2013 record: 6-9 overall, 3-3 Big East; lost in conference semifinals.
Coach: Kevin Warne, second season (6-9 career record).
Top players (2013 stats): LSM Tyler Knarr, Sr. (112 groundballs, 62.2 percent faceoffs); MF Charles McCormick, Jr. (19 goals, 8 assists); A Reilly O’Connor, Sr. (26 goals, 30 assists).
Data: O’Connor is an accurate shooter and passer and almost always makes the right decisions with the ball. Freshman A Peter Conley is cut from the same mold and might be a little more physical. The defense has talent but isn’t particularly deep and the Hoyas begin the season with three goalies, two of whom are walk-ons. Knarr’s work on faceoffs will help control possession. Keep an eye on freshman Devon Lewis, a good dodger.
Home game to watch: March 29 vs Denver, 11 a.m. Pioneers boast a motion offense that features junior A Wesley Berg (56 goals), one of the best shooters in the game.
2013 record: 10-4 overall, 2-1 ACC; lost in NCAA tournament first round.
Coach: John Tillman, fourth season (35-15 at Maryland).
Top players: G Niko Amato, Sr. (.594 save percentage); A Jay Carlson, Jr. (20 goals); MF Mike Chanenchuk, Sr. (23 goals, 13 assists).
Data: The defense blends speed, size and strength with effective schemes. Behind the defense is Amato, a four-year starter with a flair for the dramatic save. The coaches have dropped hints that the offense may play more up-tempo but a conservative approach would be understandable given the strong defense at the other end. Four freshmen will play on offense; by the end of the season, they may be playing a lot. Terrapins kept a low profile in the offseason and always seem to be more dangerous when playing as underdogs.
Home game to watch: March 1 vs. Duke, noon. The Blue Devils’ strong attack faces Maryland’s close defense.
2013 record: 3-10 overall, 1-5 Patriot League.
Coach: Rick Sowell, third season (9-16 at Navy).
Top players: A Tucker Hull, Sr. (13 goals, 8 assists); A Sam Jones, Sr. (21 goals, 12 assists); LSM Pat Kiernan, Sr. (26 caused turnovers, 68 groundballs).
Data: Jones and Hull are four-year starters and are complemented on offense by sophomores T.J. Hanzsche (10 goals) and Patrick Keena. Hanzsche has good speed and vision and will get the offense started. The midfield is solid but not spectacular. Freshmen Chris Fennell and Matt Rees will start on defense in the opener on Saturday against VMI; prior to last year, a freshman hadn’t started the opener on defense since 2000. Kiernan is one of the best in the nation at causing groundballs and in transition.
Home game to watch: April 5 vs. Loyola, noon. Senior D Joe Fletcher is the only current college player to make the U.S. national team.
2013 record: 7-8, 1-2 ACC; lost in conference title game.
Coach: Dom Starsia, 22nd season (247-84 at Virginia).
Top players: A Mark Cockerton, Sr. (49 goals); MF Rob Emery, Sr. (22 goals); D Scott McWilliams, Sr. (36 caused turnovers).
Data: The Cavaliers opened with a 14-13 overtime victory over Loyola on Thursday. The three top outside shooters — Cockerton, Emery and junior MF Ryan Tucker (15 goals) — need to improve their shooting percentage. Help may come from sophomore A James Pannell, who has the speed to get defenses moving and create space. McWilliams and sophomore D Tanner Scales have a rare combination of size, speed and strength on defense. Freshman G Matt Barrett started against Loyola; of the seven freshmen goalies to start the opener in program hstory, five won a national title before they were done.
Home game to watch: March 22 vs Johns Hopkins, 4:30 p.m. The Blue Jays have a strong defense but the offense appears to lack speed at crucial positions.
— Christian Swezey