Loyola Debuts as Patriot League Lacrosse Preseason Favorite

CENTER VALLEY, Pa.- Loyola University Maryland will enter its first season in Patriot League men's lacrosse as the favorite after the Greyhounds were picked for the top spot in the sport's preseason poll announced on Wednesday's media teleconference.

The Greyhounds picked up 123 points and 13 first-place votes to finish ahead of the participants in last year's Patriot League title game, Bucknell and Lehigh. The runner-up Bison had three first-place votes and 109 points to edge the two-time defending champion Mountain Hawks with two first-place votes and 108 points. The rest of the poll order featured Army (86), Colgate (73), Navy (56), Holy Cross (42), Lafayette (35) and Boston University (16).

Individual honors were also handed out as Army junior attacker John Glesener was named Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Loyola senior defender Joe Fletcher took home the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award. Both players highlighted the Preseason All-Patriot League Team which also included Bucknell junior David Dickson and Loyola senior Justin Ward at attack, Bucknell sophomore Thomas Flibotte,

Holy Cross junior Terry McKenna and Colgate senior Jimmy Ryan in the midfield, Bucknell senior Jackson Place and Lehigh senior Ty Souders joining Fletcher on defense, Army sophomore Alex Daly as the face-off specialist, Navy senior Pat Kiernan as the defensive midfield specialist and Lehigh junior Matt Poillon at goalkeeper.

Seven of the preseason All-League selections were named preseason All-Americans by Inside Lacrosse in December. Fletcher made the first team, Glesener, Ward and Souders were on the second team and Kiernan, Place and Poillon earned a spot on the third team. Dickson received honorable mention preseason All-America status.

Seven of the preseason selections also earned first-team All-Patriot League status last year, with Glesener named the Offensive Player of the Year. Two others were second-team selections, while Fletcher was named the Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team selection in the ECAC with Ward earning second-team honors from the Greyhounds' former conference.

Voting for the preseason poll and individual awards was conducted by Patriot League men's lacrosse head coaches and sports information directors, who could not vote for their own teams or student-athletes.

Loyola enters its Patriot League era with a target on its back, but has veteran leadership with three senior captains who are all wrapping up accomplished careers for the Greyhounds. Fletcher is the lone college player participating on the United States National Team training roster, and was a first-team USILA All-American last season. He was also recently selected No. 3 overall in the Major League Lacrosse Draft. Ward earned honorable mention All-America status last season as he finished with 27 goals and 35 assists, while defensive midfield specialist Pat Laconi earned honorable mention as a preseason All-American from Inside Lacrosse. Jack Runkel is another returning senior as the goalkeeper had an 11-5 record and 8.75 goals against average last year. The Greyhounds were picked 19th in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook.

Despite being picked second in the preseason poll, the Bison were ahead of Loyola in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook at No. 15. Bucknell backed up that ranking by placing a League-high three players on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team in Dickson, Flibotte and Place. Dickson led the Patriot League with 48 assists and finished second with 56 points while Flibotte had 29 goals in his freshman season as both earned first-team All-Patriot League honors last year. Place earned second-team All-League status last year while scooping up 43 ground balls. Bucknell has all but one player who scored more than 10 points last season back in the lineup in 2014, as Sean Doyle and Todd Heritage return on attack while Brock Ghelfi and Peter Burke are back in the midfield.

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