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Way-too-early 2013 lacrosse top 25: Nos. 21-25

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The 2012 lacrosse season wrapped up just three days ago.

That would make now a pretty good time to look ahead to 2013.

Time to start with the fifth five – or the exact range where Loyola came from at the start of this past season to win a national title.

No. 25 VILLANOVA (8-7 in 2012)

Last seen: Getting embarrassed by Providence in the regular season finale, then throttled on its own field by Syracuse in the Big East tournament. The Wildcats possessed the profile of an at-large NCAA team when they were 8-4 team and were still in credible shape after falling to Notre Dame. But the last two losses meant Villanova wasn’t a consideration on Selection Sunday.

Senior starts lost: 97 of 150 (64.7 percent)

Scoring departing: 122 of 266 points (45.9 percent)

100ish-word lookahead: Villanova didn’t need much time to adapt to its jump from the CAA to the Big East, though the malaise at Georgetown and Syracuse’s down year in 2011 didn’t hurt. With an unusual offense, the Wildcats will remain a pain for the forseeable future. But whether Villanova will be a factor rests on its defense, which yielded double-digit goals in seven of its last 10 games. Two starting defensemen and the primary goalie must be replaced on the Main Line, and it’s more than possible the program’s first losing season since 2008 looms. For now, ‘Nova gets the benefit of the doubt.

No. 24 DREXEL (8-8)

Last seen: Absorbing the last of the many drubbings Massachusetts administered on its way to a perfect regular season. That came three days after the Dragons avoided a losing season with a 13-11 victory at Penn State that might have ultimately cost the Nittany Lions an at-large bid.

Senior starts lost:  67 of 160 (41.9 percent)

Scoring departing: 51 of 237 points (21.5 percent)

100ish-word lookahead: The Dragons were not the most dynamic bunch offensively, though six of their top seven scorers were outside of the senior class (Kyle Bergman’s 20 goals and 15 assists were the exception) and the Dragons did score at least 10 goals in each of their final four games. However, there are losses at the other end of the field, including goalie Mark Manos (a four-year starter) and CAA defensive player of the year Dana Wilber. Drexel is an annual mainstay in the 15-through-25 range; expect something similar in 2013 as the Dragons fill two huge holes on defense.

No. 23 BUCKNELL (9-7)

Last seen: On the wrong end of Colgate attackman Peter Baum bolstering his Tewaaraton hopes with a five-goal, four-assist effort in the Patriot League semifinals. After a season filled with lousy luck, the Bison were handled 14-9 by the Raiders and denied a shot at a second straight NCAA bid.

Senior starts lost: 47 of 160 (29.4 percent)

Scoring departing: 98 of 287 points (34.1 percent)

100ish-word lookahead: From Charlie Streep’s ACL tear in the fall to an 0-3 start that effectively dashed any NCAA at-large hopes before the end to February to suffering their first six losses by a combined seven goals, it just wasn’t Bucknell’s year. Instead, Lehigh and Colgate took turns as the stars of the Patriot League, and Navy collected a couple victories (Colgate and Johns Hopkins) that outshone the Bison’s work. Losing Billy Eisenreich will hurt, but Bucknell should still be a presence in the Patriot next season and perhaps even win a few more of those tight games it lost in 2012.

No. 22 GEORGETOWN (7-6)

Last seen: Beating Rutgers for the gazillionth straight time (actually, only the 15th time in as many meetings) to avoid the program’s first losing season since 1989. Nonetheless, the Hoyas missed the Big East tournament, another sobering development for a school that has not earned an NCAA nod since 2007.

Senior starts lost: 32 of 130 (24.6 percent)

Scoring departing: 41 of 192 points (21.4 percent)

100ish-word lookahead: If the Hoyas are going to snap their postseason drought any time soon, it better be next season. A senior-laden starting attack – Travis Comeau, Brian Casey and Zac Guy – returns intact, as do two starting midfielders and a pair of starting close defensemen. Juniors accounted for 88 starts this spring, a whopping 67.7 percent of the available starts. Opportunities will be there in the Big East – Villanova loses a ton, St. John’s isn’t entirely tested and Syracuse’s offense will remain questionable. Plus, the Hoyas won’t have to deal with an early blowout loss to Maryland with the Terrapins off the schedule.

No. 21 OHIO STATE (8-7)

Last seen: Suffering its third one-goal defeat and sixth while yielding less than 10 goals, this time an 8-7 setback to Fairfield in the ECAC semifinals.

Senior starts lost: 47 of 150 (31.3 percent)

Scoring departing: 24 of 228 points (10.5 percent)

100ish-word lookahead: What an interesting team the Buckeyes could become – if they can establish some offensive players beyond Logan Schuss, an attackman who played a role in 57 of 135 goals last season. Only one of Ohio State’s top 10 goal-scorers departs, so the personnel on offense will mostly be the same. Actually, that goes for the entire roster, where 29 of the 44 players were freshmen and sophomores. Ohio State beat Denver in a stall-ball classic, severely tested Notre Dame and Loyola and held Fairfield to three goals in the regular season finale. This could be a serious sleeper if the offense gets smoothed out.

Patrick Stevens

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