FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Salisbury was voted atop the 2019 Capital Athletic Conference Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll, receiving five first-place votes and 35 points in a vote among the conference head coaches. The Sea Gulls have advanced to the national championship match each of the last three seasons, including back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.
York ranked second in the poll with 32 points and received two first-place votes, followed by Christopher Newport (26), Frostburg State (16) and Mary Washington (15) in third through fifth, respectively. Southern Virginia rounded out the projected playoff teams in sixth place with 14 points, while St. Mary's completed the poll in seventh with nine points.
The 2019 season kicks off this Sunday (Feb. 3) as Salisbury hosts Berry before the rest of the league gets underway the following weekend. The majority of CAC teams open up the year in mid-February, with CAC play set to hit full swing in late March.
The CAC Tournament will feature seven teams this spring with the top seed receiving a bye, beginning with the first round on Saturday, Apr. 27 and culminating with the championship game on Saturday, May 4.
2019 CAC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2019 campaign:
1) The SALISBURY men's lacrosse team opens the 2019 season as the No. 2 ranked team in the country. Team brings back a majority of its offensive firepower from 2018 including Second Team All-American and Second Team All-CAC midfielder Corey Gwin. Gwin finished the season as the Sea Gulls' leader in both goals and point totaling 49 and 68 respectively. He also enter the season a preseason First Team All-American.
Joining Gwin as primary returners from last season's team will be All-CAC honorees Kevin Murphy and Brandon Warren. Murphy, who earned first team All-CAC honors, finished the 2018 season with 19 games played, 24 caused turnovers, and 41 groundballs. Meanwhile, Warren was a second-team honoree after posting a 17-2 record as the starting goalie posting a 54.1 save percentage and a goals against average of 6.52.
Salisbury opens its season on Sunday, February 3 at 12 p.m. when it squares off against Berry College.
2) The YORK COLLEGE men's lacrosse team is coming off a 19-3 season in which the Spartans won the Capital Athletic Conference regular season championship and advanced to the Division III Elite Eight. The Spartans must replace a talented graduated senior class but the Spartans will return six starters including their top three scorers in Thomas Pfieffer (85 points), Hunter Davis (64 points) and Jake Hvazda (64 points). The Spartans also return face off specialist Billy Sasso (224-of-369 FO and 106 ground balls) and two top defenders in J.D. Beck (27 caused turnovers and 31 ground balls) and Kevin Witchey (21 caused turnovers and 37 ground balls).
Thomas Pfeiffer, Nick Roman, Billy Sasso, JD Beck, Hunter Davis
5) MARY WASHINGTON will look to improve on a seven-win 2018 season. The Eagles return a good core beginning with Shane McKenzie, who led the CAC in assists, as well as Billy Senicola, who led the CAC in saves made. Chris White, Cole Hogan, and McKenzie will be tasked with leading the offense. Mike Colgan, Robert Tata, Davis King, and Kenton Marshall are all back on the defensive end for the Eagles. Eli Ayer will be back for face-off duties with the hopes of leading the conference in ground balls as he did in 2017.
Number of returning starters: 8
Shane McKenzie led the CAC and set the school record in assists with 43
Billy Senicola made the most saves in the CAC with 181 last season
Returning All-CAC performers: 2
Robert Tata, LP, 2nd Team All-CAC in 2017
Eli Ayer, FO, 2nd Team All-CAC in 2017
6) After their first 10+ win season, the SOUTHERN VIRGINIA Knights look to continue their upward climb. Key to the Knights success is a large number of returners led by Shawn Lamb. Lamb is Southern Virginia's first-ever First Team All-CAC selection also earning Second Team VaSid All-State and IMLCA Honorable Mention Honors after leading the CAC in points with 46 goals and 41 assists. Southern Virginia brings in addition to a strong batch of returners new faces to continue the rise of the Knights.
7) The ST. MARY'S COLLEGE OF MARYLAND men's lacrosse team is set for their 2019 campaign. The Seahawks look to improve off of their 5-12, 2-6 CAC record from last season. St. Mary's returns 26 players from last season and brings in 14 newcomers to their roster. The Seahawks do not return any all-conference performers from last season.
The Seahawks return all three of their midfielders in Michael Bucci, Ray LaPlaca, and Luke McWright. On the defensive end, St. Mary's brings back all three of their starting defenseman as well in Benjamin Stevens, Christian Quiroa, and Cray Dayton. At attack, the Seahawks return Jack Conway and Max Groen. In goal, St. Mary's returns senior Ross Snodderly. The 5-11 goalkeeper collected 161 saves last season, good for third in the conference.