NCAA lacrosse 2011: Previewing Georgetown, Maryland, Navy, Virginia

February 27, 2011

GEORGETOWN Coach: Dave Urick, 22nd season.

2010 Record: 9-5, missed NCAA tournament.

Top players: A Travis Comeau, Soph. (25 goals last year); LSM Barney Ehrmann, Sr.; A Rickey Mirabito, Sr. (24 goals).

Top newcomer: MF Matt Sutherland, Sr. (transfer from Cornell).

Outlook: Sophomore attackman Zac Guy will quarterback the offense, after the Hoyas’ midfield did so for most of the past three years. Guy is quick and would seem the perfect foil for Comeau’s and Mirabito’s off-ball cuts. There’s depth, too. Sophomore A Davey Emala scored three goals in a scrimmage win over Virginia last Saturday. Senior MF Max Seligmann is a remarkable athlete and can shoot righty and lefty. The pressure defense is a constant; but goalies Jack Davis and CT Fisher have yet to prove they are elite.

What’s missing: Intangibles. Talent has never been an issue with the Hoyas, but now their players are working to improve their chemistry and conditioning. Expect a more focused and hungry effort this year to harken back to Urick’s early blue-collar teams.

MARYLAND

Coach: John Tillman, first season

2010 record: 12-4, lost in NCAA quarterfinals.

Top players: A Grant Catalino, Sr. (34 goals, 20 assists); A Ryan Young, Sr. (18 goals, 30 assists); MF Jake Bernhardt, Jr. (11 goals, 3 assists).

Top newcomer: MF Dan Noskin, Fr.

Outlook: The Terrapins are a popular pick to reach the national championship game on Memorial Day; a title would be Maryland’s first since 1975. Senior A Travis Reed (21 goals) has every shot imaginable in his arsenal but lacks foot speed. Catalino has velocity on his shot and good vision but struggled against physical defensemen. Young may make the unit go. He is extremely fast and is a good leader. All three starting defensemen are back in front of redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato.

What’s missing: A faceoff specialist. The senior-heavy Terrapins have a tangible sense of urgency. What they don’t have, yet, is someone to get the ball consistently to the talented attack. Noskin may be that player.

NAVY

Coach: Richie Meade, 16th season

2010 record: 7-8, missed NCAA tournament

Top players: G R.J. Wickham, Jr. (59.3 save percentage); D Matt Vernam, Jr. (three-year starter); MF Andy Warner, Sr. (22 goals, 15 assists).

Top newcomers: A Tucker Hull, Fr.; A Sam Jones, Fr.

Outlook: Jones scored four goals cq was changed from five after film review and Hull added two goals and three assists in a 14-8 win over VMI in the opener last Saturday. Four freshmen are in the five-man attack rotation; their passing and off-ball movement are far sharper than previous Navy offenses. Overall, though, it is an old-school Navy team, full of hard workers but not much size nor athleticism. The defense was more aggressive in its one-on-one matchups against VMI. It remains to be see whether the mind-set is permanent or opponent-specific.

What’s missing: An outside shooter. The Midshipmen don’t have many candidates to beat goalies from 15 yards. Unless or until someone is identified, defenses may sag and take away the inside quick passing and cutting from the young attackmen.

VIRGINIA

Coach: Dom Starsia, 19th season.

2010 record:16-2, lost in national semifinals to Duke.

Top players: A Chris Bocklet, Jr. (53 goals); MF Shamel Bratton, Sr. (24 goals, 17 assists); D Matt Lovejoy, Jr. (32 groundballs).

Top newcomers: MF Rob Emery, Fr.; D Scott McWilliams, Fr.

Outlook: Both Virginia midfield lines have athleticism and size; the attack has accurate shooters and passers, led by Bocklet and junior Steele Stanwick (29 goals, 32 assists). The defense is another matter. There is talent among the starters but there is little to no recognized depth; junior Chris Clements has moved from midfield and may be the first reserve defenseman. Meantime, the starting defensemen include a freshman and sophomore.

What’s missing: Defensemen. Lovejoy and senior longstick midfielder Bray Malphrus are two of the best in the game. Goalie Adam Ghitelman (54 percent save percentage) has been brilliant at times and average at others; he needs all the help the defense can give him.

NATIONAL OUTLOOK

Duke won the national title last year but lost eight starters, including expected starting goalie Sean Brady, who was dismissed from the team this month. . . . Notre Dame and Syracuse have the top defenses. Syracuse, like Maryland and Virginia, also has a talented senior class. The Orange has three first-team all-Americans back, all seniors: G John Galloway, D John Lade and LSM Joel White. . . . The Fighting Irish have two defensemen capable of guarding a No. 1 attackman — seniors Kevin Ridgway and Sam Barnes. . . . Johns Hopkins started five sophomores and two freshmen in an 8-7 loss to Cornell in a scrimmage last Saturday. The pick of the group is sophomore MF John Greeley. . . . North Carolina has arguably the best player, senior A Billy Bitter (22 goals, 22 assists). But eight midfielders from last year who were expected back are gone, either through injury or transfer.

— Christian Swezey

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