1. Northwestern

The Wildcats are now the two-time defending national champions after last year’s 7-4 victory over Dartmouth in the national finals. Northwestern returns its two top scorers from last season and should easily continue on as one of the most prolific programs in recent history. The Wildcats have lost just once over the past two seasons.

2. Duke

Finishing at the top of a tough ACC last season, the Blue Devils return eight of 11 starters on a team that reached the Final Four last year. The trip to the national semifinals was the third in the program’s history and Duke appears well-positioned to repeat the feat.

3. Georgetown

Returning the core of 2006’s second-best defensive unit in the country, not to mention one of the nation’s top offensive forces in senior attacker Coco Stanwick, the Hoyas appear put together for a late-season run. This is not the first talented team to come out of D.C., but as previous Hoya squads have found, talent alone doesn’t win championships.

4. Princeton

The Tigers have reached the NCAA quarterfinals nine years in a row, and will contend principally against Cornell this year for the Ivy League title. With every major player returning from last year’s quarterfinal team, Princeton will be tough to get past come NCAA tournament time.

5. North Carolina

The Tar Heels are a perennial title contender and could be even more so this season, returning senior defender Jenn Cook, an all-American last year. North Carolina plays its first three games at home this season, where it went 7-2 last year.

6. Notre Dame

A final four team last season, Notre Dame overcame a second-place finish to Georgetown in the Big East by advancing to the national semifinals. Sophomore attacker Jillian Byers returns after a breakout freshman year in which she scored 54 goals and recorded 24 assists.

7. Dartmouth

The Big Green had a storybook season last year. After nearly dropping out of contention in the regular season, Dartmouth made a miraculous turnaround and advanced to the national finals, where they led into halftime before falling to Northwestern. This year’s team is significantly younger and may not have the experience to repeat last year’s feat.

8. Maryland

The Terrapins were knocked out of the NCAA tournament early last season by ACC foe North Carolina. The loss may be a sign of things to come this season, as the Terps will find themselves traveling Tobacco Road to battle Duke and North Carolina for conference supremacy.

9. Johns Hopkins

The 2006 Blue Jays spent May at home in Baltimore after failing to make the NCAA tournament. A five-game road trip early in the season will test Johns Hopkins, which closed out last season with a 4-3 record in its last seven games, including a home loss to upstart Penn State.

10. Hofstra

Hofstra is a small, young team from the CAA still looking to establish itself. With games against defending champion Northwestern perennial power Boston University mixed into an otherwise soft schedule, the Pride could be an upset away from making a run at the CAA crown and an NCAA berth.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.