With the 2023 college lacrosse season coming up fairly soon, the Virginia Cavaliers men’s team has been ranked as the preseason #1 team by the USA Lacrosse Magazine/Nike Top-20. Last spring’s national champion, the Maryland Terrapins, are ranked second while #6 Notre Dame and #7 Duke are the two top-10 ACC teams other than the Wahoos. North Carolina comes in at #17 while Syracuse, in the second year of the Gary Gait era, enters the year unranked.
UVA taking the top spot is not a surprise considering how the ‘Hoos return almost their entire roster as Matt Moore is the only starter to leave the program. Connor Shellenberger, Payton Cormier, Griffin Schutz, Jeff Conner, and Xander Dickson are all back on the offensive side of the ball with Vermont transfer midfielder Thomas McConvey joining Virginia after scoring 70 goals last year and former top high school prospect Ricky Miezan returning to lacrosse as an offensive midfielder for Lars Tiffany after playing four years of linebacker for Stanford football. Oh, and there’s also the second best player in the 2023 class in Truitt Sunderland as well.
Defensively, sophomore Matt Nunes anchors UVA in the goal with close defenders Cole Kastner, Cade Saustad, and Quentin Matsui set to start in front of him while long stick midfielders Scott Hooper and Ben Wayer and short stick defensive midfielders Grayson Sallade, Noah Chizmar, Evan Zinn, and Danny Parker all return as well. Depth shouldn’t be an issue amongst the poles either with five star close defender John Schroter, Richmond transfer Griffin Kology, and four star LSM Malachi Jones all adding luxurious depth.
In the middle of the field, all-time great Petey LaSalla returns at the faceoff X with the #10 prospect in the 2022 class Mac Eldridge likely to provide an effective counter as a bigger body. Gable Braun is also back and should mean that the ‘Hoos can go three-deep there. Joey Terenzi, the 15th ranked player in the 2022 class, will be a player to watch who could both fill in as a defensive midfielder and a Ryan Conrad type of clearing role who could also thrive on the wings of faceoffs. Conner, Sallade, and Chizmar will probably be the top short sticks on the wings with Wayer, Hooper, and maybe Jones splitting shifts at LSM.
Suffice to say, this team’s ranking at #1 is incredibly justified even despite losing to Maryland in the quarterfinals last season and being inconsistent in the back half of last season. The team will revolve around the generational talent of Shellenberger, but it’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint a point of weakness on this roster. Likely, the biggest key will how Tiffany and his staff piece it all together.
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Boston University
- North Carolina
- Saint Joseph’s
Also considered (alphabetical order): Johns Hopkins, Richmond, Syracuse, Utah, Villanova