Courtesy: America East Communications

Reigning #AEMLAX Champion Albany Tabbed 2016 Preseason Favorites

Release: 01/28/2016

BOSTON — Three-time defending America East men’s lacrosse champion Albany, the 12th ranked team in the nation, is the preseason favorite to retain its league title as the Great Danes were voted first in the preseason poll. Albany, which nearly reached the Final Four last season, received five of a possible six first-place votes and 35 points in a vote of the league’s head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own team. 

Stony Brook, ranked 20th to start the season, received the other two first-place tallies and 32 points to come in second place. Vermont, fresh off one of its best seasons in program history, came in third with 25 points while Hartford was fourth with 21 points. Binghamton (15 points), UMBC (12) and UMass Lowell (7) rounded out the seven-team poll.

The 2016 campaign begins the weekend of Feb. 6 with Vermont opening play while other teams open between Feb. 14-21. The top four teams in the conference standings will qualify for the America East Men’s Lacrosse Championship, which will be held at tournament's No. 1 seed for the second-straight year. The semifinals take place on May 5 and the final on May 7, a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU. The league champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship, where America East teams have won five games since 2007.

2016 Men’s Lacrosse Preseason Poll

Position         School (1st-place votes)                   Points

1.                           Albany (5)                                     35

2.                           Stony Brook (2)                             32

3.                           Vermont                                        25

4.                           Hartford                                        21

5                            Binghamton                                   15

6.                           UMBC                                            12

7.                           UMass Lowell                                  7

Team Previews
1. Albany Great Danes (17-3, 6-0 AE – 1st, AE Champion, NCAA Quarterfinals)

  • Tabbed the preseason favorite for fourth-straight season after capturing the league title last season and reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
  • Ranked 12th in the USILA preseason poll.
  • Return 28 letterwinners from last year's team including Co-five 2015 All-Conference selections.
  • Preseason All-American Connor Fields (66G, 22A in 2015) leads an offense that led the country averaging 17.1 goals per game last year.
  • Schedule features four opponents that reached the NCAA tournament last year, including #4 Maryland, #7 Syracuse, #9 Yale and #17 Cornell.

2. Stony Brook Seawolves (13-5, 5-1 AE – 2nd, AE Runner Up)

  • Ranked 20th in the USILA preseason poll after tying its program record with 13 wins last season.
  • The Seawolves return eight starters and 30 letterwinners from last year’s squad.
  • Seniors Challen Rogers (30G, 23A) and Brody Eastwood (62G, 6A) combined for 121 points last year and were tabbed preseason All-Americans by Inside Lacrosse.
  • Stony Brook has nine home games and opens at LaValle Stadium vs. Sacred Heart on Feb. 18.

3. Vermont Catamounts (6-10, 4-2 AE – 3rd, AE Semifinals)

  • Selected third after posting one of best seasons in program history.
  • The Catamounts posted their best-ever America East regular-season finish, placing third, and reached the America East Championship for the first time in five seasons.
  • Preseason All-American Ian MacKay, Cam Milligan and Justin Rosenberg comprise a trio of 2015 All-Conference choices poised to lead UVM in 2016.
  • The Catamounts are the first America East squad to open their season, doing so at Jacksonville on Feb. 6. 

4. Hartford Hawks (7-8, 3-3 AE – 4th, AE Semifinals)

  • Reached the America East Championship for the fourth time in five seasons after going 3-3 in America East play.
  • Four of the team's top five goal scorers from a season ago return, including America East All-Rookie Team member Griffin Feiner (22G, 5A).
  • Opens season at Boston University on Feb. 20.

5. Binghamton Bearcats (4-9, 2-4 AE - 5th)

  • The Bearcats look to return to the America East Championship for the second time in three years after just missing it a year ago.
  • Bring back 30 letterwinners from last year’s team, including second-team All-Conference selections Chris Bechle and Dan Mazurek.
  • Start their season at home against Sacred Heart on Feb. 20.

6. UMBC Retrievers (5-8, 1-5 AE - 6th)

  • UMBC looks to bounce back after missing the America East Championship for the first time since joining the conference in 2003.
  • Five starters and 26 letterwinners are back for the Retrievers, including first-team selection and 2016 team captain Zach Esser.
  • UMBC begins 2016 at home vs. #5 Johns Hopkins on Feb. 13. 

7. UMass Lowell River Hawks (1-13, 0-6 AE - 7th)

  • The River Hawks enter their second season as a Division I program 
  • America East All-Rookie selections Cory Highfield and Sean Tyrrell will lead UMass Lowell in 2016.
  • UMass Lowell kicks off its campaign at Boston University on Feb. 13.