College Crosse's Impossibly Early, Definitely Perfect (Sort of), Rock-Solid (Maybe) Fall Ball Top 20: Albany (15)

The Thompson Trio returns . . . with extreme prejudice!

The 2014 season is months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.

Team: Albany

Rank: 15

Important People: Lyle Thompson (A); Miles Thompson (A); Ty Thompson (A); Matt Garziano (M); Ryan Feuerstein (M); Jon Newhouse (D); Cody Futia (D)

Formerly Important People: Will Fuller (A/M); Mike Woods (SSDM); Anthony Ostrander (D/LSM); Jack Nickla (D);

Final 2013 Poll Positions: Media: 12; Coaches: 12

2013 Record: 13-5 (5-0, America East)

2013 Snapshot: Kaboom!

* * * * *

Nightmare Fuel
Here's the issue: If Albany plays at the light-speed pace that it did in 2013, the Great Danes' defense will continue to face heavy exposure throughout the season; if that defense fails to mature and play at a level that sufficiently complement's Albany's face-melting offense, the Great Danes could struggle against non-America East competition. Albany wasn't a horrific defensive team last season, but the Great Danes weren't exceptional either: Finishing the year ranked 38th in adjusted defensive efficiency, the team's ability to create stops in an efficient manner somewhat limited Albany's trajectory. This was illustrated fairly well in the Great Danes' contests against offensively-capable opponents: Albany escaped the Carrier Dome with a double-overtime win against Syracuse (ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency), yielding 15 goals; the team surrendered 20 goals to Drexel (eighth in adjusted offensive efficiency) in a 20-19 loss; saw Yale (22nd adjusted offensive efficiency) dump 15 on them in a 15-8 trouncing; Albany fell 18-12 to a Bucknell (16th in adjusted offensive efficiency) team that ran away late; and the Great Danes crashed out of the NCAA Tournament against Denver (first in adjusted offensive efficiency) after dropping a 19-14 decision in Colorado. Breaking hearts in the America East is one thing; standing strong against some of the nation's best teams -- which is where Albany wants to be -- is another. Balance is going to matter for the Great Danes, and to achieve it Albany needs to get more production from the defensive end of the field.

A Thousand White Doves
The Thompson Trio isn’t just the most violent attack in the nation; they're a top 20 offense on their own. There's incredible capacity in the triumvirate, a heat-seeking machine devoid of human emotions like fear or concern and motivated only by the inherent need to destroy. There's nothing in the nation that compares reasonably to The Thompson Trio: They're an entity that does what no other concentrated group of talent is capable of doing. These three cats -- as a unit -- are accelerators and balance points, the means to generating offense and the primary cogs to Albany's success. Even when opponents are draped all over them and circumstances are exponentially in the defense's favor, the three have an ability to create offense where none should exist. They're more than an x-factor; they're the factor and the wake of pain they left behind them in 2013 is proof of that: Only 23 teams -- not players: teams -- generated more points than the Thompsons did last season, and Lyle missed a game and Miles missed six. The Thompson Trio is unique in college lacrosse and that exclusivity is the power plant that motors the Great Danes toward potentially great heights in 2014. These cats are exceptional, and another Tewaaraton-worthy campaign from Lyle could mean something drastic for Albany: A trip deep into the NCAA Tournament as the most volatile matchup in Division I.

The Stars, The Moon, Six Feet Under
The Stars: A Championship Weekend romp, buoyed by fun and a style that makes a smile appear on the most dedicated curmudgeon; Lyle Thompson takes home the Tewaaraton Award and uses it as a kitchen table centerpiece; unblemished run through the America East and more league hardware is shipped to Albany; The Thompson Trio combines for 300 points.

The Moon: America East Championship with an undefeated run through the league; NCAA Tournament quarterfinalist, bowing out of the tournament due only to a bad matchup and defensive concerns; Scott Marr finds a way to clone the Thompsons and the rest of Division I lacrosse quits the game for the next four seasons.

Six Feet Under: The defense doesn't develop and Blaze Riorden is shipped to Bolivia for torture; midfield struggles to contribute alongside the Thompsons; Albany experiences brain farts and drops a few games against inferior competition; the Great Danes can't seem to get more than a dozen games out of Lyle, Ty, and Miles, never fully realizing their potential as a unit.

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