August 24, 2012

Midsummer Night's Power Rankings – Division III

by Jac Coyne | | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Brendan MacDonald (above) had a monster rookie campaign for RIT, helping the Tigers advance to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. The Tigers have some holes to fill, but should once again be in the Division III mix come May.
© Greg Wall

The 2012 Division III season followed a familiar script – Salisbury players running around the field with the championship trophy held aloft while the rest of the teams in D-III shook their heads slowly. The Gulls 10th title reinforced the notion that polls – preseason or otherwise – aren't worth the bandwidth they occupy.

Ah, but I remain undaunted. I've crunched the numbers and devised my Midsummer Night's Power Rankings – a chore I've undertaken for the past half-decade – to see what teams we can expect to be in the mix during the 2013 season.

Is Salisbury atop the charts once again, or is there change in the air?

Before we get to the power rankings, just a quick reminder: this is not the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. That will roll out in December.

To the rankings...

20. Ohio Wesleyan (11-5) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 7 | Points Returning: 285 of 328 (86.9%)

Key Loss: Jesse Lawrence. The Bishops' FOGO ran at a 64.1 percent clip (198-for-309) last spring and had numerous dominating performances, including against Stevenson (12-for-16).

Key Returner: Colin Short. A prototypical quarterback (21g, 43a), Short could have a monster year with all of the returning weapons around him.

The Bishops were an extremely young team – there were only five seniors on the roster – with six rookies starting for Mike Plantholt in '12. The defense was particularly callow, with Steve Barnett and Garrett Van Schaick starting at pole as freshmen along with rising junior Stephen Coyne, while Ryan McMahon (6.79 GAA; 63.0 sv%) started every game in the pipes during his frosh campaign. With Short, junior middie Spencer Schnell (46g, 12a) and senior middie Pat Bassett (43g, 7a), there will be plenty of firepower returning. Normally, OWU would be a lock for the tourney, but with the NCAC moving to an AQ in '13, the Bishops might need the auto bid – which is certainly possible – to get to the NCAAs, unless they revamp their schedule.

19. Colby (9-5)

Starters Returning: 8 | Points Returning: 163 of 211 (77.3%)

Key Loss: Jonathan McIvor. McIvor gave the White Mules serious production (20g, 10a) out of the midfield in addition to a strong leadership component.

Key Returner: Ian Deveau. McIvor's loss will be blunted by the final year of Deveau's tenure (25g, 18a in '12). Depending on the team's success, Deveau is a conference player of the year candidate.

Are you getting a whiff of that? No, it's not the paper mills. After years toiling in the depths of the NESCAC, the White Mules are starting to smell like a contender. Not since Access Hollywood host Billy Bush was roaming Mayflower Hill has Colby held this much promise. Deveau, along with classmates John Jennings (33g, 2a) and Greg McKillop (15g, 20a) should be the foundation of a powerful offense. Senior Christian Kelso, juniors Russ Wilson and Ian Boldt, and sophomore Peter Willauer all return on the backline. If junior goalie Peter Reilly can improve on his numbers (7.96 GAA; 54.2 sv%), the White Mules could throw a serious monkey-wrench in the traditional conference hierarchy.

18. Bowdoin (14-6) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 6 | Points Returning: 172 of 289 (60.0%)

Key Loss: Tom McCabe. After 22 years leading the Polar Bears, McCabe finally hung up the whistle, opening the door for Jason Archbell. Archbell comes to Brunswick with a strong resume, but replacing McCabe's consistency won't be easy.

Key Returner: Chris Williamson. After a year hiatus, Williamson was the second-best netminder in the NESCAC (7.53 GAA; 62.7 sv%). Depending on how the season goes, he could be the top goalie in the country.

Even loaded teams can flame out in the crucible of the NESCAC (see: Jeffs, Lord), so when a program has question marks, it can mean trouble. The Polar Bears definitely have quandaries, starting with Archbell and how he'll impact the philosophy and style that has been in place for the last 22 seasons. The loss of the three of the top five scorers and All-American pole Matthew Egan exacerbates the situation. Alas, Bowdoin will have seniors Billy Bergner (21g, 21a) and Patrick Lawlor (14g, 17a) to pace the offense and the defense has the potential to be dominant with Williamson, poles Dylan Hannes and Maxwell Rosner, along with senior LSM Sether Hansen. If the Polar Bears can find a capable faceoff man and a sniper, they'll once again be in the NESCAC mix.

17. Union (13-5) – Quarterfinalist

Starters Returning: 3 | Points Returning: 163 of 253 (64.4%)

Key Loss: Sean Aaron. Stefan Basile and Devyn Jeffries are both worthy replacements, but it will be nearly impossible to replace the big-game experience that Aaron accumulated during his spectacular career.

Key Returner: Rob Santangelo. The Dutchmen aren't known as a high-scoring outfit, and Santangelo accounted for nearly 20 percent of Union's points (25g, 24a). He'll have to be a huge playmaker if the Dutchmen want to return to the NCAAs.

Union's rise to the top of the Liberty League and presence in the national tournament has been based on its defense, which has been nearly wiped out via graduation. Paul Wehrum has been around the block a time or two, so he's not going to enter '13 without a solid plan in place to keep the program momentum going. Still, it will take time to reach the level the Dutchmen were at, and with the Liberty League being ultra-competitive again, the margin for error is pretty small. The return of Santangelo, along with senior Nolan Connors (23g, 12a) and junior Nate Greenberg (15g, 4a), will give Union some offensive punch, but perhaps the most pressure will rest with senior faceoff man Alex Stone (62.7%), who will need to be on his game from the drop.

16. Roanoke (11-4)

Starters Returning: 6 | Points Returning: 241 of 400 (60.3%)

Key Loss: Jeff Keating. Keating went out in style (39g, 35a), and was devastating on the man-up (15g) along with six game-winners. Somewhat surprisingly, he also finished fifth in ground balls (33).

Key Returner: Richard Lachlan. He was the leading scorer for the Maroons (40g, 5a), but Lachlan will need to expand his game and become a 60-point guy in '13 if 'Noke wants to contend.

The presidential election cycle is a bear for the Maroons. Roanoke hasn't made the NCAA tournament during a presidential election since 1996, with 2012 being the most recent misfire. Fortunately, 'Noke has typically responded the year after. In '05, the Maroons advanced to the national semifinals and in '09 Bill Pilat's troops were No. 1 and undefeated for much of the season. What's in store in '13? With the amount of firepower returning, 'Noke has a very good shot at rising to the top of the ODAC with Lachlan and classmate Mike Hayden (19g, 29a) pacing the offense. Sophomore Max Satossky returns as a capable faceoff man (60.8%), which is always critical for the Maroons' style, and Mike Hardon (8.41 GAA; 56.6 sv%) and Charles Pease (11.10 GAA; 46.6 sv%) give the program a pair of experienced netminders.

Gettysburg has advanced to the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, but they haven't had the type of success the Bullets have been know for. With the return of junior Martin Manilla at attack and a solid defensive corps, Gettysburg could be primed to make a return to fore in Division III.
© David Sinclair

15. Washington College (11-6) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 7 | Points Returning: 222 of 262 (84.7%)

Key Loss: Peter Stewart. Stewart was a stalwart for the Shoremen in the cage (7.00 GAA; 62.4 sv%), allowing double-digits in just four of the team's 17 games. His will be shoes to fill.

Key Returner: Bennett Cord. Defense was the name of the game for WAC in '12, but with Cord (38g, 22a), the Shoremen have a great starting point on which to build their offense.

After a three-year dormancy, Washington College finally re-emerged on the national scene in '12 by finishing atop the Centennial regular season standings and earning a trip to the NCAA tourney for the first time since '08. The Shoremen could expand on that in '13. The offense, led by senior Cord, junior middie Hunter Nowicki (15g, 16a) and sophomore attackman Grant Hughes (23g, 4a) will vie with Dickinson to be the Centennial's most dangerous outfit. The Stewart loss cannot be overlooked, but we'll get a good idea of what Jeff Shirk can do on the recruiting front with this incoming class. They may not reach the Salisbury level in '13 (they lost to the Gulls by 12 last spring), but WAC is slowly on the move back.

14. Western New England (13-5) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 7 | Points Returning: 190 of 320 (59.4%)

Key Loss: Brewster Knowlton. It appeared that Knowlton was ticketed to a spectacular career after his freshman campaign, but even without all of the accolades he seemed destined for, he was a rock for the Bears for four years.

Key Returner: James Reardon. The senior middie returns as WNE's best playmaker (17g, 19a). His ability to deal with the added attention after the graduation of Patrick White will be a key this spring.

Even with the loss of Knowlton, the Golden Bears should be a gritty defensive team in '13. The staff is high on sophomore netminder Brandon Body – the younger brother of former WNE All-American Chris Body – who notched a 5.24 GAA and 59.5 save percentage in nine games (including six starts) in '12. Add the return of poles Brian Leistikow, Nicky Donovan, Aaron Harris and Jack Liacos, and the defense shouldn't be a problem. The graduation of White (48g, 14a) and FOGO Joe Martin (62.4%) presents a more pressing problem. Reardon and fellow senior Corbett Corrigan Harreys (22g, 8a) are due for big years, but breaking in a solid faceoff man will be priority number one for a the Commonwealth Coast Conference's top dog.

13. Gettysburg (11-7) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 8 | Points Returning: 185 of 224 (82.6%)

Key Loss: Caldwell Rohrbach. After transferring from St. Lawrence for his senior year, Rohrbach was the Bullets top assist man (15) even while operating out of the midfield.

Key Returner: Martin Manilla. The junior had a breakout campaign last spring, pacing the program in goals (36) and man-up markers (8).

After a couple of non-Bullet-like campaigns – Gettysburg is 23-14 over the past two years with a couple of second round flameouts – Hank Janczyk's crew has all the ingredients to make a push to get back atop the Centennial. Manilla anchors an offense bolstered by senior Ryan Fumai (15g, 3a) and sophomores Robby Maddux (28g, 7a) and Bjian Firouzan (10g, 14a). Nick Avedisian provides a solid faceoff man (53.0%) and the defense is in good hands with the return of seniors Phil Thompson and Matt Canter. Junior Jon Maddalone (7.93 GAA; 55.7 sv%) emerged as the Bullets top netminder last spring, but Gettysburg will be blessed with an experienced backup, senior J.T. McCook, who started every game in 2011.

12. Conn. College (10-7) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 8 | Points Returning: 225 of 229 (98.3%)

Key Loss: Rob Moccia. He was a big part of the two NCAA visits in the past three years. His numbers were decent in '12 (8.05 GAA; 57.8 sv%), but a battle-tested goalie is always difficult to replace.

Key Returner: John Lyons. With a lightning quick burst and dangerous shot, Lyons (33g, 14a) emerged as one of the most dangerous middies in the NESCAC. He'll be the straw who stirs the Camels drink in '13.

A young team started jelling at just the right time in '12, sending the Camels (somewhat surprisingly) to the NCAA tournament with a 10-6 record, setting expectations sky high in New London. Lyons, a senior, along with classmates Andrew Freedman (22g, 15a) and Tyler Corcoran (12g, 17a) should provide Conn. College with an experienced frontline – always important in the defensive-based NESCAC. The defense will require a bit more reconstruction, but seniors Brogan O'Connor and Mike Brennan are experienced in the Camels' zone philosophy, offsetting the loss of Moccia. Conn. College proved that carrying a 3-4 record into April isn't a death sentence, but with what Dave Cornell has returning, the Camels should be able to enter the postseason with a bit more confidence.

11. Lynchburg (17-2) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 4 | Points Returning: 198 of 390 (50.8%)

Key Loss: Dylan Hoff. He produced the moment he showed up in the 'Burg in '09 and he finished off his career in style with an 81-point (52g, 29a) season.

Key Returner: Joe Lisicky. He was probably the best defender in the country as a junior, and now Lisicky returns for his final ride. The Hornets will need him to be even better if they want to get back to the tourney.

The good news for the Hornets is they were quietly one of the best defensive teams in the country – they allowed more than eight goals just three times – and the backline returns nearly intact. Lisicky is an important building block for a team that will likely have a different look in '13. Seniors Pat Ohrem (28g, 12a) and Max Voumard (28g, 9a) give the offense a little punch, but the Bugs will only go as far as the defense takes them. Joining Lisicky at the back are senior Jon Lombardo and junior Jon Gill, helping take some of the sting away from losing Franc Cook in net. Lynchburg will also be pressed to find more help on faceoffs after the graduation of both Matt Jernack and Jeff Schwartz. If things bounce the right way, the Hornets might just have enough juice to win the ODAC again.

10. Denison (15-2) – Quarterfinalist

Starters Returning: 5 | Points Returning: 183 of 394 (46.4%)

Key Loss: Cory Couture. It seemed like whenever the Big Red needed a big goal, it was Couture (32g, 41a), and he had the vision to make the entire Denison offense tick.

Key Returner: Chip Phillips. The junior FOGO was a difference-maker (222-for-337; 65.9%) for Denison and critical in the Big Red's victory over Lynchburg in the second round (14-for-20).

The Big Red has made a cottage industry out of proving people wrong – especially those with an inherent Pool B disdain – and '12 was no different, as the second round road win over Lynchburg was the biggest upset of the year. Just like for OWU above, things are a little different this year with the move to Pool A/C. With guys like juniors Eddie Vita (44g, 15a) and Chapin Speidel (22g, 18a) on offense and senior goalie Nick Petracca (6.46 GAA; 57.1 sv%) on the back end, the Big Red is still the team to beat for the NCAC AQ, but the margin of error has decreased substantially. Denison may have the talent to be worthy of an NCAA bid at the end of '13, but unless the resume is up to snuff, that may not be enough.

9. Trinity (11-7) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 8 | Points Returning: 244 of 246 (99.2%)

Key Loss: Peter Johnson. The standout netminder (8.58 GAA; 57.8 sv%) played all but 30 seconds last year and could alter the course of a game when he was on. Finding a capable netminder will be Mike Higgins' biggest challenge.

Key Returner: Rob Nogueras. With all but two points returning in '13, the offense will be the face of this team, and Nogueras (42g, 8a) will be the face of that unit.

With the top 13 scorers and all but two points returning to Hartford in '13, the Bantams should boast one of the top offenses in the NESCAC. Senior Chris Novick and junior William Naughton are back on defense, giving Higgins the tools to rebuild that unit in front of either junior Derek Koelsch, sophomore Riley Cahill or an incoming netminder. The difference between Trinity being the top team in the conference and program scrambling for an at-large NCAA bid will be determined at the dot. The Bantams were horrific last year – they finished a combined 161-for-383 (42.0%) – on faceoffs, making their run to the second round unconventional, to say the least. This will be the subplot for Trinity for the entire season.

8. RIT (16-3) – Quarterfinalist

Starters Returning: 5 | Points Returning: 207 of 403 (51.4%)

Key Loss: Jordan Collins-Hartwig. His ability to produce out of the midfield (28g, 12a) opened up a lot of space for the other frontline players for the Tigers.

Key Returner: Brendan MacDonald. The attackman had a monster rookie campaign (33g, 17a) and will be expected to fill some of the scoring void left by Tyler Russell.

The attrition rate was stunning from the year before, but, alas, there was RIT again among the final eight teams in the country, guided by Jake Coon (49-10 in three years at the helm of the Tigers). Coon will have nearly as many holes to fill heading into the '13 season. Unlike last year, the defense will be in good shape with the return of poles Elliot Cowburn and Evan Butler, along with junior goalie Anthony DeLeo (7.72 GAA; 58.9 sv%). Russell and Collins-Hartwig leave a void, but MacDonald and junior middie Taylor Wisman (16g, 31a) will give the Tigers an excellent one-two punch along with sophomore middie Allister Warren (10g, 20a). The Liberty League will be solid again, but the conference will once again go through Roc City.

7. Dickinson (15-4) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 7 | Points Returning: 241 of 373 (64.6%)

Key Loss: Ward Gruppo. He wasn't the most efficient player – especially for a guy who took the second most shots on the team – but Gruppo was extremely dangerous out of the midfield (21g, 17a).

Key Returner: Brandon Palladino. A national player of the year candidate, if Dickinson reaches as high as its potential, it'll likely be on the back of its senior LSM.

We're entering Year Three of the Dickinson ascendency and the talent level mandates that the Devils should be a national semifinalist or bust. Will this be the year when Dave Webster's troops finally come of age? The defense should have the Centennial – and the South – on lockdown with the return of Palladino, senior Peter Zouck, junior Draper Donley and sophomore Slay Sudah, along with senior netminder Greg Hanley (6.82 GAA; 56.2 sv%). The offense has junior Brian Cannon (31g, 25a) and seniors Matt Cherry (12g, 31a) and Christian Beital (28g, 12a), meaning goals should not be a problem. Junior Carter Moore will have to fill the FOGO shoes of Chip Murray, but if that plays out, the Devils will once again be the cream of the Centennial crop.

6. Stevens (17-3) – Tourney Qualifier

Starters Returning: 5 | Points Returning: 309 of 457 (67.6%)

Key Loss: Alex Hofrichter. The ace of the Ducks' attack unit, Hofrichter was a dual threat (49g, 21a). There are several players in the pipeline to replace his production, but his poise will be missed.

Key Returner: Matthew Deiner. The sophomore emerged as Stevens' top netminder in the second half of last season. He had solid numbers (7.46 GAA; 57.0 sv%) for a rookie, and he'll be the key to the Ducks high aspirations in '13.

There must be something in the Jersey water because the Ducks will once again be an offensive juggernaut, led by the best midfield unit in the country comprised of seniors Rich Dupras (52g, 32a), Harry Dorne (49g, 11a) and Nick Phillipi (37g, 18a). The attack took a bit of a hit, but sophomore Andrew Scrutchfield (15g, 9a) and junior Charlie Cronin (13g, 7a) should fill those holes quickly. What could separate this year's team from past editions is the defense. In addition to Deiner, the Ducks return seniors Tyler Burgasser and Sean Phelan, along with sophomore Paul Romens and junior LSM Tim Culloty on the backline. The Empire 8 is in the bag, but this should be the year Stevens has enough punch to avoid Cortland and get a crack at least the quarterfinals.

Tufts coughed up a five-goal second-half lead against Cortland in the national semifinals, but with the likes of senior John Heard (above) returning on the defensive end, the Jumbos should be a tough squad to score upon in 2013.
© John Strohsacker

5. Cabrini (17-3) – Quarterfinalist

Starters Returning: 8 | Points Returning: 401 of 516 (77.7%)

Key Loss: John McSorley. The anchor of the backline that held opponents to just 4.95 goals per game, McSorley will be impossible to replace, but his legacy should linger this spring.

Key Returner: Erick Zarzecki. Zarzecki quietly put together a dominant season in '12 (4.90 GAA; 62.4 sv%). He might just be the key if the Cavs have a breakthrough season.

What is Cabrini's ceiling? God bless them, the CSAC schools improve incrementally every year, but the Cavs still won the conference championship by 10 goals last year. The non-conference schedule is as good as it gets, but when the month of April is spent playing weaker teams, can Cabrini be a contender? Yup. Steve Colfer has mitigated the whole conference dilemma with his scheduling and he's got a roster to back him up. Senior Bobby Thorp (52g, 37a) headlines a frontline strengthened by sophomore Damon Sobieski (36g, 18a) and junior Matt Biegel (25g, 12a). The return of Zarzecki, and senior poles Andrew Kvech and Tyler Grau should lessen the blow of losing McSorley.

4. Salisbury (23-0) – National Champion

Starters Returning: 3 | Points Returning: 155 of 649 (23.9%)

Key Loss: Sam Bradman. Big surprise. The numbers speak for themselves (71g, 28a), but it was Bradman's performance in the big games (13 goals in the last two title games) that set him apart.

Key Returner: Ryan Clarke. The offense was decimated, but the senior returns as an option to initiate the offense (35g, 29a) from the midfield. He could be primed for a monster year.

One might argue that having the Gulls anywhere but the No. 1 slot is a stretch, especially coming off a championship, but the numbers lost off last year's dominant squad can't be ignored. Of the top eight scorers, Clarke is the only returner and the only offensive player with at least 20 points. Junior Rhett DePol (9g, 8a) will likely get a look up front, but the race for the rest of the attack and much of the top two midfield lines will be up for grabs. Senior faceoff man Tyler Granelli (66.3%), along with junior FOGO Chris Biank (70.1%) will keep the Gulls dominant at the dot, and junior Alex Taylor (4.92 GAA; 66.0 sv%) provides an experienced netminder. History tells us that Salisbury will be at, or near the top, once the dust settles, but the question marks outweigh the program's legacy at this point.

3. Cortland (21-1) – Finalist

Starters Returning: 6 | Points Returning: 214 of 416 (51.4%)

Key Loss: Greg Wright. Fellow attackman Mike Tota and LSM Jack Kennedy will be missed, but Wright's ability to payoff in the clutch (seven game winners) and set up others (33a) leaves a large hole.

Key Returner: Mike Kaminski. The senior went 21-1 last year with strong numbers (5.59 GAA; 65.5 sv%), but with the defense he has returning in front of him, his stats this spring could be legendary.

Defense has always been the name of the game – the Red Dragons allowed double digits just three times in '12 – and this coming year will be no different. Kaminski anchors a backline that will feature senior poles C.J. Nye and Craig Sullivan along with junior Brian Winterfeldt. The offense will have to be reconstructed to some degree, but junior attackman Cody Consul (37g, 23a) and junior middie Joe Slavik (29g, 15a) give the Dragons a good place to start. Senior draw-man Nick Jarvis was solid (55.4%), but leaves room for improvement, especially if Cortland wants to grind out the typically brutal non-conference schedule early in the year while the offense is finding its legs.

2. Tufts (18-3) – Semifinalist

Starters Returning: 7 | Points Returning: 231 of 399 (57.9%)

Key Loss: Kevin McCormick. Every fifth shot (210-of-929) came off the stick of McCormick (45g, 14a) – an impressive feat for a middie. Finding someone with his confidence in the sticky spots will be a challenge.

Key Returner: Patton Watkins. Without championship hero Steven Foglietta breathing down his neck, the goalie job is his. Improving on his '12 numbers (7.96 GAA; 57.5 sv%) is the Tennessean's next challenge.

Lacrosse is a funny game. The Jumbos were up by five goals with 25 minutes left in their national semifinal game with Cortland and seemingly ticketed for a third straight date with Salisbury. And then the wheels came off as the Red Dragons went on to win the game, 12-10. It's funny from an outside prospective, but the humor is likely lost on Mike Daly's troops, who will undoubtedly have an ax to grind. Having a defense featuring seniors John Heard, Matt Callahan and Sam Gardner, along with Watkins, makes them once again favorites in the NESCAC. The return of sophomore Cole Bailey (26g, 42a) and junior Beau Wood (51g, 15a) gives Tufts one of the most dynamic duos in the country makes the Jumbos once again a title contender.

1. Stevenson (18-5) – Semifinalist

Starters Returning: 7 | Points Returning: 274 of 370 (74.1%)

Key Loss: Ian Bolland. He rarely got the credit he was due, but Bolland was right there (6.28 GAA; 57.9 sv%) with the top goalies in the country. Bolland was a rock for the Mustangs over the past two seasons.

Key Returner: Stephen Banick. Banick had a monster rookie campaign (36g, 27a) for an offense that didn't always shine. He'll be the frontman for what should be a scary attack in '13.

Is this the best Mustang team of the last four years, during which time Stevenson amassed a 72-12 record and appeared in three of four national semifinals? No. But considering the condition of other South teams heading into the '13 campaign, this should be the year the 'Stangs at least break through to the national championship game. Banick, along with senior attackman Tyler Reid (33g, 14a) and junior middie Chris Dashiell (22g, 27a) should solve the scoring problems that occasionally plagued last year's version. Bolland's loss can't be understated, but seniors Kyle Holechek, Kyle Fendlay and Parker Bratton all return on defense, which will give some breathing room to whomever earns the starting goalie slot. Stevenson was pedestrian (53.0%) on faceoffs, an area that must be tackled, but otherwise, Paul Cantabene has all of the tools to make the program's first appearance on the big stage.

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