Autumn events are finishing up as the leaves age red to orange, fluttering in the breeze. Get out your rake. Fall is over, Winter is coming. That means the regular season is also creeping near. Just 15 weeks until real games. Three months before the winter portion of the schedule begins.
What am I hearing?
2023 Fall Review
UNC freshman Owen Duffy will start from the first whistle and may be the Heels best offensive player. Another St Anthony’s product, as the Friars and Chaminade continue to raid LI public schools, but who can blame the parents. You’re going to enjoy watching Duffy play. He’s explosive, creative and can be an electric playmaker.
Notre Dame got crushed by Princeton in a scrimmage and then finished their fall with a game against some PLL All-Stars on Friday October 13. The challengers received tickets to the USC football game the next day, as the Irish lacrosse team was honored on the field during the win over the Trojans. I spoke with assistant coach Ryder Garnsey this week on the Quintessential Podcast.
Great to see midfielder Will Angrick back on the field after missing 2023 with an ACL. Transfer Devon McClane should complement the Kavanagh brothers nicely. Eric Dobson is a PLL prospect at the midfield. Let’s see what goalie Liam Entenmann can do for an encore.
Virginia has a hotly contested position battle at close defense. Cade Saustad and Quentin Matsui have left the building. Cole Kastner is the #1 guy. John Schroter, George Fulton, Griffin Kology and Max Wooten will get looks. It feels like defensive spot 2/3 have about eight players in contention. The LSM spot is chock full with Mitch Whalen, Ben Wayer, Tommy McNeal and Malachi Jones. Jones has been dealing with an injury.
In a scrimmage in Centreville VA against Colgate on Sunday October 22, attack-men Payton Cormier and Connor Shellenberger didn’t dress. Tufts transfer Jack Boyden was flanked by Thomas Mencke and McCabe Millon on attack. The first midfield was Griffin Schutz, Patrick McIntosh and Truit Sunderland. Ryan Colsey ran with the second group.
Shorties were Joey Terenzi, Chase Yeager from Harvard, Mack Till and Noah Chizmar. The Face-off man is likely to be Navy transfer Gable Braun.
Kevin Cassesse is the new OC and the offense appeared quite vanilla as you would expect for a fall event, perhaps with less midfield dodging. Virginia’s team speed and range are once again elite.
Duke is the 2024 favorite after coming up one game short in 2023. Putting the puzzle pieces together is most relevant as we turn the page on October.
Who plays attack with Brennan ONeill?
Dyson Williams who tore up the World Championships with his ability to carry. Andrew McAdorey or lefty transfer Josh Zawada? Princeton transfer Alex Slusher? Who runs midfield out of the box? Note that Zawada and Williams played together at the Hill Academy and have eye chemistry. Three new faces may also push for time at midfield – Benn Johnston, Tomas Delgado and Max Sloat who’s a redshirt freshman.
Syracuse benefitted from seasonally warm weather this fall. Coach Gary Gait now is joined by DC John Odierna. Gait mentioned in his press conference that Odierna is aligned in his coaching style and the players have gravitated to the new coordinator. But who can cover Connor Shellenberger, Brennan O’Neil the Kavanaghs and Owen Duffy? To win in the ACC you need elite defenders. The ACC is a big boy league.
The Orange transfer portal additions are significant. Princeton transfers Sam English and Jake Stevens offer middle of the field experience and excellence. Lehigh transfer Christian Mule is highly skilled and has exceptional offensive IQ. UNC transfer Matt Wright adds depth to the LSM group. Coach mentioned that Saam Alexo will be playing LSM in the spring after flip flopping between close and pole in 2022. That’s a better fit.
Goalie Will Marks was a healthy scratch in the scrimmages and all eyes will be on the new FOGO Mason Kohn when the season starts on Saturday February 3 against Vermont. Kohn is a grad transfer from Tufts who went 71% in 2023. Kohn had a two-sport career at Tufts, where he played both lacrosse and hockey for the Jumbos. He started his college career focusing on just hockey before picking lacrosse back up in his junior season. So, there is room for growth. His success or failure, looms, gigantically, large given the disparity between Syracuse offense and defense.
Keep an eye on freshman Trey Deere who should get PT. The passing between Joey Spallina, Finn Thompson and Owen Hiltz will trend weekly on X (Twitter). Cuse will score in 2024. No doubt. Gait openly said, “We are loaded on offense.” The Orange offensive unit is going to be super fun to watch.
Marquette went 6-8 in 2022 losing their last three games in overtime. Coach Andrew Stimmel was my podcast guest a week ago.
Georgetown brings back midfielder Graham Bundy Jr. and this fall has experienced widespread internal competition for roles, that is except for the SSDM position, where the Swamp Dogs bring back Dylan Hess, Will Godine and Jack Leary.
New Denver coach Matt Brown has the luxury of top PLL FOGO prospect Alec Stathakis along with defenders Jack Dibenedetto and AJ Mercurio. Pios’ new field is bold. Coach Brown, an expert griller, joined me on the podcast this fall.
Johns Hopkins midfield position group bears the most scrutiny. The Jays return the majority of their quarterfinal team from last spring.
The starting attack is a no brainer with Jacob Angelus, Garrett Degnon and Russell Melendez. Coach Pete Milliman can rely on proven midfielders Matt Collison, Brooks English, Evan Grimes, Jon Peshko and Casey McDermott. All have experience. All have been inconsistent. The Jays also brought back fringe contributors Ryan Evans, Dylan Bauer, Cam Chauvette and Stu Phillips. You just don’t know who’s got more to give. Freshman challengers for playing time will include Hunter Chauvette, Jimmy Ayers and Charlie Iler. Can Hopkins take the next step to championship weekend?
Ohio State graduated kingpin Jack Myers, a player who orchestrated the offense from behind the net during the last two seasons. The attack position is wide open – a race between Ed Shean, Ben Mayer, Jack McKenna, Alex Marinier, Garrett Haas, Matt Caputo, Kyle Lewis and Kurt Bruun. Everyday matters. Every rep matters.
Maryland seems to be flying under the radar which is scary considering their decade of success. The Terps had a recent outing against Cornell. Eric Malever back on the field is fantastic news for turtle nation.
Quint Kessenich covers lacrosse for ESPN. He can be followed on Twitter @QKessenich
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