D3 Lacrosse Top 20 Countdown: Stevens, Denison

Over the next few weeks, we will be previewing the Top 20 teams in Division III according to Inside Lacrosse’s Face-Off Yearbook rankings. Two teams will be featured each day so be sure to check out the front page for all of the updates as we countdown to the 2014 season. Click here to see a full archive of the Top 20 Countdown.

No. 16 Stevens Tech

Photo via Stevens Athletics

2013 Record: 13-5, 6-1 Empire 8
Last Game: NCAA Tournament, 14-9 L vs. Tufts
2013 Scoring Average: 14.28 goals per game, 9.89 goals allowed
Leading Returning Scorer: Michael Maroon, Jr. – 20 goals, 32 assists, 52 points

This year’s edition of the Stevens Ducks will be a very different one than the high-powered attack we saw over the past four years. Gone are Nicolas Philipi, Rich Dupras, and Harrison Dorne who combined for 138 goals and 58 assists last year. That’s a ton of production that Stevens is going to need replaced, but Gene Peluso has a penchant for turning out goal scorers and the players left in the stable should be able to handle their business. Midfielder Michael Maroon and attackman Charlie Cronin (31 goals, 8 assists) were fourth and fifth, respectively, behind the midfield trio and will have to pick up some of that slack in 2014.

Connor O’Shea was sixth on the team in points as a freshman last year, scoring 10 goals and adding 10 assists despite missing four games during the year. The Ducks have leaned on the midfield in past years, but with Cronin and O’Shea representing some of the best options they have returning, there may be a paradigm shift happening in Hoboken.

Stevens will be tested during its non-conference schedule once again with games against Cortland, Springfield College, Tufts and Endicott all leading up to a neutral site game against the next team on this countdown.

No. 15 Denison

Photo via Twitter/DenisonLax

2013 Record: 13-3, 7-0 North Coast
Last Game: North Coast Championship, 10-9 L vs. Ohio Wesleyan
2013 Scoring Average: 13.0 goals per game, 5.20 goals against
Returning Leading Scorer: Eddie Vita, Sr. – 28 goals, 19 assists, 47 points

After an unbeaten run through the NCAC, Denison’s season ended in disappointment in the tournament championship game against an Ohio Wesleyan team it had already beaten. Even in the weaker North region, the Big Red couldn’t steal an at-large bid to the tournament and had to take their 13-3 record home with them at season’s end. Fortunately for Denison, nine of the Big Red’s top 10 scorers from 2013 are back this season, including the top six. Eddie Vita and Teddy Powell (23, 19) will pair up once again on the attack and their combined production of 89 points should see an uptick with all of the returning talent around them.

In net is where Denison is perhaps the sturdiest, however. A trio of freshman goalies took turns in net, all totaling at least 70 minutes of time on the season. Chris Thomas saw the lion’s share of the minutes, starting all but one game and posted a 5.75 goals against average. With things secure almost everywhere on the field, Denison should be well prepared for a non-conference slate that includes Washington & Lee, Roanoke, Stevens, St. Mary’s, and Dickinson.