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Lilly Boswell scored 13 goals in 2023.

2023 Women's Top 30: How James Madison Fared vs. Projections

August 3, 2023
Beth Ann Mayer
JMU Athletics

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: 12/6
2023 record: 19-3 (6-0 American Athletic Conference)


After an opening-game loss to defending champion North Carolina, James Madison rattled off 17 straight wins, running the table in its first year in the American Athletic Conference. The streak included a win over new conference foe Florida, the Gators’ first AAC loss since entering the conference in 2019. Ultimately, it made the Dukes outright regular-season champions.

Other memorable wins included ones over Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Virginia. In fact, JMU went 4-0 against the Big Ten and 2-1 against the ACC in the regular season. It all added up to James Madison earning the seventh seed in the NCAA tournament.

The Dukes advanced to the quarterfinal round after a stunning fourth-quarter comeback win over Maryland.

Isabella Peterson finished third in Division I in goals per game (4.14) and was a Tewaaraton finalist.


James Madison beat Florida in March, but the Gators kept the AAC tournament trophy in Gainesville with a 9-8 win in May. The win earned the Gators the slightly higher seed (6). In the NCAA quarterfinals, the Dukes couldn’t get much going against Syracuse, putting in no more than two goals per quarter. James Madison held Tewaaraton finalist Meaghan Tyrrell without a goal, but sophomore Olivia Adamson stepped up with a four-goal, six-point performance. The Dukes were in striking distance, down 8-5 with 15 minutes left, but the Orange slammed the door with a five-goal fourth quarter and won 13-7.


In the second round of the NCAA tournament against Maryland, James Madison trailed 12-8 entering the fourth quarter and 14-10 with under seven minutes left. But the Dukes pieced together a furious rally, scoring the game’s final five goals. Peterson put in two of them, including the equalizer, with 2:05 to play. Caitlyn McElwee’s goal with 54 ticks on the clock sent JMU to the quarterfinals.


James Madison would like to have the AAC tournament title, but there’s no reason to think the Dukes won’t get there. And they followed the loss up with a pair of hard-fought opening-round wins in the NCAA tournament. The season was impressive, and the big disappointment of the championship-game loss to Florida will likely serve as motivation in 2024.