A preseason lacrosse poll is a tricky monster. Are you ranking teams on how good you think they are right now? Is it just a list of last year’s Top 20? Or is this a construct of where you think teams will finish up at the end of the year? The approaches can be various, and the results are more or less meaningless. So why do we do a preseason lacrosse poll? It’s done for fun, and because people are excited for the season. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!
Last year, my polling posts took a look at the IL Media Poll, The Coaches’ Poll, and Quint Kessenich’s Top 20. I added in my own picks and broke down why I thought other polls were slightly off. I’ll do much of the same this year, but since IL asked me to join the media poll (HUGE shoutout to IL for opening the doors to the media poll!), the format will change slightly.
This year, I’ll give you my top 20 (as it was submitted to the media poll), and my reasoning, and I will place the official Media Poll team in parentheses. I might even talk about the Media Poll choice if it’s truly different from my own, which it probably will be!
2015 D1 Preseason Lacrosse Poll
#1 Duke (Denver) – I put Duke as my #1 team for a number of reason. 1) I typically like to reward last year’s national champion with my #1 slot in the preseason. 2) My preseason poll is based on how I think teams will finish up. It’s more of a challenge, and it’s a lot more fun than asking “who’s the best right now, when it doesn’t matter?”… and Duke finishes STRONG. I’d keep arguing, but their national championship rings are making too much noise.
#2 Denver (Notre Dame) – Denver is obviously a fine choice as a #1 team, so I put them at #2. Like Duke, Denver has a recent history of success, one of the best coaches in the game, and a supremely talented roster. I’d knock people who put them at #1, but then I’d look like an idiot, so I’ll spare myself that. Denver is a contender, right here, right now. It’ too bad we won’t see much of them on TV this year…
Notre Dame (Duke) – Notre Dame is a lot like my other two top programs. Consistent success, talent, great coaches… the Irish have it all. I like them as a consistent top 5 team all season long, and while Duke might drop a surprising game or two early on in the year, I expect Notre Dame to start strong and finish strong. They have a large midfield, more depth than ever before, and already look like a serious favorite to put a ring on it in 2015.
Syracuse (Syracuse) – It looks like the overall poll and I agree. Had to happen eventually. Have you been waiting and hoping for Cuse’s return to dazzling offensive highlights, run and gun lacrosse, and a little bit of attitude? I’m not saying the Orange haven’t been a top program recently, they have been, but it hasn’t quite been the Cuse of old, where Final Fours were guaranteed and rings were almost common place. Well, 2015 might be your year. The Cuse attack is going to be insane, their middies are a deep and creative bunch, and the defense is looking pretty stout with great goaltending almost a lock. I could not be more excited to watch Cuse play this year. They have the horses, hopefully they let them run!
Loyola (North Carolina) – I’m a fan of this Loyola team, I’ll say it right now. I don’t think they have the flash of UNC on offense, or the well known players of Johns Hopkins, but they have something going on at Loyola. Their Patriot schedule should be a good challenge, but it should also end up in a lot of wins. Their out of conference games should provide good added tests, and this is a team that will grow quite a bit over the course of the Spring. ND, Cuse, UNC, Hopkins, and Denver all seem ready to roll now, but Loyola looks more like Duke to me, in that they’ll be better later, when it really counts. They could definitely go up and down a bit in the polls this year.
Johns Hopkins (Johns Hopkins) – This Hop team has plenty of talent, and they will be motivated to play their hardest from day one this year. These are not the type of kids to lay down after losing one of their own, and neither is Petro. Hopkins was dangerous before the tragedy hit their team, but I definitely wouldn’t want to play them now. It’s going to be a serious, but likely successful, year at Hop.
North Carolina (Loyola) – UNC has a dangerous scoring punch, and if they get in a shootout with anyone, it’s going to be a long day and high scoring game. I hope it happens a bunch of times. UNC has tried the settle it down approach, and they’ve tried to play control lacrosse. This year, I still want them to play smart ball, but I also want to see them air it out. Force the pace at times, use your legs, and score with reckless abandon. It’s time the Heels gave it a shot.
Cornell (Cornell) – More poll agreement! Weird… Cornell is a solid program, and they’re not alone in the Ivy this year by any means. I have 5 Ivies in my Top 20 this year, and it’s going to be a great year for the league. Cornell is still the top dog for now.
Maryland (Virginia) – Maryland is a real question mark for me. They lack the seeming cohesion of some other top programs right now, and losing two key players from last year on top of what they lost to graduation knocks them down a bit in my book. I actually have to ask if my poll is serious right now, and in retrospect, I think Virginia could be in this spot.
Virginia (Maryland) – I could see 2015 being a very good year for Virginia. When UVA makes a serious run at a title, they typically have two or three really good attackmen (check), a bunch of middies who can shoot and dodge (check), and a tenacious defense coupled with a rock solid goalie. The last one does not get a check as that is the big question mark for UVA right now. There is potential there, and the backline’s development will be the key determining factor for UVA’s success this year.
Albany (Albany) – Clearly, other people believe that Albany has reloaded. Lyle Thompson returning alone was enough to give them the nod, but some key newcomers and transfers will boost Albany back to last year’s level quickly. The question here has to be, can they go any higher? I’d love to see it, but like Denver and other teams, these guys are not on TV all that much.
Harvard (Harvard) – How do you like them apples, the Media Poll and I agree again! This is getting boring. Harvard is a likable team, and they’ve always been a couple of players away from greatness over the last couple of seasons… just a few more impact players and Harvard is competing with anyone. Do they have it in 2015? A lot of people seem to think so.
Penn State (Penn) – I’m not entirely sold on Penn State early, so why did I rank them so high? Because by the end of the year, I think they’ll be a really tough out for anyone, and should pull off some big wins. There are holes to fill for PSU, and this team could drop for me in the early weeks, but I like their chances of climbing back up as the season goes on.
Yale (Bryant) – Yale is a solid program, that will play well in league and against their OOC opponents. For me, this program might not move all that much during the year, and I can see them beating them teams they should, but falling to top 10 level teams. Early games against Maryland and Bryant and a late season tilt with Albany will determine a lot.
Penn (Yale) – Penn is a team that could jump Penn State early as the two play in March, and should be looked at closely. I don’t believe Penn will blow the doors off of a lot of people, but I do think they’re going to win a lot of relatively close games. This is a prepared team, with talent, that will show great patience. Undisciplined teams truly need to worry against this group and it could allow the Quakers to climb in the polls quickly, and early on.
Lehigh (Lehigh) – Lehigh’s goaltending makes them a threat, but I’m curious to see where this team heads in 2015. I don’t think they’ll slip off completely, but I’m also not sold on their top 20 status just yet. I really shouldn’t doubt the Mountain Hawks, as Kevin Cassese has built something good there, but this team doesn’t wow me with depth. Their schedule is softer early, but there is a tough stretch in the middle that will us a lot more.
Bryant (Penn State) – Bryant will be tested early, but this could work to their benefit. Possessions matter a lot early on, and the Bulldogs will thrive in that department. If you’re looking for an early mover/upset potential/early season darling, it could very well be Bryant.
Drexel (Drexel) – Drexel’s season could be made or broken in their first six games. Like Bryant, they have a strong face off edge, and could be an early riser in the polls with a couple big wins. Villanova is a trap game for the Dragons, as is St. John’s.
Hofstra (Hofstra) – Hofstra could conceivably start the season 10-0, and if they’re as good as I think they are, they just might. If they want to stay in the top 20 and move up, they’ll probably need to as well. Right now, Hofstra’s schedule isn’t all that strong, so if this team wants respect, they’ll need to be near perfect. One or two losses before midseason could be seen as a knock. That’s a lot of pressure, but this Hofstra team is going to be especially motivated.
Princeton (Army) – Outside expectations for Princeton aren’t all that high, and they have a ton of top 20 games before March is over. Win 2 or three and Princeton is a lock for a Top 20 spot. Do they have the talent to do so? I would argue yes. They definitely have the coaching. It’s a new year at Princeton and I think they’re really on their way back. Army is a good choice too, and I wouldn’t be surprise to see the Black Knights in the Top 20 at all this year.
The Next Lacrosse Poll
Ok, clearly I need the games to start so I can start disagreeing with people again. All this preseason stuff is fun, but let’s get to the action!
I’m excited to see Duke take on High Point and then Air Force, as both of those programs look solid. Virginia vs Loyola is a great early season test for both teams, and Bryant will have to give it their all against Colgate. Army – UMass should also be good early season match up, it usually is!