PERRY, N.Y. – After advancing to the national semifinals in its third year of existence, the University of Tampa men’s lacrosse team will begin the 2015 campaign at No. 4 in the Inside Lacrosse USILA Division 2 preseason rankings.
The Spartans, who received a first-place vote for the first time in program history, are nationally-ranked for the second consecutive season as head coach Rory Whipple’s squad came in at No. 13 prior to the 2014 season.
At No. 4, it marks thehishest preseaosn ranking in program history, and is one spot below the all-time best ranking as UT was ranked as high as No. 3 in 2014 before finishing the year at No. 4.
Defending national champions and 2015 opponent Limestone College enters the season as the preseason favorite to win the crown, followed by LeMoyne, LIU-Post, UT and Adelphi.
In addition to Limestone, UT will meet a host of nationally-ranked teams this year including Mercyhurst (8), Lake Erie (9), Queens (T-10) and Sunshine State Conference rival Florida Southern (T-10).
UT has now been nationally-ranked for 13 consecutive weeks, dating back to the preseason 2014 poll.
The Spartans are coming off a 16-3 record last season, and also won the first-ever SSC championship with a perfect 5-0 record in league play. Additionally, the Spartans also won the first-ever SSC tournament.
Leading scorer and All-American Conor Whipple returns to lead the Spartan attack as the sophomore netted 49 goals and 41 assists while being named the SSC Player of the Year. Fellow attacker Mike Morris also returns as the Johns Hopkins transfer tallied 24 goals and 11 assists in his first season as a Spartan.
Marty Heyn returns to anchor a Spartan defense that allowed less than eight goals per game. The junior started all 19 games while establishing himself as one of the nation’s top defenders. Overall, UT returns seven starters from last year’s record-setting squad.
The Spartans open the 2015 season on Feb. 7 versus No. 10 Queens (N.C.) in a neutral site matchup in Marietta, Ga. The Spartans then return home for their home opener on Feb. 8 against Tusculum at noon.
Click here for complete USILA preseason poll
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