Commentary

Top 10 lacrosse teams for 2010

Originally Published: June 2, 2009
By Quint Kessenich | ESPN.com

Much like last season, we asked the voters of the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll to send in their extremely early thoughts on 2010 in the form of a very, very premature Top 10 ranking. As always, it's highly speculative and subject to transfers, injuries -- whatever.

But it sparks discussion, and that's what we're all about. Below are how the teams wound up, with four different squads catching No. 1 votes, and three of them -- Syracuse, Duke and Princeton -- getting five No. 1 votes each. Go figure.

Early 2010 Top 10

1. Syracuse (Five first-place votes, 138 total points)
2. Duke (Five first-place, 137 total)
3. Princeton (Five first-place, 130 total)
4. Virginia (One first-place, 126 total)
5. North Carolina (100)
6. Cornell (69)
7. Johns Hopkins (67)
8. Maryland (53)
9. Notre Dame (21)
10. Hofstra (9)

Also receiving votes: Georgetown 7, Navy 6, Harvard 6, Loyola 5, Brown 3, Bucknell 2, UMBC 1

--Sean Burns, Inside Lacrosse

Not content to let the rest of the Nike/IL Media Poll voters (or IL's Geoff Shannon) do all of the heavy lifting on the super-early prognostication we've got going on today, Quint Kessenich wanted to weigh in with his personal preseason Top 10 for 2010 -- along with his thoughts on why each team might find itself there when Inside Lacrosse's Face-Off Yearbook hits the newsstands in December.

Quint's early 2010 preseason Top 10

1. Duke
Duke The Blue Devils return the bulk of their 2009 semifinal lineup. Coach John Danowski will once again rely on Ned Crotty, Max Quinzani, Zach Howell, Justin Turri, Mike Manley and Parker McKee. Sam Payton, Steve Schoeffel and Mike Catalino may or may not be back at school for a fifth year. Sean Brady takes over between the pipes -- this kid is excellent.

2. Syracuse
Syracuse The Orange will reload, but the losses on offense are staggering. Kenny Nims, Dan Hardy, Pat Perritt and Matt Abbott will be playing in Major League Lacrosse. John Desko will have to account for a loss of 50 percent of SU's goals and a whopping 70 percent of their assists next year. Stephen Keogh and Cody Jamieson can rip the rock, but somebody must be able to get them the ball. If Joel White moves from pole to normal midfield, who will play pole? The close defense should be very solid with Matt Tierney and John Lade protecting John Galloway.

3. North Carolina
UNC The Tar Heels graduated only 30 percent of their goal-scoring and 30 percent of their assists, but the biggest loss will be faceoff man Shane Walterhoefer, who took 428 draws this spring. The Heels will be better on defense, as Michael Jarvis, Mark Staines, Charlie McComas and Ryan Flanagan were thrown to the wolves this spring. The offense revolves around Billy Bitter's quick feet and vision.

4. Johns Hopkins
Hopkins It's a bit of good news and bad news for the Blue Jays in 2010. The good news is that 70 percent of the goal-scoring and 83 percent of the assists are back in black and Columbia blue. Chris Boland, Kyle Wharton, Michael Kimmel and Steven Boyle shared the wealth well in 2009. The bad news is that coach Dave Pietramala must replace Michael Evans, Andrew Miller and Charlie Wiggins. The defense will be built around fifth-year senior Matt Drenan.

5. Virginia
UVa The Wahoos say goodbye to their most productive senior class ever -- a group that accounted for a ton of wins, 43 percent of their goals and 50 percent of their assists. Their best two ground-ball players move on as well -- with Chad Gaudet and Mike Timms having combined for 165 loose balls. Virginia will run its offense around attackman Steele Stanwick with Shamel Bratton stealing the show from in front of the goal.

6. Navy
Navy The Midshipmen should be back into the Top 10 in 2010. Navy only loses 17 percent of its goal-scoring and 12 percent of its assists. Tim Paul, Brendan Connors, Andy Warner and Patrick Moran carry the torch for coach Richie Meade.

7. Georgetown
Georgetown The Hoyas missed the playoffs the past two seasons. They enter the Big East with 78 percent of their goal-scoring returning and 89 percent of their assists back. They have a solid core of grinders on defense, with Barney Ehrmann as an All-America candidate.

8. Albany
Albany Great Danes appear to have the strongest roster in the America East next season -- Scott Marr's only significant loss is goal scorer Corey Small. Albany will be led by Brian Caufield (24 goals, 27 assists in 2009) and Joe Resetarits (34, 9). The Danes must fix the problem in the net, as their goaltenders finished the year with a 47 percent save rate.

9. Maryland
Maryland The Terps lose their first midfield unit and one starting defender. Otherwise they are intact, with 67 percent of the goal-scoring returning and 72 percent of the assists back. It'll be interesting to see how Dave Cottle approaches some personnel decisions next fall: Does Grant Catalino play attack or midfield? Will goalie Brian Phipps be ready for opening day after tearing his ACL in the NCAA quarterfinals?

10. Harvard
Harvard The Ivy League will drop off a hair in 2010, and my preliminary selection to win the league's NCAA tournament automatic qualifier is Harvard. Coach John Tillman relied on youngsters in 2009, with 80 percent of their goal-scoring and 78 percent of their assists back in crimson and white next spring. Jeff Cohen, who scored 41 points as a rookie; Dean Gibbons; Travis Burr; and Jason Duboe will be complemented by an excellent recruiting class. Harvard must replace goalie Joe Pike and two essential defenders.

Quint Kessenich covers lacrosse for the ESPN family of networks. He welcomes your e-mails at Quint @insidelacrosse.com. For more on college lacrosse, check out Inside Lacrosse.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN.