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Ranking Every Starting ACC Attackman

After writing a bonus article regarding the D2/D3 scene, I’ve decided to write a more subjective piece about the best players in the most talented conference. No, the ACC isn’t the same powerhouse they’ve always been, but the conference still has an influx of talent. There’s no denying the star power in the ACC, and there isn’t a position more loaded than attackman.

The following article ranks every starting attackman in the ACC. Embrace debate. Feel free to leave a comment below. 

15. Mikey Berkman (Syracuse)
14. Nicky Solomon (North Carolina)
13. Jake Taylor (Notre Dame)
12. Owen Seebold (Syracuse)

This is no knock on Mikey Berkman, or any of the other guys in this tier. You have to be in the top 1% to even have a shot at playing for one of these schools, and it’s even more difficult to crack the starting lineup.

Berkman has solidified himself in the lineup starting in all eleven of Syracuse’s games this year, but he lacks consistency – he’s scored one or fewer points in three games. Berkman will need to have a strong finish to his sophomore year if he wants to see the field over the coming years. No.1 recruit Joey Spallina will be in upstate New York next season. Watch out.

Nicky Solomon has been playing forever; he started every game of his freshman and sophomore seasons, and only missed two starts his junior year. The Georgia native has been one of the few familiar faces in the Carolina offense. 

Jake Taylor recently stole the starting attack spot from Griffin Westlin who has had a down season. The junior attackman broke the Notre Dame single game goal record against Syracuse in his first career start. Taylor has been the perfect complement to Pat Kavanugh and the entire Irish offense. Notre Dame desperately needed an off-ball player, and they found that in Taylor.

Owen Seebold has been Syracuse’s fourth attackman for a number of years. He finally cracked the attack lineup after the unfortunate events of the Chase Scanlon scandal. Seebold is most impactful when he’s making nifty inside rolls or shooting time-and-room bombs. 

11. Jacob Kelly (North Carolina)
10. Joe Robertson (Duke)
9. Chris Kavanagh (Notre Dame)
8. Payton Cormier (Virginia)

This is an interesting group with lots of diversity, but they all share one common characteristic: grit. Chris Kavanagh and Payton Cormier both rank third on their teams in ground balls. Kavanagh is a tenacious rider, and he hunts defenders like there is no tomorrow. Joe “clutch” Robertson has earned that nickname after scoring four overtime game-winners in 2021. Jacob Kelly always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s a great sharpshooter who pairs nicely with Chris Gray’s feeding ability. Payton Cormier is automatic from inside five yards, and he’s one of the best finishers in the country. All four players play very specific roles for their team, but they all execute them flawlessly. 

7. Sean Lulley (Duke)

Sean Lulley is in his own tier; he’s more dynamic than the players below, but he doesn’t belong in the superstar group either. The Duke third attack spot has been split between Sean Lulley and Dyson Williams. I gave Lulley the nod here because he’s started Duke’s last four games, and Williams has found a consistent role running out of the box on the second midfield unit. Lulley fills a hole that Duke desperately needed entering the 2022 season: a distributing attackman. The Penn grad transfer has been an effective shooter, but his presence has been even more impactful as a feeder. Lulley currently sits third on the team in assists (16) behind future PLL 1st-round pick Nakeie Montgomery and freshman sensation Andrew McAdorey. 

6. Matt Moore (Virginia)
5. Pat Kavanagh (Notre Dame)
4. Tucker Dordevic (Syracuse)
3. Brennan O’Neill (Duke)

This is where the superstar tier begins. 

I wouldn’t have a problem with some combination between any of these four superstars; they’re all interchangeable. I probably wouldn’t have Brennan O’Neill at #6, but I doubt there are many who could justify that argument anyway. It’s pretty ridiculous to think Matt Moore is #6 on this list despite being #2 on Paul Carcatera’s big board for the upcoming PLL draft. All four of these players are bonafide stars, and the difference between #3 and #6 is splitting hairs. All four attackmen play a different style of lacrosse, but it’s good enough for them to be recognized as some of the best players in the game.

2. Chris Gray (North Carolina)
1. Connor Shellenberger (Virginia)

Of everyone in college lacrosse, open shot, the fate of the universe on the line, the Martians have the death beam pointed at earth, you better hit it, I want Chris Gray or Connor Shellenberger. It feels wrong to separate these two from the rest of the “superstar” tier, but Gray and Shellenberger are just playing out of this world. 

Before the Brennan O’Neill crazies come calling for my head, I’d like to clarify that this ACC attackman list is condensed because this year’s Tewaaraton award is looking like a three man race between Gray, Shellenberger, and Wisnauskis – who just broke Maryland’s all-time points record. O’Neill is certainly one of the most talented attackmen in the country, but his biggest weakness is his right hand whereas Gray and Shellenberger are equally effective with both hands. There will be a great debate who goes No.1 overall in the PLL draft when O’Neill and Shellenberger are both eligible. 

Chris Gray is averaging nearly 6 PPG on a North Carolina team that has deficiencies all across their roster. They’ve lacked consistency, and haven’t been able to win any marquee games. The Virginia loss hurt, but it was no fault against Chris Gray. The senior attackman played a hand in all four of their goals (3G 1A), and he’s been one of the lone bright spots on a struggling team. Carolina is on the outside looking in, and it’ll be crucial for the Heels to pick up key ACC wins as the regular season comes to an end, hopefully their attackman lineup can step up to the plate. That begins with Syracuse on Saturday (4:00 on ESPNU).

I don’t feel like I need to validate why Connor Shellenberger ranks #1 here. The kid is simply unbelievable. He could suit up on a PLL roster today and still be one of the best attackmen in the world. He’s a future team USA player, and he’s on pace to destroy Virginia’s all-time points record held by the legendary Steele Stanwick. 

The ACC is home to some of the greatest attackmen in the sport. As previously mentioned, Joey Spallina is coming to the dome next year and expectations are through the roof. Dom Pietramala could also make a name for himself next year when he suits up for the Heels to begin the post-Chris Gray era. There is so much to be excited for, and the lacrosse world can’t wait to watch. It’s a great time to be a lacrosse fan.