Unpredictable. Chaotic. Exciting. All adjectives used to best describe the first month of NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse. Here are a few numbers before we get into the February report card.
- 1: Congratulations to Lindenwood and Queens on earning their first Division 1 wins this season.
- 5: Rock Fights. Five times this season both teams have failed to score at least 10 or more goals.
- 7: Undefeated teams. Virginia, Notre Dame, UMBC, Robert Morris, St. Joseph’s, Cornell, and Dartmouth. What’s the over/under for April 1? 1.5?
- 13: Winless teams. UMass Lowell, NJIT, Cleveland State, Detroit Mercy, St. John’s, Hampton, Canisius, LIU, Marist, Sacred Heart, Colgate, and Holy Cross.
- 19: Teams that have scored at least 20 goals on the season. Harvard is the only team to score 20 or more goals and lose.
Every week, Lacrosse Reference shares the Efficiency Matrix for NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse. The graph breaks down all of the teams in Division 1 on a scatter chart. The best offenses are placed to the right. The best defenses are on top. All of the numbers are adjusted based on the opponent’s strength of schedule. Below is the February Efficiency Matrix and the five biggest takeaways from the first month of the season.
Notre Dame: A Balanced Attack
The Irish are off to a strong start in 2023. They are 3-0 and have the 2nd best offense and 22nd defense. Offensively, the Irish are led by the Kavanagh brothers at attack. They are perfect complements of each other’s skill sets. Chris Kavanagh has 18 points (12G, 6A) and Pat Kavanagh has 17 points (3G, 14 A). Jeffrey Ricciardelli has done well replacing Jake Taylor who is out with a second ACL injury. Should Taylor return in April or May, it will add yet another devastating element for the Irish offense. Kevin Corrigan has done a remarkable job integrating the transfers into the Irish lineup. Brian Tevlin is a swiss army knife on both ends of the field, and Chris Fake and Chris Conlin continued in the tradition of a stout Irish defense. The Irish face a challenge on Saturday as they host the Terps.
Virginia: Waiting for the Defense to Catch Up
Virginia got everyone’s attention two weeks ago when they hung 20 on Harvard in the first half. The Cavalier offense has never been an issue in Charlottesville. Lars Tiffany and his staff have done a masterful job of stacking high school recruiting classes and using the transfer portal to reinforce its lineup. Virginia has the top-rated offense in the country and has an efficiency rating of 42.8%. The biggest question mark for the Cavaliers has come from their defense. The defense has had a good but not great ranking in the 20s over the last two years. The Cavaliers‘ defense looked porous, to put it mildly, during the first two weeks of the season. Michigan and Harvard in the second half both seemed to score at will. Granted Lars emptied the bench against the Crimson, but having a 12 goal half-time lead shrinking to a four-goal win is not a great look. Virginia had their best look defensively last week against Ohio State. More balanced performances from the defense will make Virginia tough to beat in 2023.
Georgetown: Wake the Hoyas up When February Ends
February has been filled with landmines for the Hoyas. The offense looks out of sync and overly reliant on Tucker Dordevic and Graham Bundy, Jr. The pair have 19 points between them, but only three of those points are assists. Georgetown had the 6th best offense in 2022 and looked to improve with Tucker Dordevic, Brian Minucus, Jacob Kelly, and Nicky Solomon being added. The Hoyas also brought in John Hogan as their new offensive coordinator this offseason. The results just have not followed. The Hoyas would benefit from sharing the ball and passing up the good shot, for the best shot. This is where Maryland thrived last year, also with a roster chocked full of transfers. Georgetown has four games in March to get the offense and the defense (57th) sorted out before Big East play starts in April. Villanova and Denver will be waiting.
Defense: UMass, Cornell, and Loyola
Cornell, Loyola, and UMass have the strongest defenses so far in 2023. Cornell is #3 (16%), UMass is 7th (18.7%), and Loyola is 17th (21.6%). Each of the team’s long poles has wreaked havoc on opposing offenses. Cornell’s defensive unit (Singer, Follows, and Adler) have 14 caused turnovers and 23 ground balls. Loyola’s defensive unit (Hughes, Wyers, and Bean) has 15 caused turnovers and 34 ground balls. UMass’s defensive unit (Campbell, Wittmack, and Sharkey) has 13 caused turnovers and 11 ground balls. Each of the team’s goalies is in the Top 10 in save percentage: Staudt (Loyola, 65.1%), Knote (UMass, 63.5%), and Ierlan (Cornell, 58.5%). Each of the three teams will look to use their defense to put them in a position to come out on top of their respective conferences.
Which Way is Up?: Yale, Boston, and Providence
|Team||Offensive Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency||Cumulative Efficiency Rank||Record|
Looking at the chart there is a cluster in the bottom right-hand corner for Yale, Boston, and Providence. The three teams are statistically very close together, but the greater lacrosse community holds to different levels. Bobby Benson has done a nice job in Friartown with his offense. Sure Providence had a losing record in February, but a comparison with their 2022 schedule shows how the team has competed at a higher level in 2023. BU is on par with their 2022 season. Yale’s defense continues to be a troubling trend. They were 49th last year and sit 40 this year. As the Bulldogs learned last week, their offense isn’t going to be able to bail them out time and again. What success looks like is very different for each of these teams in 2023. They are just three of a number of teams in that middle cluster I will be keeping an eye on for the remainder of the 2023 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse season.
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