Ashley Bruns, senior A (44, 24)

Sam Farrell, senior D

Mikey Meagher, senior G

Key newcomers

Lauren Lea, freshman A

Darcy Messina, freshman, A

Outlook: The Gators have all they need to make a strong run at the national title in their fourth year of existence — talent, experience and motivation. After falling to Syracuse in double overtime of last year's national semifinal, the Gators return 11 starters and could not be more determined. This team is loaded with seniors who grew up together after arriving in Gainesville as freshman to start building toward this spring. In addition to a host of capable attackers, Dashiell, a Tewaraaton Award finalist last season and a John Carroll alumna, can dominate all over the field, and Meagher (7.03 goals-against average, .537 save percentage) could be the best keeper in the country.

3. Northwestern

American Lacrosse Conference

Last season: 21-2, NCAA champion

Coach: Kelly Amonte Hiller (12th season, 196-30)

Top returning point-getter: Erin Fitzgerald, senior A-M (56, 9)

Other key returnees

Taylor Thornton, junior M-D

Alyssa Leonard, junior M

Christy Turner, junior D

Key newcomers

Kaleigh Craig, freshman M

Christina Esposito, freshman M

Outlook: The Wildcats return seven starters from a team that won its second straight NCAA title and its seventh in eight years, but it gets tougher every season. In the final four, they edged Maryland, 9-7, and then Syracuse, 8-6, but in the ALC final, they suffered their worst loss in nearly a decade, 14-7 to Florida. The Wildcats graduated a strong core of players, including 2011 Tewaaraton winner Shannon Smith, a key feeder and finisher, and starting goalie Brianne LoManto. Still, the Wildcats have never had trouble reloading. One of their biggest advantages should be on the draw, where Leonard is difficult to beat. They also have an edge in Thornton, a Tewaaraton finalist last season and one of the most versatile players in the nation, who can dominate anywhere on the field.