8.8 goals per game) returns all three starting defensemen in juniors Joe Meurer (35 GB, 18 CT) and Dominic Imbordino (10 GB, 7 CT) and freshman Robby Haus (34 GB, 9 CT), junior long-stick midfielder Darius Bowling (40 GB, 14 CT) and junior goalie Greg Dutton (8.96 GAA, .523 save percentage.
11. Penn State (12-5; first round)
Losses: Two starters in attackman Jack Forster (41 G, 16 A) and faceoff specialist Danny Henneghan (84 GB, 202-of-351 for 57.5 percent), and two key contributors in midfielder Nick Dolik (10 G, 5 A) and short-stick defensive midfielder Travis Crane (13 GB, 8 CT).
Returners: Eight starters, including three of the team’s top four scorers in freshman attackman T.J. Sanders (44 G, 5 A), junior attackman Shane Sturgis (27 G, 17 A) and junior midfielder Tom LaCrosse (23 G, 5 A).
Reason for pessimism: After Sanders, Sturgis and LaCrosse, no one else scored 10 goals. So who will pick up the slack created by Forster’s departure?
Reason for optimism: Junior goalkeeper and first-team All-American Austin Kaut, junior long-stick midfielder Steven Bogert (80 GB, 18 CT) and redshirt junior defenseman Tyler Travis (31 GB, 14 CT) are back to pilot a defense that was the second-stingiest unit in the country at just 7.6 goals per game.