top of page
  • Chris Jastrzembski

2023 Men's Lacrosse Week 0 Preview: We're back

Courtesy: John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Saturday will mark 250 days since last Memorial Day, when Maryland completed an undefeated season by beating Cornell in the national championship.

It'll also mark the first day of regular season competition of the 2023 season at the Division I level, marked by 12 games followed by three more on Sunday.

We are officially back.

This is the unofficial Week 0 of college lacrosse. Most teams will start next weekend with the Ivy League starting the week after. It was an offseason filled with transfers, conference affiliation changes, and two new teams entering the Division I fold (both are playing this weekend).

You can find every game, along with live stream and stat links, on this Google Sheet. It's the best place to get everything all at once for game day.

Let's dive in to some of these contests (all spreads courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook).

The Very Good Games

Richmond @ Maryland (1 PM, BTN+); Maryland -7.5

The defending national champions are once again a contender to win the national championship. DraftKings Sportsbook has them as the favorite with +450 odds. Maryland has lost a total of one game in the past two seasons, that being the 2021 national championship.

They lose Tewaaraton winner Logan Wisnauskas along with plenty of other key contributors. But a group that includes Kyle Long, Logan McNaney, and new #1 Brett Makar all return. They also bring in Donovan Lacey from Sacred Heart and Dante Trader from the football team. Will they be as good as last year, no. But they'll still contend for a national championship has they've done for over a decade.

I'm not high on Richmond as others to start the season. I think they're a top 25 team, but not yet in the top 20. How much will the loss of Ryan Lanchbury hurt to start the year? Richmond loses three of their top five point getters from a year ago with Dalton Young being their top returner. Jake Saunders is their lone returner on close defense. They'll compete with Saint Joseph's for the inaugural Atlantic 10 title.

Johns Hopkins @ Jacksonville (7 PM, ESPN+); Jacksonville -1.5

I have this as my game of the weekend. The first two weekends of the season are going to make or break Jacksonville's at-large chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Yes, we're already looking at the tournament that's three months away.

But if you look at Jacksonville's schedule, Johns Hopkins and Duke are their two top nonconference opponents. After that is...High Point? Utah is Jacksonville's best conference foe and will compete with the Dolphins for the ASUN crown. And let's not forget Robert Morris in that conversation.

The big question surrounding the Dolphins is the status of attackman Max Waldbaum who was injured during the team's scrimmage against Division III Lynchburg two weeks ago. In a local interview with radio host Ray Carcinelli the day after the scrimmage, head coach John Galloway didn't give an indication of how serious it was.

As for Johns Hopkins, we'll see how the offense looks like with new offensive coordinator John Crawley, a Hopkins alum. The Blue Jays are definitely in the bottom half of the Big Ten where I'd probably put them fourth in the conference. Will be keeping an eye out for Garrett Degnon, Brendan Grimes, and Marquette transfer Russell Melendez.

Melendez isn't the only newcomer for the Blue Jays, as former Georgetown Hoya Alex Mazzone joins the Blue Jays on defense. Hopkins also brings a transfer goaltender in Luke Caracciolo (Bryant) who joins Gib Versfeld and Tim Marcille as potential starting options.

The Farewell Tour Begins

Utah @ Denver (2 PM, Pioneer All-Access); Denver -2.5

The 42nd and final season of Bill Tierney's illustrious collegiate coaching career begins at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium as the Pioneers host the Utes. It's his 39th season as a college head coach and his 14th as Denver's boss.

It shouldn't be an easy season-opener. It's the third straight season these two teams will open up their respective seasons. Denver won the previous two matchups, but only by a goal in each contest.

JJ Sillstrop was Denver's leading scorer last year and returns to the Pios. They lose their next five top scorers before getting to Richie Connell who had 14 goals last season. Denver's strength will be on defense with Malik Sparrow, AJ Mercurio, Jack DiBenedetto, Adam Hangland, and short stick Jake Edinger all back. Goaltender Jack Thompson also returns.

As for the Utes, they came up short in last year's ASUN title game in an overtime loss to Robert Morris. They'll still be a tough opponent and I had them as my 20th team in my top 20. They return offensive studs in Tyler Bradbury, last year's ASUN Offensive Player of the Year, and Jordan Hyde, along with one of the more underrated players in the sport in defenseman Samuel Cambere, the conference's Defensive Player of the Year. This game will serve as a very nice afternoon capper.

The First Game

Mercer @ Bucknell (11:30 AM, ESPN+); Bucknell -5.5

Thankfully there's one game that will be by itself for a short time. Bucknell will host Mercer to officially kick off the 2023 season.

There's a fun storyline here as Mercer's new head coach, Ryan Danehy, came over from Bucknell in the offseason. He was their offensive coordinator for four years in Lewisburg prior to landing in Macon. It's his first collegiate head coaching opportunity. Keep an eye out for faceoff stud Ashton Wood for the Bears. Goaltender Colin Kelley looked solid in Mercer's pair of scrimmages last week against Division II opponents Tampa and Florida Southern.

The Newbies

Lindenwood @ Marquette (12 PM, FloSports); Marquette -11.5
Queens @ Navy (Sunday 12 PM, ESPN+); Line unavailable

Introducing Division I's two newest men's teams, Lindenwood and Queens. Both will be playing in the ASUN after moving up from Division II.

Lindenwood kicks things off against a Marquette team that will be intriguing. The Golden Eagles welcome back each of their top-six scorers from last year including stud freshman Bobby O'Grady and Devon Cowan. They also bring in transfers Matthew Winegardner (Mercer) and Jackson Rose (St. Bonaventure). The defense is stellar led by Mason Woodward, a player that also should get more attention, along with LSM David Lamarca.

Queens takes on a Navy team that's a fringe top-20 program that won't have a ton of turnaround time. They'll also be playing Saturday afternoon against Mount St. Mary's, who they lost to in last year's season-opener. That Mount St. Mary's game was originally scheduled for Friday but was changed. I wish it was Friday to really kick off the season, but alas. The Midshipmen should have a really talented midfield unit led by Patrick Skalniak and Dane Swanson.

A couple of notable freshmen to watch for Navy, maybe not this year but in years to come:

  • Attackman Jack Nichtern, whose brother Brendan played at Army West Point. The rivalry will get even more intense in the Nichtern household.

  • Short stick defensive midfielder Jack Coughlin, whose uncle is none other than Stanford Steve. He's a great guy who also enjoys the sport along with Scott Van Pelt.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't share Navy's new proposed lacrosse center.

As for Lindenwood and Queens, they'll be ineligible for the NCAA Tournament for the next four seasons as they begin their transition to becoming full Division I members. I absolutely hate this rule and wish it was cut in half, which is what outgoing ASUN commissioner Ted Gumbart proposed recently that did not pass.

The Others

Bellarmine @ Duke (12 PM, ACCNX); Duke -10.5

One of the teams that was on the outside of the NCAA Tournament last year, the Blue Devils will look to avenge last year's disappointing campaign. Brennan O'Neill will lead the Duke offense, and it'll also be interesting to see how Andrew McAdorey progresses as a sophomore.

Air Force @ Ohio State (12 PM, BTN+); Ohio State -5.5

The Buckeyes made the NCAA Tournament last year and will debut their brand new Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium as the Falcons come flying in (literally and figuratively). Can't wait to watch games (online) and not have camera angles all the way up from Mars. Need more lacrosse-friendly venues.

Vermont @ Syracuse (1 PM, ACCNX); Syracuse -2.5

As of now, Syracuse is a soccer school. They won the national championship in men's soccer this fall.

Last year was the first under Gary Gait. I did not have any expectations for that team and they missed the NCAA Tournament. Not mad about that. This year, the program brings in a talented freshman class led by new #22 Joey Spallina. Alex Simmons, Cole Kirst, and Will Mark are notable transfers that come in. My expectations for the program are for them to be competitive. I'm not going far to say they need to make the NCAA Tournament, they definitely can, but I think 2024 will be the first big year for the program under Gait.

Vermont will provide a great early season test for the Orange.

Holy Cross @ Providence (Sunday 1 PM, FloSports); Providence -5.5

The other new head coach to make his debut this week: Bobby Benson of Providence. Benson was at Maryland the past two seasons as their offensive coordinator, leading the Terps to a pair of national championship appearances and one national championship. Not sure the Friars will finish top four in the Big East this season, but he should slowly push them back up the chain in the conference. It's a great hire for that school.

208 views0 comments
bottom of page