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Ithaca's Sydney Phillips.

Ithaca, Wesleyan Make Big Jumps in USA Lacrosse D-III Women's Top 20

April 15, 2024
Colin McCarthy
Rich Barnes

Another game of the year candidate emerged in one of the more peculiar USA Lacrosse Division III Women’s Top 20 updates of the season thus far.

The battle between No. 1 Middlebury and then-No. 4 Tufts had a very real chance to be a final four preview. And, if that is one of this year’s semifinal or final matchups, what a treat it would be. The Jumbos and Panthers fought to a tie heading into the fourth quarter before Middlebury rattled off three in a row to gain leverage. Tufts got two of those goals back but was held off the scoreboard for the final 2:24 and came away empty handed.

The Panthers are the last team standing with an undefeated record, but they had to sweat out a couple teams to get there.

Elsewhere in the Top 20, things got a little weird.

With most teams either fully entrenched in conference play or playing tune-up games leading up to it, there weren’t many high-profile games with rankings implications. The few games that did move the needle caused some notable shifts in the ranks.

Take a look at who jumped in this week’s Top 20.


1. Middlebury, 13-0 (Prev: 1)
2. Wesleyan, 10-2 (Prev: 6)
3. Tufts, 11-2 (Prev: 4)
4. Franklin & Marshall, 12-2 (Prev: 3)
5. William Smith, 12-2 (Prev: 2)
6. Washington and Lee, 11-3 (Prev: 5)
7. Salisbury, 10-3 (Prev: 7)
8. Gettysburg, 11-2 (Prev: 8)
9. TCNJ, 8-4 (Prev: 9)
10. Pomona-Pitzer, 12-1 (Prev: 10)
11. Colby, 9-4 (Prev: 11)
12. Ithaca, 11-1 (Prev. 19)
13. Stevens, 10-2 (Prev. 12)
14. Roanoke, 11-3 (Prev: 13)
15. York, 7-6 (Prev: 15)
16. MIT, 12-2 (Prev. 14)
17. Christopher Newport, 11-4 (Prev. 17)
18. Amherst, 8-5 (Prev. 18)
19. Williams, 7-5 (Prev. 16)
20. Babson, 11-2 (Prev. 20)

Also considered (alphabetical order): Chicago, Hamilton, Haverford, Shenandoah, Trinity


Wesleyan (+4)

Maybe a push all the way up to No. 2 is a little early for Wesleyan, but it is truly starting to look like the second-best team. The Cardinals have played eight IWLCA Top 25 ranked opponents this season and won six of those matchups. The losses were by a total margin of four goals — and one of those losses was to Middlebury, no less.

Wesleyan holds wins over Salisbury, Tufts and William Smith, to name a few. It’s time to start looking at the Cardinals as a serious national title contender.

Ithaca (+7)

Normally, teams aren’t making this large of a jump, especially not at this point in the season. However, Ithaca didn’t just beat William Smith this week; it dominated the former No. 2 Herons 16-3. On top of that, many teams between Ithaca’s previous spot (19) and current spot (12) had fairly stagnant weeks.

Ithaca boasts a strong record but didn’t have a true signature win until this week. But now, it’s flying up to a mark more appropriate for an 11-1 program on an eight-game winning streak.


William Smith (-3)

The Herons had a pretty uncharacteristic week, but it’s certainly better to get a tough loss or two out of the way in early April than come postseason play. Two losses in three games, including the aforementioned blowout by Ithaca, led to a three-spot slide, but William Smith is still in the upper echelon of programs.

Williams (-3)

Williams was on an upward trend for a little while, but four straight losses to conference foes saw it dip back towards the bottom edge of the Top 20. Williams will look to get back in the win column with another NESCAC showdown on Saturday, this time against Colby.