(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)
Welcome to week one of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
Last weekend saw the season get underway with 29 teams getting their seasons underway. 32 more teams join the fold this weekend as the majority of teams across the DI landscape will have begun play by the time the sun sets on Sunday night. In other words, the season is ramping up into full swing.
Here’s a look at some of the top storylines and games to watching heading into this weekend of action.
Week One Storylines
Hopkins’ Big Test
Johns Hopkins opened up its season last Saturday night with a solid 12-7 victory over a top-20 Jacksonville Dolphins squad, who was without star attackman Max Waldbaum.
The Blue Jays entered the contest with faceoff man Matt Narweski and defenseman Beaudan Szuluk. However, their absences didn’t cause too much of a problem. Georgetown transfer Alex Mazzone slid down from LSM to close to cover that spot while Logan Callahan took over at the faceoff dot and went 10-for-13 (76%). That included a 6-6 mark in the third quarter. In addition, Tim Marcille looked solid in cage with 15 saves on the night and the Hopkins’ offense seemed to be much improved from last season with nine different goal-scorers. Jacob Angelus (2G/2A) led the way.
Following that season-opening win, the Blue Jays now face an even bigger test as they welcome the Georgetown Hoyas to historic Homewood field on Saturday afternoon for what should be the toughest early-season game for Peter Milliman’s squad.
The No. 3-ranked Hoyas come into the 2023 season after getting upset early in last year’s NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed. Georgetown features another loaded roster with Graham Bundy, Jr., TJ Haley, and Declan McDermott as key returners on offense while 2022 Schmeisser Award winner Will Bowen headlines the defense. Nicky Solomon, Brian Minicus, Jacob Kelly, and Tucker Dordevic look to make sizable impacts on offense as transfers while Daniel Hincks comes in at the goalie spot. Two-time All-Big East faceoff man James Reilly is also back to serve as the top option at the dot.
Saturday will be the first opportunity to see how this transfer-infused Georgetown teams looks for real, but will also be a chance to see if Hopkins can keep building on what they did a week ago.
The Wahoos Are Back
At high noon on Saturday, the Virginia Cavaliers will welcome in the Michigan Wolverines for what will be the first contest of the season for both squads.
Virginia enters the season as the top-ranked team in the nation and is looking to end the year playing on Memorial Day as they have two (2019, 2021) out of the last three seasons. The Cavaliers feature a star-studded roster headlined by attackman Connor Shellenberger, who also has returners such as Payton Cormier, Xander Dickson, and Griffin Schutz to work with on the offensive end. Vermont midfield transfer Thomas McConvey and former Stanford linebacker Ricky Miezan join that end as well. Additionally, Petey LaSalla is back at the faceoff dot while goalie Matthew Nunes and defenseman Cole Kasner headline the defense.
The Cavaliers open the season on Saturday afternoon against a Michigan team that enters the year hungry after losing each of its final eight games of the season.
Michigan returns nearly everyone from last seasons squad, including attackmen Josh Zawada, Michel Boehm, and Ryan Cohen, as well as what could be a deep crop of midfielders headlined by Jake Bonomi, among others. Attackman Bryce Clay is also back after missing last season with an injury. Nick Rowlett returns at the faceoff dot after a stellar season while the same is true of Shane Carr in cage, who headlines the Wolverines’ defense along with likes of defenseman Andrew Darby.
How this Virginia offense operates and whether or not improvement from last year is seen within this Michigan squad will be especially interesting aspects to watch in this contest.
Just as was the case a week ago, this weekend’s action will see multiple coaches officially get their tenures underway at their new stops or as head coaches for the first time.
Drew Kelleher will lead the UMass Lowell River Hawks into battle for the first time on Saturday as they hit the road to take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Kelleher came to UMass Lowell after seven seasons as the head coach at Manhattan, where he led them to a MAAC title last season.
For the first time in 16 years, the Bryant Bulldogs will have a new head coach barking out orders on the sidelines as Brad Ross makes his debut as a head coach on Saturday afternoon against Ocean State rival Providence. Ross came to Bryant after serving as the offensive coordinator at Navy. He was previously an assistant at Bryant under Pressler, whom he played for at Duke.
Eric Wolf will make his debut as the head coach at NJIT on Saturday when the Highlanders take the field against Siena in a road contest. Wolf came to NJIT over the summer after previously being the head coach at LIU.
LIU beings the Jordan Levine era on Saturday when the Sharks travel to take on the Merrimack Warriors in what will be a battle between a pair of teams who elevated to the DI ranks four years ago. Levine came to LIU after leading DII Mercy to the national title game last spring.
When St. John’s and Manhattan take the field at 1pm on Saturday, each will be led by a first-time head coach. Justin Turri came to St. John’s over the summer after previously being the offensive coordinator at Michigan. Manhattan’s head man John Odierna is a first-time head coach but in a familiar place, having been elected to the position over the summer. Odierna previously spent seven years as the Jaspers’ defensive coordinator. He held the associate head coach title as well each of the past three seasons.
Games to Watch
Beyond the aforementioned games, here are some others to keep your eye on this weekend.
You can find a full schedule of this weekend’s games here.
Jacksonville vs Duke (Noon): The Duke Blue Devils will head to the Sunshine State for a battle with the Jacksonville Dolphins. Last season, the Blue Devils were upset by Jacksonville in February. Jacksonville will be looking to do so once more and is aiming to earn its first win of the season after falling to Johns Hopkins last week. Brandon Galloway had three goals to lead the Dolphins in the loss. Duke is looking to move to 3-0 on the year and is coming off a dominating win over High Point. Dyson Williams netted a career-high seven goals in the midweek contest and has 11 goals through two games. Andrew McAdorey (7G/4A) and Brennan O’Neill (4G/7A) each have 11 points thus far as well.
Vermont vs Boston U. (Noon): In what could very well be one of the best mid-major games during this early-season slate, the Boston U. Terriers will travel to face the Vermont Catamounts. The home Catamounts are coming off a 7-5 loss to Syracuse last week in which Matt Shaffer made 16 saves in his first start, Tommy Burke went 56% at the dot, and Jonas Hunter led the offense with two goals. Saturday will be the Terriers’ season opener. They come into the season after winning the Patriot League last season and return nearly everyone, including the attack line of Vince D’Alto, Timmy Ley, and Louis Perfetto, LSM Roy Meyer, faceoff man Conor Calderone, and goalie Matt Garber.
Loyola vs Maryland (1pm): Loyola opens the season with what will be one of its toughest test as the Greyhounds welcome the Maryland Terrapins to the Ridley Athletic Complex. Loyola, while losing a ton of talent from last season, is looking to get things back on track in 2023 after a pair of up and down campaigns in 2021 and 2022. Adam Poitras and Evan James are some of the top returning scorers for Loyola while defenseman Cam Wyers and SSDM Payton Rezanka help headline the defense. Maryland is coming off a 15-4 season-opening win over Richmond last week. Owen Murphy (4G) and Daniel Maltz (2G/3A) led the way on offense while Brett Makar headlined a stellar defensive performance with five ground balls and four caused turnovers.
Bucknell vs Robert Morris (2pm): This western Pennsylvania rivalry renews itself on Saturday afternoon when the Bucknell Bison and the Robert Morris Colonials take the field against each other on Saturday afternoon. The two sides have split each of the past two contest with the Colonials winning in 2021 and Bison in 2022. Saturday will be Robert Morris’ first game of the season while Bucknell is coming off a dominating 20-6 win over Mercer last week.
Air Force vs Denver (3pm): Air Force continues its tough early-season stretch as the Falcons welcome in Colorado foe Denver on Saturday afternoon. The Falcons are coming off a 15-7 loss to Ohio State last week in which sophomore Josh Yago led the way with two goals. Denver is coming off a 12-4 win over Utah in which JJ Sillstrop (2G/1A) and Noah Manning (1G/2A) each had three points to lead the way.
Villanova vs Penn State (Sun, Noon): The Villanova Wildcats get their season underway on Sunday afternoon as they welcome in the Penn State Nittany Lions. Villanova is coming off a season in which they reached the Big East title game and returns some of its top play makers, including offensive weapons in Matt Campbell and Patrick Daly. Penn State is coming off a season-opening 21-11 win over Lafayette in which Matt Traynor (5G/1A) and Chris Jordan (4G/2A) each had six points while Hudson Bohn went 69% at the faceoff dot. The battle between Bohn and Villanova’s Justin Coppola should be interesting.