(Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics)
Another week of college lacrosse has passed and it was a wild one, containing arguably the best game of the season to date as well as multiple crazy finishes and upsets.
While I don’t have an official vote, here is a look at my own personal top 20 after week three of the 2023 season
1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0)
Notre Dame is the lone undefeated team left in the country and is coming off yet another blowout victory; this time against Michigan 18-8. Pat Kavanagh led the Irish with 10 points off four goals and six assists in the win as they stepped on the gas and never let up.
2. Maryland Terrapins (5-2)
Maryland went into hostile territory on Saturday afternoon and earned its biggest win of the season, knocking off previously undefeated Virginia 14-13 in overtime. And they did so in a contest that saw the Terrapins’ offense continue to get deeper and better as Jack Koras (4G) led the way while Braeden Erska (2G/1A), Jack Brennan (1G/1A), and Owen Murphy (1G/1A), among others, all chipped in. Brian Ruppel and that defense, however, stole the show with Ruppel’s amazing three-save sequence in overtime and Ajax Zapitello holding Connor Shellenberger to one goal and two assists. The Terrapins clearly answered the moment
3. Virginia Cavaliers (6-1)
At home on Saturday, the Cavaliers suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of Maryland in overtime in what was very much the game of the year thus far. Despite the loss, this team still showed to be one of the best. The Cavaliers answered an initial Maryland run and was able to force overtime late. Petey LaSalla going 50% against Luke Wierman after struggling in their previous two meetings was a notable positive note from this squad in the loss.
4 . Duke Blue Devils (7-1)
Duke welcomed in rival North Carolina and took down the Tar Heels in a 15-8 dominating win. The Blue Devils have now won five straight and this offense has clearly shown to be more than Brenna O’Neill, Dyson Willams, and Andrew McAdorey. While the former two combined 10 points (6 goals) on Friday, Garett Leadmon (3G/1A) and Owe Caputo (1G/2A) also came to play. Jake Naso also dominated the dot with a 64% clip to give Duke as many extra possession as they needed.
5. Cornell Big Red (5-1)
It was the Big Red who had perhaps the most surprising win of the week as the defeated Yale 20-10 on the road in their Ivy League opener. Between Gavin Adler holding Matt Brandau to just one goal and one assist, Chayse Ierlan’s 21 saves to anchor the Big Red defensive effort, Angelo Petrakis going 8-for-13 (61%), and Michael Long (3G/1A) having a big day in his season debut, Cornell looked every part of a top-tier team.
6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-1)
The Scarlet Knights took care of business in their final non-conference game of the season, beating UMass 11-5 on Saturday in a game where Dante Kulas (2G/2A) and Kyle Mullin (12 saves) helped lead the way on either end.
7. Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (7-3)
Last season, the Blue Jays’ season was very much defined by the weekend in which they lost to Navy and Delaware. Could that be true again in 2023 but in the opposite direction? Hopkins took down Navy 12-9 on Friday night and then was able to strike back and pull away from Delaware on Sunday, 12-10. The Blue Jays now enter Big Ten play looking as strong as they ever have under Peter Milliman.
8. Villanova Wildcats (6-1)
Villanova won its fifth consecutive game over the weekend, taking down Monmouth 10-6 in a contest where they sprinted out to an 8-1 lead in the first half. Matt Campbell (4G/1A) and Patrick Daly (3G/1A) continue to lead this Wildcats’ team in big ways.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2)
After being the upset kings over the past month, Penn State had the favor returned to them as they fell 12-11 in a neutral site game on Long Island to Marquette. The struggles at the faceoff dot and the fact that Penn State was unable to strike back as they had in recent weeks was the most shocking thing about this game from the Nittany Lions.
10. Army West Point Black Knights (6-1)
The Black Knights passed their first major conference test on Saturday, beating Lehigh 12-10 in a game where Evan Plunkett (3G) and Reese Burek (2G/4A) led the way. Army holding Lehigh to 15-for-20 in the clearing game and winning the ground ball battle 44-27 are more good signs from this team.
11. Jacksonville Dolphins (6-1)
Dolphins can swim in the snow? Jacksonville went up to Robert Morris and defeated the reigning ASUN champs 12-8 in their conference opener. Dylan Watson (6G/3A) and Max Waldbaum (3G/1A) shined the brightest in a contest where snow was falling for a time.
12. Loyola Greyhounds (5-2)
The Greyhounds earned a bounce back win over a league opponent this weekend, defeating Bucknell 14-13 in a contest where Matthew Minicus had a whopping seven goals and one assist for eight points.
13. North Carolina (5-3)
North Carolina had a rough loss to rival Duke on Friday night but bounced back with a 25-7 throttling of Dartmouth on Sunday afternoon.
14. Penn Quakers (3-3)
The Quakers got back to ,500 on Saturday night thanks to a Sam Handley game-winner in overtime to send them past Princeton in a defensive-heavy 9-8 game. Handley (2G/4A) and Ben Smith (4G) led the way for a Quakers offense that is perhaps beginning to develop as expected.
15. Boston U. Terriers (5-1)
Boston U. blew out Holy Cross 23-9. Vince D’Alto had six goals and three assists for the Terriers.
16. Yale Bulldogs (3-2)
I debated dropping Yale this far (I had them at eight last week) but after the whooping Cornell put on them I see no place else to slot the Bulldogs. The Yale defense still has problems and the fact that they weren’t able to get the requisite possessions needed to get their offense going was something I didn’t see coming.
17. Georgetown Hoyas (3-3)
Georgetown defeated High Point 22-10 in a game where Brian Minicus had six goals and one assist for the Hoyas.
18. Saint Joseph’s Hawks (4-3)
The Hawks returned to their winning ways this past weekend, beating St. John’s 16-10 in a game where Levi Anderson had eight goals and two assists while Zach Cole went 24-for-29 (82%) at the dot.
19. Princeton Tigers (2-4)
I almost dropped Princeton out after this week. but I will keep them in as I do believe they showed improvement. Losing consecutive overtime games has to sting, but this defense looked more cohesive throughout with Michael Gianforcaro (17 saves) playing in cage the whole game. Seeing Alexander Vardaro (2G/2A), Jake Stevens (2G/1A), and Sam English (2G/1A) all get involved for a more diversified offensive attack is another good sign from the Tigers.
20. Marquette Golden Eagles (4-3)
For the second time this season the Marquette Golden Eagles beat a Big Ten team in a neutral site; this time knocking off Penn State 12-11 on Long Island. Devon Cowan and Andrew Bowman each had hat tricks to lead the offense while the duo of Grant Evans (10-for-13, 76%) and Luke Williams combined to go 19-for-27 (70%) against what had been a stellar faceoff unit for Penn State.
Others Considered: Ohio State Buckeyes, Delaware Blue Hens, Denver Pioneers, Richmond Spiders, Drexel Dragons