It might take some time for Johns Hopkins to cope with the loss of three All-Americans, an overhauled defense and one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
Though head coach Dave Pietramala acknowledges his team will be a "work in progress" this season, the Blue Jays nevertheless intend to compete for a Big Ten title and the program's 10th national championship.
"That's an understood goal here at Johns Hopkins," Pietramala said.
Last season, the Blue Jays went 11-7, won the Big Ten tournament crown and advanced to the NCAA semifinals, in which they fell to Maryland, 12-11.
Johns Hopkins must fill the void with the graduation of attackman Wells Stanwick and long-stick middie Michael Pellegrino, both of whom earned All-American honors.
Attackman Ryan Brown (Calvert Hall) was named second-team All-American after setting a program record with 61 goals. Sophomore Shack Stanwick (Boys' Latin) is also primed for a successful year after scoring 28 goals on 59 shots with 23 assists last season.
"We feel pretty good about the young men who follow those guys," Pietramala said about his graduating players. "The difference is players like Pellegrino and Wells Stanwick were four-year starters and leaders, both on and off the field. You lose that experience. It doesn't mean that there is not talent behind them. But what has to happen is that talent has to develop that experience."
The midfield is deep with the return of seniors Holden Cattoni and Connor Reed, along with junior John Crawley. Those three played on the first line and combined for 54 goals and 32 assists.
The Blue Jays' defense is still being developed. Juniors Nick Fields (close defense) and Joe Carlini (short-stick defensive midfielder) are the only returning players with significant experience. To compensate, Johns Hopkins added two defensive transfers during the offseason: Ben Kellar (Boys' Latin, Bucknell) and Austin Spencer (Massachusetts), both of whom are likely to make an immediate impact.
Senior goalie Will Ryan played in six games with two starts last season and could earn the starting nod this year. However, he is competing with four other goalies on the roster, including Brock Turnbaugh (Hereford) and freshman Hunter Sells.
"On the defensive end, that's where we need to step to the forefront the most, both schematically and then individually," Pietramala said.
Joel Tinney, a third-team All-American as a freshman last year, will miss the season for violating undisclosed NCAA rules. Tinney, however, is still enrolled at Johns Hopkins and will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2017 season.
Helping offset that loss is the return of senior Craig Madarasz, who missed the 2015 season with an injury. He will join sophomore Hunter Moreland (Boys' Latin) to give Johns Hopkins a dynamic one-two punch on faceoffs. Moreland won 55 percent of his faceoffs as a freshman last season. Kevin O'Toole (Loyola Blakefield) is also expected to contribute.
"We think we have some depth there," Pietramala said about the team's faceoff specialists. "That's going to be an important part of this. If we wind up playing defense [much] of the time, we are not going to help ourselves."
The Greyhounds are ready to bounce back from last season's 7-8 finish in the Patriot League, where they were knocked off by Army during the conference quarterfinals.
Zach Herreweyers returns on the attack after leading the league with 47 goals and four assists last season. Also returning is Brian Sherlock, who earned All-American honorable mention as the league's top scoring midfielder with 29 goals. He also had 19 assists and was named All-Patriot League first team for the second straight year.
Ryan Fournier is regarded as one of the top long-stick midfielders in the nation. He finished with four goals, five assists and 58 ground balls. David Manning returns on close defense after missing the 2015 season with a knee injury. Sophomore Grant Limone emerged as one of the top goalies in the nation.
The Terps, who went 15-4 last season, are loaded with talent and could make their way back to the national championship game, in which they lost to Denver, 10-5. Maryland is led by goalie Kyle Bernlohr, who was named first-team All-American and the nation's most outstanding goalie in 2015. Bernlohr won a program-record 15 games and led the NCAA in goals-against average (6.95). Also returning is defenseman Matt Dunn (Loyola Blakefield), a third-team All-American, who started 15 games. The defense also gets support from short-stick midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen, who also managed three goals and an assist.
Junior Matt Rambo returns on the attack after scoring 40 goals with 19 assists. He was the first Maryland player to post 40 goals in a season since 2004. Senior Bryan Cole was also a force and had 17 goals with a team-high 22 assists. Maryland, which has advanced to the Final Four in four of the past five seasons, will get another boost from midfielder Pat Young, who transferred from UMBC.
The Midshipmen, who went 9-5 last year, boasted one of the nation's best defenses, and that should carry over this season. Chris Fennell was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and third-team All-American after his unit allowed just 8.57 goals per game. Navy's defense held 10 of its 14 opponents to less than 10 goals.
The Midshipmen were able to dictate the tempo of the game behind Brady Dove, who won 62.6 percent of his faceoffs. Seniors T.J. Hanzsche and Patrick Keena and sophomore Jack Ray return in the attack, and the midfield is led by Kevin Wendel and Colin Flounlacker.
Senior goalie John Connors and junior long-stick midfielder Matt Rees were second-team All-Patriot League selections.
The Tigers are primed for another successful season after winning their fifth Colonial Athletic Association title in 2015 -- the most of any program in the history of the league.
Towson, which went 12-6 last year, will be led by third-team All-American goalie Tyler White, who finished with a program-best 7.57 goals-against average last season. White was also CAA Defensive Player of the Year.
The Tigers also have their top three point scorers from a year ago in Joe Seider (Hereford, 34 goals, seven assists), Ryan Drenner (Westminster, 17 goals, 18 assists) and Spencer Parks (St. Paul's, 16 goals, 15 assists).
The Retrievers are out to prove last season was an aberration, when they posted a 5-8 overall mark and 1-5 America East record, missing the league tournament for the first time in 12 seasons.
Senior Zach Esser (Fallston) is back after being named America East Conference first team last spring. He became the first UMBC defender to earn a pair of first-team all-conference honors.
Also returning is Nate Lewnes (St. Mary's), who led UMBC with 31 goals and 33 total points. He needs just two points to reach the 100-point mark in his career. Lewnes scored 30 or more goals for the second consecutive campaign, becoming just the sixth player in UMBC's Division I history to reach that mark in consecutive years.
Senior midfielder Jack Gannon (17 goals, eight assists) and junior attackman Max Maxwell (10 goals, 10 assists) also return.
The Mustangs are coming off another solid year, when they finished 16-5 and advanced to their seventh consecutive NCAA tournament. The entire first-team attack returns, including Stephen Banick, who was named a third-team All-American last season after scoring 30 goals with 33 assists. Also back is Pat Candon (33 goals, 26 assists) and junior Matt Tompkins (36 goals, nine assists).
Kyle D'Onofrio (Fallston, 25 goals, five assists) will help anchor the midfield. The defense is led by goalie Connor Skeen (Towson High), who finished with a 4.31 goals-against average and .629 save percentage in 2015.