Rosemont, Ill. – With the inaugural season of Big Ten men’s lacrosse less than two weeks away, Johns Hopkins was selected as the preseason favorite to claim the first Big Ten Championship. The coaches voted in the preseason poll and selected three players from their own team to a Players to Watch list. Johns Hopkins, the first sport affiliate member in conference history, was followed in the preseason poll by Maryland in second place, Penn State in third place, Ohio State in fourth place, Rutgers in fifth place and Michigan in sixth place.
Johns Hopkins made its record 42nd NCAA Tournament appearance last season and advanced to the quarterfinals. The Blue Jays are ranked No. 5 in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Top 20 poll. Johns Hopkins’ Players to Watch are attacker Ryan Brown, long stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino and attacker Wells Stanwick. Pellegrino was named a preseason first-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse, while Brown and Stanwick were honorable mention preseason All-America selections.
Maryland was picked to finish second after garnering an at-large berth to its 37th NCAA Tournament last season, the second-most appearances in history. The Terrapins are ranked No. 8 in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. Maryland’s Players to Watch are goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr, defender Matt Dunn and midfielder Charlie Raffa, who was named a third-team preseason All-American.
Penn State won seven games and saw six players earn all-conference recognition last season. The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 15 in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. Penn State’s Players to Watch are defender JP Burnside, midfielder Drake Kreinz and attacker TJ Sanders, who tallied 26 points last season, including 23 goals.
Ohio State won a share of its conference championship last season, and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 20 in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. Ohio State’s Players to Watch are attacker Carter Brown, defender Robby Haus and midfielder Jesse King. King collected preseason second-team All-America honors, while Haus was named an honorable mention preseason All-American.
Rutgers won eight games last season and advanced to its conference tournament for the first time since the 2004 campaign. The Scarlet Knights’ Players to Watch are attacker Scott Bieda and midfielders Brian Goss and Joe Nardella, who was named a second-team preseason All-American. Bieda is the Scarlet Knights’ returning scoring leader with 42 points last season.
Michigan advanced to its conference tournament for the first time last season after launching the program in 2012. The Wolverines’ Players to Watch are attacker Ian King, goalkeeper Gerald Logan and midfielder Mikie Schlosser. King scored a program-record 32 goals last season.
In June 2013, the Big Ten announced the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse as the conference’s 27th and 28th sports. The six programs that comprise Big Ten men’s lacrosse boast 56 national championships, with schools that have competed for more than a century. Johns Hopkins has played since 1883 and leads all schools with 44 national championships. Maryland has claimed 11 national titles, while Rutgers has also won a national championship. The Scarlet Knights launched men’s lacrosse in 1887, followed by programs starting in 1913 for Penn State, 1924 for Maryland, 1953 for Ohio State and 2012 for Michigan.
The inaugural Big Ten Men’s Lacrosse Tournament will be hosted by Maryland from April 30 to May 2. The tournament will feature a four-team field, with two semifinal matches on Thursday and the championship game played on Saturday.
The preseason poll and complete Players to Watch list can be found below.
2015 BIG TEN MEN’S LACROSSE PRESEASON POLL
(1) Johns Hopkins
(3) Penn State
(4) Ohio State
2015 BIG TEN MEN’S LACROSSE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ryan Brown, Jr., A, Johns Hopkins
Michael Pellegrino, Sr., LSM, Johns Hopkins
Wells Stanwick, Sr., A, Johns Hopkins
Kyle Bernlohr, Sr., G, Maryland
Matt Dunn, Jr., D, Maryland
Charlie Raffa, Sr., M, Maryland
Ian King, So., A, Michigan
Gerald Logan, So., G, Michigan
Mikie Schlosser, So., M, Michigan
Carter Brown, Jr., A, Ohio State
Robby Haus, Jr., D, Ohio State
Jesse King, Sr., M, Ohio State
JP Burnside, Sr., D, Penn State
Drake Kreinz, So., M, Penn State
TJ Sanders, Jr., A, Penn State
Scott Bieda, Jr., A, Rutgers
Brian Goss, Sr., M, Rutgers
Joe Nardella, Sr., M, Rutgers
*courtesy Big Ten conference press release