Maryland kicked off the local college lacrosse season with a 23-12 win against High Point Feb. 1. The rest of the area’s schools get underway in the coming days and weeks. Here are PressBox’s preliminary power rankings for the 2020 season.
Head Coach: John Tillman
2019 Record: 12-5 overall, 3-2 Big Ten
Players To Watch: Senior attackman Jared Bernhardt will be gunning for the 2020 Tewaaraton Award after scoring 51 goals with 27 assists last season. … Junior midfielder Logan Wisnauskas (Boys’ Latin) led the team in points (79) and assists (35) and was named a USILA Honorable Mention All-American. … Junior midfielder Bubba Fairman started all 17 games and finished with 25 goals and 17 assists. … Junior attackman Anthony DeMaio finished 2019 with 28 goals and 18 assists. … Junior Justin Shockey went 86 of 171 on faceoffs (.503) and grabbed 36 ground balls.
Outlook: Maryland, which is ranked No. 4 in most Division I preseason polls, will be in the hunt for the Big Ten title and national championship. Tillman has built a program that just reloads every season and does not see a dramatic decline because of graduation. The Terps will also get a further boost with five talented transfers — defenseman Nick Grill (Marquette), midfielder Jake Higgins (Cleveland State), faceoff specialist Joel Trucksess (Lehigh), long-stick midfielder Michael Ubriaco (Villanova) and goalie Chris Brandau (Georgetown). Maryland was picked to finish second in the conference behind Penn State in the preseason coaches’ poll.
2. JOHNS HOPKINS
Head Coach: Dave Pietramala
2019 Record: 8-8 overall, 3-2 Big Ten
Players To Watch: Attackman Joey Epstein (Landon) is the first sophomore captain at Johns Hopkins since Kevin Mahon in 1975. He led the team in goals (48), assists (25) and points (73) in 2019. … Senior attackman Cole Williams (Loyola Blakefield) was second on the team in points (46) and assists (19) and third in goals (27). … Senior midfielder Forry Smith, who is just the 15th Johns Hopkins player since 1950 to serve as a captain more than once, scored a career-high 21 goals with five assists for a career-high 26 points in 2019. … Senior defenseman Owen Colwell, a three-year starter, had two goals, one assist, 31 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers last season.
Outlook: The Blue Jays have the firepower to run with any opponent. The key is for the defense to have a bounce-back season. Johns Hopkins once again has a tough schedule and will face some battles in the Big Ten, which has emerged as one of the top lacrosse conferences in the nation. The Blue Jays were picked to finish third in the conference by the coaches.
Head Coach: Charley Toomey
2019 Record: 12-5 overall, 7-1 Patriot League
Players To Watch: Junior Kevin Lindley was second on the team in points (64) and will be the focal point of the attack. … Fellow junior attackman Aidan Olmstead finished with 25 goals and 21 assists last year. … Junior Bailey Savio took all but six of the team’s 477 faceoffs and set a school record for ground balls (141). … Junior Sam Shafer will start in goal after serving as the main backup to Jacob Stover for the past two seasons.
Outlook: The Greyhounds will have to fill the void of attackman Pat Spencer, who was the Tewaaraton Award winner last season and now plays basketball at Northwestern. The duo of Lindley and Olmstead is ready to step out of Spencer’s shadow and become one of the best 1-2 punches in college lacrosse. Loyola was picked to finish first in the 2020 Patriot League preseason coaches’ poll.
Head Coach: Shawn Nadelen
2019 Record: 11-5 overall, 4-1 Colonial Athletic Conference
Players To Watch: Towson returns five of its top seven point-scorers from last season, including attackmen Brody McLean (39 goals, six assists, 45 points) and Luke Fromert (27 goals, 10 assists, 37 points). … The Tigers also get Grant Maloof (24 goals, 11 assists, 35 points) back for a fifth year. … Defensively, the Tigers return Koby Smith, a second-team USILA All-American, Gray Bodden and Mo Sillah and Garrett Zungailia. … Tyler Canto and Shane Brennan are vying for the starting job in goal.
Outlook: Towson has won eight CAA titles and is primed to make a run at another in 2020 despite the graduation of faceoff specialist Alex Woodall. Nadelen hired Matt Musci as the offensive coordinator to replace Anthony Gilardi, who departed this summer for the head job at Stony Brook. A pair of transfers — James Avanzato (Maryland) and Austin Stewart (Denver) — should make an impact. Massachusetts was picked to win the CAA by one vote over Towson in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Head Coach: Joe Amplo
2019 Record: 6-7 overall, 4-4 Patriot League
Players To Watch: Junior attackman Christian Daniel (Northern) started 13 games as a sophomore in 2019 and was the team’s second-leading scorer with 43 points on a team-best 31 goals and 12 assists. … Junior defenseman Nick Franchuk started eight of 13 games and finished with 11 ground balls and five caused turnovers. … The Midshipmen have a talented incoming class of more than 20 recruits and walk-ons, including freshman midfielder Henry Rentz (Severn) and attackman Dom Cole.
Outlook: A new era opens for Midshipmen lacrosse with the hiring of Amplo, who takes over for Rick Sowell. Amplo built the men’s lacrosse program at Marquette and led the Golden Eagles to consecutive Big East tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017. He also guided Marquette to at least the Big East semifinals in five of its last six seasons. Amplo is looking to surpass that success at Navy. The Midshipmen were picked fifth in the 2020 Patriot League preseason poll.
Head Coach: Ryan Moran
2019 Record: 7-9 overall, 2-4 America East
Players To Watch: Senior attackman Ryan Frawley was a America East pick in 2019 after finishing 21st in the nation in goals per game (2.88). … Senior defenseman Colin Kasner (DeMatha) was a second-team All-America East selection and was 11th in the nation with 2.07 caused turnovers per game. … Junior attackman Trevor Patschorke (Severna Park) earned America East tournament MVP honors and finished second on the team in goals (33), assists (20) and total points (53). … The Retrievers also have 14 incoming recruits, including the highly touted Ben Stephanos (Howard). UMBC also brought in transfer Andrew Hurdle (Bucknell/McDonogh).
Outlook: The Retrievers won their first America East championship since 2009 and have momentum heading into the 2020 season. UMBC finished at No. 28 in the country at 11.8 goals per game in 2019 and should have more firepower this season. UMBC was picked second behind Vermont in the 2020 America East preseason poll.
7. MOUNT ST. MARY’S
Head Coach: Tom Gravante
2019 Record: 9-7 overall, 5-1 Northeast Conference
Players To Watch: Junior goalie Dylan Furnback was the 2019 NEC Defensive Player of the Year. He started all 16 games, registered 194 saves, recorded a 53.9 save percentage and was a first-team All-NEC pick. … Junior defenseman Bryan McIntosh started all 16 games and picked up 51 ground balls and had 33 caused turnovers, earning first-team All-NEC honors. … Sophomore midfielder Luke Frankeny started every game, finishing the year with 27 goals and six assists (47 points), 12 ground balls and two caused turnovers.
Outlook: The Mountaineers dropped just one regular-season conference game (to Hobart) but lost to Robert Morris in NEC semifinals, which ended their shot for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Mount St. Mary’s will look to take the next step in 2020, but the Mountaineers need to fill the void created by the losses of attackman Chris DiPretoro and midfielder Jack Mangan. … The Mountaineers added a talented recruiting class that includes Steven Schmitt and Phillip Polo.
2019 Record: 22-2
Outlook: The Seagulls are the favorite to win the national championship. They enter the 2020 season as the top team in the nation, according to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division III Men’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Salisbury had six players who were named Preseason All-America for the 2020 season by Inside Lacrosse. Long-stick midfielder Kevin Murphy, faceoff specialist Brett Malamphy (Arundel) and attacker Josh Melton — all seniors — and junior defender Brad Apgar earned spots on the first team. Senior defensive midfielder Brad Greik collected second-team honors while junior attackman Cross Ferrara was tabbed as an honorable mention.
2019 Record: 15-4
Outlook: The Mustangs are coming off their seventh straight MAC Commonwealth championship and 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Ethan Christensen, the 2019 MAC Commonwealth Offensive Player of the Year, is back for his senior year after leading the team with 43 goals and 39 assists for 82 points last season.
3. Frostburg (Division II)
2019 Record: 12-8
Outlook: The Bobcats are riding some momentum from last season when they won the program’s first Eastern College Athletic Conference championship in its third ECAC finals appearance. They’re now a part of the Division II Mountain East Conference. Sophomore midfielder Michael Thorne (Northern) was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, winning 33-of-41 faceoffs, picking up 18 ground balls and scoring a goal in two tournament games. Senior attackman Jimmy Lucas (Mount Saint Joseph) received all-conference honors after setting career-highs in goals (23), points (29) and ground balls (23) in his second season as a starter in 2019.
4. St. Mary’s
2019 Record: 10-8
Outlook: Last year, the Seahawks won their most games since the 2013 season. Sophomore attackman Jude Brown (John Carroll) will lead the attack after leading the team with 27 goals and 33 assists last season.
5. Washington College
2019 Record: 7-9
Outlook: The Shoremen have solid depth and will be led by senior attackman Cooper Sloan, senior midfielder Patrick Sullivan and junior goalie Chris Del Rosario.
2019 Record: 10-5
Outlook: The Blazers set program records for wins, goals (213), assists (121), points (334) and man-up goals (26) last year and have a solid group returning.
2019 Record: 5-10
Outlook: The Gophers will be paced by junior defenseman Sam Gravel, who was named second-team All-Landmark Conference after leading the team with 53 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers in 2019.
2019 Record: 2-14
Outlook: The Green Terror will look to take the next step in the tough Centennial Conference, which has several nationally ranked teams in Gettysburg, Franklin and Marshall, Ursinus and Dickinson.
This story was updated to reflect Frostburg’s move to Division II.
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics, Johns Hopkins Athletics, Larry French/Loyola Communications, UMBC Athletics