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USC's Claudia Shevitz.

The Sunday Slide: February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024
Kenny DeJohn
Kevin P. Tucker

And just like that, spring has sprung.

And, at least for now, the weather is largely cooperating. It’s about the small victories, everyone.

We’re all keenly aware of the memes. Lacrosse really doesn’t feel like a spring sport until the end of March. Sometimes not even until April. It’s one of the first observations I had about the sport in 2016, when I first began to cover high school girls’ lacrosse for Newsday on Long Island.

There’s nothing quite like standing in an open field, hands shaking while trying to take copious notes to cover for the fact that the game’s official stat-keeper is a 15-year-old on the junior varsity team.

But that first spring (when it actually felt like spring come May) made me fall in a love with a sport I had otherwise never experienced before. And now I’m thrilled to see that New York high schools are experimenting with a shot clock in 2025. It will only further elevate the uber-talented athletes coming from the area. (It will also help the cold sting less during the last 10 minutes of what otherwise would have been a stallfest.)

With that, welcome back to The Sunday Slide, my weekly column on Sunday night’s during the Division I women’s lacrosse season. I’m lucky that my passion is also my job, and I look forward to sharing that passion throughout the 2024 season.

James Madison's Maddie Epke.
Maddie Epke scored seven goals against North Carolina.
Steve Prakope

Epke's World

I was blown away by the play of Maddie Epke at the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic in October. She dominated Canada on the draw and more than held her own in the U.S. U20 training team's win over Northwestern. She was excellent in Saturday's James Madison win over North Carolina with seven goals and 10 draw controls.


With all due respect to Lindsey Munday, USC had some bold scheduling to open 2024. The Women of Troy left warm, sunny SoCal for the East Coast to play a Friday-Sunday weekend. The Army win was impressive. The Villanova win was semi-concerning. The Wildcats scored five of the final six goals before ultimately falling 12-11.

Respect to Army for upping its strength of schedule in 2024. It’s how programs like the Black Knights can take the next step. It didn’t get off on the right foot in a 13-9 loss to USC, but Army is ultimately better off after the scheduling decision.

It’s always fun when opening week is ripe with tense late-game moments. George Mason scored two goals in the final 1:39 to force overtime, then Morgan Gunn finished a feed from Hailey Zutic to down William & Mary in the extra period. It’s George Mason’s first win on opening day since 2018.

Lacrosse is taking off in Japan. The nation will host the 2026 and 2027 World Lacrosse Men’s and Women’s championships, and Japan’s men’s Sixes team captured bronze at The World Games in 2021. Still, there isn’t much Japanese lacrosse talent in the States. Except for the Nakazawa sisters at Louisville, who combined for four goals and one assist against Denver. I hope more talent comes over from Japan in the coming years.

Navy women's lacrosse.
Navy celebrates after its 10-9 win over Duke.
John Strohsacker

Nothing 'Mid' About Navy

Staying in the Patriot League and Service Academy world, Navy topped an ACC school, albeit one in a transition period, on opening day. Three goals and one assist from Emily Messinese led Navy to a 10-9 win over Duke, which stayed in the game thanks to 15 saves from Tufts transfer Courtney Kaufman. (Is there a Tufts-goalie-transfer pipeline brewing?)

Don’t rule out the underdogs, especially in February. Butler was 0-5 against Central Michigan but got its first win in the series, 13-12, behind seven goals from Leah Rubino. Her seventh, which tied her own single-game program record, was the winner with 2:45 left.

Sometimes, a change of scenery is all it takes. Not every star player needs to play at a star school. Jaclyn Marszal, who spent her freshman year at Notre Dame, transferred to Delaware this summer and dropped five goals and two assists in her Blue Hens debut, an 11-7 win over Lehigh. Newark, Del., is also much closer to her Catonsville, Md., home.

There’s some turnover on the Syracuse roster, but is another star emerging on defense? Charlotte Varnes saw Cuse on Saturday — an 18-15 Northwestern win — and was impressed by how freshman Kaci Benoit kept Izzy Scane (three goals on seven shots) in check. Benoit played high-level high school lacrosse at Darien (Ct.) High School and was ranked the 12th-best incoming freshman this year by Inside Lacrosse.

As things stand, Amanda Belichick will be the only Belichick head coach to earn a win in 2024 (barring a midseason NFL hire). Her Holy Cross team opened with a big-time win over Fairfield, 17-16, powered by five goals each from Sally Zinsner and Ella Kittredge and five assists from Isabela Miller.

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2 • Win on opening weekend for Virginia under new head coach Sonia LaMonica, capped by a save inside the final 30 seconds by Mel Josephson to seal a 10-9 win over Stanford.

6 • Players with multiple goals for Denver in its 16-8 win over Louisville. Lauren Black is still great, and Olivia Penoyer looks like a smart add from Yale by Pios coach Liza Kelly.

7 • Team-high shots taken by Emma LoPinto in her Boston College debut. She finished with four goals (including a vicious BTB) and an assist. Rachel Clark, the other crown jewel of the transfer portal, did not play.

11, 200 • Milestone aplenty for Drexel’s Corinne Bednarik, who set a single-game program record with 11 points (six goals, five assists) and reached 200 career points in the Dragons’ 14-6 win over Binghamton.

14 • Combined points produced by Georgia Latch (six goals, three assists) and Sydni Black (four goals, one assist), who — as expected — are going to lead the Loyola offense this year.

18 • Goal differential in Michigan’s 19-1 win over Jacksonville. The win wasn’t surprising, but the result caught my eye. We know Michigan can play defense, but what a performance. I’m torn between being more impressed by the 19 goals scored or the one goal allowed.

19 • Goals scored by Clemson in its 19-10 win over Davidson. Regan Byrne had six goals and two assists, and Claire Bockstie did it all with four goals and five assists. I’m so intrigued to see what’s in store for Clemson this spring.

20 • Goals scored by Rutgers in its win over Manhattan — the most goals in a season-opener for the Scarlet Knights since 2019. Cassidy Spilis did it all as one of the nation’s top two-way midfielders, producing six goals, eight draw controls, one caused turnover and one ground ball.


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