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Swarthmore men's lacrosse.

Swarthmore Crashes Top 5 of USA Lacrosse Division III Men's Top 20

April 15, 2024
Dan Arestia and Kyle Devitte
Swarthmore Athletics

First off, there is a lot of drama happening in the NESCAC that will be addressed in the superlatives. But let’s really begin with talking about how Swarthmore made it into the top five.

Yes, Swarthmore, the not-so-little team that could actually felled a real goliath by taking down Dickinson 12-11. What’s more, the mythical Von Mabbs only contributed one goal to the cause.

RPI continues to hold court in the Liberty League as the team to beat thanks to a win over Union. That victory extended the Engineers’ unbeaten streak to 13.

RPI and Salisbury remain the last two unbeatens, and two of only three unbeaten teams across all divisions of NCAA men’s lacrosse. Luke Murphy’s masterful season continued with a six-goal outing in a 16-12 win over Union; he is now up to 47 on the year. Even with RPI’s incredible run through the year, it’s a long way from clear at the top of the league table. The top three teams in the Liberty League have a combined two losses.

The Saints fell from grace, but it wasn't from flying too close to the sun ‑ it was from walking into the verdant jungle of Vermont without machetes drawn. The Middlebury Panthers are still a dangerous team despite their place in the NESCAC standings, and St. Lawrence found that out the hard way by dropping its first game of the season, 13-7, this past Tuesday.

The usual suspects are still rolling — last year’s triumvirate of Salisbury, RIT and Tufts — are all back to their winning ways.

The light at the end of the tunnel is visible for Division III teams still in the hunt for their respective conference tournaments. Strength of schedule might get you a ticket to the dance, but winning your conference will definitely get you past the bouncers.


1. Salisbury, 14-0 (Prev: 1)
2. RPI, 13-0 (Prev: 2)
3. RIT, 13-1 (Prev: 4)
4. Tufts, 10-2 (Prev: 6)
5. Swarthmore, 11-1 (Prev: 7)
6. Christopher Newport, 9-4 (Prev: 13)
7. Saint Lawrence, 12-1 (Prev: 3)
8. Dickinson, 11-2 (Prev: 5)
9. Babson, 11-2 (Prev: 11)
10. Bowdoin, 9-2 (Prev: 14)
11. Washington and Lee, 9-3 (Prev: 12)
12. Amherst, 8-3 (Prev: 15)
13. Union, 9-3 (Prev: 9)
14. Lynchburg, 8-5 (Prev: 16)
15. Gettysburg, 7-5 (Prev: 10)
16. Wesleyan, 9-3 (Prev: 8)
17. Endicott, 12-1 (Prev: 17)
18. Stevens, 11-2 (Prev: 18)
19. Roanoke, 11-2 (Prev: 19)
20. Middlebury, 7-6 (Prev: NR)

Also considered (alphabetical order): Cabrini, Grove City, Hampden-Sydney, Trinity, Williams



The Bantams opened the season with some of the toughest opponents in the NESCAC. They got out to a 0-3 start, including losses to Tufts and Bowdoin, and had themselves a hole to dig out from. And now they have.

Since starting 0-3, the Bantams have rattled off an 8-1 record over their last nine. They notched a huge win against Hamilton on April 6 and followed that with a mid-week 10-9 victory over Wesleyan, with Davis Burleson scoring the winner in overtime after a frantic end to regulation. Their weekend victory over Colby was the icing on the cake and keeps them squarely in the conversation for a ranking in the future.


Wesleyan (-8)

That loss to Trinity is going to smart when it comes to rankings across the country. Wesleyan responded by hammering Hamilton 17-7, but that’s hardly enough to overshadow an effort against Hamilton in which they lost the faceoff (12-11) and ground ball (30-22) battles. Trinity earned 22 ground balls across the second half and overtime. Wesleyan earned eight.


Middlebury (No. 20)

Another week, another statement of sorts by the Panthers. This one is of the positive variety. They hosted St. Lawrence and came away with a convincing 13-7 win. It was the first defeat of the year for the Saints and a massive win against a top-five opponent for Middlebury.

Are the Panthers even more dangerous than other teams like Tufts, Bowdoin or Wesleyan? Honestly, an inconsistently positive team is much harder to prep for than a team that’s on a roll. It’s hard to spot the flaws when your flaws change every week; it’s even harder to key in on which player to focus on when the team has a fluctuating group of scorers. Seven players on the Middlebury roster have 10 goals or more, and Russell Thorndike is the team’s only volume shooter.


Williams (was No. 20)

The Ephs had a nice streak going in late March, but the calendar flip to April did not bode well for them. They’re now 1-3 this month, the lone win being Hamilton, while suffering fairly lopsided defeats against Amherst and Bowdoin. Williams scored just 10 goals combined in those two losses. With their only win this month coming against a cold Hamilton team, Williams drops out of the Top 20. Three games remain for them, though, including their final two NESCAC clashes against fellow mercurial mid-packers Colby and Middlebury.