June 12, 2012

LM Early Offseason Top 15 (WD1 Nos. 15-11)

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com

Dartmouth's Kristen Giovanniello was MVP of the Ivy League tournament in her second year starting. How good can she get?
© Matt and John Risley

With the 2012 season still rattling around our minds, Lacrosse Magazine decided to take a fresh, early offseason look at next year's potential top 15 teams. What are their strenghts, weaknesses and question marks lingering over the summer? Here are Nos. 15-11. Check back to LaxMagazine.com on Wednesday (for Nos. 10-6) and Thursday (for our top-5).

Note: These lists do not reflect or indicate LM's official preseason rankings for 2013.

15. Towson (16-4)

2012 Preseason Rank: Unranked
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 16
Key Returnees: Andi Raymond (35g, 33a), Kelly Custer (35g, 9, 41dc), Ashleigh Rohrback (27g, 22a)
Key Losses: Mary Teeters (48gb, .502 sv%), Sarah Appelt (19g, 15a), Shannon Kennedy (6gb, 7ct)

  • Who replaces Teeters in the goal? As a freshman, Kelsey Donnelly played in eight games behind Teeters. She even saw action in the NCAA tournament, playing the entire second half in the play-in game versus Monmouth and spelled a struggling Teeters in the Tigers' season-ending loss to Penn State in the first round.
  • How healthy are Jackie LaMonica and Alexa Demski? Midfielder LaMonica missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL; Demski, a shut-down defender, tore hers in the final regular season game. They both should be rehabbed by the time 2013 rolls around, but getting back to 100 percent is always tough.
  • Can the Tigers develop some mental toughness? Towson was 8-1 in one-goal games last season, but many of those games shouldn't even have been close. The Tigers also allowed unseeded Penn State to run roughshod over them in the NCAA tournament at Unitas Stadium. Head coach Sonia LaMonica said the season-ending loss stung particularly badly because it wasn't representative of Towson's capabilities.

14. Dartmouth (12-5)

2012 Preseason Rank: 13
2012 Final Rank: 10
Key Returnees: Hana Bowers (22g, 7a), Lindsey Allard (19g, 10a), Liz Calby (20g, 5a, 19gb), Courtney Bennett (15dc), Kristen Giovanniello (42 gb, .475 sv%)
Key Losses: Kirsten Goldberg (39g, 10a), Sarah Plumb (37g, 12a, 82dc, 16ct), Hillary Smith (20gb, 40dc, 14ct)

  • How good can Giovanniello get? As a second-year sophomore starter, Giovanniello led the Ivy League in save percentage (.475) and was named the Most Valuable Player of the conference tournament. Dartmouth head coach Amy Patton has a history of developing top-notch goalies (like Team USA's Devon Wills) and clearly Giovanniello has the raw material. The Big Green will need a strong defense to offset some key losses on attack. Speaking of the attack...
  • Who can go to goal? The graduation of Goldberg and Plumb (the 2012 Ivy League Player of the Year) is a double-barreled loss. Together they accounted for 44 percent of the Big Green's 2012 goals. Bowers is the top returning scorer with 22g. Calby also added 20g and had a .526 shot percentage. They'll get more looks in 2013.
  • Can the Big Green repeat as Ivy League Champ? Dartmouth won its first conference title in 2012 with a 6-4 comeback victory over Penn, but the Big Green dropped regular season games to Harvard and Princeton. The Quakers return all but two players next year.

13. Georgetown (9-8)

Sophia Thomas (38 goals, eight assists in 2012) returns to the Hoyas for 2013.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

2012 Preseason Rank: 17
2012 Final Rank: 17
Key Returnees: Sophia Thomas (38g, 8a), Kelsi Bozel (26, 10a, 38dc), Megan Marinelli (25gb, 14dc, 27ct), Caroline Tarzian (34g, 9a, 12gb)
Key Losses: Kelly Barnes (43gb, 22ct), Carly Napora (19gb, 20dc, 12ct)

  • Who is the go-to girl in clutch situations? Georgetown was 5-4 in conference this year, and three of the four losses were one-goal games, including a Big East semifinal versus Syracuse in the Carrier Dome that could have put the Hoyas in the NCAA tournament. In each of the three one-goal games, Georgetown had several late chances and couldn't finish. The Hoyas' deliberate, balanced attack is tough to defend, but they need someone who can take over when the game is on the line.
  • Is Barb Black Georgetown's starting goalie? Black was a highly touted recruit coming out of St. Paul's (Md.), and she showed occasional flashes of brilliance this season, most memorably making a free position kick save on Tewaaraton finalist Becky Lynch in a 9-8 upset of then-undefeated North Carolina. But her overall save percentage was .362. Fellow keeper Abby Brisbee played occasionally but never started. The incoming freshman class includes Garden City (N.Y.) alum and Under Armour All-American Megan McDonald.
  • Can the Hoyas win in May? Georgetown was once an NCAA tournament mainstay, but the Hoyas haven't won an NCAA tournament game since 2006, when they beat Monmouth, 18-2, in the first round. Georgetown's overall record in the month of May since 2006 is 8-7, including 1-4 mark in NCAA tournament games.

12. Ohio State (11-6)

2012 Preseason Rank: Unranked
2012 Final Rank:
Key Returnees:
Jackie Cifarelli (26g, 32a), Cara Facchina (17g, 11a), Tayler Kuzma (35gb, 13dc, 16ct), Tori DeScenza (26, gb, .494sv %)
Key Losses: Alayna Markwordt (41g, 49a), Gaby Capuzzi (42g, 8a, 38gb, 52dc, 31ct), Kirsten Donahue (34g, 3a, 24gb, 27dc)

  • What's DeScenza's ceiling? DeScenza had the best save percentage of any freshman in the country, and was in the top 5 overall. She won't have the element of surprise as a sophomore now that opponents have enough film to study her tendencies but it must warm the heart of Buckeyes head coach Alexis Venechanos (who as a standout goalie herself) to know that her team's goal will be well-tended for years to come.
  • How do the Buckeyes score goals without Markwordt? Markwordt is the program's all-time leading scorer, and has been the heart of the Buckeyes' attack for years. Cifarelli had an excellent freshman campaign (second on the team in assists) and seems to be developing into a good feeder along the lines of Markwordt.
  • How do the Buckeyes get possessions without Capuzzi? Capuzzi had an outstanding senior year, leading the team in goals, ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers. Fellow senior Donahue was second with draw controls, too, so Ohio State must find a new person to compete for the draw. The answer is most likely a pair of little sisters: Mary Kate Facchina (Cara's sister) and Taylor Donahue (Kirsten's sister). Donahue started every game as a freshman and contributed 14 DCs; Facchina broke into the starting line-up late and is the top returner with 18 dc.

11. Virginia (11-8)

2012 Preseason Rank: 6
2012 Final Rank: 8
Key Returners: Katie Slater (27g, 2a), Sloane Warren (26g, 12a, 29dc), Daniela Eppler (21gb 32dc), Kelsey Gahan (17gb, 12, dc, 15ct)
Key Losses: Josie Owen (42g, 35a, 46dc), Ainsley Baker (25g), Julie Gardner (21g, 13a)

  • How do the Cavaliers win on the road? Virginia was 7-1 in Charlottesville and 3-6 on the road. The Cavaliers dropped close games at Maryland and Princeton (and then at Duke in the NCAA tournament) and even lost in OT at in-state rival Virginia Tech, a program first. Head coach Julie Gardner regularly started five freshmen, though, so hopefully breakout players like Eppler and Gahan will be more comfortable at away games in 2013.
  • Who's Virginia's feeder on the crease? Owen had 77 points this season, more than twice than anyone else on the team. Her 42 goals will be missed, but her 35 assists may be more valuable, especially since Gardner had the next highest assist total on the team. Warren was next with 12, and no one else on the team had more than three.

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