It seems crazy to already be talking about the 2023 college lacrosse season, but once the PLL is over, all attention will be on fall ball of the college landscape. It’s fun to look ahead towards next season especially coming off an electric 2022 season.
There is a lot to be excited about for the 2023 college lacrosse season as expectations are starting to be set. Expectations can be a teams best friend or worst enemy depending on what exactly is expected from them. With those expectations comes disappointment as not every team will be able to reach their potential.
All this talk of expectations is the perfect transition to talk about some of my hot takes for next season.
Rutgers Will Struggle Compared to Last Season
Rutgers has been nothing short of a pleasure to watch over the last two seasons. They were loaded with highly skilled athletes, the team was full of tenacity, and they were a competitive team down the stretch that many teams did not want to run into.
However, this team has been dominated by seniors and graduate players built out of the transfer portal over the last few years. Players like Mitch Bartolo, Ronna Jacoby, and Brian Cameron who all notched at least 30 goals and 10 assists in the 2022 season, were all seniors who will be thoroughly missed. Additionally, the loss of starting goaltender Colin Kirst will leave another large void in the team as well. Kirst was nothing short of outstanding in his time between the pipes and left Rutgers as a two-time USILA All-American. Replacing his talent will not be an easy task.
While Rutgers is still expected to be a competitive Top 20 program this year, it also should be expected the team will miss that senior leadership and talent that propelled them forward in so many close contests during the 2022 season.
Syracuse Will Be Back in the Top 3 of the ACC
The Orange weathered a rocky season last year that had issues across the board. After finishing the season 4-10, there were obviously multiple areas to be addressed. However, Syracuse seems to be making all the right off-season moves to ensure they get back to the Syracuse team the lacrosse world is used to seeing.
Goaltending was never spectacular or consistent during the 2022 season for the Orange. In response, they went and secured a standout goaltender from LIU, Will Mark. Will Mark finished his time at LIU as a two-time All-American and a two-time conference player of the year. This 6’3 goaltender should provide a huge lift on the defensive end of the field as they have struggled to find consistency in the position.
Offensively, the Orange have added two more high producing and skilled graduate players, Denver’s Alex Simmons and Lehigh’s Cole Kirst. The addition of these two players should greatly assist in the mentorship of this very young and talented Syracuse offense that will welcome 5-star recruits, Joey Spallina and Finlay Thomson along with 4-star recruit, Michael Leo.
Syracuse usually never lacks talent and this upcoming season’s roster does not appear to be any different. But it seems like the additional pieces coming in are going to add talent and some needed leadership to this new era of Cuse’ lacrosse headed by legends Gary Gait and Dave Pietramala.
Michigan Will Escape the Bottom of the Big 10
Michigan has always been a team that the lacrosse world wanted to see do well simply because of the location of the school, the size of the school, the desire to see the game grow. Unfortunately, Michigan has fallen victim to some tough seasons and last year was no exception. Michigan ended the 2022 on an 8-game losing streak after jumping out on the season 7-0 and demolishing a ranked University of Delaware by a score of 18-8.
Despite the 0-5 conference record the Wolverines posted, the Wolverines were competitive in all games with the exception of Maryland (but to be fair, Maryland dominated everyone in 2022). Michigan lost two of the conference games by single goal margins, and another two by 2-3 goal margins. Despite ultimately resulting in a 0-5 conference season, it also shows the margins of loss are getting smaller. It may also point to an imminent turning point in the Michigan Men’s Lacrosse program approaching in the near future.
With the talent that they are returning, the Wolverines should be able to pull out some more conference wins. Starting goaltender Shane Carr, who earned 2nd Team Big-10 honors will be returning back to Ann Arbor with 1st Team Big-10 selection and teammate, Josh Zawada. These two players were major bright spots for the team this year, and should be expected to only further build on that success they had in the beginning of the season to carry it to the end of the 2023 college lacrosse season.