Here are Todd Karpovich’s preliminary power rankings for the local men’s lacrosse season, which got underway Feb. 6 with Towson losing, 20-11, to Virginia.

1. MARYLAND

Head Coach: John Tillman
2020 Record: 5-1 overall, 0-0 in the Big Ten

Players To Watch:

  • Attackman Jared Bernhardt: The fifth-year senior is a candidate for the Tewaaraton Award, which goes to the nation’s top player. Bernhardt, a native of Longwood, Fla., is a three-time All-American and within striking distance of becoming the Terrapins’ all-time leader in career points. He started all six games in last year’s abbreviated season, finishing second on the team in goals (20) and points (29).
  • Attackman Logan Wisnauskas: The Boys’ Latin alum led the team in points (36), goals (24) and had at least four points in six games. The senior was a 2019 USILA honorable mention All-American.
  • Midfielder Anthony DeMaio: The senior finished third on the team in points (21) and second for assists (11). DeMaio also scored 10 goals and helped anchor the midfield.
  • Defenseman Nick Grill: The fifth-year senior led the team with six caused turnovers. In 2019, Grill started in all 14 games for Marquette, picking up 31 ground balls and forcing 18 turnovers.
  • Long-stick midfielder Michael Ubriaco: The Boys’ Latin alum and Villanova transfer is expected to be an impact player after being hampered by injuries last season. In 2019, Ubriaco appeared in 15 games as a freshman for the Wildcats.

Outlook: Maryland has the talent and depth to make a run at a national championship. The Terrapins are also experienced with 15 seniors on the roster, which will bode well in the rugged Big Ten. The addition of long-time Johns Hopkins assistant coach Bobby Benson will be a boost for the attack. Maryland is going to be a tough matchup for any opponent.

2. LOYOLA

Head Coach: Charley Toomey
2020 Record: 4-2 overall, 1-0 in the Patriot League

Players To Watch:

  • Attackman Aidan Olmstead: The senior from Painted Post, N.Y., was the Greyhounds’ points leader (22) during the shortened season with 11 goals and team-leading 11 assists. He also had 11 ground balls and two caused turnovers.
  • Attackman Kevin Lindley: The senior from Darien, Conn., led the Greyhounds during the shortened season with 19 goals. Lindley is the preseason Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Defenseman Cam Wyers: The junior from Canada matches up with the opponents’ top attackmen and routinely shuts them down. He started all five games last season, posting five caused turnovers, five ground balls and an assist. In 2019, Wyers started all 17 games on close defense as a freshman, earning second-team All-Patriot League honors.
  • Goalie Sam Shafer: The junior is looking to uphold a strong tradition of top-tier goalies for the Greyhounds. He took over the starting job last season and recorded an 8.65 goals-against average and a .571 saves percentage in six games.

Outlook: The Greyhounds are still adjusting to life without Pat Spencer, who was the program’s first recipient of the Tewaaraton Award as a senior in 2019. However, Toomey gets the most out of his roster, and this team has balance. Loyola can score and also has the potential to be solid defensively. Loyola also had a solid recruiting class with several freshmen expected to make an immediate impact.

3. TOWSON

Head Coach: Shawn Nadelen
2020 Record: 0-6 overall, 0-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association

Players To Watch:

  • Attackman Brody McLean: The fifth-year senior and Stony Brook transfer led the Tigers with 12 points on nine goals and three assists. McLean also took a team-high 33 shots, putting 18 chances on goal.
  • Attackman James Avanzato: The Maryland transfer played in all six games in his first season with the Tigers, making five starts. Avanzato finished tied for second on the team with nine points on six goals and three assists.
  • Austin Stewart: The junior transfer from Denver led the team with eight assists last season. Stewart also managed multiple points in four games, including a career-best three assists at then-No. 12 Loyola.
  • Koby Smith: The senior from Loyola Blakefield was named a preseason All-American and is on the Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List. Smith had 11 ground balls, including a season-best four against No. 13 Georgetown, last season.

Outlook: Towson has five of its six top scorers back in the lineup and will be challenged with a tough schedule. The Tigers have added several key transfers who will make an impact. Towson will be a tough, physical team that will keep the pressure on opponents and should battle Massachusetts for supremacy in the CAA.

4. JOHNS HOPKINS

Head Coach: Peter Milliman
2020 Record: 2-4 overall, 0-0 in the Big Ten

Players To Watch:

  • Attackman Joey Epstein: The junior from Landon High School is one of the most prolific scorers in the nation. He had five goals and five assists during the final four games of last year’s short season. In 2019, Epstein became Johns Hopkins’ first freshman All-American since Joel Tinney in 2015.
  • Attackman Cole Williams: The graduate student from Loyola Blakefield led the team with 11 goals last season. At 6-foot-5, Williams creates matchup problems for defenders. He ranked second on the team with 14 ground balls.
  • Midfielder Garrett Degnon: The junior from DeMatha tied Williams for the team lead with 11 goals. Degnon also added one assist. He was the only Johns Hopkins player to score at least one goal in all six games.
  • Goalie Josh Kirson: The graduate student is a transfer from Ohio State, where he went 15-10 record with a 9.95 goals-against average and a .523 save percentage during his career. Kirson will add key experience to Hopkins’ young defense.

Outlook: Milliman was hired last spring after going 28-10 in two seasons at Cornell. He’ll have huge shoes to fill in replacing longtime coach Dave Pietramala. The Blue Jays have a solid attack that will be able to score with most teams. The key is going to be on defense and stopping some of the most powerful attacks in Division I lacrosse.

5. NAVY

Head Coach: Joe Amplo
2020 Record: 3-2 overall, 1-1 in the Patriot League

Players To Watch:

  • Attackman Christian Daniel: The senior from Northern High School has amassed 91 points during three seasons. He needs just nine points to become only the 36th player in the program’s 114-year history to reach 100 career points.
  • Attackman Tyler Perreten: The senior out of Severn School was the Mids’ second-leading scorer last year with 15 points on a team-best 11 goals and four assists. Perreten scored three of Navy’s 10 extra-man goals and had assists on three others.
  • Defenseman Nick Franchuk: The senior from Connecticut was the 2020 recipient of the Lt. Robert T. Bianchi Award, presented annually to Navy’s Most Valuable Player. Franchuk led a unit that ranked No. 11 nationally in scoring defense (9.40) and man-down defense (11-14, 78.6 percent).

Outlook: The Midshipmen were picked fourth in the 2021 Patriot League preseason poll. Navy landed one of the nation’s top recruiting classes with two five-star commits along with five four-stars and three three-stars. If these young players can make an immediate impact, the Mids will be a force.

6. UMBC

Head Coach: Ryan Moran
2020 Record: 4-1 overall, 0-0 in the America East

Players To Watch:

  • Goalie Tommy Lingner: The junior from prep powerhouse St. Anthony’s in New York was selected to the 2021 USILA/Warrior and New Balance Preseason All-American Division I Team. Last year, he finished the five-game season with a save percentage of 59.6 and a goals-against average of 8.4. UMBC won its final four games of the abbreviated campaign. As a freshman in 2018, Lingner led the nation in goals-against average at 7.33.
  • Attackman Ryan Frawley: The senior from Mountain Lakes, N.J., was a captain last season and became the 35th player in school history to reach the 100-point mark. Frawley led the America East and finished 21st in the nation in goals per game last year. He also earned first-team All-America East and All-Tournament Team honors during the Retrievers’ championship season of 2019.
  • Attackman Brett McIntyre: The Calgary native had four goals and six points through five games in 2020 and scored 33 goals in 2019.
  • Attackman Trevor Patschorke: The redshirt sophomore and Severna Park alum finished with nine goals and seven assists last season.
  • Defenseman Tony Diallo: The sophomore from St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Suitland, Md., started all five games last season. Diallo was named to the College Crosse All-Freshman Team, along with fellow defenseman Alex Poma.

Outlook: Moran, who took over the program in June 2016, continues to build a solid program. UMBC was 4-1 and had won four consecutive games when the 2020 season was halted. The Retrievers could have the highest-powered attack in the America East. The trio of Frawley, McIntyre and Patschorke combined for 112 goals in 2019, the eighth-highest figure for an attack unit in the nation. The young defense will also take the next step with its development.

7. MOUNT ST. MARY’S

Head Coach: Tom Gravante
2020 Record: 3-5 overall, 0-0 in the Northeast Conference

Players To Watch:

  • Midfielder/attackman Brendan Doyle: The graduate student from Loyola Blakefield has scored 30 goals and has 20 assists with 27 ground balls during 50 career games. In last year’s shortened season, Doyle played in all six games and scored four goals with two assists.
  • Defenseman Bryan McIntosh: The senior has picked up 116 ground balls and 64 caused turnovers throughout his career. McIntosh ranks second all time in caused turnovers in program history. Last season he led the team in caused turnovers (11) and ranked tied for second on the team in ground balls (23).
  • Faceoff specialist Sam Stephan: The senior from New Jersey is fourth in program history in ground balls (284) and faceoff win percentage (54.1 percent). Last season, he ranked first on the team in ground balls with 62 and won 98 of 181 faceoffs (54.1 percent).

Outlook: The Mountaineers should battle for a Northeast Conference title. The Mount has an experienced roster that should be able to score with most teams. The Mountaineers have matchups against local teams Navy, Towson and UMBC.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics, Larry French, JHU Athletics, Navy Athletics, David Sinclair

Todd Karpovich

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