CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Loyola University Maryland men's lacrosse was named the team to beat in the Preseason Patriot League Poll released Wednesday, while four Greyhounds were named to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team.
The Greyhounds trio of captains - senior attacker Nikko Pontrello, senior defender Pat Frazier and sophomore midfielder Brian Sherlock - and sophomore long-stick midfielder Ryan Fournier earned recognition on the 13-player team.
Loyola, which enters the season ranked seventh nationally garnered 12 of 17 first-place votes in the preseason poll for a total of 123 points. The U.S. Military Academy is picked second with 110 points and one first-place vote, while Lehigh University is a point back in picking up five top nods.
Bucknell University, Colgate University, the U.S. Naval Academy, Boston University, Lafayette College and College of the Holy Cross round out the poll.
Pontrello and Sherlock were All-Patriot League First Team performers a year ago, and all four of the Greyhounds on the preseason team were recognized on the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Preseason All-America Teams.
A first-round draft pick by the Denver Outlaws in last week's Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Entry Draft, Pontrello scored 51 in 2014, the third-most in school single-season history. He also had 12 assists for a total of 63 points, the sixth-most in school single-season history, and his 3.0 goals per game last season ranked fifth nationally.
Frazier garnered Preseason All-America Honorable Mention and this year returns to anchor the Greyhounds' defense in his third season as a starter. Last year, the Marylander helped Loyola's defense limit teams to an average of 7.47 goals per game. He picked up 27 ground balls and caused nine turnovers for the Greyhounds. Frazier also scored his first collegiate goal last year.
Sherlock was the top first-year player in the Patriot League last season; he transferred to Loyola prior to the season after sitting out the 2013 campaign at the University of North Carolina with an injury. He made an immediate impact for the Greyhounds in his first year after transferring from the University of North Carolina where he missed last season with an injury. As a redshirt freshman, Sherlock scored 19 goals and assisted on 10 in the midfield for Loyola, and he also ran the wings on faceoffs and plays several shifts a game in the defensive midfield.
Fournier emerged as one of the top long-stick midfielders during his freshman season at Loyola. The Canadian showed considerable offensive acumen as the season progressed, finishing with four goals and two assists in transition for the Greyhounds. He also became the team's primary pole in the midfield, causing nine turnovers and picking up 32 ground balls.
The 2015 season officially starts for the Greyhounds in 10 days as Loyola will host the first NCAA game between ranked teams of the year. The Greyhounds will face eighth-ranked University of Virginia in a 1 o'clock contest on Saturday, Feb. 7, at Ridley Athletic Complex. Visit LoyolaGreyhounds.com/tickets to purchase tickets.