Jan. 29, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Loyola University Maryland will enter its first season in Patriot League men's lacrosse as the favorite after the Greyhounds were picked for the top spot in the sport's preseason poll announced on Wednesday's media teleconference.
The Greyhounds picked up 123 points and 13 first-place votes to finish ahead of the participants in last year's Patriot League title game, Bucknell and Lehigh. The runner-up Bison had three first-place votes and 109 points to edge the two-time defending champion Mountain Hawks with two first-place votes and 108 points. The rest of the poll order featured Army (86), Colgate (73), Navy (56), Holy Cross (42), Lafayette (35) and Boston University (16).
Individual honors were also handed out as Army junior attacker John Glesener was named Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Loyola senior defender Joe Fletcher took home the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award. Both players highlighted the Preseason All-Patriot League Team which also included Bucknell junior David Dickson and Loyola senior Justin Ward at attack, Bucknell sophomore Thomas Flibotte, Holy Cross junior Terry McKenna and Colgate senior Jimmy Ryan in the midfield, Bucknell senior Jackson Place and Lehigh senior Ty Souders joining Fletcher on defense, Army sophomore Alex Daly as the face-off specialist, Navy senior Pat Kiernan as the defensive midfield specialist and Lehigh junior Matt Poillon at goalkeeper.
Seven of the preseason All-League selections were named preseason All-Americans by Inside Lacrosse in December. Fletcher made the first team, Glesener, Ward and Souders were on the second team and Kiernan, Place and Poillon earned a spot on the third team. Dickson received honorable mention preseason All-America status.
Seven of the preseason selections also earned first-team All-Patriot League status last year, with Glesener named the Offensive Player of the Year. Two others were second-team selections, while Fletcher was named the Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team selection in the ECAC with Ward earning second-team honors from the Greyhounds' former conference.
Voting for the preseason poll and individual awards was conducted by Patriot League men's lacrosse head coaches and sports information directors, who could not vote for their own teams or student-athletes.
Loyola enters its Patriot League era with a target on its back, but has veteran leadership with three senior captains who are all wrapping up accomplished careers for the Greyhounds. Fletcher is the lone college player participating on the United States National Team training roster, and was a first-team USILA All-American last season. He was also recently selected No. 3 overall in the Major League Lacrosse Draft. Ward earned honorable mention All-America status last season as he finished with 27 goals and 35 assists, while defensive midfield specialist Pat Laconi earned honorable mention as a preseason All-American from Inside Lacrosse. Jack Runkel is another returning senior as the goalkeeper had an 11-5 record and 8.75 goals against average last year. The Greyhounds were picked 19th in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook.
Despite being picked second in the preseason poll, the Bison were ahead of Loyola in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook at No. 15. Bucknell backed up that ranking by placing a League-high three players on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team in Dickson, Flibotte and Place. Dickson led the Patriot League with 48 assists and finished second with 56 points while Flibotte had 29 goals in his freshman season as both earned first-team All-Patriot League honors last year. Place earned second-team All-League status last year while scooping up 43 ground balls. Bucknell has all but one player who scored more than 10 points last season back in the lineup in 2014, as Sean Doyle and Todd Heritage return on attack while Brock Ghelfi and Peter Burke are back in the midfield.
Lehigh has some holes to fill to three-peat as Patriot League champion after losing four All-League selections to graduation. The cupboard is far from bare, however, especially with Poillon back in goal after a dominant season where he led the League with a .596 save percentage and was named Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year. Souders (35 ground balls) and Patrick Corbett (23 goals) were second-team All-Patriot League picks last year, while the Mountain Hawks also return second-leading scorer Dan Taylor (29 G, 21 A) and a handful of key defensive players to the lineup.
Army had the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year in the Patriot League last season, and will bring one of those student-athletes back in 2014. While Brendan Buckley graduated after a distinguished career on defense, Glesener is back to provide scoring punch after notching 31 goals and 30 assists last season. He led the League in points per game at 4.36. Daly was one of Army's four first-team All-League selections last season after winning 99-of-140 face-offs, while defensive midfield specialist Jimbo D'Aprile (21 ground balls) and goalkeeper Sam Somers (7.18 GAA, .587 SV PCT) enter their junior campaigns after earning second-team All-Patriot League honors last year.
Colgate suffers perhaps the biggest loss as 2012 Tewaaraton Award winner Peter Baum has departed, but the Raiders still have a pair of returnees who earned first-team All-Patriot League status last year in Ryan (15 G, 8 A) and junior defender Bobby Lawrence (62 ground balls), who was named a third-team preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse. Ryan Walsh earned second-team All-Patriot League honors on attack last season while scoring 37 goals and notching 11 assists for the year, and enters 2014 with honorable mention for the preseason All-America Team.
Navy's quest to get back to the Patriot League Tournament will be led by Kiernan, who was a first-team All-Patriot League pick last year while racking up 68 ground balls to finish third in the League with 5.23 per game. The Mids also bring back their top three scorers from last season, with senior Sam Jones returning after leading the team in both goals (21) and assists (12) in 2013.
McKenna is the lone preseason All-League selection that did not make the postseason squad last year, but he got the attention of the voters by finishing with 24 goals and 28 ground balls for the Crusaders. Clay Haarmann is the top returning scorer for Holy Cross after racking up 27 goals and eight assists a year ago.
Lafayette boasts a pair of solid juniors on attack in Sonny Round (27 G, 13 A) and Brian Bock (24 G, 15 A), who finished as the top two scorers on the team last season. Morgan Westby and John Floyd are key midfielders back for Lafayette, while Matt Evans returns to the defense.
Boston University is the unknown quantity in Patriot League men's lacrosse in 2014 as the Terriers compete in their inaugural collegiate season. The Terriers have an eye on the future with a roster composed primarily of freshmen.
Lehigh is the first Patriot League team to step on the field in 2014 as the Mountain Hawks visit Furman on Saturday, while six more squads open up the following weekend. Patriot League play, which now features an eight-game schedule for all teams, gets started on Feb. 22. The Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Tournament features six teams, with quarterfinal games at home sites on April 22 followed by the semifinals and League championship at the site of the No. 1 seed on April 25 and 27.
2014 Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
1. Loyola, 123 points (13 first-place votes)
2. Bucknell, 109 (3)
3. Lehigh, 108 (2)
4. Army, 86
5. Colgate, 73
6. Navy, 56
7. Holy Cross, 42
8. Lafayette, 35
9. Boston University, 16
Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Preseason Offensive Player of the Year:
John Glesener, Army (Jr., A)
Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Preseason Defensive Player of the Year:
Joe Fletcher, Loyola (Sr., D)
Men's Lacrosse Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Attack: David Dickson, Bucknell (Jr.)
Attack: John Glesener, Army (Jr.)
Attack: Justin Ward, Loyola (Sr.)
Midfield: Thomas Flibotte, Bucknell (So.)
Midfield: Terry McKenna, Holy Cross (Jr.)
Midfield: Jimmy Ryan, Colgate (Sr.)
Defense: Joe Fletcher, Loyola (Sr.)
Defense: Jackson Place, Bucknell (Sr.)
Defense: Ty Souders, Lehigh (Sr.)
Face-Off Specialist: Alex Daly, Army (So.)
Defensive Midfield Specialist: Pat Kiernan, Navy (Sr.)
Goalkeeper: Matt Poillon, Lehigh (Jr.)