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Antonio DeMarco

2023 Men's Top 30: How North Carolina Fared vs. Projections

July 16, 2023
Patrick Stevens
Rich Barnes

Before USA Lacrosse Magazine looks ahead to what’s to come in 2024, our team of staff and contributors decided it was worth taking one last look at 2023.

After all, you have to look at the most recent results before making projections for what’s to come. To do that, we’re taking a journey through the top 30 teams in men’s and women’s lacrosse — what went right, what went wrong and what we should all think of that team’s season.

Was it a success? A failure? A mixture of both? You’ll find out our thoughts over the next month or so.


Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason/Final Top 20 Ranking: 17/Unranked
2023 record: 7-7 (1-5 ACC)


The Tar Heels’ largely new-look offense got the job done in early season victories at Johns Hopkins and Syracuse. Bryant transfer Logan McGovern (34 G, 24 A) had a solid season as a graduate student in Chapel Hill. Connor Maher was again one of the nation’s top short stick defensive midfielders.


North Carolina simply wasn’t nearly as dynamic the ACC’s top three teams. In four games against Duke, Notre Dame and Virginia, the Tar Heels were outscored by a combined 68-38. North Carolina didn’t win a game after March 25, dropping its last four to slowly slide out of NCAA tournament contention.


In retrospect, it’s probably rallying for an 11-7 victory at Johns Hopkins on Feb. 14. In real time, there’s a case that dropping 19 goals on Syracuse at the Dome in Carolina’s ACC opener on Feb. 25 was a source of greater promise. One thing’s for sure: The best parts of the Tar Heels’ season happened before spring really arrived.


One thing is not in dispute — the Tar Heels didn’t play many riveting games after the first month of the season. Only one of their final nine contests was decided by less than seven goals (a 15-14 loss to Syracuse on April 15), and North Carolina is now 15-13 since its final four appearance two years ago. The Tar Heels figure to be one of the sport’s most scrutinized teams heading into 2024.