June 13, 2012

LM Early Offseason Top 15 (WD1 Nos. 10-6)

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com

Duke's Kerrin Maurer is the leading returning scorer for the Blue Devils, who check in at No. 9 in Lacrosse Magazine's early offseason rankings.
© Kevin P. Tucker

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. 10-6. Fifteen though 11 debuted Tuesday. Check back to LaxMagazine.com on Thursday for our top-5.

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

10. Notre Dame (13-5)

2012 Preseason Rank: 18
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 16
Key Returnees: Lindsay Powell (44g, 1a), Margaret Smith (12g, 37gb, 47dc, 15ct), Barb Sullivan (40gb, 32dc, 32ct)
Key Losses: Maggie Tamasitis (23g, 59a), Kate Newall (20gb, 19dc), Jordy Shoemaker (15gb, 11ct), Megan Sullivan (24g, 2a, 23gb, 27dc, 15ct)

  • How do you replace Maggie Tamasitis? All roads led through Tamasitis in Notre Dame's attack. The senior had 59 assists, almost five times as the No. 2 assister, Jenny Granger (12a). No one else on the team was even in double-digits. Head coach Christine Halfpenny and offensive coordinator Sarah Dalton will need to find some new ways to generate scoring looks.
  • How are Lindsay Powell's knees? Lindsay Powell missed the 2011 season when she tore her right ACL, and then tore her left ACL just before the 2012 Big East tournament, which was a big blow to the Irish. The sophomore middie/attacker missed the last three games of the season and still led the team in goals. When she's healthy, she's dangerous.
  • What will Christine Halfpenny do in Year 2? In her first season as the Irish's head coach, Christine Halfpenny got Notre Dame back into the NCAA tournament and closed the deal on one of the nation's top recruits (Northport's Cortney Fortunato). If Powell hadn't gotten hurt just before the conference tournament, the Irish might have made an even deeper run.

9. Duke (12-7)

2012 Preseason Rank: 4
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 6
Key Returnees: Kerrin Mauer (25g, 24a), Maddy Morrissey (25g, 10a), Taylor Virden (23gb, 29dc, 15ct), Taylor Trimble (28gm, 20dc)
Key Losses: Kim Wenger (25g, 18a, 2gb, 50dc, 13ct), Emma Hamm (20g, 20a, 89dc,19ct), Mollie Mackler (32gb, .450 sv%)

  • Who wins the three-way race for starting goalie? Mollie Mackler was a three-year starter and will be tough to replace. Junior Katilin Gaiss and freshman Angel Thompson played sparingly behind Mackler in 2012. Incoming freshman Kelsey Duryea, who was the starter for Team USA in its gold-medal run in the 2011 FIL U19 World Championship, may be the girl to beat.
  • Who replaces longtime assistant coach Josh Hexter? Hexter spent eight seasons in Durham, and will leave to become the first head coach of Elon (N.C.) University's new Division I program. Kimel may just move volunteer assistant (and Duke alum) Caline McHenry Olmsted to a permanent position, but McHenry Olmsted has a defensive mindset and Hexter worked primarily with the Blue Devils' offense.
  • Who gets after the draw? Hamm and Wenger combined for 54 percent of the Blue Devils' draw controls. Trimble can take the draw, but she needs support on the circle. Virden is the top returner.

8. Loyola (14-6)

Sydney Thomas is unrealted to fellow rising sophomore midfielder Annie Thomas, but both had tremendous rookie seasons, like many of Loyola's freshman.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

2012 Preseason Rank: 10
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 7
Key Returnees: Marlee Paton (54g, 36a, 23gb, 20ct), Annie Thomas (38g, 31a, 23gb), Hannah Schmitt (42g, 9a, 25gb, 14ct), Sydney Thomas (23g, 23a, 23gb, 20dc, 11ct), Joanna Dalton (27g, 5a, 56dc)
Key Losses: Kerry Stoothoff (59gb, 22ct, .458 sv%), Kellye Gallagher (65gb, 54ct, 14dc), Ana Heneberry (32gb, 38ct)

  • Are freshman midfielders Annie Thomas and Sydney Thomas twins? No. They're not related at all. They did both have tremendous rookie seasons, though. Actually, Loyola got a lot out of its freshmen – 56 percent of all its goals and 58 percent of all its assists. The Greyhounds lose none of their goal scorers for the 2013 season.
  • What about Joanna Dalton and JP Dalton? Are they related? Yes! JP was the senior faceoff specialist for Loyola during the championship run by the Greyhounds men's team. Joanna, a freshman midfielder for the Greyhound women, had to take over on the draw after Taryn van Thof suffered a season-ending injury. Dalton improved as the season progressed, but the draw was a weak point of Loyola's overall game, and really hurt them in a season-ending NCAA quarterfinal loss to Maryland.
  • How do the Greyhounds deal with the loss of their veteran defense? Losing Stoothoff is rough; losing Gallagher and Heneberry might be even rougher. The Greyhounds' draw woes were lessened by the fact that they could count on ground balls and caused turnovers from the D. For 2013, the only starting low defender returning is sophomore Katherine Reinhard (19gb, 4ct).

7. Penn (9-8)

2012 Preseason Rank: 12
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 12
Key Returnees: Meredith Cain (32g, 6a, 25gb, 43dc, 11ct), Courtney Tomchik (28g, 5a), Maddie Poplawski (29g, 2a, 27gb, 61dc, 13ct)
Key Losses: Erin Brennan (33g, 27a), Emily Leitner (49gb, 16ct, .444sv%)

  • What happened to that grinding Penn defense? The Quakers allowed 9.53 gpg defensively, which is respectable but not as noteworthy as in years past. Leitner had a good season, but it was in front of an all-underclassmen defense. With a rebuilding year under their belts, the Penn D should return older and wiser in 2013.
  • Who runs the offense without Erin Brennan? Brennan was the points leader and the only player on the team with double-digit assists. Penn desperately needs to add some diversity to its attack, and perhaps Brennan's graduation will be a chance to go back to the drawing board. Caroline Bunting (23g, 7a) is the top returning assister.
  • Who is the team's leader? Poplawski was Penn's only IWLCA All-American this season, and she had a breakout year with career bests in goals and points. The 5-foot-11 midfielder led the team with 61 draw controls, too. She missed two games due to a concussion but was cleared to play later in the season.

6. Penn State (12-7)

2012 Preseason Rank: 15
2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 11
Key Returnees: Maggie McCormick (20g, 30a), Mackenzie Cyr (34g, 23a), Tatum Coffey (34g, 6a, 25gb, 53 dc, 18ct), Molly Fernandez (35g, 4a), Lizzy Carney (36gb, 16ct)
Key Losses: Dana Cahill (.486 sv%, 40gb, 9ct), Theresa Zichelli (22g, 4a, 26gb, 27dc, 20ct), Colleen Shea (27gb, 16ct)

  • Who replaces Cahill in the goal? Sophomore Melissa Lloyd is the only other keeper on the roster. She played less than eight minutes all season but she should feel comfortable playing in tandem with her high school teammate Lizzy Carney, who was No. 2 on the team in both ground balls and caused turnovers.
  • Was Tatum Coffey the best freshman in the country? Coffey wasn't the 2012 ALC Rookie of the Year (it went to Florida's Nora Barry) but she was the only freshman to make the All-America list. The midfielder made the third team thanks to her tough play between the lines, where she led the team in draw controls and added 40 points.
  • Can Penn State keep up with the ALC's best? The American Lacrosse Conference is one of the nation's top conferences, with perennial champ Northwestern and now Florida breaking through to the final four. Penn State went 0-3 versus those two teams by a combined score of 49-20. The Nittany Lions appear to be a program on the rise, so they can't remain content just to make conference and NCAA tournament appearances.

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