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Coulter Mackesy will lead a Princeton offense in 2024 that was decimated after seniors graduated to spend grad years elsewhere.

Way Early 2024 Rankings: Nos. 20-16 (Division I Men)

August 22, 2023
Patrick Stevens
Rich Barnes

With much of the transfer market settled and the coaching carousel slowing down, it’s time to take a look ahead to what the 2024 college lacrosse season has in store.

Next up: Five teams that figure to find themselves in the postseason conversation come the spring.


Division I Men
No. 25 - No. 21
No. 20 - No. 16
No. 15 - No. 11
No. 10 - No. 6
No. 5 - No. 1
Division I Women
No. 25 - No. 21
No. 20 - No. 16
No. 15 - No. 11
No. 10 - No. 6
No. 5 - No. 1


2023 record: 11-5 (4-1 Atlantic 10)

Last seen: Losing 17-8 to Virginia in the first round of an NCAA tournament game that will be best remembered for a mid-game deluge and the ensuing bog-like conditions.

Initial forecast: The names change, and Richmond rolls on. The Spiders have methodically established themselves as roughly a Top 20 program — sometimes a bit better, sometimes a little outside that range, but rarely too far in either direction — over the last decade. So what happens when the names don’t change much? After all, Dan Chemotti’s program only had four players who were out of eligibility after last season. Defenseman Jake Saunders is one of them, and he offered some advice in the postgame press conference after Richmond’s NCAA tournament loss. “Make sure you keep tabs on Richmond next year because we’re going to keep on coming back every single time,” he said. That’s probably a good bet. Sound on defense and loaded on offense (eight of the Spiders’ top nine scorers are eligible to return), Richmond should be the favorite to repeat as Atlantic 10 champions. Eventually, a strong, consistent program that continues to knock on the door busts through and wins an NCAA tournament first round game. Might this be the year that happens?


2023 record: 10-4 (7-1 Patriot)

Last seen: Getting toppled on a Friday afternoon by Loyola and falling two victories short of another Patriot League tournament title and the program’s second consecutive NCAA bid.

Starts lost: 32 of 140 (22.9 percent)
Scoring departing: 83 of 319 points (26.0 percent)

Initial forecast: Frankly, the Terriers are sort of a variation on Richmond — a relatively young program that has done fine work building itself into a team no one is going to be thrilled to see on their schedule. Timmy Ley (40 G, 14 A) graduates, but the roster still includes returning attackmen Vince D’Alto (44 G, 24 A) and Louis Perfetto (27 G, 37 A). Four of Boston U’s five double-digit goal scorers are back in the fold, as is much of a defense that is anchored by exceptional long pole Roy Meyer (64 GB, 32 CT). The Terriers do have to find a replacement for the graduated Matt Garber, but there’s a good chance ex-Marquette goalie Michael Allieri provides a suitable plug-and-play solution from the portal. The Terriers were the only Patriot League team to beat eventual conference champion Army last season, and they might be the best-equipped to deny the Black Knights back-to-back titles this spring.


2023 record: 7-7 (1-5 Atlantic Coast)

Last seen: Losing four in a row — three in blowout fashion, the last two to eventual national champion Notre Dame — to close out the regular season and fade from NCAA tournament contention.

Initial forecast: This is quite the wait-and-see team, isn’t it? Yes, the Tar Heels delivered one of the headlines of the offseason, adding defensive coordinator Dave Pietramala from conference rival Syracuse and reuniting him with sons Dominic and Nick. It’s a fun story, for sure, and it will be written more than a few times between now and February, as it should be. Yet the athleticism difference between North Carolina and the rest of the ACC was striking in April and May, and that’s a gap that needs to be made up largely by offseason player development and incoming freshmen (a healthy Dominic Pietramala on attack will surely help, too). The Tar Heels didn’t attack the portal quite as much as last year, but there are some judicious additions who will help: Bucknell short stick Danny Striano, who had 60 ground balls in back-to-back seasons; VMI midfielder Hartley Jordan (24 G, 18 A), a first team all-Metro Atlantic selection; and Hampden-Sydney defenseman Nick Morgan, a first-team Division III All-American. Those pickups all add value, but internal improvements are needed for North Carolina to re-emerge as a threat for a deep run in May.

17. PENN

2023 record: 7-6 (4-2 Ivy)

Last seen: Losing a taut Ivy League semifinal 9-8 to Princeton, then watching over the next two days as its NCAA tournament hopes crumbled when Michigan and Princeton snagged automatic berths and squeezed the Quakers (and Denver) from the postseason field.

Initial forecast: Life after Sam Handley (and Piper Bond and BJ Farrare, among others) has arrived for the Quakers. Without Handley, Penn won’t have a singular player who will command attention quite like the star midfielder did in his time in Philadelphia, but that doesn’t mean Penn is suddenly going to collapse as a program. There are established players across the roster with eligibility remaining, including Ben Smith (27 G, 7 A) and Cam Rubin (24 G, 7 A) on offense and goalie Emmet Carroll (.549 save percentage) in the cage. Penn could use a boost in its specialty units; both man-up (.310, 51st nationally) and man-down (.587, 54th) ranked in the bottom third of Division I. Improving a .452 faceoff percentage would help, too, which is why Virginia transfer Mac Eldridge (who played sparingly last season behind the indefatigable Petey LaSalla) could be one of the biggest portal additions of the season. 


2023 record: 8-7 (4-2 Ivy)

Last seen: Running out of May magic in the second half of a 13-12 loss to Penn State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Starts lost: 74 of 150 (49.3 percent)
Scoring departing: 164 of 341 points (48.1 percent)

Initial forecast: The Tigers had plenty of scrutiny after their 2022 final four run, then hovered around .500 before winning the Ivy League tournament. But a funny thing happened to a team that had plenty of known quantities on offense: Its defense turned out to be more consistent than a year earlier. That group — led by defenseman Pace Billings and goalie Michael Gianforcaro (.577 save percentage) — will likely be leaned upon as the Tigers figure out just how their offense will look beyond attackman Coulter Mackesy (55 G, 23 A). Princeton loses a lot of punch with Ivy League rules forcing Sam English, Christian Ronda, Alex Slusher, Jake Stevens and Alexander Vardaro to spend a graduate season elsewhere. Still, there are some interesting options among guys who got some starting experience in 2023: Tommy Barnds (8 G, 7 A), Sean Cameron (16 G, 5 A), Jack Ringhofer (7 G, 1 A), Braedon Saris (6 G, 11 A in five games) and Lukas Stanat (10 G, 10 A). A little more continuity on offense could help the Tigers, who won’t be Ivy favorites but shouldn’t be forgotten about despite the graduation losses.