I’ve been blessed with a vote in Inside Lacrosse’s D1 Media Poll for the 2023 season and in this episode I want to rip through and talk about my “first team out” as well as my picks for #20 through #18. I won’t waste any more of your time and will let you dive right into my first team out…

#21 AKA “My First Team Out” is Syracuse
(4-10, 1-5)

OK, I came very close to putting Syracuse in as my #20 team. My reasoning, if you compare this roster to last years roster, it’s actually better “on paper” in terms of overall depth and experience.  Yes, Cuse loses their top 4 leading scorers from a year ago.  Most notably, Tucker Dordevic took his 59 points to Georgetown and Brendan Curry’s 53 points graduated.  Owen Seebold filled in admirably for a short handed attack unit after Owen Hiltz went down with an injury as did Mikey Berkman, but let’s be honest here, neither is a huge loss as neither would have contributed as much as they did if it wasn’t for Hiltz’s injury.

Syracuse’s new attack unit made up of Owen Hiltz (29g, 19a, 48p in 2021), Alex Simmons (Denver transfer, 30g, 15a, 45 points in 2022) and our new #22 Joey Spallina has me far more excited than the three attackmen Cuse put on the field last year.  The 2022 Syracuse attack was one of the weakest three-man groups they’ve ever put on the field.  The new look attack for 2023 has me feeling a lot more optimistic.

The real question mark for this team is once again their defense.  They handed the #11 out to Riley Figueiras and they expected big things from him in 2023, but he’s out for the season with a leg injury. That leaves Nick Caccamo and Saam Olexo as the top returning close defenders and the close defense wasn’t very good last season.

Only bright spot on defense for Syracuse is they have a solid group of SSDM’s returning with Brandon Aviles (9 caused turnovers) and Dami Oladunmoye (2 caused turnovers) both coming back.

Also providing some hope for the Orange is transfer goalie Will Mark (LIU).  Mark posted a .557 save percentage in 2022 for LIU.  If he can stop the ball at a similar clip in 2023, Syracuse’s defense should at least hold the line as well as they did last year as their goalie situation in 2022 was pretty pathetic.

But alas, as much as I wanted to give Cuse the #20 spot, because I really do think they’ll finish the 2023 season a ranked team, I just couldn’t do it without feeling like a “homer”.


#20 Army
(12-4, 6-2, Lost to Boston U. in Patriot League Finals)

Army is another team that I feel confident they’ll probably finish in the top 20 by the seasons end, but who lost a lot of firepower, specifically on the offensive side with the graduation of Brendan Nichtern (41g, 60a, 101p).  Reese Burek is their top returning scorer (44 points in 2022).  The reality, Army is going to need some guys to step up to make up for the huge void Nichtern leaves behind.  To put it in perspective, Army’s top 3 returning point getters combined for 110 points.  Nichtern had 101 points by himself last year.

Army also loses a very high end goalie in Wyatt Schupler and their situation on defense is a bit murky as well after losing some guys to graduation. In 2022 the Black Knights didn’t have a single defender play and start every game. AJ Pilate is the top returner in terms of “takeaways” and Deacon Donaldson also contributed heavily last year.

Key Returners

  • Reese Burek (M), 29g, 15a, 44p off 31.9% shooting, 17 turnovers
  • Paul Johnson (A), 26g, 11a, 37p off 36.1% shooting, 13 turnovers
  • Jacob Morin (M), 27g, 2a, 29p off 31.4% shooting, 11 turnovers
  • AJ Pilate (D), 13 caused turnovers, 27 gbs
  • Deacon Donaldson (D), 10 caused turnovers, 24 gbs

#19 Richmond
(11-5, 4-1, Lost to Penn in First Round of NCAA’s)

What I like about Richmond is they’ve proven they can turn solid lacrosse players into stars and they’ve consistently played at a high level against a tough schedule year in and year out.  What I don’t like about Richmond in 2023 is they only have two guys coming back that scored more than 20 points, Dalton Young (39g, 23a) and Lance Madonna (25g, 12a).  They did pick up Derrek Madonna (Hobart Transfer), but that doesn’t answer all of the questions they have on offense.

They also lost 2 of their starting three close defenders.  Only Jake Saunders and his 23 caused turnovers return.  They do return two goalies that played considerable time that each stopped the ball at a 55% clip, so that should help their inexperienced defense a bit.

Key Returners

  • Dalton Young (A), 39g, 23a, 62p off 37.5% shooting, 31 turnovers
  • Lance Madonna (M), 25g, 12a, 37p off 30.5% shooting, 24 turnovers
  • Derrek Madonna (M), 33g, 6a, 39p off 34% shooting, 6 turnovers
  • Jake Saunders (D), 23 caused turnovers, 33 gbs
  • Braden McClure (LSM), 14 caused turnovers, 20 gbs
  • Zach Vigue (G), .552 save percentage, 9-4 w/l

#18 Jacksonville
(14-3, 5-0, Lost to Richmond in the SoCon Finals)

Jacksonville is a very tough read for me in 2023.  On the offensive side, I think they have the potential to be better than they were in 2022.  They bring back their top three leading scorers, all of them started all 17 games of 2022.  Max Waldbaum had an insane 72 point season off 48 goals and 24 helpers.  Jacob Greiner (51g, 18a) and Jackson Intrieri (31g, 30a) are both back as well.  But their big get was Georgetown transfer Dylan Watson who put up 58 goals and 6 assists in 2022 for the Hoyas.

Jack Heed and Tucker Garrity are back to anchor the defense.  They combined for 38 caused turnovers a year ago.  Heed will anchor the close defense while Garrity will lead the defensive midfield unit.  I’m a big fan of Garrity because he is as close to a two-way midfielder as you see these days.  He forced 18 turnovers and also put up 6 goals and 8 assists in 2022.  But despite those top two returners on the defensive side.  The SSDM unit will be strong, but they are inexperienced at close defense and LSM.

Enter returning goalie LUke Millican.  He will need to have a big time year in 2023 to make sure Jacksonville can consistently “outscore their opponents”.  He was incredible last year with a .582 save percentage while starting all 17 games, but he had a veteran defense in front of him.  I expect his save percentage to hover in the area of 56 to 58 percent.  If he hits 58% again, I like Jacksonville to remain one of the top two teams in the SoCon and give Richmond a run for their money for the SoCon’s automatic qualifier.

Key Returners

  • Max Waldbaum (A), 48g, 24a, 72p off 42.5% shooting, 35 turnovers
  • Jacob Greiner (A), 51g, 18a, 69p off 33.8% shooting, 15 turnovers
  • Jackson Intrieri (A), 31g, 30a, 61p off 44.9% shooting, 26 turnovers
  • Dylan Watson (A), 51g, 18a, transfer from Georgetown
  • Jack Heed (D), 20 caused turnovers, 32 gbs
  • Tucker Garrity (SSDM), 18 caused turnovers, 37gbs, 6g, 8a, 14p off 28.6% shooting
  • Luke Millican (G), .582 save percentage, 14-3 w/l

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