August 26, 2011

Midsummer Night's Power Ranking – MD3

Salisbury ran Tufts off the field in the 2011 championship game. Do they have the juice to do it again? According to Jac Coyne's new formulaic Midsummer Night's Power Rankings, they are grading out as the program likely to hold aloft the Walnut & Bronze again.
© Greg Wall

Another NCAA Division III season finished, another dust-collector for the Salisbury men's lacrosse trophy case. The end result was familiar, but the 2011 campaign was a thrilling one, with great games on a weekly basis and some stunning upsets along the way. This season should match, or exceed, it.

As usual, we'll cast our first glance at next spring with the Midsummer Night's Power Ranking, an annual rite that officially kicks of the season (for me, at least). This is not Lacrosse Magazine's preseason ranking – those will come out in December – but rather a ranking based on what teams have coming back for the next year. In the past, I've simply crunched some numbers and put together the teams I felt had the most momentum returning. I continued that format with the Division II power rankings released earlier this week.

For Division III, I'm going to try a new, formulaic model in approaching my Top 20. I used seven criteria, each with a points value that, combined, add up to 100. The teams were assigned a "grade," and then ranked accordingly. While this version is numbers driven, it's obviously still somewhat subjective. Here are the criteria (and a brief explanation):

Starters Returning (1-10 points): Pretty straight forward. One could argue that in this age of specialization, the actual starters are inconsequential, but I've found that this is a pretty good indicator of where a team is in its recruiting cycle.
Coaching Stability (1-10):
This includes longevity, success rate and overall ability.
Points Returning (1-20): Take the percentage of points returning, multiply it by 0.2, and then round up.
Defense Returning (1-20): Evaluation of the number and quality of players returning on the backline.
Stud Factor (1-20): You need stars to advance to the biggest stage, and this is a gauge of what teams will have.
Question Marks (1-10): Every team has holes to fill. The higher the number, the fewer the questions.
Momentum (1-10): An overall feel for the current direction of the program.

When I broke down the numbers for the 40 or so teams I felt were in consideration, there were a lot of close calls – I had seven teams tied with 48 points. There will be teams ranked in the preseason poll (again, which comes out in December) that are not on this list, and rightfully so. Nazareth, Trinity, St. John Fisher and Skidmore could all very well be among that list, but did not quite make the cut here because of low numbers in the various criteria. We'll see how this plays out.

To the Midsummer Night's Power Ranking:

20. Bowdoin (8-7) | Grade: 49

Starters Returning: The Polar Bears have five starters returning (5 points).
Coaching Stability: Tom McCabe is back for his 22nd season in '12, although he only has one NCAA tourney bid to his credit. (6)
Points Returning: While not a high-scoring outfit, Bowdoin brings back 61.9% (166 of 268) of its points. (13)
Defense Returning: Senior Matt Egan gives the Polar Bears an experienced pole, and the expected return of junior goalie Chris Williamson (8.71 GAA in '10) will help, but the backline will be a work in progress. (10)
Stud Factor: Junior attackman Billy Bergner (27g, 13a) has the potential to breakout as does senior middie Keegan Melhorn. Egan should shine on defense, but nobody takes your breath away. (8)
Question Marks: There are several, but the Polar Bears were not a star-driven team last year and likely won't be again. As such, plugging in pieces should be a little bit easier. (4)
Momentum: Despite the pedestrian record, Bowdoin was one of the deadliest teams in the country at the end of last year. They have to prove they can do it from the jump, not just the final month. (3)

19. Haverford (11-4) | Grade: 51

Starters Returning: The Squirrels bring back six starters in 2012. (6)
Coaching Stability: Colin Bathory enters his third season as head coach after replacing seamlessly taking over for Mike Murphy in 2010. (4)
Points Returning: Haverford didn't do a whole lot of scoring last year and lost much of it to graduation. It will bring back just 41.2% (82 of 199). (9)
Defense Returning: The Squirrels were a stingy bunch, and with the return of Joe Banno (65.0 sv%) and two poles in front of him, they should be equally efficient this season. (14)
Stud Factor: Banno is a game-changer in net and scores big stud points. Senior middie Phillip Valliant (20g, 13a) is a threat and classmate Zack Cohen holds the potential to make the Squirrels tough in the midfield. (12)
Question Marks: Some new faces on attack may not be a bad thing for Haverford after the anemic output in '11, but the Fords desperately need an above .500 faceoff man to make their style of play work. (3)
Momentum: The bursting of the NCAA bubble last year blunts the program's upward trend, but they could quickly pick that back up. (3)

18. Endicott (16-5) | Grade: 52

Starters Returning: Five starters return for the Gulls. (5)
Coaching Stability: Currently second in command of the Springfield Mafia, Sean Quirk is in his 14th year in Beverly and is the seventh winningest active coach in Division III. (9)
Points Returning: Junior attackmen Brian Estes (37g, 14a) and Connor McCormack (42, 6) anchor an offense with plenty returning (280 of 454 points; 61.7%). (13)
Defense Returning: One of the keys to Endicott's success last year was their defense, but that will have to be reconstructed with the loss of three starters at close defense and LSM. Junior goalie Mike Klein (8.16) is back, but he'll be tested. (7)
Stud Factor: Senior faceoff man Sam Ozycz (65.5%) is a game-changer, so he scores some stud points for the Gulls. (9)
Question Marks: Endicott lost its two top scorers, three outstanding defenders and has WNEC biting at its ankles in the one-bid Commonwealth Coast. The Gulls are anything but assured a return visit. (3)
Momentum: Beating Tufts in the regular season and narrowly losing to Salisbury in the NCAAs showed that Endicott has come a long way. The next step is matching that feat. (6)

17. Gettysburg (12-7) | Grade: 52.5

Starters Returning: The Bullets bring back five starters in 2012. (5)
Coaching Stability: He's still searching for the Big One, but Hank Janczyk is heading into his 25th year at Gettysburg and very few can match his success. (10)
Points Returning: The Bullets took a hit in the points department, bringing back just 46.5% (127 of 273) of its scoring. (10)
Defense Returning: Junior J.T. McCook (7.04 GAA) returns in goal, but the team lost a pair of experienced poles in John Odierna and Tommy Barnett. Gettysburg gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to retooling the backline as they do it frequently with very little loss in productivity. (13)
Stud Factor: Senior Pat Sartory (30g, 14a) and sophomore Henry Tesar (15, 11) should transition the Bullets to an attack-oriented offense after it was driven by the midfield in '11. Senior Billy Grayson will be the face of the close defense. (4.5)
Question Marks: The first line midfield has been wiped out and the defense will be raw, but Nick Avedisian (59.9%) is a premium FOGO. (5)
Momentum: The Bullets snuck into the tournament last year and will be looking up at Dickinson in the Centennial, but you don't bet against Gettysburg. (5).

16. Cabrini (13-6) | Grade: 53

Starters Returning: Seven starters return for the Cavaliers. (7)
Coaching Stability: Steve Colfer has finished up 10 season at the helm of Cabrini and has nine trips to the NCAA tourney to show for it. (8)
Points Returning: Cabrini brings a solid chunk of scoring back: 249 of the 403 points (61.8%) are returning to Radnor. (13)
Defense Returning: Junior netminder Erick Zarzecki (6.93 GAA) returns with a pair of poles in front of him. This will be more than enough to stifle the rest of the CSAC and register the 11th-consectuive league title. (12)
Stud Factor: Casey Grugan isn't walking through that door, but junior attackman Bobby Thorp (29g, 13a) now wears his number. The Cavaliers are blessed with a bunch of grinders. (5)
Question Marks: Cabrini will easily make the NCAA tourney again out of the CSAC, so the question is how competitive can they be when they get there? This year could be better than most. (5)
Momentum: The Cavaliers are a dangerous team, both in the regular season and beyond, but they are dealing with a ceiling in terms of program advancement. (3)

15. Hampden-Sydney (12-5) | Grade: 58

Starters Returning: These starting numbers are a bit deceiving, but the Tigers do have eight back. (8)
Coaching Stability: You can't find a coach more emblematic of his program than Ray Rostan at Hampden-Sydney. He's got 30 years of college lacrosse experience. (10)
Points Returning: Leading scorer Cole Hawthorne graduates, but pretty much all of the key points men are back, including senior attackman Micah Keller (36g, 13a). In total, the Tigers have 78.5 % (237 of 302) back. (16)
Defense Returning: Junior Cody Hornung (7.89 GAA) returns in net and just one starting pole is lost. (10)
Stud Factor: Senior middie Carter Mavromatis (26g, 30a) and Keller are primed for a big year and Andrew Pritzlaff is an All-American caliber pole. (8)
Question Marks: The Tigers have to learn to win the close one. They had five losses in '11, and all came by two goals or less. (4)
Momentum: Any time Hampden-Sydney looks like it has a chance to take the next step, they run into Roanoke. They've got to prove they can conquer the ODAC. (2)

14. Stevens (16-3) | Grade: 58.5

Starters Returning: There will be six starting Ducks on the pond in 2012. (6)
Coaching Stability: He's a Division III vet, but Gene Peluso wrapped up just his second season in Hoboken. (4.5)
Points Returning: Stevens loses its top scoring attackman and middie, but 58.8% (273 of 464) of the points from '11. (12)
Defense Returning: Senior Eric Yando (7.88 GAA) returns in net along with classmate Matt Marks at one close defense spot, but that's it. There are some holes to fill. (11)
Stud Factor: Junior middie Nicolas Phillipi (33g, 8a) had a breakout year last spring and should be dominant. Senior attackman Kevin Rose (32, 29) is a playmaker, but the Ducks need a couple on defense. (14)
Question Marks: The defense has holes, but with RIT out of the Empire 8, Stevens is the odds on favorite to win the league. (6)
Momentum: The Ducks are in the third year of the Gene Peluso era and already have a tourney bid to their credit. They've got plenty to prove, but they are heading in the right direction. (5)

13. RIT (19-1) | Grade: 59

Starters Returning: The Tigers will roll out four starters from 2011. (4)
Coaching Stability: The school hit a home run in hiring Jake Coon, who has gone 33-7 in his first two years, but he's still waiting for his second recruiting class to matriculate in Roc City. (4)
Points Returning: RIT graduates a shade under half (47.9%) of its scoring (239 of 499). (10)
Defense Returning: The loss of MJ Kiekebelt, the best LSM in the country, hurts, as does the fact that the Tigers will have a raw goalie in net, but the close defensive unit is deep and experienced. (16)
Stud Factor: They lose a bunch of them, but Tyler Russell (69g, 4a) is one of the deadliest snipers in the country and Jordan Collins-Hartwig (34, 13) leads a solid midfield unit. (15)
Question Marks: There's two big ones: who will replace Bob Tonnensen in net and how fast can Coon's first two recruiting classes mature to fill some significant personnel gaps? (5)
Momentum: A lot of things lined up well for the Tigers in '11, and they made the most of it. Plugging in new pieces and repeating the result in the Liberty League is the challenge. RIT has to show they can do that. (5)

12. Stevenson (18-3) | Grade: 60

Starters Returning: Just a trio of Mustangs return. (3)
Coaching Stability: Paul Cantabene just finished his seventh year at Stevenson. Considering his experience and pedigree, he has to be a sought after coach in the D-I ranks. The fact that he decided to stick around says a lot. (8)
Points Returning: The Mustangs have been wiped out, as just 30 percent (163 of 544) of the scoring is back. (6)
Defense Returning: Junior pole Kyle Fendlay and senior goalie Ian Bolland (6.57 GAA) are back, but Evan Douglass and Kyle Menendez leave big holes in the back. (12)
Stud Factor: Sophomore middie Tony Rossi is a star in the making and junior attackman Tyler Reid could have a monster year. It's a good bet there are some other guys on that large roster who are waiting for a chance. (16)
Question Marks: Every good team faces turnover in the roster, but the Stevenson overhaul will be epic. The 2012 campaign will be a stern test for this program. (6)
Momentum: Despite the concerns about how this team will respond to the graduation losses, there's no question about the direction in which Cantabene has his organization headed. (9)

11. Middlebury (13-5) | Grade: 60.5

Starters Returning: The Panthers bring back five starters. (5)
Coaching Stability: Dave Campbell enters his sixth season at his alma mater, and has led his team to the tourney every season. (6.5)
Points Returning: Middlebury has a reasonable amount of scoring – 56.1% (175 of 312) – returning to western Vermont. (12)
Defense Returning: They'll have to break in a new goalie with no previous collegiate experience, but the poles, led by senior Matt Rayner, will be a strength for the Panthers. (15)
Stud Factor: There's nobody in the Mike Stone realm, but Rayner is a game-changer and there are several attackman, led by senior Tim Cahill (32g, 7a), who could be due for a breakout. (14)
Question Marks: Rookie goalies often go through a harsh initiation in the NESCAC and the Panthers were atrocious at faceoffs (45.0%). Usually these are strengths for Midd. (3)
Momentum: The tradition – and tournament streak – are still intact, but the Panthers are no longer the conference standard bearers. (5)

10. Lynchburg (13-6) | Grade: 61

Starters Returning: The Hornets have eight starters back. (8)
Coaching Stability: Steve Koudelka enters his 16th season for the Hornets and has established the school as a name program in the South. (7)
Points Returning: A pretty big chunk – 83.2 percent (265 of 322) – of the goals and assists will be back in '12. (17)
Defense Returning: Senior Franc Cook (7.17 GAA) is back and has a pair of close defenders returning in front of him. Hornets could have one of the better backlines in the ODAC. (14)
Stud Factor: Senior attackman Dylan Hoff (37g, 20a) should have a big year and Jeff Schwartz (64.4%) is a weapon on faceoffs, but Lynchburg's success comes from the sum of its parts. (9)
Question Marks: The Hornets have the experience, talent and schedule to be a threat, they just have to find a way to 'Break the Rock' and win the ODAC. (4)
Momentum: LC has been a bubble team for several years now, which is both frustrating and fixable. (2)

9. Cortland (16-3) | Grade: 61.5

Starters Returning: Just four starters return for the Red Dragons. (4)
Coaching Stability: He's been to three national championship games, snagging a title in '09, in just five years at Cortland. Not a bad ratio. (10)
Points Returning: The Dragons took a hit on the offensive end. Just 56.9% (239 of 420) returns. (12)
Defense Returning: The departure of Shane Crossett and Justin Schneidman opens a huge gap on the backline. The Dragons have depth at goalie, but there are questions. (10)
Stud Factor: A lot of marquee players, including middie Chris DeLuca and Schneidman, are gone. Cortland is a factory, so there will be replacements, but '12 might start slowly. (11.5)
Question Marks: They are numerous. But they aren't too different than what Cortland has faced in the recent past. All you need is a ticket to the dance, and the Dragons will have that out of the weak SUNYAC. (8)
Momentum: Getting bounced in the quarters is a bit of a wake-up call for Cortland, but this program has been consistently good for almost a decade now. (7)

8. Denison (11-4) | Grade: 64

Starters Returning: Seven of the 10 starters are back for the Big Red. (7)
Coaching Stability: Mike Caravana is entering year No. 4 of his second stint with the Big Red and his 19th overall. Denison has not really missed a beat. (7).
Points Returning: Even with the loss of some big name players, Denison still returns 58.7% (159 of 271) of its points. (12)
Defense Returning: The backline, led by junior goalie Nick Petracca (5.95 GAA), returns completely intact after allowing double-digits just three times (Haverford, Stevenson, RIT) in '11. (16)
Stud Factor: Senior Tanner Smith (19g, 25a) is a playmaker out of the midfield and may be ready for the big stage. Classmate Davis Lukens uses size (6-foot-4, 205lbs) to give problems (18, 9). (8)
Question Marks: There might be some holes in leadership and the attack will have to be revamped, but the Big Red should have them figured out by crunch time. (7)
Momentum: Denison is going to make the NCAA tournament again and they will once again be a team no one wants to see. (7)

7. RPI (11-6) | Grade: 68

Starters Returning: The Engineers bring back a solid eight starters. (8)
Coaching Stability: Jim Townsend is starting the sixth year of his second stint with RPI. He has 16 years total in Troy. (5)
Points Returning: The three top scorers are gone, but 54.2% (176 of 325) of the entire points-getters are back. (11)
Defense Returning: A defense that allowed just 7.65 goal per game returns completely intact, including a host of back-ups. Junior James Manchester (7.66 GAA) is the backbone and should be primed for a big year. (20)
Stud Factor: Senior pole Tyler Hutchinson could be a familiar name at the end of this season and senior middie Brian Larkin (nine points, 55.9% faceoff) will be one of the premier combo middies around. (11)
Question Marks: Three experienced scorers are gone, but just four players graduate off the '11 roster. This was a very young team that still managed to be a double overtime goal from the NCAAs. (8)
Momentum: There was a drop-off after the 2010 tourney run, so there's a bit of a slowdown in the program momentum, but not as you might think. (5)

6. Union (13-5) | Grade: 69

Starters Returning: The Dutchmen bring back four starters. (4)
Coaching Stability: The 2011 campaign was the fifth for Hall of Famer Paul Wehrum, and it rivaled some of the seasons he had while the coach of the legendary Herkimer teams. (6)
Points Returning: Despite the starters lost, Union was a young team. It returns 75.1% (220 of 293) points for the 2012 season. (16)
Defense Returning: Senior Sean Aaron (6.90 GAA, 62.7 sv%) is one of the best netminders around and he'll have two starting close defenders and LSM back. Even with RIT in the Liberty, the Dutchmen might be favored to repeat. (17)
Stud Factor: Aaron is a game-changer and racks up big points in this category. Senior Ted McKenna (31g, 7a) and sophomore Rob Santangelo (24, 16) are primed for breakout years on attack. (17)
Question Marks: This team is young and deep with experienced players at key positions. The Dutchmen are a poor faceoff team (46.2%). If they can lock down that area, Union will be tough. (6)
Momentum: The Dutchmen were tournament newbies, although they didn't play like it in the one-goal loss to Tufts on the road. They have to prove they can repeat the feat, however. (3)

5. Roanoke (17-4) | Grade: 73

Starters Returning: Seven of the Maroons starting 10 return. (7)
Coaching Stability: Bill Pilat has been running the show at Roanoke for a quarter century and has consistently had his team near the top of the charts. (9)
Points Returning: 'Noke brings back 64.8 percent (361 of 557) of its points. (13)
Defense Returning: Two poles, an experienced LSM and sophomore goalie Charlie Pease (53.7 sv. %) all return for a team that is always looking for the next possession. (14)
Stud Factor: Senior attackman Jeff Keating (55g, 32a) is the frontrunner for attackman of the year heading into the season and junior Richard Lachlan (58, 10) is one dangerous Canadian. Junior Mike Hayden (27, 26) is someone to watch in the midfield. (16)
Question Marks: The graduation of Justin Tuma leaves a faceoff and leadership hole for the Maroons. 'Noke will find some leaders, but winning draws is key for the Maroons style of play. (5)
Momentum: Bouncing Stevenson on the road in the quarters was a huge psychological win for the program (and the nine-goal loss to Salisbury on the road in the semis looks pretty good now). This is definitely a team riding the wave. (9)

4. Tufts (18-3) | Grade: 74

Starters Returning: They lost some key guys, but somewhat surprisingly, the Jumbos have seven starters back. (7)
Coaching Stability: Mike Daly enters his 14th season as head coach and there aren't many coaches more respected among his peers than the Jumbos head man. (9)
Points Returning: With the loss of D.J. Hessler and some other points guys, Tufts took a hit. Only 46.1 percent of the scoring returns. (10)
Defense Returning: The top three poles are back and they're only juniors. In addition, Daly will have a pair of goalies who have started national championship games. (18)
Stud Factor: Senior Sean Kirwan (66g, 2a) on attack and classmate Kevin McCormick (41, 10) in the midfield are at the top of the charts for a proven roster. (15)
Question Marks: The attack will have to be reconstructed with the loss of Hessler and Ryan Molloy, meaning the Jumbos will need a big senior season out of faceoff man Nick Rhoads (53.2%). (6)
Momentum: Two straight trips to the national championship game and a grizzled defense returning nearly intact? Yeah, you've got a little Mo'. (9)

3. Amherst (15-3) | Grade: 78

Starters Returning: All but one starter is back for the Lord Jeffs. (9)
Coaching Stability: Jon Thompson led Amherst to a great year in 2011, but it was his first year with the program and only his third season as a head coach entering '12. (2)
Points Returning: The Jeffs lose just six points, returning 294 of 300 (98%). (20)
Defense Returning: They lose one starting pole, but Amherst has an excellent LSM in Danny Gold and a game-changing keeper in senior Sam Jakimo (7.89 GAA). (17)
Stud Factor: There are a handful of players who apprenticed as standouts in '11, including sophomores Devin Acton (39g, 18a) and seniors Evan Redwood (27, 25) and Cole Cherney (47, 6). Jakimo also has potential, but there are still questions. (12)
Question Marks: Amherst is another team with a pretty weak faceoff unit (47.8%). Thompson's first season should make things easier on the recruiting trails, so you figure he might be able to reel in a FOGO or two. (8)
Momentum: With the run they had and essentially all of the key cogs remaining, the Jeffs have to be considered the favorites in the North at this point. (10)

2. Dickinson (17-2) | Grade: 79

Starters Returning: Dickinson returns nine starters. (9)
Coaching Stability: Dave Webster enters his 11th year with his alma mater and is finding his recruiting stride. (8)
Points Returning: The Red Devils return 94.7% (301 of 318) of their scoring. (19)
Defense Returning: John Haire graduates, but everyone, including sophomore goalie Greg Hanley (7.35 GAA) is back. (17)
Stud Factor: Webster's defensive-oriented philosophy and careful offense doesn't spawn players who take over games offensively. That might change by the end of '12, however. (10)
Question Marks: The Devils were terrible at faceoff last year (47.1%), but that's really the only hole. (8)
Momentum: With as young as Dickinson was in '11, it was pretty impressive they made the NCAA quarters. This is a team that should be peaking this spring. (8)

1. Salisbury (21-1) | Grade: 83

Starters Returning: Seven starters are back for the Gulls. (7)
Coaching Stability: Things don't get much more stable than Jim Berkman at the helm. (10)
Points Returning: Salisbury brings back 82.2% of its scoring. (17)
Defensive Outlook: They lose a chunk, including the starting and back-up goalies, along with two experienced poles. The Gulls do return Dean Rossi, one of the top d-middies in the country. (12)
Stud Factor: Middie Sam Bradman (55g, 23a) would probably max out this category on his own, but the return of attackmen Matt Cannone (49, 39) and Tony Mendes (48, 17) makes this a slam dunk. (20)
Question Marks: The defensive attrition rate would be a trouble spot for a lot of programs, but Salisbury has a knack for quickly solving personnel issues. (7)
Momentum: Nothing says momentum like the Walnut & Bronze. (10)

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