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Mitchell Northam | NCAA.com | April 17, 2019

These 3 men's lacrosse teams have surprised this season

Behind-the-back goals headline the top plays from men's lacrosse

Before the start of the 2019 men’s Division I college lacrosse season, there were at least three teams that the experts were wrong about. It was not easy to predict their rise.

In the Inside Lacrosse preseason media poll, neither Army, High Point or Towson were ranked.

But nine weeks into the season, all three teams find themselves inside the top 20, potentially on their way to berths in the NCAA tournament.

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How did each team get here? How did they rise up the ranks?

Let’s take a closer look.

No. 13 High Point

Record: 9-2 (3-1 SoCon)

Head Coach: Jon Torpey

Best wins: 13-9 over No. 2 Duke on Feb. 6; 14-13 over No. 9 Virginia on Feb. 18

Toughest game remaining: April 27 vs. Richmond

Outlook: High Point has a short history in men’s lacrosse, as the program played its first season in 2013. But in its seventh year, High Point looks like a team that can win games in the NCAA tournament. If the Panthers make it, it’ll be just the second time ever that they’ve made the tournament field. In 2015, they lost in the first round to Towson.

The Panthers caused heads to turn in the lacrosse world in February, when they won three straight road games, two of which were against ranked ACC opponents. The Panthers have excelled this year due to a powerful offense, which ranks fifth in the country in scoring, putting up 14.55 goals per-game. Senior attack Chris Young has spearheaded the offense, scoring 3.27 goals per-game, which is tied for sixth best in the nation.

MORE LACROSSE: Rankings | Stats

No. 20 Army

Record: 8-3 (4-2 Patriot)

Head Coach: Joe Alberici

Best wins: 12-11 over No. 18 UMass on Feb. 9; 10-9 over No. 8 Rutgers on Feb. 16

Toughest game remaining: April 20 vs. No. 2 Loyola Maryland

Outlook: The Black Knights haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2010, but they’re on the right track to crack the field this year. Army has put up an impressive record in the Patriot League — one of the toughest conferences for men’s lacrosse — and has also notched a pair of noteworthy non-conference victories against UMass and Rutgers. The Black Knights also gave Syracuse a tough game, but fell by two goals.

Paving the way for Army’s success this year has been its defense, which allows just 8.91 goals per-game, a mark that’s fourth best in the country. Anchoring that defense is Johnny Surdick. The senior defenseman forces 2.55 turnovers per-game, which is third best in the country. Leading Army’s offense has been Miles Silva, a junior who is 26th in the nation in scoring, putting 2.81 shots in the back of the net per-game.

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No. 11 Towson

Record: 7-3 (2-0 CAA)

Head Coach: Shawn Nadelen

Best wins: 17-8 over No. 7 Johns Hopkins on Feb. 9; 12-10 over No. 1 Loyola Maryland on Feb. 27

Toughest game remaining: April 20 at Delaware

Outlook: Believe it or not, Towson was on the outside looking in when the preseason poll came out, finishing fourth in the “receiving votes” leftovers. The Tigers set out to prove the doubters wrong, and did that by thrashing in-state rival Johns Hopkins, and then upsetting another in-state rival, Loyola Maryland. They also beat a ranked Georgetown team.

The Tigers missed the NCAA tournament field last season, but are looking to make it this year, which would be their fifth appearance in it since 2013.

Towson has a well-rounded team this year, with the nation’s 22nd best offense and the 16th best defense, in terms of goals scored and allowed per-game. The Tigers also have one of the best face-off specialists in the country in junior Alex Woodall. His winning percentage of 75.2 trails only TD Ierlan of Yale for the best in the country. Goalkeeper Tyler Canto has been strong too, posting a 55.2 percent mark in save percentage, good enough for 14th in the country.

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Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

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