Best of the Rest: Teams Just Outside #LMranks Top 20 (WD1)
Cindy Timchal's Navy team has appeared in four straight
NCAA tournaments and is again the Patriot League favorite.
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: 12-6, 3-3 America East
A rival Division I coach said, "The Great Danes do all the little things right. They never have the best players but somehow they find a way to win. Kudos to John Battaglino for coaching the right system for his personnel."
Albany has won back-to-back America East titles and came darn close to knocking off No. 1 seed Florida in the 2012 NCAA tournament. Junior midfielder Ariana Parker (39 goals, 15 assists, 27 ground balls, 13 caused turnovers) is a star, but it remains to be seen if the Great Danes can beat back a resurgent (and No. 18 ranked) Stony Brook to remain the best in the conference. Albany opens its season at the No. 1 ranked Gators on Feb. 24; the game should be a good bellwether for how well the Great Danes can run with the big dogs.
2012 Record: 9-7, 5-2 Ivy League
The Crimson always seem to be hovering just outside the Top 20 since Lisa Miller took over the program in six years ago. Part of that is due to how stacked the Ivy League is — four teams in LM's Top 20 — and how much parity there is in that conference. (At one point in 2012, it looked like Harvard was one of five teams that would tie for the regular Ivy League season title; in the end Penn won it outright.) Harvard's defense was fourth in the nation (7.81) last year, thanks in large part to goalie Kelly Weiss excellent freshman campaign (7.63 gaa). The Crimson will miss All-Ivy defender Ellen Gleason and leading scorer Melanie Baskind.
2012 Record: 11-6, 6-1 CAA
The Dukes had a stroke of bad luck late in the season, when CAA Player of the Year Casey Ancarrow tore her ACL and missed the conference tournament. James Madison lost to Towson, 8-7, in the CAA championship and missed an NCAA tournament bid. Ancarrow returns for 2013 but the attack will have a new look. Coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe will have to find a replacement for Monica Zabel, who was the only player on the team with double-digit assists (49). It might be one of two freshmen attackers, Betsy Angel from Roland Park Country School (Md.) and Taylor Gress from Manchester Valley (Md.).
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2012 Record: 9-9, 1-4 ALC
The Blue Jays will play their last season in the ALC in 2013. Even with the advantage of hosting the conference tournament, it will be tough to get an AQ to the NCAAs in such a stacked league. But the Blue Jays could make the expanded 26-team field with wins over out-of-conference opponents like Loyola, Georgetown and Virginia. Junior attacker Taylor D'Amore led the team in assists (40), points (73) and draws (74) in 2012. (Her single-season draw total was a new school record.) She'll need some help, though, since three of the top five scorers graduated. She'll get it from junior midfielder Sammy Cermack (24g, 11a) and sophomore transfer Jen Cook. Cook was one of the nation's top recruits out of McDonogh School (Md.) in 2011, but she played only a few fall ball games for Maryland before withdrawing from the school. She's since resurfaced a little farther north on I-95, where she'll add a punch of speed to the Blue Jays' midfield.
2012 Record: 18-3, 6-0 Patriot League
The Midshipmen have dominated the Patriot League for three years, and should continue to do so. They've appeared in four straight NCAA tournaments, and got their first tournament win in the 2012 play-in game versus Oregon. Junior attacker Aimee Gennaro (52g) scored the OT game-winner in that victory and she's one of six returning players on the team who scored at least 20 goals last season. The defense will look different for 2013, since four field defenders and goalie Elaina Ponchione (8.71 gaa) graduated. Junior goalie Michelle Verbeeck, who had significant minutes in 2012, is her likely replacement (8.15 gaa).