(Photo Courtesy of Penn Athletics)
Welcome to week one of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
The first full weekend of the season came and went last week, leaving just 13 teams having not stepped on the field yet this season. Each of those programs will get their seasons underway this weekend as the 2023 college lacrosse season will be officially in full swing by the time the sun hits the horizon on Sunday night.
Here’s a look at some of the top storylines and games to watching heading into this weekend of action.
Welcome Back, Ivy League
The Ivy League had a hallmark year last season with all but one of its teams making the NCAA Tournament. Four Ivies would advance to the quarterfinals, two to Championship Weekend, and one was playing on Memorial Day. That league, which was the best a season ago, will see its teams take the field this weekend as the Ivy League season begins.
Of the seven season-opening contest for Ivies this weekend, three stand out the most as Penn visits Georgetown and Harvard visits Virginia in Saturday contests while Yale will visit Villanova on Sunday.
For the Quakers, it will be the second consecutive year in which they have opened against the Georgetown Hoyas. Last spring, the Hoyas won the battle 10-8. Hosting the Quakers this year, the Hoyas come into this one after being upset by Georgetown last week in a contest in which Tucker Dordevic scored five goals in his Georgetown debut. Penn comes into this season-opening contest for them following a season last spring that ended in an NCAA Quarterfinals exit. Mike Murphy’s squad returns an immense amount of talent on what could be one of the deepest roster in the Ivy League. That long list of returnees includes 2022 Tewaaraton finalist Sam Handley, LSM BJ Farrare, among plenty of others.
Harvard will travel to Charlottesville for what will be the first meeting between the Crimson and Cavaliers since 1996. The Crimson come into the second full year under Gerry Byrne off the back of a 2022 campaign that saw this young squad. Harvard returns nearly all its talent from last season, including leading scorer Sam King, and is expected to see multiple freshmen make sizable impacts, The host Virginia Cavaliers come into the week off a 17-13 season-opening win over Michigan in which Connor Shellenberger (3G/3A) and Payton Cormier (5G/1A), as well asVermont midfield transfer Thomas McConvey (3G/3A), shined.
On Sunday, the Yale Bulldogs travel to Philly to take on the Villanova Wildcats. It marks the sixth consecutive season in which Andy Shay and the Bulldogs have opened the season against the Wildcats. Yale won last year’s meeting 17-14 and is coming into this year’s season-opener off a season in which they fell in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Yale returns a deep and talent offense headlined by Matt Brandau, Leo Johnson, and Chris Lyons, among others. Villanova comes into Sunday after defeating Penn State 14-12 in its season opener on Sunday. Patrick Daly (4G/1A) and Matt Campbell (4G) led the way in the win.
Elsewhere in the Ivy League, Cornell faces UAlbany, Quinnipiac faces Brown, Dartmouth faces Merrimack, and Princeton faces Monmouth. All four opened last season against the same opponents. Dartmouth is the only one who didn’t win last year’s meeting, falling 8-6 against a Merrimack program that has started this spring 3-0.
Life Without McNaney Begins For Maryland
Three-year starting Maryland goalie Logan McNaney went down late in the loss to Loyola last week with an injury and Teddy Dolan was put in for the final few minutes of play. On Tuesday night, the worst worry about McNaney’s future this season was made reality as Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun broke the news that the star goalie would indeed miss the remainder of the 2023 season with a torn ACL.
On Saturday, the Maryland Terrapins will host the Syracuse Orange in a contest where John Tillman’s squad will very much be looking to bounce back after last week’s upset loss. And on that day the Terrapins will take the field without McNaney in action for the first time in three years. How this Terrapins’ squad, and that heralded defense in particular, adjust to life without McNaney will be interesting to watch.
Teddy Dolan appears to be the next man up in cage for the Terrapins. A grad transfer from Binghamton, Dolan was a three-year starter for the Bearcats and earned America East Defensive Player of The Year honors in 2021. He made 189 saves with a 54% save percentage last spring. His older brother, Danny, served as the Terrapins’ starting goalie in 2019.
Maryland’s defense will enter life without McNaney against a Syracuse squad that is looking to prove itself further after a 3-0 start in which the Orange plowed both UAlbany and Holy Cross last week after a defensive battle against Vermont in the season opener. Star freshman Joey Spallina (11G/2A), Owen Hiltz (5G/5A), and Alex Simmons (2G/8A) each have double-digit points on the season thus far as leaders for the Syracuse offense.
Battle of Charles Street
For the 59th time in history on Saturday, the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays and Loyola Greyhounds will meet on the lacrosse field in the annual Battle of Charles Street. This year’s meeting will take place at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex. Hopkins leads the all-time series 49-9 but Loyola has dominated the series over the past eight contest with the the Greyhounds earning six of their all-time wins over Hopkins since 2013. Johns Hopkins won last year’s battle 11-10.
The host Greyhounds come into this contest off the heels of a massive upset victory over Maryland on Saturday in whicn the Loyola defense shined bright. Luke Staudt made 19 saves while Loyola’ strong group of poles, including Matt Hughes and Cam Wyers, also made much headway in the effort. Evan James (3G), Davis Lindsey (1G/2A), and Seth Higgins (1G/2A) helped lead the way on offense.
Johns Hopkins has also had a strong start to this young season, going 2-1 in its first three games with the Blue Jays’ first loss coming on Tuesday night against North Carolina. The Hopkins defense, anchored by Tim Marcille, has remained the strongest part of this Blue Jays team. However, the John Crawley motion offense has shined with the Blue Jays’ defense looking better than it ever has in the Peter Milliman era. Jacob Angelus (2G/8A) has been the primary feeder while Marquette transfer Russell Melendez (5G/1A), Dylan Bauer (4G/2A), and Garrett Degnon (5G), among others, have been heavy contributors as scorers.
Expect this one to be a battle, and possibly a defensive-heavy one at that.
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.
Duke vs Denver (Fri, 4pm, ESPNU): The first massive contest of the weekend comes on Friday night as the Duke Blue Devils play host to the Denver Pioneers. This will be a contest between a pair of teams who are both looking to rebound after upset losses last weekend. The Blue Devils were upset by Jacksonville while Denver was upset by Air Force. The trio of Brennan O’Neill, Dyson Williams, and Andrew McAdorey has combined for 43 points through three games for the Blue Devils as the headliners of that offense. JJ Sillstrop (5G/1A) and Stephen Avery (4G/1A) have led the way for Denver. The battle between Duke’s Jake Naso and Denver’s Alec Stathakis at the faceoff dot will be one to watch.
Army West Points vs Rutgers (Noon, ESPN +): The Black Knights of Army will welcome in the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers on Saturday afternoon. The host Black Knights will be look for their first win of the season after falling 10-8 at UMass in their season opener. Reese Burek (3G/1A) led the way in the game for the Black Knights while Will Colletti also shined with a 12-for-21 (57%) mark at the faceoff dot. Rutgers is looking to move to 3-0 on the season after wins over Marist and Stony Broom through the first two weeks of the season. Dante Kulas (6G/3A) has taken a big step forward through this young season while Harvard transfer Kyle Mullin (17 saves, 54.8%) has been the most notable of a number of transfers making big impacts.
Penn State vs Stony Brook (Noon, Big Ten Plus): Penn State welcomes in Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon for a contest that will see both squads looking to get back in the win column. Penn State fell 14-12 against Villanova on Sunday in a contest where Jack Traynor (1G/3A) and TJ Malone (3G) helped lead the way on offense while Jack Fraycon made 14 saves in cage. Stony Brook is coming off a season-opening, 11-7 loss to Rutgers in which Jamison MacLachlan had a stellar season debut with 23 saves and a 67.6% save percentage. LIU transfer Blake Behlen (1G/3A) and Matt Anderson (3G/1A) helped lead the way on offense.
Utah vs Vermont (3pm, Pac-12 Plus): In the Rocky Mountains on Saturday afternoon, the westernmost team in DI lacrosse program Utah Utes will welcome in the northernmost program in the Vermont Catamounts. It will be the third ever meeting and second consecutive one between these two squads. The series is split at 1-1 with Utah winning last year’s meeting. Both are coming off high-scoring victories last week as Utah beat Marquette 18-16 while Vermont beat Boston U. 14-12. Utah saw Tyler Bradbury (2G/4A) tally six points as the leader in the game while Brock Haley (3G/5A) was the leader in Vermont’s win last week with eight points. The Catamounts also saw Jonas Hunter (5G/2A) tally seven points. In addition to the offenses, the battle between Utah’s Cole Brams and Vermont’s Tommy Burke could be interesting and help decide this game.
Ohio State vs North Carolina (Sun, Noon, Big Ten Plus): One of a pair of big Sunday contest, the North Carolina Tar Heels will travel to Columbus to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The visiting Tar Heels will be looking for payback after the Buckeyes ran them off of their own home turf last season. Ohio State is 2-0 and has seen its offensive depth really shine early in the year with Jack Myers (5G/7A), Ed Shean (7G/1A), Kyle Borda (5G), and others, leading the way. Drew Blanchard has fit nicely as the next man up at the dot, going 28-for-34 (82%) thus far. Blanchard vs Andrew Tyeryear might be the best faceoff battle of the weekend. North Carolina is coming off a win over Johns Hopkins on Tuesday in which Tyeryear went 13-for-22 (59%), Collin Kreig made 14 saves, and seven different players scored for the Tar Heels. That includes two goals coming from each of Antonio DeMarco, Sean Goldsmith, P.J. Zinser, and Dewey Egan.