FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Two-time defending national champion Salisbury was a unanimous choice atop the 2018 Capital Athletic Conference Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll, receiving eight first-place votes and 64 points in a vote among the conference head coaches.
York ranked second in the poll with 57 points and received the other first-place vote, followed by Christopher Newport (47), Frostburg State (43) and Mary Washington (39) in third through fifth, respectively. Southern Virginia rounded out the projected playoff teams in sixth place with 28 points.
St. Mary's received 22 points to finish seventh in the poll, followed by Marymount (16) and Wesley (8).
The 2018 season kicked off this past Sunday as Salisbury defeated Hampden-Sydney in non-conference action. The majority of CAC teams open up the year in mid-February, with CAC play set to hit full swing in late March.
The CAC Tournament will once again feature six teams this spring, beginning with the first round on Saturday, Apr. 28 and culminating with the championship game on Saturday, May 5.
2018 CAC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2018 campaign:
Coming off of an 11-6 season, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT is beginning its third year under the guidance of head coach Mikey Thompson. Entering 2018, the Captains feature a youthful look with 17 freshmen and 24 players in either their first of second year of collegiate lacrosse. Headlining the veteran contingent, CNU welcomes back All-Region faceoff specialist Tony Cruz and record-setting standout Matthew Crist, who already owns the program's career record for assists.
Two All-CAC honorees, three key defensive starters and four of its top scorers from a year ago return to highlight head coach Tommy Pearce's FROSTBURG STATE roster this spring. Senior Adam Gross, a two-time All-CAC honoree, paced Frostburg with 42 points last spring, while senior Bradley Jones started all 16 games on defense and was a Second Team All-CAC selection. Senior Keegan Colegrove was second on the roster with 40 points, while sophomore keeper Jack Marks notched 152 saves and started all 16 games during his first season.
MARY WASHINGTON is looking to build off of last year's 9-8 season with head coach Drew Delaney at the helm for his second year. The Eagles lost five starters to graduation who accounted for 55% of the goals, but they will look to All-CAC midfielder Owen Dingman, Shane Mckenzie, and Connor Healy to fill the void they left. Eli Ayer is back at face-off and will look to lead the CAC in ground balls for the second straight year. All-CAC performer Robert Tata, Mike Colgan, Kaleb Hunter, and Davis King return for UMW on the defensive end. The Eagles welcome 14 newcomers, most notably Brandon Williams.
ST. MARY'S will look to bounce back after a rocky 2017 campaign. The Seahawks will be captained by seniors David Fritz, Conner Campbell, and junior Steve Jones. Seniors Dan Long and Connor Quinn will look to lead the offense while junior Benjamin Stevens will be the lone returner on defense. Ross Snodderly will look to help bolster the defense by stepping in between the pipes this year. The Seahawks will face three opponents in 2018 that are ranked in the pre-season top-20.
SALISBURY will aim to capture its 13th national championship and 21st CAC championship in 2018. It would be the second time in program history that the Sea Gulls have achieved a three-peat, with the other occuring in 2003-2005. Seven returners are back for the maroon and gold, led by defenders Kyle Tucker and Will Nowesnick. Nowesnick, Tucker, and Troy Miller return as All-CAC performers and USILA All-Americans. Tucker was also named the USILA William C. Stiles Memorial Outstanding Defensive Player last spring.
After improving both its overall and conference records each year since joining the CAC, SOUTHERN VIRGNIA enters the 2018 campaign looking to continue the trend and secure a third straight CAC Playoff appearance. The Knights will rely on a good mix of experience and fresh faces this year. Among the returners includes 2017 Rookie of the Year Shawn Lamb (47 goals) and fellow attacker Anthony Good (24 goals). Junior Brady Cook also returns to head the midfield, while the back line will be held down by senior Colin Maxfield.
WESLEY will look to improve on a four-win campaign a season ago. The offense will be led by junior midfielder Josh Wassum. Wassum led the team in scoring in 2017, totaling 38 points with 29 goals and nine assists. Senior attacker Joe Fingles, junior midfielder Zach Farnell and sophomore attacker Leo Kelly also return for the Wolverines. Fingles recorded 14 goals and 12 assists while Farnell and Kelly each registered double-digit goal totals in 2017. The defense will be paced by junior long-stick midfielder Alex Collins and sophomore goalkeeper James Cella. Cella led the CAC in saves (238) while Collins finished 11th in the CAC in caused turnovers (19) last season.
YORK enters 2018 ranked No. 5 in the USILA/Nike Preseason Coaches' Poll following a 17-4 season, while going 7-1 in Capital Athletic Conference play. In the postseason, the Spartans reached the CAC championship game before earning a victory in the NCAA Tournament and a third-round appearance. Seven of the team's starters from a season ago are back in the Green and White, including goalkeeper Landry Marshall, top scorer Brendan McGrath and two-time All-American defender Joey Fiorino. In addition to McGrath, key scorers Thomas Pfeiffer, Hunter Davis, Matt Whitcher and Dillon Hannah are back in the fold. With championships, and an NCAA Tournament run in mind, five teams ranked in the Preseason Coaches' Poll are waiting on the Spartans' schedule.