A week after the book was closed on the 2019 season, it’s time to look ahead at what’s to come next spring. Rationally, it’s too early to do so effectively — there are transfers (hello, Chris Gray) still seeking new homes and (unfortunately) injuries still to surface. Nonetheless, it’s an exercise to ponder what’s next in the college game, a good thing since we’re eight months out from the first game of 2020.
Up first: Nos. 25-21.
No. 25 MASSACHUSETTS
2019 record: 15-4 (9-0 A-10)
Last seen: Giving up the last five goals in the Atlantic 10 final to Richmond, including the game-tying goal with four seconds left
Senior starters lost: 54 of 228 (23.7 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 131 of 332 (39.5 percent)
Initial forecast: Three offensive threats depart the Minutewomen, including leading scorer Kiley Anderson (67 goals), but nine of 12 starters will be back including the entire midfield and defense. Two-time Atlantic 10 Midfielder of the Year Stephanie Croke (43g, 25a, 48 DC) and the team leaders in points Kaitlyn Cerasi (47g, 39a) will lead the attack. Provided there’s more consistency in net — Lauren Hiller and Gina Carroll split time in 2018 — the Minutewomen could boast an improved, stout defense to complement a solid offensive core.
No. 24 VIRGINIA TECH
2019 record: 8-10 (1-6 ACC)
Last seen: Getting outscored 9-1 in the second half of a 19-9 loss to UNC in the ACC quarterfinals
Senior starters lost: 43 of 216 (19.9 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 28 of 240 (11.7 percent)
Initial forecast: Virginia Tech battled scoring droughts all season and relied heavily on two players: Paige Petty (66g) and Emma Crooks (42g). The Hokies return 10 starters to the 2020 team, including team leaders in every statistical category except caused turnovers. If Virginia Tech can bolster its offense, it can contend a bit more in the ACC. The quality is there, as evidenced by a win over Denver, but the consistency will be needed for the Hokies to return to the NCAA tournament.
No. 23 DARTMOUTH
2019 record: 11-6 (6-1 Ivy League)
Last seen: Falling 16-13 in the NCAA first round to Colorado, ending the season the way it started: with a pair of losses
Senior starters lost: 86 of 204 (42.2 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 162 of 272 (59.6 percent)
Initial forecast: There’s a lot to be optimistic about in the Dartmouth program after its first NCAA bid since 2014. How Dartmouth replaces the departures of its top three point threats will be crucial to its 2020 success. A trio of Katie Borque (38g), Ellie Carson (29g) and Sophia Turchetta (21g) will be asked to lift the load next year. Nearly all of the starts on defense will be back to aid the Big Green in back-to-back bids to the NCAA tournament.
No. 22 JOHNS HOPKINS
2019 record: 10-8 (2-4 Big Ten)
Last seen: In the NCAA first round, losing to Florida 16-9
Senior starters lost: 81 of 216 (37.5 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 82 of 238 (34.5 percent)
Initial forecast: Johns Hopkins has to replace some key pieces in net (Haley Crosson) and in the midfield (Ellie McNulty), but the Blue Jays return eight starters to next year’s team. Maggie Schneidereith (48g, 29a) and Aurora Cordingley (41g, 22a) will lead an offense that relies on shot efficiency (42.7 percent in 2019). The Big Ten is getting increasingly more competitive as proven by Hopkins’ omission in last year’s tournament. Finding a way to get past Penn State or Michigan will get JHU into the top four.
No. 21 HIGH POINT
2019 record: 15-5 (6-0 Big South)
Last seen: Having its 12-game win streak snapped by Navy in the NCAA first round
Senior starters lost: 70 of 240 (29.2 percent)
Senior scoring departing: 86 of 321 (26.8 percent)
Initial forecast: Any time you return a 100-point scorer like High Point does in Abby Hormes (66g, 37a), it makes you a team to be watched. A supporting cast of Rachel Foster (39g, 14a), Ashley Britton (39g, 9a) and goalkeeper Sarah Zeto (44.8 save percentage) provides additional depth to a team that sometimes flies under the radar. The Panthers have proven themselves over the years with wins over the likes of Duke, Notre Dame, Towson and Johns Hopkins, so being in the top 25 is not a leap of faith, it’s earned. As the case has been the past couple of years, High Point is the class in its conference and what it can accomplish in non-conference play will prove what the team is capable of.
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