Way-Early 2020 Rankings: No. 5-1 (Division II Women)

In some respects, the 2019 NCAA Division II women’s lacrosse season ended the same way that other recent campaigns have ended, with perennial power Adelphi hoisting the championship trophy.

Unlike other seasons, however, Adelphi did not take its usual path in claiming its ninth national title and fourth in the past six years.

The Panthers were never the frontrunner and never held the top spot in national rankings. They exited early from their own conference tournament and entered the NCAA tournament as the East Region’s No. 3 seed, their lowest ever.

In truth, Adelphi spent much of the year flying below most people’s radars.

We use certain analytics — like key players returning and lost, recent history and trends to shape our way-early rankings. Sometimes we are right, and sometimes we miss the mark.

It’s for that very reason that this exercise, where we identify the top 10 contenders for supremacy a full eight months before the start of next season, is so unpredictable.

To our credit, we did tab Adelphi at No. 1 a year ago and peg national runner-up West Chester at No. 3 (humble brag).

But we also underestimated the rise of NCAA semifinalist Regis, placing it ninth, overestimated the emergence of Florida Tech, placing it fourth, and completely missed on another final four contender, Queens, omitting it altogether from the preseason top 20.

So with the understanding that this exercise is simply just that, an exercise, here’s a look at the top contenders in 2020.

Way-Early 2020 Rankings

Division I Men
No. 25-No. 21
No. 20-No. 16
No. 15-No. 11
No. 10-No. 6
No. 5-No. 1
Division I Women
No. 25-No. 21
No. 20-No. 16
No. 15-No. 11
No. 10-No. 6
No. 5-No. 1
Division III Men
No. 10-No. 6
No. 5-No. 1
Division III Women
No. 10-No. 6
No. 5-No. 1
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Category: 
College
Author: 
Paul Ohanian
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5. Regis 

The Rangers have won 54 games over the past three seasons and are the only team to earn back-to-back final four berths in 2018 and 2019. Seven seniors are gone, including All-American Sarah Myres, who scored 107 and 129 points in the past two seasons, respectively. The good news is that four first-team all-region players return, led by 48-goal scorer Ali Vanek and a trio of rising juniors in Kyleigh Peoples (75 points), defender Sarah Kate Dhom and All-American goalie Elle Crawford.

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We use certain analytics — like key players returning and lost, recent history and trends to shape our way-early rankings. Sometimes we are right, and sometimes we miss the mark.
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4. Queens (N.C.)

The Royals enjoyed a historic 2019 season, advancing to the NCAA semifinals for the first time while riding a program-record 16-game winning streak. Queens loses offensive standout Hanna Scott and defender Cammy Case among its eight seniors, but will look to returning All-Americans Ally Blood (97 points) and goalie Chase Brokaw (8.63 GAA) to help sustain the momentum next season.

3. West Chester

The Golden Rams tied a school record for wins in a season, captured their 22nd league championship and earned the program’s 10th appearance in the national championship game. WCU losses eight seniors, including top scorers Sami Barnett and Maggie Stella, but returns a pair of other All-Americans in 71-point scorer Tatum Altman and defensive anchor Molly Reinhart. The Rams are the PSAC favorite once again.
 

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2. Le Moyne

The Dolphins were dominant for much of the 2019 season, owning the top spot in the Nike/US Lacrosse Top 20 for almost the entire year and extending their school-record winning streak to 26 games before losing to Merrimack in the Northeast 10 championship game. A 12-11 overtime loss to Adelphi brought the season to a close in the NCAA tournament’s East Region final. The biggest graduation loss is All-American Bryanna Fazio, the catalyst in Le Moyne’s 2018 championship run who concluded her career as the program’s leader in points (316), goals (223) and draw controls (475).

1. Adelphi

The Panthers lose six seniors, including All-American defender Nicki Stanco and starting attacker Lena Riportella, who registered 121 points over the past two seasons. But the defending champions have plenty of returning talent, led by a pair of All-Americans in rising seniors Alison Johnson and Kole Pollock. Johnson led the Panthers with 103 points, including 71 assists, while Pollock, the IWLCA National Player of the Year, tallied a team-high 81 goals and was recognized as the NCAA tournament’s most outstanding player.

Short Summary: 
It's Regis, Queens (N.C.), West Chester, Le Moyne and No. 1 Adelphi to finish the countdown.
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Photographer Main Image: 
PHOTO BY RICHARD PALAIKIS II
Photographer Parallax: 
PHOTO BY RICHARD PALAIKIS II
Photo Main Caption: 
IWLCA National Player of the Year and NCAA championship MVP Kole Pollock returns for top-ranked Adelphi in 2020.
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All-American Tatum Altman (71 points) is one of the reasons West Chester will be the PSAC favorite once again.

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