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Quint Kessenich’s Reaction: 2023 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament

You’re all 0-0 now. New season. 17 teams comprise the 2023 NCAA Men’s Division 1 lacrosse tournament. Here are some details on when these games will be played.

  • The play-in game will take place on Wednesday May 10
  • First round games are on campus at the higher seed on May 13 and 14. They will be televised on ESPNU.
  • Quarterfinals will be played at Albany and Navy on May 20-21
  • Semifinals and the Finals will take place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA on May 27 and 29

Quint Kessenich, Paul Carcaterra, and Chris Cotter have already broken down the bracket on the Quintessential Podcast for your listening purposes.

#2 Virginia vs Richmond

Date: Saturday, May 13 (12:00pm)

Quick Reaction

I guarantee it’ll be closer than a 25-8 Cavalier win on March 4. The matchup provides an opportunity for Richmond to right a wrong. Virginia comes off a bye week for final exams.

Virginia (11-3)

The Cavaliers are making their 42nd appearance since the tournament’s inception in 1971. Virginia’s seven NCAA titles (1972, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2019 and 2021) are third most by any program nationally. Only Syracuse (10) and Johns Hopkins (9) have won more NCAA Lacrosse titles than UVA. The Cavaliers are currently 21-8 in NCAA Lacrosse Tournament games in Charlottesville and 13-3 at Klöckner Stadium. Virginia is 9-1 in its last 10 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament games, having won the tournament in both 2019 and 2021.

Wahoos lead the nation in scoring offense and shooting percentage with a cast of Connor Shellenberger, Xander Dickson, Payton Cormier, Thomas McConvey, Jeff Conner, and Griffin Schutz. The group combines for nearly 12 assists per contest.

Richmond (11-4)

The Spiders have made tournament appearances in 2014, 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023.

Now in a new setting, the inaugural A10 Champions punched their ticket with a 15-8 win over High Point on Saturday, as Richmond has won six straight games since April 8. Spiders blew open a 5-3 game into a 11-3 advantage. They are battle tested having faced top ten teams like Maryland, Virginia, and Georgetown; although the Terps and Cavaliers blew them out badly. The offense is clicking with Lance Derek Madonna, Dalton Young, and Aidan O’Neil. They are structurally sound and rely on possession time under Head Coach Dan Chemotti, who’s no stranger to mayhem.

#3 Notre Dame vs Utah

Date: Saturday, May 13 (2:30pm)

The Utes are a great story. Utah will try to run on Notre Dame. Good luck to the Utes trying to corral Pat Kavanagh. The Irish will be focused and eager now that they are back in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.

Notre Dame (10-2)

Championship Weekend appearances in 2001, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and a finalist in 2010 and 2014, the Irish are pursuing a national title after being snubbed in 2022.

This is their most complete team. Outside of a pair of setbacks to Virginia, they’ve run the table, finishing up competitive play with an 18-9 shellacking of North Carolina. Pat and Chris Kavanagh set the tone with an energetic and chippy style of offense, riding, and groundball play. Eric Dobson is a horse at the midfield. The extra-man is lethal, hitting at above 60%. The offense is a top five producer and the bagpiping Irish are shooting at a high percentage. Goalie Liam Entenmann is a proven commodity. Foot soldiers Brian Tevlin, and Quinn McCahon log the miles. Faceoffs would be the lone vulnerability.

Utah (12-4)

Utes won the ASUN in only their fourth full year as a Division 1 program. The program was upgraded to varsity in 2019, previously competing as a club team in the MCLA. The Utes are one of four current NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse teams west of the Mississippi River.

Jordan Hyde, Tyler Bradbury, and Ryan Stines lead the top four scoring offense who loves to run, score in early offense, and push tempo off of faceoffs.

#7 Georgetown vs Yale

Date: Saturday, May 13 (5:00pm)

This is a sensational matchup. The Hoyas may have a possession edge and both teams feel like they can score. First team to hit 17 wins.

Georgetown (12-3)

Often a quarterfinalist (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2021), the Swamp Dogs have never won an NCAA title and have qualified for Championship Weekend just once (1999). Coach Kevin Warne and his crew have become the beast of the Big East, steam rolling Denver in the league championship on Saturday in Milwaukee. It was their fifth straight league title.

Slow to slide defense, lethal extra-man success and faceoff domination are signatures for this program. The Hoyas are riding a 12 game win streak after losses to Hopkins, Penn, and Notre Dame in February. Their roster has been enhanced with transfer portal pickups. In 2022, as a No.2 seed, Georgetown was upset in the first round by Delaware in the Swamp. Not particularly deep and reliant on high end talent with Tucker Dordevic, Graham Bundy Jr, Will Bowen, and FOGO James Reilly, Georgetown is a difficult first round draw.

Yale (9-5)

Yale owns a top five offense and a defense that’s struggled at times in 2023. Yale won the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament back in 2018 and lost in the Finals in 2019. The Bulldogs defeated Saint Joseph’s in the first round last spring. The attack is elite with Matt Brandau, Leo Johnson, and Chris Lyons. Midfielder Brad Sharp should be back in the lineup after missing the Ivy League Tournament with a nagging injury.

#4 Maryland vs Army

Date: Saturday, May 13 (7:30pm)

Playing a late game on Saturday is a doozy. Both Army or Maryland stand for toughness. Faceoffs can set the tone. Cadets Will Colletti and Terrapin Luke Weirman will be worth the ticket price. Two historic programs that have rarely met; Dick Edell coached at both schools and his legacy is in their DNA.

Maryland (10-5)

The Terps have won four NCAA National Champions, including the 2022 one to cap off the undefeated campaign. Maryland has won 22 of its last 25 home games. Coach John Tillman is in his 13th season with the Terps. He has set the standard in the industry during the past decade, making nine Final Fours while in College Park.

I was impressed with the Terp win over Hopkins last Thursday. With an injury depleted defense and some recycled parts on offense, the Terps found an extra gear. Temporarily.

Maryland laid an egg on Saturday losing to Michigan 14-5. For “Be the Best” this was their worst loss in 17 years. Penalties, ball watching on defense, and general dysfunction, it was a rare out-of-body experience for this normally consistent program. Their inexperience and lack of an alpha offensive player was evident. On Saturday, they once again proved that playing on short rest is not their forte. History bares this out. Maryland has never delivered an A+ performance with a short turnaround. They often crash and burn under a model that requires a full week of prep, practice, scouting, and rest.

Veteran Kyle Long is Maryland’s leading points producer with 23 points across three NCAA Lacrosse Tournaments. Defender and leader Brett Makar has started 10 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament games. Freshman goalie Brian Ruppel is a star in the making. Luke Weirman’s faceoff dominance gives Maryland extra possessions, although he’s been overused having taken nearly 400 draws. Freshman Braden Erksa is the leading point getter. Daniel Maltz and Daniel Kelly saw a cutback in playing time against Hopkins last week. Who’s the offensive leader? When the Terps move the ball, everyone eats. How much gas is left in the tank?

Army (12-3)

The 1984 semifinalists and 2010 quarterfinalist is back in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament for the first time since 2019. After graduating 19 seniors and star Brendan Nichtern, the Cadets reloaded with Reese Burek, Jacob Morin, and Paul Johnson. Faceoff specialist Will Colletti has been outstanding. Coach Joe Alberici deserves National Coach of the Tear recognition without a doubt.

#6 Johns Hopkins vs Bryant

Date: Sunday, May 14 (12:00pm)

The Jays didn’t look sharp and if they aren’t careful with Bryant, an upset will occur. Hopkins hasn’t been to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament since 2019 so there is no experience advantage. Bryant has a solid faceoff unit and that’s where upsets can originate from.

Johns Hopkins (11-5)

The Blue Jays are making their NCAA-record 48th appearance in NCAA Lacorsse Tournament. They missed the last two NCAA Lacrosse Tournaments (2021, 2022). Hopkins is 45-5 all-time at Homewood Field in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. It’ll be the first appearance under Head Coach Peter Milliman.  He is making his second appearance as a head coach (guided Cornell to the 2018 NCAA Quarterfinals).

Transfers Russell Melendez and Alex Mazzone paired with Offensive Coordinator John Crawley have been upgrades. Hopkins defeated Georgetown in February and beat Maryland in College Park.

Eleven wins is a step in the right direction for this proud program. Jacob Angelus and Melendez are the offensive party starters. Goalie Tim Marcille has to snap out of a recent funk. They’ve ramped up groundball play, defense, and clearing. The Jays did not play well in their most recent Big Ten Semifinal loss to Maryland and may have reached their expiration date a few weeks too early.

Bryant (12-4)

The Bulldogs needed two overtimes to dispatch Albany 12-11 in claiming the America East automatic-qualifier on Saturday afternoon. They won a 12-11 game in the semifinal against Binghamton. They can score, as evidenced by a 17-12 win over Brown. First year Head Coach Brad Ross, having taken the reins from Mike Pressler, relies on three players with 50 plus points; Kevin Groeninger, Aidan Goltz and Johnny Hackett.

#8 Cornell vs Michigan

Date: Sunday, May 14 (2:30pm)

This may be the best game of the first round. Cornell has history and stars with CJ Kirst and Gavin Adler. Who does Adler cover? How can Michigan limit Kirst? Michigan’s playoff appearance is significant on a national scale as a power five program with an incredibly strong brand name. This is a win for the sport of lacrosse. They are athletic and would appear to have a faceoff advantage. Both teams should score in this matchup.

Cornell (11-3)

Finalist in 2022, Cornell cornered the market on All-Ivy League honors with defender Gavin Adler, attackman CJ Kirst, and Coach Connor Buczek. The top seed in the Ivy League Tournament hurt their bracket position with a loss to Yale. The Big Red defense was fleeced badly by Yale in the Ivy League Semifinals on Friday night. Faceoff wins and one-on-one coverage in the defensive zone were sold separately. Goalie Chayse Ierlan, who’s been outstanding this spring, got little support.

CJ Kirst has been unstoppable in the Ivy League and is very much in the hunt for the Tewaaraton trophy with 4.5 goals per game. Michael Long and Billy Coyle are catalysts and will have to make more noise for Cornell to advance. The Big Red lean on hustle plays, they have a strong groundball margin, are well coached, although they are leaking oil on defense lately.

Michigan (9-6)

The maize and blue won its first NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Big Ten Tournament title to clinch the program’s first NCAA Lacrosse Tournament bid in a shocking blowout of Maryland on Saturday. A year ago they started 7-0 only to lose their final eight games of the season. This spring, they’ve finished with a flourish. Kevin Conry’s crew is led by a skillful attack duo of Michael Boehm and Josh Zawada. The roster is extremely athletic and experienced, and faceoff control gives the squad some leeway to take chances.

#1 Duke vs (Winner of Delaware vs Marist)

Date: Sunday, May 14 (5:00pm)

Delaware against Marist is a contrast of styles. The Red Foxes can score and the Hens rely on defense. Delaware’s NCAA Lacrosse Tournament experience will come in handy. The top three teams in the ACC have appeared to be a quantum leap ahead of the pack in 2023. The top seed has made it to Championship Weekend 18 of the last 19 times.

Duke (13-2)

This is Duke’s 25th NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. Duke is 40-21 in NCAA Lacrosse Tournament play and 31-11 under John Danowski. He is 34-19 in NCAA postseason play.

The attack unit of Andrew McAdorey, Brennan O’Neill, and Dyson William have paced the Blue Devils. The trio is averaging more than 8 goals and 12 points per game and have more than 52% of the team’s points. Duke’s defense has been solid overall, holding teams to just .294 shooting. Jake Naso wins 63% of the faceoffs. Duke has gotten off to fast starts in its contests this season, leading after the first quarter in 11 of 14 games. The Blue Devils are outscoring their foes 124-59 in the first half, including an impressive 65-29 mark in the second quarter. Duke is 10-1 when leading after the opening period and 11-1 when leading at halftime.

Delaware (12-4)

The Hens have made a Final Four appearance in 2007 and four trips to the Quarterfinals, most recently in 2022.

The Hens worked their way into the bracket in 1984, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2022 and 2023. Last May, they sprung a massive upset at Georgetown, toppling the No.2 seeded Hoyas. Back-to-back CAA titles, by virtue of a 13-10 win over Stony Brook on Saturday, has the Hens dancing. The front running win was made possible by the work of Tye Kurtz and JP Ward. Defender Owen Grant will be a first rounder in the PLL Draft on Tuesday. The Blue Hens have a top five scoring defense. The moment won’t be too big for Delaware, a group that’s seen Villanova, Michigan, and Hopkins in 2023.

Marist (10-7)

After an 0-4 start, Marist caught fire late in the campaign, winning their last six games behind an offense cooking with fish grease, averaging nearly 20 goals per game and a senior class on a mission. Jojo Pirreca and Jamison Embury are 60 point producers.

Coach Keegan Wilkinson and his Red Foxes took home the MAAC automatic-qualifier in a 12-7 win over Siena. Marist has made playoff appearances in 2005, 2015, 2019 and 2023. The MAAC winner has no playoff lineage and will be slotted into Wednesdays play-in game.

#5 Penn State vs Princeton

Date: Sunday, May 14 (7:30pm)

The late game can get wonky as teams sit around all weekend and watch the action on television. Penn State is coming off a loss, while the Tigers are rolling with momentum. Penn State defender Jack Posey will try to body up Coulter Mackesy. This is the best goalie matchup of the tournament with Jack Fracyon and Michael Gianforcaro.

Penn State (9-4)

A turnaround season in State College going from 3-11 to 9-4. The Nittany Lions are 6-0 at home and picked up quality wins against the Ivy Leagues Yale, Penn, and Cornell while earning the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Big Ten Semifinal saw the Lions struggle at the faceoff dot. It was a high scoring game against Michigan where the the Penn State defense was exposed, ultimately having to play zone. I didn’t like the way this team handled the last 20 minutes of that loss, making sloppy errors. They had typically been a strong fourth quarter team during 2023. TJ Malone, Jack and Matt Traynor, and Kevin Winkoff stir the offense. Goalie Jack Fracyon (57%) has been a difference maker, standing tall while making 14 saves per game.

Princeton (8-6)

The Tigers made the Championship Weekend last year for the first time since 2004. They ran the table in the Ivy League, pushing through six losses along the way. Coulter Mackesy, Jake Stevens, Alex Vardaro, and Sean Cameron run a motion set aimed at dodging to the paydirt. They don’t have much of a behind-the-goal presence. Goalie Michael Gianforcaro was voted tournament MVP and is on fire right now. The Tigers are a bit banged up, but who cares, they are playing playoff hockey.