Ohio State Tabbed as Lacrosse Preseason Favorite in ECAC

The Falcons were also in the top-30 nationally in caused turnovers per game (7.71, No. 27), thanks in large part to sophomore Alex Warden (Glen Mills, Pa.) (19 caused turnovers), senior Matt Puleo (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) (17 caused turnovers) and junior Kyle O'Brien (Denver, Colo.) (15 caused turnovers). The trio will lead a defensive unit that will need to play well in the early stages of the season, as the Falcons will be calling upon young goalkeepers Doug Gouchoe (Concord, Mass.), Brett Dadiego (Baldwin, N.Y.) and Mitch Rose (Garnet Valley, Pa.) to replace recent graduate Austin Fox, who played 95% of Air Force's games in goal.

Bellarmine finished the 2013 season with its first .500 record since 2010 and will look to use a similar philosophy of defense-first to attain even better results in 2014. The Knights boasted the nation's eighth-ranked scoring defense last season (8.07 goals against per game) and averaged 7.93 caused turnovers per game. With the departure of All-American goalkeeper Dillon Ward, Bellarmine will turn to senior Will Haas (Westerville, Ohio) to make a seamless transition into the starting role. Junior Bobby Schmitt (Louisville, Ky.) will look to repeat his outstanding sophomore season after causing 26 turnovers and raking in 56 groundballs. Schmitt also chipped in with six goals and eight assists in 2013. The offense will run through senior Cameron Gardner (Calgary, Alta.), who is the Knights' top scoring threat after notching 26 goals and 31 points a year ago.

Michigan looks to utilize a young nucleus of talent to make a splash in the ECAC this season. The Wolverines return All-ECAC Rookie team selections Kyle Jackson (Sarnia, Ontario) and Mike Hernandez (Piedmont, Calif.) in 2014 after stellar freshman campaigns. Jackson was the team's leading scorer with 17 goals and nine assists for 26 points, while Hernandez also broke the 20-point plateau with 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points. Juniors Will Meter (Beverly Hills, Mich.) and David McCormack (Terrace Park, Ohio) will be expected to facilitate the offense after netting 10 and 11 goals, respectively last season.

On the defensive side, the Maize and Blue return two of their top defenders in sophomore Chase Brown (Annapolis, Md.) (29 groundballs, 13 caused turnovers) and redshirt senior J.D. Johnson (Malibu, Calif.) (25 groundballs, 13 caused turnovers) to help support the team's new goalkeeper. Head Coach John Paul look to senior Bobby Riso (North Potomac, Md.), sophomore Mike D'Alessio (Eastchester, N.Y.) and freshman Robbie Zonino (Berwyn, Pa.) to earn the starting nod in goal.

ECAC Lacrosse Preason Coaches' Poll
1. Ohio State
2. Fairfield
3. Air Force
4. Bellarmine
5. Michigan

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