The power structure probably won't change in Division III men's lacrosse. Salisbury, which reached the NCAA title game last spring, will compete with 2013 titlist Stevenson and a rising Washington College program for the national championship. On the women's side, defending national titlist Salisbury should remain near the top.
Division III Men:
Salisbury continued its reign of excellence last spring, rolling to a 21-2 record and the Capital Athletic Conference title. But a loss to Tufts in the NCAA final denied the Sea Gulls their 11th national championship.
Head coach Jim Berkman will have to replace several key players who helped Salisbury to two national titles, a runner-up finish and an NCAA semifinal appearance during their four-year careers. Salisbury lost three of its four top scorers, including Rhett DePol, Luke Phipps and Donovan Lange. But the Sea Gulls should be strong in the midfield, with the return of seniors Mike Kane (48 goals, six assists) and Sean Fitzgerald (28 goals, 16 feeds) and junior Thomas Cirillo (27 goals, 11 assists). The defensive unit, which lost one of the nation's best goalkeepers in Alex Taylor to graduation, will be led by senior Knute Kraus.
Washington College continued its resurgence during the 2014 season. The Shoremen finished with an 18-2 record, compiled an undefeated mark on the way to the Centennial Conference title and reached the NCAA semifinals before losing to Salisbury.
Head coach Jeff Shirk's team will have to fill some holes to reach those heights again. The Shoremen lost their top scorer (Hunter Nowicki), their assist leader (Jim Cusick) and 30-goal scorer J.D. Campbell. But the return of junior midfielder Sid Looney (28 goals, 15 assists), senior midfielder Grant Hughes (26 goals, six feeds) and senior attackman Stephen Luck (32 goals, eight assists) will help to compensate for the lost offensive production. Senior defenseman Dan Pulzello is the leader of a unit that will have to replace graduated goalkeeper Ted DiSalvo, who allowed 7.5 goals per game.
On the heels of its first NCAA championship in 2013, Stevenson put together a strong encore last season. Head coach Paul Cantabene's squad went 19-3, won its second consecutive Commonwealth Conference title and reached the NCAA quarterfinals before losing to Washington College.
The Mustangs lost several key players, including defenseman Kyle Holechek, premier faceoff specialist Brent Hiken, goalkeeper Dimitri Pecunes, and productive attackmen Chris Dasheill and Glen Tompkins. But Stevenson should be able to weather the losses, especially at the offensive end. On attack, junior Stephen Banick (39 goals, 33 assists) will be joined by senior Pat Candon, who sat out the 2014 campaign after contributing 22 goals and 28 assists during Stevenson's championship season. The midfield may be the Mustangs' strongest unit, with seniors Tony Rossi (36 goals, 22 assists), Colin Dabney (39 goals, eight feeds) and Billy Burgoyne (35 goals, five assists). Senior Callum Robinson will anchor a defense that allowed 7.2 goals per game last spring.
Frostburg State posted one of the best seasons in program history last spring. The Bobcats finished 14-6 and 4-3 in the Capital Athletic Conference. With five of its top six scorers returning, head coach Tommy Pearce's squad could contend with Salisbury for league honors.
Frostburg State will have to replace goalkeeper Tyler Haines and Ryan Serio (39 goals), but top scorer Devin Colegrove (27 goals, 35 assists) and junior Spenser Love (35 goals, six feeds) will lead a potent attack unit. Returning midfielders Chris Rios, Greg Bourne and Tate Rolland combined for 66 goals and 42 assists.
Goucher should make another run at the Landmark Conference title. The Gophers, who finished at 7-8 and 4-2 in conference play, reached the 2014 league final before losing to Susquehanna. Coach Brian Kelly will rely heavily on his attack unit, led by senior Sam Morgan (team-leading 27 goals and 13 assists) and junior Owen Demmerly (20 goals, 10 assists). Senior goalkeeper Karl Wiszumerski, who allowed fewer than eight goals per game, will strengthen the defensive unit.
Seeking Better Times:
After winning the Capital Athletic Conference title in 2013, St. Mary's College finished at 7-10 and lost in the first round of the league tournament. Head coach Chris Hasbrouck will need to replace leading scorer Ben Love and goalkeeper Zack Blewett, but the Seahawks have plenty of returning firepower with senior midfielder Matt Tarrant (19 goals, 11 assists) and junior attackman Conor Jordan (18 goals, 10 feeds).
McDaniel could move up in the Centennial Conference. The Green Terror, coached by Matt Hatton, compiled a 6-9 overall mark and went 3-5 in league play. But McDaniel will welcome back its top three scorers. The trio of seniors, attackmen Patrick Serio (29 goals, six assists) and Pat Bivons (18 goals, 15 feeds) and midfielder Sean Brett (21 goals, nine assists), should help improve McDaniel's offensive output.
Hood will try to improve on a 4-12 overall mark. The Blazers, who won once in eight Commonwealth Conference games, will be led by four-year starting goalkeeper Joseph McCulloh (.592 save percentage). Sophomore attackman Alex Villegas (team-leading 21 goals and 12 assists) is the Blazers' top offensive threat.
Division III Women:
If Salisbury can find a worthy successor to goalkeeper Ashton Wheatley, the Sea Gulls could win their third consecutive NCAA championship and fourth in six years. Despite the graduation of Wheatley and leading scorer Shannon Carta, there are plenty of quality returnees on hand to keep coach Jim Nestor's club among the nation's elite.
An attack unit consisting of senior Shelby Nemecek (69 goals, six assists), senior Kate Haker (40 goals, 18 feeds), and junior Megan Wallenhorst (21 goals, 13 assists) ensures the Sea Gulls will remain one of the highest-scoring teams in the game. Senior midfielder Bethany Baer (48 goals, 13 assists) and senior defender Laura Maskell are key returnees for a program that finished with a 23-1 record last spring and has reached the NCAA title game in four of the last five years.
Stevenson won the Commonwealth Conference championship and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time. The Mustangs, who finished at 13-6 and 6-1 in league play, must replace two of the best players in school history: all-time leading scorer Leah Warner and Marissa Meiklejohn. But a well-balanced squad could guide Stevenson to a second straight NCAA berth.
The Mustangs should remain one of the nation's most explosive teams, with the return of veteran attackers Kathryn Merrick (51 goals, 17 assists) and Tori Wagner (20 goals, 12 feeds) and sophomore midfielder Olivia Monteiro (17 goals, eight assists). At the defensive end, head coach Kathy Railey will count on senior defender Meg Gill and junior goalkeeper Leanne Bittner.
Washington College could crack the NCAA tournament lineup this season. The Shorewomen, who finished at 11-5 overall and 7-2 in the Centennial Conference, lost second-leading scorer Carly Eisenbrandt and defenders Meredith Callis and Jillian Undem. But head coach Heidi Yetman’s club will be bolstered by the presence of top point-getter Emily Hubley (51 goals, nine assists).
The attack unit should prosper, with the return of senior Caroline Lovett (26 goals, 18 assists) and sophomore Katherine Vincent (32 goals, eight feeds). Sophomore Alli Dudley (15 goals, 21 assists) will join Hubley in the midfield. Senior Liz Godorov will lead a defensive unit that allowed fewer than 10 goals per game.
A record-setting attack unit should enable McDaniel to compete for the Centennial Conference title. The Green Terror, who finished at 11-9 and 5-4 in league play during head coach Kristin Ramey's first season, will return three major offensive threats. Senior Danielle Entrot set a school single-season record with 100 points, tallying 61 goals and 39 assists. Samantha Barbeito, a junior, totaled 36 goals and set a school record with 46 assists, while senior Julia Jacobs' 71 goals were the second-best single-season total in program history.
An experienced Saint Mary's College should be a factor in the CAC race. The Seahawks welcome back their three top scorers from last year's 8-9 squad (4-3 CAC). Junior midfielders Shelby Newman (37 goals, team-leading 35 assists) and Tori Poffenberger, who led St. Mary's with 43 goals and also recorded eight feeds, will unite with senior attacker Christy Bishop (43 goals) to give head coach Lisa Valentine's team a significant offensive advantage. Junior goalkeeper Kayla Dunn (9.6 goals-allowed average) will lead the defensive unit.
Seeking Better Times:
Goucher will have to replace its top two scorers from last year's 7-9 squad (2-4 in the Landmark Conference). Erin Reifsnyder and Hannah Mae Brown, who combined for 78 goals and 38 assists, are gone. But senior midfielders Rita Meissner (28 goals, eight assists) and Anneke Ossorio (29 goals, four feeds) will combine with senior attacker Megan Meluskey to keep head coach Ceri Miller's Gophers strong on offense.
Hood finished at 5-8 and went winless in seven Commonwealth Conference starts. The Blazers will count on their leading scorer, senior midfielder Ashley Kitzmiller (29 goals, eight assists) and junior goalkeeper Lauren Couch.
The return of its top two scorers could help Frostburg State improve its 4-12 record. The Bobcats, who went 1-6 in the CAC, will return senior midfielder Malory Brunett (38 goals, 10 assists) and sophomore attacker Megan Hart (21 goals, 11 feeds).
Notre Dame of Maryland welcomes back its top two scorers from last year's 2-11 team (1-7 in the Colonial States Athletic Conference). The attack unit is solid with juniors Sawyer Butto (47 goals, four assists) and Brittany Peddicord (42 goals, four feeds).