PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Andrew McAdorey is expected to be part of Duke's next core of talent.

Early 2023 Rankings: Nos. 10-6 (Division I Men)


All of Division I’s head coaching positions are filled. The rush to the transfer portal has come and (mostly) gone. And while there’s the pesky variable of who exactly is going to take advantage of the pandemic blanket waiver from 2020 and extend their career another year, most teams are pretty well set.

Which means now is as good a time as any to roll out the annual Early Top 25. Each day this week, we’ll roll out a five-team segment to set the table on the 2023 season long before the first whistle blows in the dead of winter.

Also considered (alphabetical): Robert Morris, Saint Joseph's, Stony Brook, UMass

Early 2023 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 lousy conclusion aside, 2022 was a massive breakthrough for Rutgers."


10. RUTGERS

2022 record: 15-4 (4-1 Big Ten)

Last seen: Absorbing a 17-10 drubbing against Cornell in the NCAA semifinals, a bitter finale to an otherwise largely brilliant season for the Scarlet Knights.

Initial forecast: The lousy conclusion aside, 2022 was a massive breakthrough for Rutgers. It followed up its quarterfinal trip in 2021 by going a step further. The Scarlet Knights also solidified their place as the second-best program in the Big Ten during the pandemic era (they’re 13-1 against the league’s non-Maryland teams in that span). A contributing factor to Rutgers’ success is its use of the glutted graduate transfer market so long as there are players seeking to use a bonus year of eligibility. The downside? Those guys can’t stick around long. Mitch Bartolo (45 goals, 17 assists) exits after a year and goalie Colin Kirst after two, and Rutgers will probably have to reinvent itself a bit in 2023. Nonetheless, there are some vital figures back — attackman Ross Scott (50 goals, 25 assists), midfielder Shane Knobloch (32 goals, 16 assists) and long pole Ethan Rall among them. Toss in a program commitment to opportunistic pace-pushing and some fanbase buzz (as evidenced by the raucous crowd at the Scarlet Knights’ first-round defeat of Harvard), and there’s little reason to think Rutgers is in for a severe decline.








9. PENN

2022 record: 11-5 (3-3 Ivy)

Last seen: Coming within a game of its first semifinal NCAA appearance since 1988, only to drop an 11-9 decision to Rutgers in the quarterfinals.

Initial forecast: No one was more comfortable in tight games than the Quakers, whose first 11 contests were decided by a combined 21 goals and later won a first-round NCAA tournament game against Richmond in overtime. The bulk of that team returns, led by midfielder Sam Handley (36 goals, 37 assists). The veteran has many strengths, but perhaps the most impressive is his opportunism and willingness to draw attention to set up teammates. Dylan Gergar (52 goals, 17 assists) was chief among them, but Penn had eight players score at least 10 times last spring. The Quakers have knocked on the door of a semifinal appearance in their last two full seasons and should again contend to push well into May. Among the handful of key departing pieces: Goalie Patrick Burkinshaw (.566 save percentage) and Duke-bound faceoff man Jamie Zusi (.545 faceoff percentage). Don’t underestimate Penn’s ability to develop in-house answers; Zusi had played one college game prior to 2022 and was a stout presence as a senior last season.

8. DUKE

2022 record: 11-6 (3-3 Atlantic Coast)

Last seen: Surrendering the last six goals in a 16-14 loss at Notre Dame, a cap to an erratic season in which the Blue Devils never won more than three in a row and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

Initial forecast: There’s no questioning the Blue Devils’ high-end talent. Yet the last two years have featured some puzzling issues — a veritable all-star team that never felt like it fit right even as it piled up close victories in 2021, and last year’s habit of almost taking a quarter or two off at just the wrong time. The popular theory might be that Duke played its way out of the postseason when it wasted a five-goal second-half lead at Notre Dame in early May, but its bigger issues were losing to a 4-10 Syracuse team and spotting a .500 Loyola bunch a 10-2 halftime advantage. On its best days, Duke was about as strong as anyone in the country not named Maryland — just ask Virginia, which was on the wrong end of a 17-8 drubbing. The offensive nucleus — Brennan O’Neill (53 goals, 21 assists), Dyson Williams (43 goals, nine assists) and Andrew McAdorey (23 goals, 16 assists) — is imposing, Jake Naso (.562) is an asset at the X and a defense led by Kenny Brower and Tyler Carpenter authored some great moments. Now, can it be cohesive and consistent over a full year? And who takes over for graduated goalie Mike Adler? That isn’t quite as holistic a question, yet still an important one for the Blue Devils to sort out prior to February.




PHOTO BY RISLEY SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Matt Brandau (57 goals, 42 assists) is back to lead the Yale offense.


7. PRINCETON

2022 record: 11-5 (3-3 Ivy)

Last seen: Reaching its first NCAA semifinal since 2004, only to run into the unbeaten Maryland buzzsaw and losing to the Terrapins for the second time on the season.

Initial forecast: Never has a team turned out more grateful to miss a conference tournament than Princeton last season. The Tigers’ defense staggered to the end of the regular season by giving up 37 goals over two games, then regrouped to smother Boston University (12-5) and stymie Yale (14-10) before a perfectly respectable showing against Maryland in the semifinals (a 13-8 loss). That group — led by defensemen Ben Finlay and Colin Mulshine and long pole Pace Billings — should start in a better place next year thanks to a full year of experience. Oh, and the Tigers’ offense? It’s going to be imposing as well. Fifth-year senior Chris Brown (31 goals, 41 assists) exits, so Princeton will need to establish a new table-setter. Yet there were six other 20-goal scorers on the roster, and five of them will be seniors in 2023 (including 46-goal scorer Alex Slusher). Princeton just ended an 18-year drought between semifinal appearances. Back-to-back trips is not out of the question. 

6. YALE

2022 record: 12-5 (4-2 Ivy)

Last seen: Swamped by Princeton’s offense in the first half of what was to become a 14-10 NCAA quarterfinal loss to its Ivy League rival.

Initial forecast: Better than last season, and it’s not as if Yale had anything to be severely disappointed about in 2022. It saw plenty of veterans scatter as graduate students after the pandemic hit since staying in the Ivy League wasn’t an option competitively, didn’t play in 2021 and wound up playing a bunch of young guys and reaching the second weekend of the tournament. Two starters (defenseman Chris Fake and midfielder Brian Tevlin) left as grad transfers to Notre Dame, but 90.2 percent of the Bulldogs’ points are set to return. It’s a group that includes Matt Brandau (57 goals, 42 assists), Leo Johnson (35 goals, 29 assists) and Chris Lyons (36 goals, 12 assists), the latter whose late-season emergence solidified the Yale attack. There’s little question the Bulldogs will score, but can they get enough stops? Jared Paquette was both busy and effective, and some of their opponents’ production was a byproduct of Yale not enjoying a TD Ierlan-influenced possession advantage like in 2019 and 2020. If the defense tightens just a bit with some extra experience, Andy Shay’s bunch could very well make it to Memorial Day Weekend for the third time since 2018.


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