Best of the Rest: Teams Just Outside #LMranks Top 20 (MD1)
Ohio State attackman Logan Schuss is the reigning ECAC
Offensive Player of the Year, even in a league featuring offensive
powers Loyola and Denver.
Lacrosse Magazine counted down the preseason Top 20 NCAA Division I men's and women's teams throughout the month of January. The Loyola men and Florida women earned top billing Thursday. Now it's time for the "Best of the Rest," the teams that just missed our Top 20 cut. Think of these teams as the ones "also receiving votes."
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2012 Record: 7-8, 4-2 Patriot League
With the rise of Colgate and Lehigh in the Patriot League last year — they are ranked inside the Top 11 this preseason — somebody had to drop back in the league. The Black Knights are coming off an under. 500 season and lost in the first round of the Patriot League tournament. They played in five one-goal games, losing three. Turning that trend around will be a focus, as will the final season of Garrett Thul's playing career. The 6-foot-3, 231-pound attackman was the 21st overall pick of the Hamilton Nationals in January's Major League Lacrosse draft. He brings into this season a 39-game goal-scoring streak, longest in the nation. Army will need to replace 12 seniors, including Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, long-stick midfielder Tim Henderson. Third-year starter Brendan Buckley (23 ground balls, 30 caused turnovers) will lead the defensive unit.
2012 Record: 9-7, 3-3 Patriot League
It would be easy to say Bucknell was another victim of the power shift in the Patriot League, but look closer at the Bison's losses in 2012. Five were by one goal and three in overtime. Having goaltender Kyle Feeney back in goal is a good place to start to turn close losses into wins. Feeney, an eighth round pick by the MLL's Charlotte Hounds, is in his third year as starter. The Bison graduated top scorer Billy Eisenreich, a third-team All-American last year, but the next four highest point-producers return, including junior Todd Heritage, the senior Chase Bailey, junior Peter Burke and sophomore David Dickson. Freshman Sean Doyle will fill Eisenreich's set up role on attack.
2012 Record: 7-6, 3-3 Big East
It's a new era on the Hilltop under first-year coach Kevin Warne, and he and his staff inherit an experienced senior class, led by Georgetown senior attackman Brian Casey, a second-team All-Big East pick in 2012. Warne's impact in Year One — he replaced Dave Urick, who coached Georgetown the previous 23 seasons — remains to be seen, but he certainly plans to bring the moshpit mentality he became known for as the defensive coordinator at Maryland. "I'm just an energetic guy," Warne told Lacrosse Magazine at the 2013 US Lacrosse National Convention in January.
The Hoyas' entire starting attack returns with Casey and seniors Travis Comeau and Zac Guy, but Georgetown has some holes in the midfield and in goal. Georgetown has four goalies on the roster who are working with new assistant Brian Phipps, whom Warne brought over from the Terps staff.
"There is a new sheriff in town and they have a stockpile of talent that needed to be motivated," one rival coach said. "They will surprise."
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2012 Record: 8-7, 5-1 ECAC
The Buckeyes have a stud in 6-foot, 210-pound attackman Logan Schuss, who may already be the best Canadian in the college game and, if Ohio State makes a push into the NCAA tournament, could be in the thick of the Tewaaraton Award race come late April. Schuss was the 11th overall pick by the Ohio Machine in January's MLL draft (The Machine took three Buckeyes; midfielders Dominique Alexander and Kevin Mack were the others). Schuss (39 goals, 18 assists in 2012) is the reigning ECAC Offensive Player of the Year, which is saying something considering all of offensive firepower Loyola and Denver are known to have. Watch sophomore midfielder Jesse King, too, another Canadian who was an All-World pick at the FIL U-19 World Championships in July.
There is room for improvement, however. Ohio State will have to be better offensively as a group if they're to finish with the same 5-1 league record it did last year. The Buckeyes shot just 25.9 percent as a team in 2012.
"Schuss is a dynamic player who will do a lot for them, but their offense actually really struggled at times last year despite plenty of talented guys," a rival D-I coach said. "Their shooting percentage was abysmal and that may have been the leading cause for offensive woes."
2012 Record: 8-7, 3-3 Big East
Even before they beat Notre Dame in the Big East tournament semifinal, St. John's made noise in the regular season. The Red Storm pushed Syracuse to the brink in near upset, but lost 8-7, and they also beat Georgetown in overtime. Eight wins was St. John's most in a season since the program was reinstated in 2005. The Big East tournament win sent St. John's into the offseason with a good feeling, especially since many parts of the team are back, including the starting attack of Kieran McArdle (28 goals, 32 assists), Kevin Cernuto (24, 11) and Colin Keegan (11, 4), senior goalie Jeff Lowman and long-stick midfielder Dillon Ayers, an eighth-round pick of the MLL's Denver Outlaws. Ayers is a team leader and on-field force, scooping 72 ground balls and causing 17 turnovers in 2012.
McArdle has been tabbed the Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year by conference coaches. He led the Big East in points (3.77) and assists (2.00) during the regular season. St. Johns was picked third in the Big East preseason poll behind Notre Dame and Syracuse and ahead of Villanova and Georgetown.
"Great attack," a rival D-I coach said. "Had a taste of the big-time last year with their upset of Notre Dame."