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. 25-21 (Division I Women) | USA Lacrosse Magazine

PHOTO COURTESY OF UCONN ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

All-American Sydney Watson is back this season for UConn.

Early 2022 Rankings: Nos. 25-21 (Division I Women)


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. 25-21.

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

"A conference-only campaign made it truly difficult to gauge the Big Ten."


25. UCONN

2021 record: 12-7 (7-3 Big East)

Last seen: Losing 19-13 to Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Huskies’ first tournament appearance since 2013 and second in program history.

Initial forecast: Led by Sydney Watson and Lia LaPrise, the Huskies offense carried the team to an NCAA tournament berth as an at-large bid. Losing to Denver three times — including in the Big East championship game — hurt the Huskies’ overall resume, but the selection committee believed UConn still did enough to get into the NCAA tournament. The good news for UConn is that Watson, a dynamic midfielder named a USA Lacrosse Magazine first-team All-American last season, is back for more. As is her sidekick, LaPrise. The pair combined for 93 goals and 54 assists in 2021. Grace Coon (41 goals), Stephanie Palmucci (45 points) and Kate Shaffer (26 goals) also return.

24. MICHIGAN

2021 record: 3-9 (all in Big Ten)

Last seen: Falling to Maryland 16-13 in the Big Ten tournament, the team’s third loss to the Terps in 2021.

Initial forecast: What do we make of Michigan’s 2021 season? As you’ll see throughout the remainder of this early rankings process, that’ll remain a prevailing question. A conference-only campaign made it truly difficult to gauge the Big Ten (well, maybe outside of Northwestern). Michigan fell victim to that scheduling, only beating Rutgers twice and Penn State once. There were two overtime losses sprinkled in there, so it’s not as if the Wolverines were pushovers. Molly Garrett is gone, having played her first season as a pro in Athletes Unlimited, so there’s some leadership in need of replacing. Two sophomores — Caroline Bean and Caroline Davis — were impressive as freshmen and could be in for larger roles this spring.








23. PENN STATE

2021 record: 4-9 (all in Big Ten)

Last seen: An 11-9 loss to Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten tournament ended the Nittany Lions’ season, even though some expect they’d get an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.

Initial forecast: Like Michigan, Penn State suffered tough in-conference losses in 2021. That made its NCAA bubble case even harder to discern. Ultimately, the selection committee opted to leave the youthful Nittany Lions out of the field. While there’s plenty of promise in Happy Valley with the likes of Kristin O’Neill and Kayla Abernathy set to build off strong freshmen seasons, there’s also the need to replace Olivia Dirks in the midfield. After an All-American caliber sophomore season, Dirks transferred to North Carolina to play for Jenny Levy. Katrina Geiger, Nikki Grote and Molly Hendrick are all new faces on Missy Doherty’s staff, and a handful of fresh perspectives could be just what Penn State needs to climb this list.




PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHMOND ATHLETICS

Arden Tierney contributed 39 points for Richmond last spring.


22. RICHMOND

2021 record: 10-2 (6-0 A-10)

Last seen: A disappointing showing against an upstart Saint Joseph’s team in the A-10 tournament — ultimately a 19-8 for the Spiders.

Initial forecast: Sam Geiersbach, a program staple on the offensive end, has transferred further south to North Carolina, but there’s still firepower on the attack in Richmond. Juniors Lindsey Frank (37 goals) and Arden Tierney (39 points) now firmly have the keys to the Spiders offense, with graduate student Nicole Concannon, Marina Miller and Kendall Duffy providing support. Longtime goalie Megan Gianforte has graduated, leaving an opening between the pipes. Each of Nicole Burney, Daniela Stelcer and Emilie Bloyer saw time in 2021, but graduate transfer Delaney Galvin (Marist) has started 48 career games. With consistent goalie play reminiscent of Gianforte’s production, Richmond should be just fine.

21. LOUISVILLE

2021 record: 5-11 (1-9 ACC)

Last seen: Losing to top-seeded North Carolina in the ACC tournament 19-6.

Initial forecast: Louisville lost its last four games and went 1-9 in its last 10 games. The question you’re inevitably asking is a fair one: How is Louisville in the Early Top 25? For one, marked improvement was made last spring, even if the record doesn’t indicate it. A 12-9 win over Colorado in February was notable, and even though they weren’t victorious, the Cardinals did lose by just a single goal to Virginia and Boston College (in overtime) and by two goals to Duke. They also beat Virginia Tech. Growth in the always-tough ACC isn’t attained easily, but Louisville won’t be an easy out. Ally Hall, the team’s goals and points leader last spring, graduated, but Caroline Blalock and Hannah Morris are back as key offensive cogs. Like Richmond, the questions lie between the pipes. Rachel Florek is gone, so it’s likely sophomore Sara Addeche’s time in goal. Freshman Juliana Pleck from Auburn, Georgia, is the only other goalie on the roster.