D3 Top 20 Countdown: Wesleyan, Roanoke

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. 12 Wesleyan

Photo via Wesleyan.edu

2013 Record: 13-5, 6-4 NESCAC
Last Game: NESCAC Tournament Championship, 11-6 L vs. Tufts
Scoring Average: 10.11 goals per game, 6.17 goals against
Leading Returning Scorer: David Murphy, Jr. – 18 goals, 17 assists, 35 points

One of the least individually potent teams in the country, the Wesleyan Cardinals made a lot of noise down the stretch last season by knocking Middlebury out in the NESCAC semifinals before falling to Tufts in the championship. What it lacks in star power, Wesleyan makes up for in depth. Seven players notched more than 20 points last season, and all seven will be back for 2014. David Murphy, Graham Macnab (24 goals, 7 assists), and Remy Lieberman (22, 8) lead the way for this up and coming group in one of the toughest conferences in the country.

With such a hard NESCAC schedule a guarentee, the Cardinals didn’t reach too much in the way of non-conference games this year. Wesleyan’s non-conference slate of Clarkson, RPI, and Keene State won’t make anyone weak in the knees, but a back-to-back-to-back stretch against Bowdoin, Tufts, and Conn College to end the regular season is enough to throw the strength of schedule argument clear out the window.

No. 11 Roanoke

Photo via Roanoke.edu

2013 Record: 16-4, 9-0 Old Dominion
Last Game: NCAA Tournament Second Round, L 12-9 vs. Lynchburg
Scoring Average: 14.0 goals per game, 8.25 goals allowed
Leading Returning Scorer: Tyler McWilliams, So. – 31 goals, 30 assists, 61 points

Here we are, back in the ODAC with the defending champion Roanoke Maroons. An unbeaten run through the conference was rendered a moot point when Lynchburg avenged its 9-8 regular season defeat with a 12-9 win in the NCAA Tournament. Back on the field for ‘Noke will be the attack pairing of Tyler McWilliams and Will Pilat (32, 11) — a group that doubles as the lone players from last season’s top-five scorers to return. At the other end of the field, Charles Pease returns for his senior season between the pipes and is coming off a season in which he allowed a career-best 9.04 goals per game. Any improvement on that number will be welcome, but with such a potent offense, it may not be needed.

Per usual, Roanoke has loaded its non-conference schedule with tough games, because apparently they are gluttons for pain. St. Mary’s, Denison, Dickinson and Stevenson highlight one of the toughest non-conference slates in the country and will reveal the Maroons’ character early and often.