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Guest BEN BOKUN

The way-too-early men's lacrosse top 25 rankings for the upcoming 2020 season 2

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Guest BEN BOKUN

14. Towson

2019 record: 11-5 (4-1 Colonial League)

Due to Colonial rival UMass preserving the vast majority of its roster, Towson will have a tough road to a conference title in 2020. The Tigers also lose plenty of key point producers after the exit of Brendan Sunday, who scored 49 goals and notched 25 assists, and one of the nation's best faceoff men in Alex Woodall. For the most part, Towson's upcoming season outlook is an immense question mark. It'll have to display a "next man up" mentality, which is very possible given the Tigers' proven ability to land in the NCAA tournament. 

15. Ohio State

2019 record: 8-4 (1-4 Big Ten)

Ohio State went through a rough patch in Big Ten play last season and loses Jack Jasinski, its third highest goal scorer with 21. But the program can still field a respectable, point-scoring trio between Tre Leclaire (34 goals, 3 assists), Jackson Reid (29 goals, 8 assists) and Jack Myers (17 goals, 20 assists). The Buckeyes were the last unbeaten Division I team in 2019, going on to lose four games and missing the NCAA tournament. But OSU keeps the integral parts of that group, giving it an experienced, mature roster that might be a difference maker in a postseason run. 

16. Loyola

2019 record: 12-5 (7-1 Patriot League)

The Pat Spencer era has concluded at Loyola, likely leading to a full-scale transitional phase for the Greyhounds in 2020. Spencer, one of the best attackmen in NCAA history, is a loss that requires the team to make up for 114 points at a 6.71 per-game rate. Plus, Loyola needs to find a sufficient successor to graduated All-American goalie Jacob Stover, who led the NCAA in saves last season. Who will come to the rescue? Offensively at least, the Greyhounds are fortunate to retain at least two more years of eligibility with their next best scorers — Kevin Lindley (64 points), Chase Scanlan (58 points) and Aidan Olmstead (46 points). At the netminder position, the backup to Stover, Sam Shafer, played less than 20 minutes in the cage in 2019, so he'll have huge shoes to fill. 

17. Rutgers

2019 record: 7-8 (2-3 Big Ten)

The good news for the Scarlet Knights is that they represent one of the nation's most prolific scoring offenses. The bad news is their defense suffers the loss of goalie Max Edelmann, one of the best in the Big Ten, and a skilled defenseman in Kyle Pless — a blow to an already underperforming back line. But the top 5 goal manufacturers all reside with Rutgers once again. The lineup will score in bunches, but that didn't protect it from losing 8 games in the last campaign. The Scarlet Knights haven't made a trip to the NCAA tournament in 15 years and will venture to break the spell this spring. 

18. Princeton

2019 record: 7-7 (2-4 Ivy League)

Princeton is one of the more balanced teams in the NCAA, sending out a rigid defense and two offensive threats in Michael Sowers (37 goals, 53 assists) and Chris Brown (34 goals, 17 assists) who abundantly hit the back of the net. But there's a reason the Tigers didn't even make the Ivy League tournament in 2019: they lack aggression when the ball is on the ground. Princeton picked up 461 ground balls to opponent's 532 on the season, and only succeeded on 45 percent of its faceoffs. Assuming they find a way to fix that problem, the Tigers could be a sneaky addition in the NCAA tournament. 

19. High Point

2019 record: 13-3 (6-1 Southern)

High Point achieved one of the best records on this list last season, yet they sit as the No. 17 team in the US Lacrosse Magazine preseason rankings. What gives? Well, there's a laundry list of reasons: the Panthers inaugurated their young program in 2013; they're coming off their best year in school history; they've never made an NCAA tournament; High Point defeated Virginia one game and lost to St. John's a contest later. The team will be without departing goalie Tim Troutner Jr. and the sharpshooting Chris Young (44 goals). So the Panthers will need to rely on do-it-all attackman Asher Nolting more than ever. 

20. Villanova

2019 record: 8-7 (3-2 Big East)

Villanova finds itself in perfect position to make some noise in Big East play, if not the NCAA tournament this year. The entirety of its scoring offense is maintained from last season with Corey McManus (35 goals) leading the way and Connor Kirst (31 goals, 19 assists) putting up goals in a complementary role. All six players who obtained 20 points or more last season are staying with the Wildcats throughout the coming spring. 

21. Army

2019 record: 13-5 (5-3 Patriot League)

The Patriot League champions are looking to do it all over again this season, but not before replacing some notable graduates. Johnny Surdick, the Schmeisser Award winner for the most outstanding defenseman, leaves a hole in the Black Knights' fortification while AJ Barretto relieves his goalie duties. Offensively, the team still contains a wealth of playmakers including Brendan Nichtern (80 points), Miles Silva (21 goals), Sean O'Brien (21 goals) and Matt Manown (33 points). Fortunately for Army, Loyola is in the middle of a potential identity crisis after the departure of Pat Spencer, so the Patriot League may almost be up for grabs. 

22. Georgetown

2019 record: 13-5 (3-2 Big East)

Three of the top four point-getters for the Hoyas — Daniel Bucaro (61 goals, 26 assists), Robert Clark (33 goals, 13 assists) and Lucas Wittenberg (23 goals, 37 assists) — won't be around in Washington, D.C., next season. But much to the rest of the Big East's chagrin, Jake Carraway remains the knight in shining armor for Georgetown as a rising senior who put up a team-leading 88 points in 2019. There may be no doubt head coach Kevin Warne tweaks the game plan after losing so much talent. But since most of the Big East is remodeling in 2020, the conference could fall at the hands of any school. 

23. Delaware

2019 record: 10-5 (3-2 Colonial League)

The Blue Hens lose their second and fourth-best goal scorers with Joe Eisele (34 goals) and Dean DiSimone (25 goals) taking leave at the end of the year but keep dual-threats Charlie Kitchen (37 goals, 27 assists) and Tye Kurtz (31 goals, 21 assists). We may be placing Delaware in the preseason top 25, but it went 0-5 against ranked opponents this past spring. That'll need to change if the Blue Hens want to break through to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. But behind an above-average goalie in Matt DeLuca and third-year coach Ben DeLuca's tutelage, they're making steady progress after cementing a winning record for the first time in eight seasons. 

24. Richmond

2019 record: 10-7 (5-2 Southern)

The Spiders have been near-perennial visitors in the NCAA tournament over the last decade, making the postseason competition three times since 2014. Though 2019's appearance included a heartbreaking one-goal loss to Duke in the first round, there's something to be said about this program's hunger in finishing a fifth straight ten-win season. Richmond shouldn't be undersold. It's a proven tournament contender that brings back Mitch Savoca (24 goals, 7 assists) and a dominant force in Ryan Lanchbury, who dished out 20 assists while burying 52 goals. The Spiders lose 35 assists with a graduating Teddy Hatfield and rank as one of the worst faceoff schools in the country, but their proven track record in conference matchups over the years is something to behold. Richmond could break the top 20 before we know it. 

25. Robert Morris

2019 record: 9-8 (Northeast Conference)

The Northeast Conference doesn't necessarily contain the highest concentration of Division I lacrosse powerhouses, but Robert Morris has technically been its best representative. In the past two seasons, the Colonials took home a pair of NEC tournament championships, giving them an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Although assists and points leader Tyson Gibson (29 goals, 40 assists) could've been an essential part of the lineup, four out of the six most productive point accumulators return on the roster. And they'll most likely be called upon to light up the scoreboard in abundance due to a porous Colonials defense that gave up 13.5 goals per game.  

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