Skip to main content

Hot takes inbound.

Last year, we correctly predicted that Rutgers would make the NCAA tournament for the first time since the early 90s. Our other guesses? They’re probably better left unspoken.

Each years brings a new batch of questions that begin to answer themselves as the calendar turns to March. Our expectations are often upended, but that’s the beauty of college lacrosse.

So with the first substantial slate of Division I men’s action ready to kick off on Friday, here are five bold predictions that might come to fruition this spring.

We’ll take cover.


It’s been only 293 days since Mac O’Keefe became the NCAA goals king during Penn State’s overtime win against Michigan in the Nittany Lions’ regular season finale. The sniper from Syosset’s reign at the top might be short lived. Kevin Lindley has the best shot at the crown. Loyola’s graduate student attackman from Darien, Connecticut, has 158 goals to his name, which leaves him 63 shy of tying O’Keefe’s 221.

Lindley’s best season from a production standpoint came in 2019, when he scored 60 goals in 17 games. That year he played opposite an “X” attackman by the name of Pat Spencer. Even without Spencer’s gravitational pull, expect Lindley to at least challenge the goals record if the veteran-laden Greyhounds can make another run in May. If he does, it would be the third time in five years the record fell. Before O’Keefe claimed the title last spring, Duke’s Justin Guterding surpassed Zack Greer in 2018.


One of the biggest questions entering this season is the state of the Ivy League. But unlike last year, the curiosity centers around not if, but how well, the conference will compete. “With a year and a half off, I have little idea who Cornell and Princeton have, and we play Cornell this year,” a fellow D-I head coach admitted.

In 2020, the Ivy League looked capable of sending multiple teams to Championship Weekend. Princeton and Cornell ranked Nos. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the Nike / USA Lacrosse Division I Men’s Top 20 after each of the programs started the season undefeated. Then COVID-19 brought about a silent spring.

Yale made the national championship game (and prevailed in 2018) the last two years it was eligible. The Elis and Penn, headlined by a healthy Sam Handley, each find themselves in the USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Top 10. Cornell cracked the Top 20, and Princeton was also considered.

“I know Murph is chomping at the bit to be out there,” another D-I head coach said of Penn’s Mike Murphy. “I'm assuming that’s because he thinks they’re gonna be really good. I know they got a lot of talented kids on that team, and they probably have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder because they didn’t play and they’re probably not talked about as much.”

The Ivy League has made 26 Final Four appearances and owns an 18-11 record on Memorial Day Weekend. While there’s no shortage of new names that will emerge this season — the Big Red, for example, will be led by Connor Buczek — there’s reason for optimism that the conference can reclaim its lofty perch.

Only time will tell.


This might be the least bold of the predictions listed. Over the past four years, first at Boston University from 2018-19 and then at North Carolina, Gray has proven himself unparalleled from a production standpoint. The graduate student attackman and USA Lacrosse Magazine 2022 Preseason Player of the Year has registered 139 points since he arrived in Chapel Hill. Last spring, he tallied 91 points on 49 goals and 42 assists to take his total to 321. That number puts him well within striking range of Lyle Thompson’s NCAA Division I record of 400 points at Albany.

With a new-look midfield for the Tar Heels, Gray might be asked to shoulder even more of the offense. He seems more than up to the task. “We came up short,” Gray said of UNC’s one-goal loss in the Final Four last May to eventual NCAA champion Virginia. “It’s more fuel for the fire.”


It’s easy to get excited about the Orange this spring. With Gary Gait now at the helm and Dave Pietramala overseeing the defense, the team embarks on a new era led by two of the biggest legends in the game. Despite the headlines and fervor, Syracuse, ranked No. 14 in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Top 20, still might be a year away, particularly with notable holes to fill after the graduation of Stephen Rehfuss at attack and Drake Porter in the goal.

Those questions were compounded recently when Inside Lacrosse reported that sophomore attackman Owen Hiltz, who posted one of the most prolific freshman seasons in program history last spring, will miss extended time due to an upper body injury he sustained in a scrimmage against Michigan.

That all adds up to the Orange missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.

“We’ll probably be slated at the bottom of our conference, but that’s OK,” Gait said last month. “We’ll earn it and work our way toward the top of conference as we go through it.”


Back in 2020, any talk of a repeat was verboten in Charlottesville. But after reframing his perspective during the pandemic thanks to a Zoom call with the coaching staff of Georgetown’s soccer team’s, Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany took a different tact in 2021.

“Let’s embrace our history,” he said. “Let’s have some fun with it.”

Tiffany uttered those words during the national championship game’s postgame press conference after the Cavaliers pulled off a repeat like no other. Now Virginia, ranked No. 1 in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Top 20, has a shot and seemingly all the pieces in place to clinch the first three-peat of the 2000s.

Tiffany does embark on his first season with a freshman goalie starting the first game, adding an interesting wrinkle to another title.

“Pressure is privilege,” Matthew Nunes, the No. 1 goalie recruit according to Inside Lacrosse, told the Richmond-Times Dispatch earlier this week. “It’s a great honor to be the starter, but I don’t feel the pressure as much because I’m going against the best team in the country every day in practice.”