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Duke's Dyson Williams.

Duke No. 1, Georgetown Jumps in USA Lacrosse Division I Men's Top 20

February 26, 2024
Patrick Stevens
Rich Barnes

Duke made it out of February with zero losses. And coupled with Notre Dame’s overtime setback Sunday against Georgetown, that makes the Blue Devils the new No. 1.

It would be easy enough to point out John Danowski’s team usually has a blemish on its resume by now. In 16 seasons since 2009, Duke has made it out of February without a defeat just twice.

Once was in the pandemic-protocol 2021, when the Blue Devils won 10 in a row before an April 10 loss at Notre Dame. The other is this year. And Duke hasn’t left much doubt.

The Blue Devils have already scored 20 goals on three occasions — against High Point, Bellarmine and Jacksonville, the first time they’ve done so against three Division I teams since 1999. Brennan O’Neill already has 28 points, tossing up at least six in each of Duke’s four games. The team shooting percentage? .432. Opponents’ shooting percentage? .230.

That combination will win some games.

It would be difficult to match the potent combination of incentive and ability that spurred Notre Dame to a national title a year ago, but maybe the Blue Devils are approaching it. They made it to Memorial Day, have plenty back and have shown little vulnerability over the first month of the season.

The tests will get more difficult, starting with a Friday/Sunday set against Penn and Princeton. But there’s no arguing with Duke’s early returns.


1. Duke, 4-0 (Prev: 2)
2. Virginia, 3-0 (Prev: 3)
3. Maryland, 4-0 (Prev: 4)
4. Notre Dame, 2-1 (Prev: 1)
5. Denver, 4-0 (Prev: 7)
6. Army, 3-0 (Prev: 6)
7. Cornell, 1-1 (Prev: 5)
8. Johns Hopkins, 4-1 (Prev: 8)
9. Syracuse, 4-1 (Prev: 9)
10. Yale, 2-0 (Prev: 10)
11. Penn State, 3-1 (Prev: 11)
12. Georgetown, 2-2 (Prev: NR)
13. Michigan, 3-1 (Prev: 13)
14. Princeton, 2-1 (Prev: 12)
15. Rutgers, 3-1 (Prev: 18)
16. Penn, 2-1 (Prev: NR)
17. Delaware, 2-1 (Prev: 14)
18. Harvard, 3-0 (Prev: 17)
19. Richmond, 2-2 (Prev: 20)
20. North Carolina, 2-1 (Prev: 15)

Also considered (alphabetical order): Boston U (3-1), High Point (4-1), Ohio State (4-1), Quinnipiac (3-0), Towson (3-1), UMass (3-1)


Rutgers (+3)

The Scarlet Knights were helped a bit by some rankings inertia; Delaware, Ohio State and North Carolina above them all lost. But Brian Brecht’s bunch bounced back in a big way from its 16-7 thumping against Army, getting hat tricks from Jack Aimone, Shane Knobloch and Dante Kulas in a 13-5 rout of Loyola. Rutgers plays five of its six March games at home, the exception a March 16 date with UMass in Farmingdale, N.Y. It heads into that after its best performance of the season.


North Carolina (-5)

What are the right things to glean from the Tar Heels’ 13-9 loss to Johns Hopkins? That Carolina hung around for a half before Hopkins widened its lead in the third quarter? That the gap between the Heels and a top-10 team isn’t as wide as it was at the end of last season? That more is needed from a starting attack than 0-for-14 shooting (with four assists)?

The best available answer: All of that, and a bit more. It probably could have gone a little better, and it probably could have gone worse. But North Carolina has a better sense of what it needs to improve than it did a week ago. That’s valuable with Princeton and Penn coming to town this week.

Delaware (-3)

It’s tough to ding the Blue Hens too much for a one-goal loss at Penn. At the same time, it’s important to reward the Quakers and Georgetown (who beat Penn a week earlier and then Notre Dame on Sunday) with jumps as well.

Delaware will probably look back at its trip to Franklin Field as one it could have won after being tied with nine minutes to play. And it did some good things, too. It scored on both of its extra-man chances and had just six turnovers, prizing possessions in a game when it was necessary since the Quakers were 18 of 24 at the X. Delaware-Penn figured to be tight, and it was, and there’s a reason the two are back to back in this week’s Top 20.

Notre Dame (-3)

Play the schedule the Irish welcomes, and there are bound to be some close ones. Last year was a bit anomalous, given how good Notre Dame was. It played a pair of games decided by less than three goals and won both (in overtime, no less). There is no need to overreact to the 11-10 loss to Georgetown. The Irish slip behind three undefeated teams — all of whom are on its regular season schedule — but remain every bit the threat to contend for another national title.


Georgetown (No. 12)

The Hoyas return to the Top 20 on the strength of their 11-10 overtime defeat of Notre Dame. Georgetown has done what just about any coach would like: Get better in each game.

Granted, the initial bar wasn’t high when the Hoyas lost their opener at Loyola by eight. But they’ve since fallen to Johns Hopkins (by two), won at Penn (by three) and now toppled the defending national champions, who were a buzzsaw in their first two outings. Senior Aidan Carroll has posted three consecutive hat tricks and had the game-winner Sunday to deliver coach Kevin Warne his 100th career victory.

Penn (No. 16)

It was a fine week for the Quakers, who allowed a combined 17 goals in victories over Albany and Delaware. It didn’t hurt that their opening-week loss to Georgetown looks a little better, too, considering what the Hoyas did in South Bend. Junior attackman Tynan Walsh is off to a fine start for Penn, collecting seven goals and seven assists in three games. That includes a two-goal, five-assist effort in an 11-10 defeat of Delaware on Saturday at Franklin Field.


Ohio State (was No. 16)

There were 21 teams for 20 spots in the final slicing and dicing of this week’s Top 20, and the Buckeyes were the odd team out. Admittedly working against the Buckeyes is the combined record of the four teams they’ve defeated: 4-12.

Still, there was some encouragement to take from a 14-8 loss at Virginia. Ohio State’s defense — and especially goalie Caleb Fyock (17 saves) — held up well. The Buckeyes were disciplined enough to commit only one penalty, and they put two-thirds of their shots on goal, forcing Matthew Nunes (17 saves) to match Fyock stop for stop. It wasn’t a win, but it was a better performance than Ohio State often had away from Columbus last season.

Loyola (was No. 19)

Since throttling Georgetown in their opener, the Greyhounds have totaled a combined 16 goals in losses to Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Rutgers. Two numbers stand out in the setbacks: Loyola is shooting 17.0 percent (94 shots) and winning 34.4 percent of its faceoffs (22 of 64).

It’s simple enough to say both of those need improvement, but not so easy to fix. More possessions could lead to better offense, something the Greyhounds need heading into a week featuring games against Towson and Colgate.