Unlike recent years when Rutgers and Notre Dame were clear-cut winners in the lacrosse transfer portal, this cycle’s crown is more tricky to quantify at the moment. Transfers are the new normal in college athletics. Florida State and Colorado football are two national stories and two programs that upgraded significantly during the offseason.
Regardless of the sport, if you’re not getting better via the portal, it’s likely that your competition is.
Here are some notable lacrosse players who changed schools ahead of the 2024 season.
Who won the transfer portal?
Syracuse and Duke, right now, appear to have upgraded their rosters through the acquisition of transfers. The Orange will be much stronger in the middle of the field with pro-level midfielders Sam English and Jake Stevens. I was extremely impressed with Stevens late in the 2023 season playing for the Tigers. He’s a big-time PLL and indoor prospect, with a tool box that could fit seamlessly on face-off wings, EMO or EMD. That’s how versatile he is. LSM Matt Wright has some injury concerns after logging a lot of miles for UNC but is a proven commodity in the ACC, who always plays hard. Christian Mule has boatloads of skill and offensive IQ and can find a role in the top 9 offensive players or on extra-man. SU takes a quantum leap towards the Top Ten with these additions complimenting their already outstanding sophomore class.
- Sam English, M, Princeton (Gr.)
- Mason Kohn, FO, Tufts (Gr.)
- Christian Mulé, A, Lehigh (Gr.)
- Zack Puckhaber, D, Gettysburg (Gr.)
- Steven Schmitt, LSM, Mt. St. Mary’s (Gr.)
- Jake Stevens, M, Princeton (Gr.)
- Jake Titus, DM, Union (Gr.)
- Matt Wright, LSM, North Carolina (Gr.)
- Mac Fotiades, G, Michigan (Gr.)
- Brock Gonzalez, A/M, Amherst (Gr.)
- Griffin Rakower, G, Princeton (Gr.)
- Alex Slusher, A, Princeton (Gr.)
- Josh Zawada, A, Michigan (Gr.)
Zawada and Slusher add to an already stacked offensive unit. Zawada was a points machine for the Wolverines, spearheading their foray into the NCAA tournament. His 65 points were essential in Michigan’s transformative 10 win campaign.
Slusher does his best work from the right-handed wing. With Brennan O’Neil and Dyson Williams returning on attack, it’ll be interesting to see how OC Matt Danowski develops his two-deep. Duke continues to benefit from the Fuqua one-year graduate program and clearly is the team to beat in 2024.
Maryland and Ohio State were aggressive in the portal. The Terps best acquisition is Griffin King, an athletic midfielder (6-2 215) from Niskayuna, NY via Brown who can play at both ends and runs the field well. In ten games, King had 25 points.
- Nick Alviti, LSM, Vermont (Gr.)
- Jackson Canfield, D, Vermont (Gr.)
- Griffin King, M, Brown (Gr.)
- Colin Sharkey, DM, Vermont (Gr.)
The Buckeyes dove in and picked up ten new faces. FOGO Tommy Burke has been successful for the Catamounts and I would expect him to fit into the B10.
- Zack Antoniou, D, Fairfield
- Danny Brady, G, Wagner (Gr.)
- Kurt Bruun, A, Tufts (Gr.)
- Tommy Burke, FO, Vermont (Gr.)
- Eli Fisher, DM, Wagner (Gr.)
- Brett Gladstone, M, Grove City (Gr.)
- Thomas Greenblatt, M, Binghamton (Gr.)
- Gannon Matthews, DM, Cleveland State
- Ben Mayer, A, York
- Jack McKenna, A, Fairfield
Johns Hopkins adds four players. Coach Pete Milliman recently signed a contract extension.
- Brandon Aviles, DM, Syracuse (Gr.)
- Oran Gelinas, G, Ohio State
- Chayse Ierlan, G, Cornell (Gr.)
- Jacob Stoebner, D, Princeton (Gr.)
Shorty Brandon Aviles should compete for shifts and Cornell goalie Chayse Ierlan is playoff tested and as steady and consistent as you’ll see for the level. Hopkins returns the vast majority of a team that reached the quarterfinals. Can they find more and make a serious run to Memorial Day weekend?
Michigan also grabbed a trio of Princeton graduates. Pederson is the best or in the argument for being the best short-stick defensive midfielder in the country and will get drafted by the PLL after this season. Ronda was highly productive and has a good righty/lefty skill set and the ability to shake his shorty or dish.
- Beau Pederson, DM, Princeton (Gr.)
- Cathal Roberts, LSM, Princeton (Gr.)
- Christian Ronda, M, Princeton (Gr.)
- Andrew Stanzel, D, Bucknell (Gr.)
- Justin Tiernan, A, Lehigh (Gr.)
Rutgers maintains their designation as transfer U. Piscataway is the Ellis Island of lacrosse.
- Cole Brams, FO, Utah (Gr.)
- Mason Edwards, DM, UMBC (Gr.)
- Seamus Fagan, G, Hamilton (Gr.)
- Donnie Howard, DM, Boston U. (Gr.)
- Harris Hubbard, D, Washington & Lee (Gr.)
- Brandon Hund, DM, Towson (Gr.)
- Colin Kelly, A, Canisius
- Tanyr Krummenacher, A, Amherst (Gr.)
- Connor McDonough, A, Towson
- Peter Rizzotti, D, Dartmouth (Gr.)
- John Sidorski, A/M, Lehigh (Gr.)
- Matt Soutar, FO, Monmouth (Gr.)
Notre Dame’s additions for 2024 appear to be less impactful than what they pulled off in 2023 with Brian Tevlin, Chris Fake and UVA midfielder Jack Simmons, three players who put the franchise over the top on Memorial Day weekend as graduate transfers. I like Jake Bonomi who’s shown flashes of offensive pop. Devon McClane is very skilled and smart around the net. BJ Burlace has the talent and game intellect to pick up the Irish defensive philosophy and work himself into the rotation. Danny Parker, after recovery from a serious knee injury, will add to their SSDM corps. Notre Dame continuing to benefit from its Mendoza College graduate business program.
- Jake Bonomi, M, Michigan (Gr.)
- BJ Burlace, LSM/D, Maryland (Gr.)
- Devon McLane, A, Brown (Gr.)
- Danny Parker, DM, Virginia (Gr.)
- Jack Boyden, A/M, Tufts (Gr.)
- Thomas Colucci, FO, Colgate (Gr.)
- Matthew DeSouza, FO, Binghamton (Gr.)
- Anthony Ghobriel, FO, Navy
- Chase Yager, DM, Harvard (Gr.)
The face-off position remains the most interesting battle on the UVA roster. Chase Yager was a well respected and experienced shorty at Harvard who has leadership ability and plays with pizazz.
Tufts attackman Jack Boyden, a two-time All-American and the Division III Player of the Year in 2023 adds to the riches in Charlottesville. Boyden has accumulated 290 points in the last two seasons. Select D3 transfers have a track record of success stepping up to D1. Boyden had seven games with at least 10 points in 2023 and led all of Division III averaging 6.83 points per game.
Elsewhere, North Carolina has a new defensive coordinator in Dave Pietramala but did little to makeover the roster. Looks like Georgetown has cooled on the virtues of the transfer portal a year after benefitting from the additions of Brian Minicus, Tucker Dordevic, Nicky Solomon and Jacob Kelly. Denver was notably quiet this cycle as well under new coach Matt Brown. Penn State looks to fight back into Championship Weekend and has not dipped into the transfer portal. Army, Navy and Air Force can only lose personnel. Their door works in one direction.
Time will tell as far as which team benefits most from the 2023 transfer portal. I don’t think it would be prudent to release grades or over-analyze any of these player moves until the spring.
The character puzzle piece of any transfer is gigantic. Finding fresh roles and assimilating into the new culture is job one. Culture is critical for development. For these veteran players, being out of their comfort zone, and in a new environment, amongst fresh coaching voices and new faces, can stimulate growth. Some have more to give and others are dying on the vine.
As fall ball heats up we will get a better sense of transfer contribution and impact. I felt that setting the table would be interesting, thought provoking and give fans something to watch for during fall scrimmages.
It feels as if we are getting closer to transfer normalcy after a few years that featured a pumped-up pace of player movement due to the Covid.
Mark your calendar. The Premier Lacrosse League Cash App Championship game will be played on Sunday September 24 in Philadelphia PA at Subaru Park live on ABC at 3pm. Chris Cotter, Ryan Boyle, Paul Carcaterra, Katie George and I will be on-site for ABC as the Waterdogs and Archers compete for world supremacy in the PLL’s ‘forever game’ of 2023. I will take a closer look at the matchup next week right here on LaxAllStars.