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

For the second time in four years and the seventh time overall, the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse season ended with Middlebury celebrating a national championship. The Panthers stumbled just once in 2019, losing their season opener 11-10 in overtime against Bates, but then showed the grit of a champion. 

Middlebury answered that early setback with 22 straight wins, capped with a 14-9 victory over Salisbury in the NCAA championship game. The Panthers finished the year with 16 wins over ranked opponents, including two wins over Salisbury.

Can Middlebury make another title run in 2020? Will Salisbury return to the championship game? Is there a new contender on the horizon?

Here’s our best guess as we try to identify the top 10 teams 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
Tag: 
Category: 
College
Author: 
Paul Ohanian
Body Section One: 

5. York

The Spartans claimed their first Capital Athletic Conference championship in 2019, snapping a run of 16 straight league titles for Salisbury, and finished one game shy of claiming their first national semifinal berth. York returns six of its top seven scorers, including a trio of All-Americans in attacker Meghan Fox (93 points), and midfielders Regan Cook and Devin Hursey, as it tries to secure back-to-back league titles before leaving the CAC after the 2020 season.
 

Quote: 
Can Middlebury make another title run in 2020? Will Salisbury return to the championship game? Is there a new contender on the horizon? Here’s our best guess as we try to identify the top 10 teams in 2020.
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4. Washington and Lee

Coming off a season in which they claimed their 10th straight league title, the Generals must replace ODAC Player of the Year and first team All-American Haley Tucker, who recorded 86 points and finished as the school’s career leader with 251 draw controls. All-American Caitlin Anderson returns to anchor the defense, while Katherine Faria, who tallied 47 points as a freshman, and Landon Shelley will pace the offense.

3. Salisbury

The Sea Gulls are proof that you don’t need a lineup full of All-Americans to succeed. Salisbury finished as the national runner-up while placing nobody on the 16-player All-American first team, and having only one member each on the All-American second and third teams. They must replace seven senior starters, including the entire attack unit that accounted for 112 goals. Third-team All-American Alexis Strobel, second in the nation with 73 assists, is among the returnees.

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2. Gettysburg

The Bullets fell short in their quest for a third straight NCAA title, but enjoyed a strong run that included another Centennial championship before falling in the national quarterfinals to upstart Wesleyan. A trio of returning All-Americans in midfielder of the year Courtney Patterson and attackers Liza Barr (127 points) and Kerry McKeever (90 points) should help the Bullets reload for another title run in 2020.

1. Middlebury

The Panthers lose first-team All-American attacker Emma McDonagh, who had five points in the championship game and was recognized as the NCAA tournament’s most outstanding player, along with four other senior starters. But the cupboard is still pretty well stocked. A pair of returning first-team All-Americans, midfielder Erin Nicholas and defender Addy Mitchell, will lead the way, with second-team All-American Jane Earley, who tallied four goals in the NCAA final, also returning. Earley (51g) is one of five returning 20-goal scorers.
 

Short Summary: 
Reigning champ Middlebury loses one All-American, but returns three others in for its title defense.
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Photographer Main Image: 
PHOTO BY KEITH LUCAS
Photographer Parallax: 
PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER
Photo Main Caption: 
Jane Earley, who scored four goals in Middlebury's NCAA championship-clinching win over Salisbury, is among three All-Americans returning for the Panthers in 2020.
Photo Parallax Caption: 
Regan Cook is one of three All-Americans returning for York, which won its first CAC title and is leaving the conference after next year.

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