January 9, 2014

#LMRanks: MCLA Division I Top 20 Breakdown

by Tim Haslam | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

After making the MCLA final in 2013, both Colorado State and Colorado are looking up at Arizona State as 2014 opens. (Cecil Copeland)

With 2013 MCLA Champion Colorado State and runner-up Colorado both reeling from graduation losses, Arizona State has a big chance to step in and make its mark this spring, ranked No. 1 in Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Top 20 for the MCLA. Why are the Sun Devils qualified for the top spot? Where will the rest of the chips fall? The case for each of our Top 20 teams is below.

Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III, and NJCAA and club men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown atLaxMagazine.com/LMranks and on Twitter at #LMranks.

1. Arizona State (18-3) | Semifinalist

Justin Straker, Dan Davis and Logan Quinn will look to replace All-American Payson Clark. Sophomore goalie Preston Anderson will look to lead the defense as the Sun Devils chase the SLC Championship and a trip to the national tournament.

2. Colorado State (21-0) | National Champion

The two-time national champions will have their work cut out for them. Not only do they have one of the toughest schedules, but they also graduated four defenders, an LSM, six key midfielders and their leading scorer. Needless to say, the Rams will look to reload instead of rebuild.

3. Colorado (18-3) | Runner-up

The biggest loss for the Buffaloes will be All-American goalie Brad Macnee, who finished his career with 703 saves and a career save percentage of 58 percent. Junior Jace Gan and senior Jack Cranston will hope to make up for the loss on the defensive end by leading an already solid offense.

4. Brigham Young (16-5) | Semifinalist

Junior attackman Mike Fabrizio tallied 52 goals and 32 assists last season and will surely lead the Cougar attack again. BYU takes to the road early and often, playing eight of their first nine games on the road.

5. Chapman (13-6) | First Round

The Panthers will benefit the most from the tournament moving to the West Coast with the semifinals and championship game being held in their stadium. Chapman will have to prove they belong and will have ample opportunity as they facing nine of the Top 20.

6. UC Santa Barbara (14-7) | Quarterfinalist

The Gauchos return senior goalie Conrad Carlson, who will lead a defense that kept them in games. Two road trips will test the Gauchos, who will take on Sonoma State and California in late February and a trip to Utah in late March to visit Westminster and BYU in 3 days.

7. Michigan State (14-3) | Quarterfinalist

Junior Goalie Matt Allemang will once again lead the defense on a team that didn't allow any opponent to score double digits in 2013 en route to a CCLA title. Michigan State will take a road trip in early March to face BYU and Colorado State in Colorado that will give the Spartans an early measuring stick.

8. Grand Canyon (8-6) | First Round

The Lopes made it to the tournament in their first year of D-I play and will look to continue their success in 2014. Senior Carson Barton (55g, 30a) hopes to lead the team past the first round. Grand Canyon will open their season with Colorado State and Minn-Duluth.

9. Oregon (12-6) | Quarterfinalist

Seniors Benton Souers (40g, 20a) and Evan Merritt (32g, 9a) will look to lead the Ducks to Orange County and make it past the quarterfinals. Oregon will face early tests against BYU, Colorado State and Simon Fraser.

An early western road trip to face BYU, Colorado and Chapman should paint a strong picture of whether Boston College can contend in 2014. (Jim Cowsert)

10. Sonoma State (13-5) | Quarterfinalist

First year head coach Panchito Ojeda will look to have the Seawolves ready to defend their WCLL regular season title and make it back to the national tournament.

11. Boston College (13-1) | First Round

Boston College will know where they stand in a late February after trip to California to face BYU, Chapman and Colorado. The Eagles also return all but 14 goals from last season. Two sophomore goalies could prove to be critical for the Eagles moving forward.

12. Stanford (14-4) | First Round

Despite losing several key cogs, the Cardinal return Sophomore Peter Doyle, who put up 50 goals and 15 assists last season, helping Stanford edge Sonoma State in the WCLL championship game.

13. California (9-6)

The Golden Bears will search for a WCLL title as well as facing a tough out-of-conference slate highlighted by games against Colorado State and Colorado. Look for junior attackman Sean Hayden (27g, 14a) to make his mark.

14. Texas (13-4) | First Round

The Longhorns return a solid senior class, with Cody Crews (14g, 13a), Sam Jones (27g, 14a) and Elliot Chang-Tung (21g, 16a) leading the charge. The '14 schedule features road trips to Colorado and the Pacific Northwest.

15. Connecticut (12-2)

The Huskies will look to avenge their two losses, both to Boston College, in 2014 and take the team to the tournament for the first time. Senior midfielder Kevin Canavan (42g, 12a) will look to add to his impressive career totals.

16. Minnesota-Duluth (10-3)

After some tough losses to ranked teams in 2013, the Bulldogs are back and ready to prove they belong in the national tournament discussion. The Bulldogs (and all UMLC teams) are now fighting for the newly reinstated AQ spot.

17. Cal Poly (7-8)

Despite having a losing record, the Mustangs return 115 of 117 goals from last season and will look to right the ship. Cal Poly will leave California only once for two tough games in Utah against Westminster and BYU.

18. Georgia Tech (14-5)

Georgia Tech narrowly missed out on the national tournament last year and will have a bad taste in their mouths heading into 2014. The offense will be in good shape with the three leading scorers from '13 returning.

19. Westminster (16-5) | D-II Runner-up

After several years as an upper-echelon D-II team, the Griffins make the jump to D-I with their eyes set on an RMLC title. All-American midfielder Collin Madsen (47g, 34a) returns for his senior season to lead the Griffins.

20. Simon Fraser (11-6)

The Clansmen are hungry to get back into the national tournament having missed the main event since 2010. After graduating two of their top scorers, look for junior midfielder Sam Clare (33g, 12a) to take charge and lead the Clan.

Tim Haslam will be covering the MCLA for Lacrosse Magazine and LaxMagazine.com all spring. Check back for more of his insights. He is on twitter at TimHaslam_Lax

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