MADISON, N.J. - The United States Merchant Marine Academy men's lacrosse team has been picked as the favorite in the first season of competition in the Landmark Conference as selected in the Landmark Preseason Men's Lacrosse Poll. The head men's lacrosse coaches and sports information directors at each institution that sponsors the sport were polled for the preseason ballot.
USMMA was a unanimous choice for the top spot as the Mariners collected 48 points in the voting. A pair of teams tied for second-place honors in the poll with Drew University and Goucher College each collecting 33 points in the seven-team poll.
USMMA is coming off an historic season as the team earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in 2007 and established a program record with 13 wins. While the squad will need to replace an honorable mention All-American, there are a pair of returning All-Conference players on the roster to help fill the void.
Drew ties for the second spot in the poll after earning spots in conference, and ECAC postseason play a season ago. The Rangers were 8-8 last season and knocked in 166 goals. All-Conference players Sean McNulty and Mike DiGiovanni both return for Drew this season.
Goucher matched Drew with 33 points in the voting to claim the tie for second place. Following a 9-8 season in 2007, the Gophers lost their lone All-Conference pick but have four of their top seven goal scorers returning. The team has only finished below .500 once in seven seasons under Coach Kyle Hannan.
The University of Scranton picked up 28 points in the voting to secure the fourth spot in the preseason projections. Head Coach Kevin Dugan led the Royals to a 7-9 record and a spot in the conference postseason in his first year at the helm. The leading point producer from last season returns in 2008 for the Royals.
With 24 points, just four behind Scranton, The Catholic University of America is fifth in the poll. Mike Groh and Danny McNamara both return for Catholic after the pair combined for 31 goals and seven assists last season as the Cardinals posted a 5-10 record. Only five seniors graduated from the 2007 team.
Susquehanna University holds the sixth spot in the voting with 15 points. The Crusaders will try and rebound from a tough 3-11 campaign. However, the Crusaders graduated just one player from last year's squad and among the returnees is a goalie who set a school record for saves in his freshman campaign.
The Greyhounds of Moravian College come in eighth in the poll after collecting eight points. The team went 3-11 last season, though six of those losses were by three goals or fewer. Moravian has three players back in the mix who posted double-digit point totals last season, as well as its starting goalkeeper.
Preseason favorite USMMA gets the season underway on Feb. 20 when the Mariners host Mount Saint Vincent for a non-conference contest. Landmark Conference play kicks off on March 15 when Susquehanna plays host to Scranton.