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Florida's Emily Heller.

More Questions Than Answers in USA Lacrosse Division I Women's Top 20

February 26, 2024
Beth Ann Mayer
John Strohsacker

Another weekend of Division I women’s lacrosse brought more questions than answers.

Two of the big winners last weekend, Notre Dame and Maryland, went down to Syracuse and Florida teams, respectively, that struggled in weeks prior. So, once again, there are shakeups in this week’s USA Lacrosse Division I Women’s Top 20 — but No. 1 Boston College remains consistent ahead of its title-game rematch with No. 3 Northwestern on Thursday night.

Undefeated James Madison checks in at No. 2, and North Carolina is No. 4 after an overtime win over Virginia. Michigan leaps three spots after limiting USC to three goals Saturday. Florida is also up six to No. 10 after an overtime win over now-No. 11 Maryland. Despite the movement, no teams enter or exit.


1. Boston College, 5-0 (Prev: 1)
2. James Madison, 5-0 (Prev: 4)
3. Northwestern, 3-1 (Prev: 3)
4. North Carolina, 4-1 (Prev: 6)
5. Michigan, 4-0 (Prev: 8)
6. Syracuse, 2-2 (Prev: 7)
7. Notre Dame, 4-1 (Prev: 2)
8. Loyola, 3-0 (Prev: 10)
9. Denver, 3-1 (Prev: 9)
10. Florida, 2-2 (Prev: 16)
11. Maryland, 3-1 (Prev: 5)
12. Stony Brook, 3-0 (Prev: 11)
13. Penn, 2-0 (Prev: 14)
14. Johns Hopkins, 3-2 (Prev: 12)
15. Virginia, 4-1 (Prev: 15)
16. USC, 3-1 (Prev: 13)
17. Navy, 5-0 (Prev: 17)
18. Princeton, 1-1 (Prev: 18)
19. Clemson, 4-0 (Prev: 20)
20. Colorado, 3-1 (Prev: 19)

Also considered (alphabetical order): Brown (3-0), Duke (2-3), Fairfield (3-1), Rutgers (4-0), Penn State (2-2), Richmond (4-0), UMass (0-2), Yale (3-0)


Syracuse (+1)

The Orange only moved up one but certainly got the win of the weekend, downing a previously unbeaten Notre Dame team that bested Northwestern a week prior in South Bend. Down 10-6 at the break, Syracuse used a six-goal third quarter and outscored the Irish 4-3 to close the door on a 16-14 win in the fourth.

Back from injury, Kate Mashewske was masterful on the draw, tallying 10 to lead the Orange to an 18-15 edge in the circle. You’ll recall Notre Dame dominated the draw against Northwestern, taking 20 of 28 draws overall and each of the last six. Offensively, Olivia Adamson’s six-point day paced a Cuse team whose offense is learning to play without all-timers Meaghan Tyrrell and Megan Carney.

Michigan (+3)

Michigan’s defense was iron-clad in a 9-3 win over a Top 20 team in USC. The Wolverines gave up one goal apiece in each of the first three quarters and held firm in a scoreless fourth frame. It gave USA Lacrosse staff members shades of Denver, who the Wolverines beat last weekend.

The offense that often gave the ball to Jill Smith and let her take over games has also been more balanced this season. Kaylee Dyer netted a hat trick and currently leads the team in goals (12) and points (15). Smith hasn’t gone anywhere — she has 11 goals and 14 points. Still, the more the merrier for the Wolverines, who will face challenging defenses from Northwestern and Maryland when Big Ten play begins. For now, it’s Michigan — not the Terps — in the top five with Northwestern.


Notre Dame (-5)

How the pendulum swings. The Irish dominated the fourth quarter last weekend against Northwestern and leaped out to a 10-6 lead on Syracuse. But this time, Notre Dame was on the wrong end of a rally.

We detailed what went right for the Orange (and wrong for the Irish) in Syracuse’s section above. Coaches like to discuss playing a full 60 minutes, and it can come across as a throwaway cliché. But the last week showed that, while it may sound cliché, it’s true. The Irish didn’t put together the 60-minute performance they hoped for against the Orange. The talent and drive are there — and they’ll have a chance to show it this weekend against North Carolina, a rival the Irish have matched up well against recently.

Johns Hopkins (-2)

With so much talent returning and the addition of Madison Doucette, the Blue Jays were an early darling of ours (and opposing coaches). However, JHU dropped a pair of games to Loyola and Penn over the weekend. Losing to teams ranked near you in the Top 20 teams isn’t always a reason to land in “not hot territory.” Hopkins was No. 11, Loyola was No. 10 and Penn was No. 14 last week.

The problem is that the Blue Jays have looked shaky in each game this season. Albany was a four-goal win. Siena was close through three quarters. Hopkins struggled defensively in the fourth against Loyola, letting in seven goals. The Blue Jays only lost by one to Penn, but it’s a bit misleading — midfielder Ashley Mackin willed JHU back into the game by scoring the last three goals of the game (the final tally coming with four ticks left). The bottom line is Johns Hopkins has yet to put together a full 60 minutes (there’s the cliché again), something it’ll surely want to change ahead of an unforgiving conference schedule.