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Syracuse, Duke favored in tight field

Syracuse and Duke are favorites to win the national title for good reason. Defending champion Syracuse is led by Stephen Keogh, who netted a team-high 49 goals last season, and Duke - which lost to Syracuse in a NCAA semifinal - returns eight preseason All-Americans.

But Virginia, North Caroliona, Cornell and Johns Hopkins are just as anxious to reach the NCAA Final Four. Virginia, which lost to Cornell 14-10 in a semifinal, has six returning starters, including sophomore Steele Stanwick, the 2009 ACC Rookie of the Year. And after falling one goal shy of its first Final Four appearance since 1993 last season, UNC feels it has unfinished business.

Cornell has a score to settle with Syracuse after falling 10-9 in overtime to the Orange in last year's NCAA final. But with just four returning starters - and 26 freshmen and sophomores - can the Big Red make the same noise? Johns Hopkins returns three starters on attack: seniors Steven Boyle and Chris Boland and junior Kyle Wharton, who combined for 83 goals and 46 assists last season.

New York Sports