The 2021 season was anything but normal. Coming off the heels of an abruptly canceled 2020 spring season, COVID-19 protocols, restricted scheduling and other factors forced the lacrosse community to expect the unexpected — or maybe expect nothing at all.

"> Early 2022 Rankings: Nos. 5-1 (Division I Men) | USA Lacrosse Magazine

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Logan Wisnauskas is back as the offensive leader for Maryland.

Early 2022 Rankings: Nos. 5-1 (Division I Men)


The 2021 season was anything but normal. Coming off the heels of an abruptly canceled 2020 spring season, COVID-19 protocols, restricted scheduling and other factors forced the lacrosse community to expect the unexpected — or maybe expect nothing at all.

Heading into 2022 and with fall ball in full swing for many teams, the hope is that lacrosse will look a little closer to normal. Conference-only scheduling should be a thing of the past, meaning it will be easier to discern who the top teams are and why in the rankings.

Speaking of rankings, USA Lacrosse Magazine is back to its annual exercise — the Early Top 25. Every day this week, we'll break down a five-team segment, determining where the power lies in lacrosse.

Up today: Nos. 5-1.

Early 2022 Rankings

Division I Men
No. 25 - No. 21
No. 20 - No. 16
No. 15 - No. 11
No. 10 - No. 6
No. 5 - No. 1
Division I Women
No. 25 - No. 21
No. 20 - No. 16
No. 15 - No. 11
No. 10 - No. 6
No. 5 - No. 1

"The days of the Hoyas even mildly surprising anyone are over."


Memorial Day Weekend earlier this year doubled as a throwback ACC tournament, back from before the time Maryland left for the Big Ten. In the final installment of the way-too-early look ahead to 2022, all four of those teams crack the top five — as does another school located in the historic ACC geographic footprint.

5. GEORGETOWN

2021 record: 13-3 (9-1 Big East)

Last seen: Getting ambushed in the first 10 minutes of a 14-3 quarterfinal loss to Virginia just a week after drubbing Syracuse to claim the program’s first NCAA tournament victory since 2007.

Initial forecast: The days of the Hoyas even mildly surprising anyone are over. A constant in their rise from irrelevancy was attackman Jake Carraway (51 goals, 17 assists), a Tewaarton finalist who came back for a fifth season and got the payoff of postseason success. He leaves behind a program well-positioned to continue on its trajectory. Intentionally or not, coach Kevin Warne has vital offensive contributors spread throughout several classes. Declan McDermott (24 goals, nine assists) and Dylan Watson (20 goals, seven assists) head into their fourth seasons. Graham Bundy Jr. (36 goals, 12 assists) is a third-year player. TJ Haley (five goals, 49 assists) and Dylan Hess (17 goals, seven assists) both impressed as freshmen. Owen McElroy, the Kelly Award winner as the nation’s top goalie, is back for a fifth season, and James Reilly (.583) remains a capable faceoff man. The Hoyas are also arguably the biggest winner on the transfer carousel this season thanks to adding defenseman Will Bowen from North Carolina. Georgetown might not have a 50-goal scorer this season, but it’s hard to find holes in a program that’s now 44-13 over the last four seasons.

4. NORTH CAROLINA

2021 record: 13-3 (4-2 ACC)

Last seen: Getting done in by one bad quarter in a 12-11 national semifinal loss to Virginia.

Initial forecast: Outside of perhaps Maryland, the Tar Heels were as consistent at the offensive end as anyone in the sport. Credit a good chunk of that to Tewaaraton finalist Chris Gray (49 goals, 42 assists), whose two years in Chapel Hill are an illustration of how one special player can elevate just about everyone around him. Gray’s presence for a fifth college season is reason enough to be optimistic about North Carolina, but he is one of only three of the team’s top nine in points returning as a spate of fifth-year seniors (and some transfers) move on. Gray, Nicky Solomon (23 goals, 20 assists) and Jacob Kelly (20 goals, 11 assists) are a good core group to work with, and Lance Tillman scored six of his 10 goals in the NCAA tournament. Losing Will Bowen at the defensive end is a blow, but the Tar Heels have to be pleased to have found a long-term answer in goal (Collin Krieg). North Carolina is one of the teams with such a heavy veteran presence in 2021 that it probably reduced the opportunities for younger players on the “solid contributor” track — not necessarily eventual All-America types, but guys who get better every year and are needed in every program. If that improvement happened without the benefit of significant playing time, the Tar Heels will be just fine. Even with some losses, talent is not lacking in Joe Breschi’s program.








3. VIRGINIA

2021 record: 14-4 (2-4 ACC)

Last seen: Savoring a second consecutive national championship run — admittedly with a year with no tournament wedged in — after fending off Maryland on Memorial Day.

Initial forecast: Are you a glass-half-full type, or a glass-half-empty type? (Here’s guessing the ebullient Lars Tiffany would argue the glass is always full, but that’s a philosophical discussion for another time.) It’s not hard to find reasons to be excited about the Cavaliers. Connor Shellenberger (37 goals, 42 assists) was dynamite in the postseason, and he’ll be joined by returnees Matt Moore (33 goals, 34 assists), Payton Cormier (45 goals, eight assists) and Peter Garno (22 goals, three assists) — not to mention faceoff mainstay Petey LaSalla and defensemen Cade Saustad and Cole Kastner. As a counterargument, Virginia must move forward without arguably its best player (long pole Jared Conners) and fellow two-time champs Ian Laviano (attack), Dox Aitken (midfield), Kyle Kology (defense) and Alex Rode (goalie), not to mention one-year addition Charlie Bertrand. It would come as no surprise if it takes a while for Virginia to completely hit its stride this season. Then again, the same can be said for 2019 and 2021, and things turned out OK for the Cavaliers in both of those seasons.




PHOTO BY NAT LEDONNE / DUKE ATHLETICS

Joe Robertson had 36 goals and 18 assists last season for Duke.


2. DUKE

2021 record: 14-3 (4-2 ACC)

Last seen: Unable to find answers at either end of the field in a 14-5 NCAA semifinal loss to Maryland.

Initial forecast: Here’s guessing the Blue Devils won’t be quite so lauded heading into this season. After all, what do you make of a team that consistently reached about the same level in most games when that level isn’t what so many anticipated? Duke didn’t have the March-to-May jump it so often does under John Danowski, but it also beat everyone in the ACC at least once. It wasn’t a bad year, and some additional continuity heading into this season will help. Among the fifth-year players returning are attackman Joe Robertson (36 goals, 18 assists), midfielder Nakeie Montgomery (15 goals, 22 assists) and goalie Mike Adler (.529 save percentage), and attackman Brennan O’Neill (45 goals, 10 assists) should be even more comfortable in his second season in the program. Duke made some transfer portal additions — notably Sean Lulley (14 goals, 16 assists in five games at Penn in 2020) — but will take the bulk of last year’s core group into 2022.

1. MARYLAND

2021 record: 15-1 (10-0 Big Ten)

Last seen: Falling a goal short of overtime and two goals short of an unblemished season with a Memorial Day loss to Virginia.

Initial forecast: Unfortunately for the Terrapins, the cheat code known as Jared Bernhardt (71 goals, 28 assists) is out of lacrosse eligibility. The good news? Their other five offensive starters are back, as well as a pair of starting defensemen, two key short stick defensive midfielders and goalie Logan McNaney. This scenario — one with Logan Wisnauskas (41 goals, 31 assists), Daniel Maltz (40 goals, 10 assists), Anthony DeMaio (24 goals, 19 assists), Bubba Fairman (19 goals, seven assists) and Kyle Long (16 goals, 28 assists) still around — has to be comforting. Adding in Keegan Khan (26 goals, 32 assists at Villanova) and Jonathan Donville (13 goals, seven assists in five games at Cornell in 2020) means Maryland is arguably deeper than last season. It’s a scary thought for a program that reached the semifinals in eight of the last 10 NCAA tournaments. That’s the virtually metronomic standard in College Park, and one the Terps has the roster to meet again this spring.