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UNC women's lacrosse

UNC Tops Nike/USA Lacrosse Division I Women's Preseason Top 20

January 3, 2023
USA Lacrosse Magazine Staff
John Strohsacker

North Carolina, the defending undefeated national champion, is No. 1 in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Division I Women’s Preseason Top 20, USA Lacrosse Magazine announced Tuesday.

The Tar Heels pulled off an improbable comeback in the NCAA semifinals last season before then outlasting Boston College in a one-goal championship game. Much of the veteran leadership from the offense has graduated, including all-time great Jamie Ortega, but UNC will now hand the keys to Caitlyn Wurzburger to see if she can take her game to another level.

Core defensive contributor Emma Trenchard was among those who graduated, but Emily Nalls and Brooklyn Walker-Welch appear to be next up in the line of great Tar Heel defenders. Alecia Nichols will be forced into action to take over for Taylor Moreno, too.

Head coach Jenny Levy should also expect bigger contributions from Olivia Dirks (a Penn State transfer last year) and Saint Joseph’s transfer Lauren Figura.

Maryland, a national semifinalist a season ago, is No. 2 on the strength of what looks like the top defense in the country, at least on paper. Abby Bosco returns in front of national goalie of the year Emily Sterling, and Cathy Reese also added Marge Donovan from Princeton. Kennedy Major, the top defender in the 2021 class, redshirted last year due to injury but is now healthy.

Boston College reached the title game for a fifth straight season and can’t be counted out, even after the graduation of Charlotte North. Expect Jenn Medjid and Belle Smith, among others, to take on larger roles.

Stony Brook and its suffocating defense check in at No. 4, and even more is expected of Ellie Masera — already a first-team All-American — this spring. Northwestern is No. 5 and will enjoy the return of Izzy Scane from an ACL injury.

Continue below to see the full Nike/USA Lacrosse Division I Women’s Preseason Top 20.


1. North Carolina
2. Maryland
3. Boston College
4. Stony Brook
5. Northwestern
6. Syracuse
7. Rutgers
8. Florida
9. Stanford
10. Denver
11. Duke
12. James Madison
13. Virginia
14. Notre Dame
15. Loyola
16. USC
17. Princeton
18. Michigan
19. Jacksonville
20. Richmond

Also considered (alphabetical order): Arizona State, Colorado, Johns Hopkins, Navy, Temple, UMass, Yale