Fall Snapshot: Jacksonville Dolphins

(Photo Courtesy of Jacksonville Athletics)

Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.

Head Coach: John Galloway (Sixth Season, 2017-Current)

Jacksonville 2022 Record: 14-3 (5-0 SoCon)

Key Departures: Jack Dolan (M), Jeremey Winston (M), Tyler Corpora (M), Dixon Smith (D), Colin Hinton (D),

Key Returners: Max Waldbaum (A), Jacob Greiner (A), Jackson Intrieri (A), Nathan Kapp (FO), Tucker Garrity (SSDM), Jack Heed (D), Luke Millican (G)

Transfer Additions: Dylan Watson (A, Georgetown), Brandon Galloway (M, UMBC), Cole Daninger (SSDM, Rutgers)

The Jacksonville Dolphins were the darlings of the 2022 college lacrosse season. John Galloway’s squad didn’t win the SoCon or make the NCAA Tournament, but early-season upsets of Duke and Denver, and big conference wins over Richmond and High Point showed that the Dolphins had arrived as one of the best mid-major programs of the year.

Jacksonville ended the season with the No. 2 scoring offense, No. 2 scoring defense, and were ranked in the top 20 of both the Inside Lacrosse and USA Lacrosse end of season rankings. From that team, the Dolphins lose a bit but also return quite a lot of talent as well – plus add a very good transfer class.

In 2023, the Dolphins enter the ASUN, making the move with former SoCon foe Mercer while rejoining Air Force and Bellarmine. Detroit Mercy, Cleveland State, Utah, Robert Morris, and DII jumpers Lindenwood and Queens will also be conference opponents in Jacksonville’s new league – which is its home conference. The Dolphins are expected to be the top dogs in the ASUN this spring and will be looking to build off of last season’s successes.

Burning Questions

What Does The Offensive Midfield Look Like?

Jacksonville ended the season that averaged 16 goals per game. And while its attack unit, which all returns, was a major factor, the Dolphins also saw its top two midfielders in Jack Dolan and Tyler Corpora combine for 99 points (34 goals). Second-line midfielder Jeremy Winston had 17 points (16 goals) on the year as well. All three of those players are gone.

Brendan McKenna (8G/8A) started the final six games as the third midfielder/ fourth attackman. Bo Bowhunter (10G/2A) also saw multiple starts at the midfield for this Dolphins’ squad last season. Ethan LaMond (16G/2A) saw action as a reserve while Troy Hettinger (6G/4A/22GB/8CT) and Tucker Garrity (6G/8A27GB/18CT) are serious two-way threats. Brandon Galloway comes in as a grad transfer from UMBC, where he led the Retrievers’ in goals in 2021.

Offensively, the midfield spot is where the most questions lie for the Dolphins. And while this squad both returns and brings in talent at the position, how things pan put there will be an interesting storyline to watch develop come spring.

Does The Defense Maintain?

In 2022, the Dolphins featured the No. 2 scoring defense in college lacrosse as they held their opponents to an average of 8.5 goals per game. From that heralded defense, goalie Luke Millican (152 saves, 58%) returns as do the aforementioned defensive midfielders Hettinger and Garrity. Cole Daninger also comes in as a grad transfer from Rutgers at the SSDM spot. However, while this back end still has talent, there are some big holes needed to be filled.

Dixon Smith (40GB/15CT) and Colin Hinton (41GB/16CT) are both gone as the Dolphins’ top two close defensemen from last season and their exits create the biggest holes needed to be filled on the back end for John Galloway’s program heading into the 2023 season. Jack Heed (32GB/20CT) is the top returning pole, having played mostly at LSM last season but also seeing six starts at close. Davis Smith (8G/3CT) and Jordan Young (25GB/16CT) saw nine and four starts at close, respectively, in 2022.

Jacksonville has some new faces on the back end, especially at close. Mixed with the talent this squad brings back, can this defense churn out the year it had last spring. Things have been good under defensive coordinator Chris Perzinski thus far. We’ll have to wait and see if the Dolphins can do it again on D.

Can Jacksonville Get it Done in May?

In Jacksonville’s 13 years as a program, it has made the postseason seven times. The Dolphins were MAAC semifinalists in 2011 and 2013, and met the same fate in ASUN and SoCon in 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2021. The Dolphins went to the SoCon title game in both 2018 and 2022, marking the only two times in which the program overcame that semifinals hump.

Now in the ASUN, Jacksonville will be looking to push further this season. With 10-teams, the ASUN has gone to a three-round conference tournament which means there will be a quarterfinals on Tuesday, semifinals on Friday, and championship game on Sunday.

Jacksonville should be the top dog in the ASUN with Utah, who beat the Dolphins last season, looking to be the only other team close to them talent-wise at this point. It is known that the Dolphins are talented and should be favorites coming into the 2023 ASUN season. It is also known that Jacksonville has come up short multiple times when it mattered most. As games aren’t played on paper, Jacksonville will have to prove in May that they are an NCAA Tournament team and take that next step.

Potential Breakout Player

Marshall McGuire, Midfield, Redshirt Sophomore

As a redshirt freshman in 2022, McGuire recorded four goals and 11 assists. With some of those holes that the Dolphins have at the midfield spot, McGuire could be one of those players that steps up and helps provide more support and depth where needed.

Freshman Class

Jacksonville brings in a sizable freshman class with its 2022 recruiting efforts.

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