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Loyola's Lauren Spence.

Weekend One-Liners: 2024 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Opening Day Edition

February 9, 2024
Beth Ann Mayer
Sophia Scheller

Women's lacrosse is finally back. Here's one sentence on each of the top games of opening weekend.

Finally, women’s lacrosse.

This Friday, we turn the page as preseason predictions give way to real results. While an early-February win (or loss) certainly won’t define a season — Northwestern lost its first game to Syracuse before running the table on the way to a national title in 2023 — they all count.

Speaking of old rivals, Northwestern and Syracuse once again meet to start the season in my pick for the Game of the Week. But there are others worth checking out.

Here’s why (in one sentence).

TV LISTINGS

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No. 11 Johns Hopkins at Albany — Friday 2 p.m. (AE.TV)

Last year’s NCAA first-round Cinderella (Albany) squares off with a Johns Hopkins team that could take on the same role in a Big Ten conference long dominated by Northwestern and Maryland.

No. 18 UMass at No. 2 Boston College – Friday, 4 p.m. (ESPN+)

UMass’ offense produced one of the highest goal outputs in Division I in 2023 (15.47) behind returning fifth-year star Fiona McGowan, but the new-look Eagles offense, now starring Emma LoPinto and Rachel Clark alongside Mckenna Davis and Kayla Martello, will likely draw the most attention.

No. 16 USC at No. 13 Army – Friday, 5 p.m. (ESPN+)

Keep an eye on Los Angeles-to-New York Black Knight freshman Geneva Milch Cesoni, who head coach Michelle Tumolo said built chemistry with returning breakout star Brigid Duffy during the preseason, as she makes her college debut against her hometown team.

Louisville at No. 4 Denver – Friday, 5 p.m. (Pioneers All-Access)

Denver’s 5-4 win over Louisville in last season’s opener sure was a preview of an epic year of defense to come.

No. 17 Michigan at Jacksonville – Saturday, 12 p.m. (ESPN+)

Head coach Hannah Nielsen calls defense Michigan’s “bread and butter,” but hailed improvements on an offense that leaned on workhorse Jill Smith last season ahead of the Wolverines’ opener with 2023 NCAA tournament team Jacksonville.

No. 8 James Madison at No. 3 North Carolina – Saturday, 12 p.m. (ESPN+)

News that projected UNC starters Brooklyn Walker-Welch, Marissa White and Chloe Humphrey sustained season-ending injuries was an unwelcome plot twist prior to the annual showdown between Mid-Atlantic foes.

Florida's Catherine Flaherty.
Graduate student Catherine Flaherty will lead the Florida defense.
Florida Athletics

Upset Watch: No. 12 Florida at No. 9 Loyola

Loyola has home field and more continuity from 2023, but notoriously feisty Gators newcomers like defender/midfielder Hannah Heller (UMass) and midfielder Sarah Falk (Albany) make it unlikely Florida will experience much of a drop in the post-LoPinto era.

No. 5 Syracuse at No. 1 Northwestern – Saturday, 1 p.m. (BIG+)

Northwestern’s title defense begins against a rival in Syracuse that would love to knock the Wildcats off their perch.

Stanford at No. 20 Virginia, Sunday, 1 p.m. (ACCX)

Arguably the highlight of the Sunday slate sees Virginia play its second game of the Sonia LaMonica era against a Stanford team likely hungry to rebound after a down 2023.