- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 18, 2006

Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times ranks the nation’s top 25 men’s lacrosse teams:

1. Duke (17-3 in 2005) — The Blue Devils bring virtually everyone back other than goalie Aaron Fenton from a team that was two goals away from a national title. Attackman Matt Danowski is an early favorite for player of the year.

2. Johns Hopkins (16-0) — A heralded senior class left with a national title, but plenty of talent remains. The Blue Jays are as close as it gets to a sure thing to be playing on Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia.

3. Virginia (11-4) — Much of the offense remains intact from last year’s final four team, but the Cavaliers have questions at the defensive end and at the faceoff X. Expect the midfield to be more potent.

4. Maryland (11-6) — The Terrapins have a deep senior class (Joe Walters, Bill McGlone, Brendan Healy) and probably have their best team on paper in years. The pieces are there for a deep run in May.

5. Navy (12-4) — Attackman Ian Dingman (academics) and midfielder Steve Looney (ankle) are back, as is goalie Matt Russell. The Midshipmen must reconstruct their close defense, and could need time to become a complete team.

6. Georgetown (10-5) — The Hoyas’ defense will be there. It always is. Wading through some early injuries and overcoming the loss of faceoff man Andy Corno and long pole Brodie Merrill will be difficult.

7. Princeton (5-7) — Ignore the lousy record in 2005. Bill Tierney’s Tigers will make noise this season. Princeton will again contend for the Ivy League title and a berth in the final four.

8. Syracuse (7-6) — There’s never doubt the Orange will be an offensive dynamo. Yet they played virtually no defense last year and lost goalie Jay Pfiefer to graduation. Expect a strong second half and a surge into the top five once all that talent jells.

9. Cornell (11-3) — Midfielder Joe Boulukos and the Big Red again will be a factor as late as the quarterfinals, but this probably won’t be the year Cornell lands in the final four.

10. Massachusetts (13-3) — Even though attackman Sean Morris and defenseman Jack Reid are among the nation’s best at their positions, the Minutemen lost a bunch from last season. The first half of the schedule is relatively soft.

11. Towson (11-5) — Led by short stick Casey Cittadino, the Tigers are favored to win the Colonial again.

12. Penn State (9-6) — The athletic Nittany Lions return their entire attack and should contend for a second straight NCAA bid.

13. Notre Dame (7-4) — Senior attackman Pat Walsh leads a Fighting Irish team that should break a four-year postseason drought.

14. Delaware (11-6) — Junior faceoff specialist Alex Smith helps the Blue Hens dominate possession and gives them a chance against nearly everyone.

15. Army (11-6) — New coach Joe Alberici will rely heavily on senior attackman John Walker, assuming Walker’s back injuries don’t flare up.

16. Fairfield (11-5) — The experienced Stags won’t win the ECAC, but they could certainly pull off an upset or two.

17. North Carolina (5-8) — The Tar Heels disappointed last year and then lost attackman Jed Prossner. Their problems are magnified by the quality of the ACC’s other three teams.

18. Dartmouth (8-4) — The Big Green must replace goalie Andrew Goldstein and avoid bad losses to make a postseason push.

19. Loyola (5-8) — The Greyhounds have been young for years. Expect the talent to finally mature under new coach Charlie Toomey.

20. Albany (10-6) — Junior Merrick Thomson (54 goals in 2005) will again be among nation’s top scorers as the Great Danes seek another America East title.

21. Hofstra (8-8) — Defenseman Brett Moyer could lead the Pride back to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence.

22. Denver (9-5) — The Pioneers lost three of their top four scorers from last season and are still searching for their first NCAA berth.

23. Rutgers (4-9) — Defense anchored by goalie Greg Havalchak should help Scarlet Knights improve.

24. UMBC (7-8) — Despite youth, the Retrievers should push Albany in America East.

25. Stony Brook (10-6) — Local product Brendan Callahan’s strong play in goal bodes well for the Seawolves.

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