1. Virginia

Last year’s national championship was almost an afterthought for the Cavaliers, who won all 17 of their games last season by an average of eight goals. Every opponent will give Virginia its best shot this season, looking to be the first to upset the near-perfect team, but almost no one’s best will be good enough to get past these rugged Cavaliers.

2. Johns Hopkins

Last season the Blue Jays were, on paper, the consensus No.2 team in the country behind Virginia. In practice, they failed to live up to expectations and ended their season on a disappointing loss in the NCAA quarterfinals. This year, the Blue Jays are, on paper, the consensus No.2 team behind Virginia .

3. Syracuse

Last season was supposed to be a `down’ year for the Orange after losing then-junior midfielder Greg Rommel to an injury early in the year. Rommel sat out the season with a medical redshirt and is back to provide senior leadership to the nation’s top class of sophomores. Rommel and his teammates should be ready to make it back to the national finals after falling in last year’s semis.

4. Georgetown

If recruiting were its own sport, Georgetown would take the title. The contributions of the nation’s best freshman class may be what define this Hoya team, which despite no shortage of talent has consistently come up short on the sport’s biggest stage. Will youth be served for the Hoyas?

5. Princeton

Princeton has dominated the Ivy League in recent history and has a good chance to continue, with eight starters returning. Last year’s 11-4 record is misleading – the Tigers lost their four games by a combined eight goals.

6. Duke

Everyone knows what happened last year. This season, Duke will be playing for something more than just the championship. The Blue Devils have as much talent as any team on the list, but after the resignation of Head Coach Mike Pressler, it remains to be seen if the players can come together. All that is certain is that all eyes will be on Durham, N.C. come Duke’s opening game on Feb. 24.

7. Maryland

The Terrapin, distinctive because of its boxy protective shell, is not only a good mascot, but also a good metaphor for this year’s Maryland defense. The Terrapins are unlikely to set any scoring records this year, however, having lost most of their offensive core to graduation.

8. Cornell

Returning the Ivy League rookie of the year and four players picked as all-Americans last season, the Big Red will be Princeton’s top league competition. Last year’s season ended abruptly in the NCAA tournament with a 10-9 loss to assachusetts, and the team’s 11-3 record was padded by some light non-conference contests.

9. Navy

Losing attacker Ian Dingman to graduation doesn’t entirely bring the Midshipmen down to the dinghies of college lacrosse, but without one of the nation’s best and biggest players rolling over opponents, the servicemen are unlikely to intimidate their competitors as much as they have in years past.

10. Denver

The Pioneers may well be the only competitive team in Division I with a roster without many players from the talent-rich East Coast. Head Coach Jamie Munro is building a budding program out West that should make more noise this year than it did last season in its first-round exit from the NCAA tournament.

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