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Breaking Down the Preseason USA Lacrosse First Team All-Americans

In the fast-paced world of Division I men’s lacrosse, the USA Lacrosse Preseason First Team All-American honors are a reflection of the top-tier talent and exceptional performances that fans can expect to witness on the field. The USA Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason First-Team All-Americans represent the crème de la crème of collegiate lacrosse, and each player has left an indelible mark on the sport. In this article, we will delve into the accomplishments and contributions of these remarkable athletes, shedding light on their standout moments from the 2023 season.

A – Brennan O’Neill, Duke

Brennan O’Neill, the dynamic force behind Duke’s attack unit, had a phenomenal 2023 season. As the Tewaaraton Award winner and USILA Lt. Raymond J. Enners Most Outstanding Player of the Year, O’Neill showcased his prowess. He led the Blue Devils with a staggering 55 goals and 42 assists, amassing a total of 97 points. His achievements were not confined to the scoring department; he was the lone player to rank in the top 20 for goals, assists, and points per game. O’Neill’s 97 points tied for fourth in Duke and ACC single-season history, cementing his legacy as one of the sport’s finest.

A – Pat Kavanagh, Notre Dame

Pat Kavanagh’s journey with Notre Dame reached its pinnacle in 2023, as he played a pivotal role in securing the program’s first national title. A Tewaaraton Finalist, Kavanagh broke the program record for points in a season with a remarkable 77, surpassing his brother Matt’s previous mark. He also set the program record for assists in a season, finishing with 52. Kavanagh’s ability to perform under pressure was evident as he recorded three or more points in 14 of 16 games, including seven with five or more points. His contribution extended beyond scoring, ranking second on the team in ground balls and displaying exceptional resilience, even while battling a hamstring injury.

A – Connor Shellenberger, Virginia

Connor Shellenberger’s impact on the lacrosse field was nothing short of extraordinary in 2023. Starting and appearing in 16 games, Shellenberger scored 30 goals and dished out 54 assists. His average of 3.38 assists per game led the nation and earned him a spot as a Tewaaraton Award Finalist. In the NCAA Tournament, Shellenberger was a force to be reckoned with, recording 11 goals and 11 assists in three games, leading all tournament participants in points and goals. His performances, including a 10-point game against Georgetown, solidified his reputation as a game-changer.

A – CJ Kirst, Cornell

CJ Kirst’s journey in 2023 was marked by accolades and achievements. As a Tewaaraton Award finalist and recipient of the USILA Lt. Col. Jack Turnbull Award for Outstanding Attackman, Kirst’s prowess was evident. A unanimous selection to the All-Ivy first-team, he finished the season with a record-breaking 65 goals, securing his place in Cornell history. Kirst’s five-goal performance against Yale in the semifinals was a testament to his exceptional skills, and he consistently caused turnovers while scooping up ground balls, showcasing his versatility.

M – Eric Dobson, Notre Dame

Eric Dobson played a vital role in Notre Dame’s historic national title win in 2023. As a midfielder, he recorded career highs in points, goals, and assists, finishing the season with 45 points. Dobson’s standout performance in the NCAA semifinal, where he led the team in goals and points, was instrumental. His contribution extended to the national title game, where he scored two goals, helping secure the championship for the Fighting Irish. Dobson’s ability to deliver in high-pressure situations made him an invaluable asset.

M – Graham Bundy Jr., Georgetown

Graham Bundy Jr., a key figure for Georgetown, had an outstanding 2023 season. His 32 goals and 12 assists showcased his offensive prowess, earning him recognition as a USILA Second Team All-American and a USA Lacrosse Magazine Second Team All-American. Bundy’s consistency was evident, with 11 multi-goal games, including four against Denver. He played a crucial role in Georgetown’s BIG EAST Championship win and demonstrated his commitment to both the game and academics by making the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.

M – Shane Knobloch, Rutgers

Shane Knobloch, an integral part of the Rutgers lacrosse team, earned accolades in the 2023 season. He was named a Second Team All-American by USILA, Third Team All-American by Inside Lacrosse, and Third Team All-American by USA Lacrosse Magazine. Knobloch’s contributions extended beyond the field, as he received the Werblin Award and earned a spot on the All-Big Ten Team. His impressive stats, including a career-high 10 points against Harvard, showcased his exceptional abilities.

D – Kenny Brower, Duke

Kenny Brower, Duke’s top close defenseman, was a defensive stalwart in 2023. As a First Team All-American according to USILA and USA Lacrosse Magazine, Brower’s defensive prowess was well-recognized. He picked up 39 ground balls and forced 22 caused turnovers throughout the season, making him a formidable presence on the field. Brower’s ability to shut down opponents, including Tewaaraton Finalist Connor Shellenberger, showcased his exceptional defensive skills.

D – Ajax Zappitello, Maryland

Ajax Zappitello was a defensive force for Maryland in 2023. His 21 caused turnovers and 29 ground balls highlighted his defensive contributions. Despite missing the final four games due to injury, Zappitello’s impact on the field was undeniable. He played a key role in holding opponents scoreless and was instrumental in Maryland’s victories. Zappitello’s consistency and ability to disrupt opponents’ offensive plays made him an invaluable asset to his team.

D – AJ Pilate, Army

AJ Pilate played a crucial role in Army’s defense in 2023. Appearing in and starting 17 games, Pilate caused 17 turnovers and scooped up 35 ground balls. His contributions earned him recognition as the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and a Third Team USILA All-American. Pilate’s defensive prowess and ability to force turnovers were instrumental in Army’s success.

LSM – Roy Meyer, Boston University

Roy Meyer, a standout LSM for Boston University, had a stellar 2023 season. He became the program’s only two-time First Team All-American and displayed exceptional defensive skills. Meyer led the Terriers with 32 caused turnovers and was second on the squad with 64 ground balls. His ability to disrupt opponents’ plays and create turnovers made him a valuable asset to his team. Meyer’s consistency in causing turnovers and collecting ground balls showcased his defensive prowess.

SSDM – Beau Pederson, Michigan

Beau Pederson, who played for Princeton from 2019-2023, was an integral part of his team. With 15 goals, nine assists, 69 ground balls, and 22 caused turnovers over 50 games, Pederson showcased his versatility and contributions on both ends of the field. His performance earned him recognition as a Second Team All-Ivy player and a member of the Ivy League All-Tournament Team. Pederson’s ability to make an impact in various aspects of the game made him a valuable asset.

SSDM – Ben Ramsey, Notre Dame

Ben Ramsey played a pivotal role in Notre Dame’s historic national title win in 2023. As a midfielder, Ramsey contributed eight points, seven goals, and an assist. His 22 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers showcased his ability to transition between offense and defense effectively. Ramsey’s standout performance in the NCAA semifinal win over No. 2 Virginia, where he contributed a crucial transition goal, highlighted his importance to the team’s success.

FO – Jake Naso, Duke

Jake Naso, Duke’s top faceoff specialist, was a pivotal player in the 2023 season. He earned recognition as a USILA All-America first team member and excelled in faceoff win percentage, ranking first in the ACC and eighth nationally. Naso’s ability to secure possessions was crucial, as he won 315 faceoffs, tying for fifth in NCAA single-season history. His ground ball prowess, including a season-high 16 in one game, added to his value. Naso’s contributions were instrumental in Duke’s success.

G – Liam Entenmann, Notre Dame

Liam Entenmann played a crucial role in Notre Dame’s historic national title win in 2023. Named the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Entenmann showcased his goalkeeping excellence. He recorded a career-high 196 saves and boasted a save percentage of .570, ranking in the top six nationally. Entenmann’s ability to make double-digit saves in 14 of 16 games, coupled with standout performances in Championship Weekend, solidified his reputation as one of the nation’s top goalies.