MADISON, N.J. – After becoming the first Landmark men's lacrosse team to post an undefeated conference season a year ago, Goucher College is the favorite to repeat as the Landmark Conference Men's Lacrosse Champions according to the Landmark Preseason Men's Lacrosse Poll. The six head men's lacrosse coaches and sports information directors at each institution that sponsor the sport were polled for the preseason ballot.
No sport has produced more parity in the first three Landmark seasons than men's lacrosse and despite a clear consensus for the top two spots the remainder of the poll suggests it will be another highly-competitive season. Goucher was named first on every ballot to finish with 45 points, while The Catholic University of America was no lower than second on any ballot to finish with 37 points and hold down second place. Just three points separated the third, fourth, and fifth-place spots in the voting.
The Gophers went 6-0 in Landmark play last year, then won the Landmark Championship to earn the program's first NCAA Tournament bid. Goucher did have seven seniors on the team last season and lost one All-Conference player, but bring back their top two scorers along with defender Justin Dunn and midfielder Matt Lynch who were both honorable mention All-Americans.
Catholic made major leaps forward last season, finishing at 12-4 overall and going 4-2 in the conference and reaching the Landmark Championship match. Co-Landmark Player of the Year Chris Fuccillo highlights a large group of returning players for the Cardinals which includes three of their top four goal scorers and their starting goalie from last year's team.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy claimed third in the voting, finishing with 25 points, just one ahead of the fourth-place team. The Mariners made their third Landmark postseason appearance last year, finishing 7-8 overall and 3-3 in the conference. Attacker Zach Gray is back after leading the team in goals last year and is one of three of their top four scorers who are back in the fold this year for the Mariners.
Just behind USMMA is The University of Scranton which earned 24 points to place fourth in the poll. The team will be under the direction of new Head Coach Jim Rogalski who takes over after a stint as an assistant at Rutgers, and he inherits a team that has all three of its All-Conference selections back led by defender Steve Bruestle, and has one of the top faceoff men returning in specialist Patrick Cefalu.
Drew University was also part of the close voting as the Rangers earned 22 points, just three behind USMMA to place fifth in the poll. Drew went 4-2 in the Landmark and 8-7 overall last season but must replace a trio of departed All-Conference performers. Among the standouts are specialist Sean McGowan, and goalkeeper Charlie DeSocio who led the Landmark in save percentage last season.
Susquehanna University rounds out the poll, collecting 12 points to hold the sixth position in the balloting. The Crusaders made significant strides last season improving its Landmark record by two games and finishing 8-8 overall last year. Landmark Rookie of the Year Marcus Cheatham is one of 26 returning players for the team last lost only three starters from a year ago.
Four of the six Landmark men's lacrosse teams have already started their 2011 campaigns with the remaining teams getting underway this week. Landmark play will kick off on April 2 when Goucher hosts Susquehanna, Drew travels to Catholic in a Landmark semifinal rematch, and USMMA hosts Scranton.