Just Kidding, it's never too early to talk College Lax
Duke has to be the undisputed number 1 team coming into the 2021 season. They absolutely crushed Covid lacrosse free agency after the season was cancelled and the NCAA granted athletes an extra year of eligibility. First off, Duke returned a vast majority of their seniors that were going to graduate. Notable players would be 4 year attackman Joey Manown and defensemen JT-Giles Harris. When it came to the transfers, Duke scored the best attackman in the country, Micheal Sowers, from Princeton, arguably the best Goalie in the country, Mike Adler from St. Joes, and plenty of other talented transfers. Lastly, Duke added the most highly anticipated recruit in the nation, Brennan O’Neil, to the team padding an already impressive roster. I think it's safe to say that Duke is well deserved of the preseason number 1 ranking.
Before Duke’s success in the Covid offseason, I would have put Syracuse to be the preseason number 1. Syracuse is coming back to campus loaded with talent. They also have plentiful 5th year seniors coming back to use their extra year of eligibility. Notably All-American goalie Drake Porter, and two powerful All-American midfielders Jamie Trimboli and Stephen Rehfuss. Let's not forget that Syracuse still has their notable transfer Chase Scanlan on attack as well. On defense, Nick Mellen is going to be returning to play his final year of college lacrosse. There is no doubt that 'Cuse is going to be dominating on both sides of the ball with multiple All-Americans returning this year and should vie for the number one spot with Duke.
3. University of North Carolina
The most notable stat about UNC from the shortened 2020 season is that they were 7-0. Maybe that 7-0 was not the toughest slate of games, but there is no doubt the offense was moving last year. Not to mention that they have their whole offense returning next year. The addition of Chris Gray was amazing for the Tar Heels. Anyone that watched UNC last year knew their offense was not to be messed with. Also, UNC’s goalie will almost certainly be a four year starter and potential all American. If UNC lives up to their expectation there is no doubt that they will remain the Top 5 and give Tobacco Road foe, Duke, a run for their money.
The Ivy League has really stepped up their game when compared to the rest of the country. That definitely includes Cornell who is historically one of the top teams in the Ivy League every year. It is especially great for the Big Red that the quarterback of their offense is returning, Jeff Teat. Teat is a future professional lacrosse standout that most certainly would have been drafted high if not for opting to return to Cornell. Cornell also brings back some key offensive players to their roster. This team took down one of the most talented teams in the nation, Penn State, in the shortened 2020 season. Cornell’s junior goalie, Chase Lerland, should have a big year after being streaky in his first two years as a starter. I expect Big things from the Big Red this year.
It's hard to make a top 5 without mentioning Maryland. Maryland always has tools in their back pocket. They are one of those teams that never really has to rebuild and can always reload. But it always depends how well they can reload. Recently they have be restocking their talent annually, being in 3 out of the last 5 national championships. It is going to be interesting to see what John Tilman has up his sleeve this year. Maryland is loaded on offense with DiMaio, Fairman, Maltz, and Wisnauskas all returning. Where Maryland struggles is with their defense, and hopefully they can come out strong and a little more mature than last year. Also, Maryland was having goalie issues last year which is unusual for them considering having multiple first team All-Americans in the past. If Maryland can fix the problems with their defense they will be strong favorites to return to the national championship once again.