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Tufts finishes 2024 atop the USA Lacrosse Division III Men's Top 20.

Jumbo-Sized New No. 1 in Final USA Lacrosse Division III Men's Top 20

May 31, 2024
Dan Arestia and Kyle Devitte
Rich Barnes

A new king of Division III men’s lacrosse is crowned. A Jumbo-sized king.

Tufts defeated RIT 18-14 in a game that featured 32 goals, 95 shots, 55 total points for playes and the highest-scoring quarter in Division III championship history (13 goals). Tufts exploded to an 8-3 lead in the game’s first 11 minutes. In most lacrosse games, that’s enough to start feeling pretty good about yourself. But not this game. RIT battled all the way back, and this game saw ties at 9, 11 and 13 before a fourth-quarter run put the Jumbos in front for good.

After the game, coach Casey D’Annolfo noted that the team was ahead of schedule. That’s the scary part. The Jumbos have one senior in their top 10 scorers this year. Their top LSM is a sophomore, and their top two defensemen are juniors. If this team gets back to championship weekend in 2025, it’ll be deja vu all over again.

RIT had a challenging run through the postseason and made it look easier than it should have been. A very good Babson team, loaded Christopher Newport, high-powered Bowdoin — RIT beat them all by at least four goals. The Tigers attack finishes the year with 313 points between them, which is a prolific level of production.

Michael Grace, arguably the best defender in the country, was only able to play limited minutes through the postseason due to an injury. The Tigers never really felt out of the title game; if the matchup was played 10 times, it might be evenly split. These teams delivered the best men’s lacrosse game of championship weekend.

It was surprising not to see Salisbury in Philadelphia. Dominant all year, the Sea Gulls got picked off by a Washington and Lee team that was hot at the right time. The Generals battled with Tufts for most of the semifinal matchup before the Jumbos could pull away, but W&L had an excellent postseason run. The only team with a better one was St. John Fisher.

Nobody saw the Cardinals coming. And if you are going to say you did, you probably play for or attended St. John Fisher. After blowing out the competition in the Empire 8 tournament by a combined score of 50-15, the Cardinals had the daunting task of traveling to Connecticut and playing Wesleyan in a battle to see which Cardinal would reign supreme.

St. John Fisher hadn’t been ranked all year, and they hadn’t played a very close game against a ranked opponent all year. And that’s why they play the games. Using a stifling zone defense that teams struggled to prepare for, St. John Fisher kept itself in games and pulled ahead at the end to secure wins.

The magic came to an end with a quarterfinal loss to Tufts, but they were, without a doubt, one of the best stories of the tournament.


1. Tufts, 18-3 (Prev: 6)
2. RIT, 21-3 (Prev: 3)
3. Washington and Lee, 16-6 (Prev: 16)
4. Bowdoin, 14-6 (Prev: 15)
5. Salisbury, 21-1 (Prev: 1)
6. RPI, 17-3 (Prev: 2)
7. Dickinson, 17-3 (Prev: 4)
8. Christopher Newport, 14-5 (Prev: 9)
9. St. John Fisher, 14-8 (Prev: NR)
10. St. Lawrence, 15-4 (Prev: 8)
11. Wesleyan, 15-4 (Prev: 5)
12. Lynchburg, 15-6 (Prev: 10)
13. Middlebury, 12-9 (Prev: 12)
14. Swarthmore, 15-3 (Prev: 7)
15. Babson, 16-4 (Prev: 11)
16. Stevens, 18-3 (Prev: 13)
17. Endicott, 16-2 (Prev: 14)
18. Union, 12-6 (Prev: 17)
19. Denison, 14-6 (Prev: 19)
20. Amherst, 10-6 (Prev: 18)

Also considered (alphabetical order): Gettysburg (10-8), Grove City (15-5), Hamilton (9-7), Kenyon (13-6), Lake Forest (16-3), Muhlenberg (10-8), Saint Joseph (17-4), Stevenson (14-7), Williams (9-7)


Tufts (+5)

RIT entered the Division III national championship game as the favorite. After all, the Tigers had bested the Jumbos back at the Mustang Classic. They both play a similar style, so how could Tufts mount an offense against a team that plays their style but “better?” Well.

In a concerted effort to stifle RIT’s rhythm on offense, Tufts snapped into a zone look that gave RIT midfielders early looks from the top corners of the box but shut down their low-wing production. That effectively shut down RIT’s looks underneath the defense and across the crease, which is how they catch most defenses sliding.

Everyone knew about Tufts’ offense. Everyone knew about their ride. Everyone knew about their depth. But a nuanced defensive look that was designed to give Connor Garzone even more time to make saves on shots that came from 12 yards out or more? That was how Tufts won the title.

Washington and Lee (+13)

The Generals did what so many teams failed to do this season — and for the last 20 years — they beat Salisbury. Washington and Lee gave Tufts everything it could handle in a game that was punctuated by the greatest individual long-pole goal anyone has ever seen from New Hampshire’s own Jed Heald. In seasons past, the Generals have had issues with late-game turnovers, but this entire season they have been getting better and better at working the ball into high-value shot locations and cutting down on dangerous carries into traffic or corner doubles.


RPI (-4)

The Engineers’ performance against Bowdoin in the second round of the NCAA tournament was not a game they will want to remember. It was a totally uncharacteristic display that was baffling to casual lacrosse fans and experts alike. The Polar Bears just overwhelmed RPI with continuous goal spring runs that seemed to never end. The Engineers had the ball but could rarely muster the type of shots that had advanced them to as high as a No. 2 ranking during the regular season.

Dickinson (-3)

The Red Devils were bounced by a Middlebury team that got into the tournament thanks to its performance in their conference tournament. That’s not the type of opponent that anyone wants to lose to in a win-or-go-home situation, but it was particularly painful for Dickinson, which had an amazing season otherwise. This team will be back, but the goalpost keeps moving. If the Red Devils want to get to that next level of recognition, a final four appearance needs to be on the horizon if national recognition is going to occur.