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NCAA Championship Weekend Primer

Championship Weekend has arrived. No, this is not deja vu.

The 2024 NCAA men’s lacrosse champions for DI, DII, and DIII will all be crowned this weekend. The jam-packed schedule starts with back-to-back DI semifinal games on Saturday, May 25th starting at 12pm ET. The action continues on Sunday, May 26th at 1pm ET beginning with the DIII championship, followed by the DII championship at 4pm ET. The most exciting weekend of the year in collegiate field lacrosse concludes on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27th at 1pm ET with the DI men’s lacrosse championship.

Last weekend, NLL fans were treated to a very entertaining NLL Finals presented by AXIA time to cap off the 2023-24 season with the Buffalo Bandits ending up on top as champions. NLL fans should be equally excited about this weekend of NCAA lacrosse as many of your favorite pro box lacrosse players attended the eight total schools making up this year’s Championship Weekend. Not only that, but there were many collegiate stars that were drafted during the 2023 NLL Entry Draft that will also be participating in games this weekend.

Box fans, it’s time to get excited about some field lacrosse. This is your rundown for the 2024 NCAA men’s lacrosse championships:

 

Denver University vs. Norte Dame – Saturday, May 25th at 12:00pm ET

Few DI schools have been a place where many wannabe NLL talents have chosen to attend over the last couple of decades as the University of Denver. This year’s NLL Finals featured two recent prominent Denver Pioneers alumni: 2024 NLL Rookie of the Year, Alex Simmons, and Ethan Walker (both from the NLL’s Albany FireWolves). 

Other notables from the University of Denver include former defenseman and face-off man, Geoff Snider, Jeremy Noble, Wes Berg, and Danny Logan. In this year’s DI Final Four alone, there will be nearly a half dozen University of Denver players who have been drafted to the NLL.

Denver won the 2015 NCAA DI Men’s Lacrosse Championship with the help of many now-current NLLers including Berg, Pace, Trevor Baptiste, Brendan Bomberry, and Zach Miller. They also made it to the Final Four in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017. Pace, Baptiste, Danny Logan, and Ethan Walker were part of that 2017 team. 

The Pioneers are coached by Matt Brown, who is a former NLLer (and Canadian), who played for the Arizona Sting, Colorado Mammoth, and Portland Lumberjax. In 2007, Brown and the Sting made it to the NLL Finals. A few of his notable teammates on the squad were the recent Dan Dawson, Vancouver Warriors head coach Curt Malawsky and Toronto Rock assistant coach Bruce Codd. That Sting team lost in the finals to the original Rochester Knighthawks.

 

University of Maryland vs. University of Virginia – Saturday, May 25th at 2:30pm ET

This is a heavyweight matchup between two DI schools that have storied histories. The University of Virginia has been to the NCAA Final 26 times (including this season) and has won seven national championships in the NCAA era. The Maryland Terrapins have been to the DI NCAA Final Four 29 times and have won four NCAA championships. Before the NCAA era, Maryland won nine national championships going all the way back to the 1920s. 

A few notable alumni who went on to play in the NLL include Bryan Cole, Isiah Davis-Allen, and Connor Kelly. Those three won the NCAA championship that year alongside Matt Rambo, who did not play in the NLL last season – Kelly, Davis-Allen, and Rambo all won the 2017 NCAA title, as well.

The Terrapins are coached by John Tillman, who played in the NLL from 1997-2001. In his first three seasons, he played on the Baltimore Thunder – two of those years he was a teammate of NLL Hall of Famer, Gary Gait. In 1998, Tillman, Gait, and the Thunder made it to the NLL Finals, but lost in the championship game to the original Philadelphia Wings.

Virginia has also been the college of choice for a handful of very solid NLL talents over the last 15 years, including Garrett Billings, Zed Williams, and emerging star, Thomas McConvey. In 2021, when the Cavaliers won the NCAA DI championship, the roster included NLL draftee, and DI all-time leading goal scorer, Payton Cormier (Cormier will join the Warriors next season), and Petey LaSalla, who was drafted in the third round of the 2022 NLL Entry Draft.

 

Adelphi University vs. Lenoir-Rhyne University – Sunday, May 26th at 4pm ET

The Adelphi Panthers are searching for their first NCAA DII championship win since 2001, while Lenoir-Rhyne is looking to become the first back-to-back DII champions since Merrimack College won it all in 2018 and 2019 – this was Lenoir-Rhyne’s first ever DII lacrosse championship. 

Adelphi has not been the most popular school of choice for Canadians who have gone on to make the NLL, but their most notable more recent graduate who did so is Panther City Lacrosse Club’s Brandon Goodwin. Adelphi is also the Alma Mater of the NLL’s 2024 Tom Borrelli Media Person of the Year award winner, Adam Levi. 

As a side note: Adelphi’s women’s team is also competing for the DII championship this season. If both the men and women were to win their respective DII titles, it would be the first time in DII lacrosse history that the men and women from the same school won the championship in the same year.

2023 6th overall pick from the NLL Entry Draft, Toron Ecclestone is the most recent notable NLL draftee who spent time at Lenoir-Rhyne. Ecclestone, the Calgary, Alberta native, was a member of the Bears when they won the NCAA championship this past year. Ecclestone made it to the NCAA tournament this season with the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, coached by the Albany FireWolves’ Anthony Joaquim. 

 

R.I.T. vs. Tufts University – Sunday, May 26th at 1pm ET

Few schools in all of collegiate lacrosse have made the type of impact that R.I.T. has made on the NLL over the last couple of decades. From the handful of guys drafted in the mid-90s to more recent players such as Alex Crepinsek, Ryan Lee, and Ryan Barnable, among many others, R.I.T is a pseudo-NLL factory – they take in many Canadian box players. In recent years, R.I.T. has dominated the DIII lacrosse landscape. They are hoping to win their third championship in the last four NCAA seasons. 

Tufts is looking to win their first DIII title since they won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015. While Tufts has not been the home for as many future NLL talents as R.I.T. has, it was the initial school of now Virginia player, and NLL draftee, Jack Boyden. 

There have only been a handful of DIII schools that have been connected to former, or present NLLers, but the ones that usually do, do it very well. Never sleep on the top DII or DIII schools because you never know what future NLL player might end up starring on one of their rosters. 

 

Players Drafted To The NLL In 2023 Competing In Championship Weekend

  • Payton Cormier: University of Virginia, Drafted 4th overall by the Vancouver Warriors
  • Toron Eccleston: Lenoir-Rhyne/Saint Joseph’s University, Drafted 6th overall by the Georgia Swarm
  • Jake Taylor: University of Notre Dame, Drafted 31st overall by the Georgia Swarm
  • Alec Stathakis: University of Denver, Drafted 40th overall by the Vancouver Warriors
  • Jack Boyden: Tufts/University of Virginia, Drafted 47th overall by the Rochester Knighthawks
  • Richie Connell: University of Denver, Drafted 66th overall by the Georgia Swarm
  • JJ Silstrop: University of Denver, Drafted 80th overall by the San Diego Seals 
  • AJ Mercurio: University of Denver, Drafted 81st overall by the Colorado Mammoth
  • Luke Pilcher Rochester Institute of Technology, Drafted 24th overall by the Las Vegas Desert Dogs

 

NLL Players Who Played On Teams Competing In Championship Weekend

  • John Brady: 1995 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Matt Hunt: 1995 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Ryan Sanderson: 1996 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Ben Hunt: 1999 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Travis Johnson: 1999 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Kevin Langdale: 1999 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Joe Tuschong: 1999 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Marc Heagney: 1999 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Geoff Snider: 2006 NLL Draft, University of Denver – now, Retired
  • Garrett Billings: 2009 NLL Draft, University of Virginia – now, Retired
  • Dan MacRae: 2010 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired 
  • Jordan MacIntosh: 2011 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now Georgia Swarm
  • Alex Crepinsek: 2012 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Jeremy Noble: 2014 NLL Draft, University of Denver – now, Unsigned
  • Brandon Goodwin: 2014 NLL Draft, Adelphi University – now, Panther City Lacrosse Club
  • Brad Gillies: 2015 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Rochester Knighthawks
  • Wes Berg: 2015 NLL Draft, University of Denver – now, San Diego Seals
  • Bryan Cole: 2016 NLL Draft, University of Maryland – now Georgia Swarm
  • Matthew Hossack: 2016 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Panther City Lacrosse Club
  • Tyler Pace: 2017 NLL Draft, University of Denver – now, Calgary Roughnecks
  • Isiah Davis-Allen: 2017 NLL Draft, University of Maryland – now, Philadelphia Wings
  • Ryan Lee: 2017 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Colorado Mammoth
  • Zed Williams: 2017 NLL Draft from the University of Virginia – now, Colorado Mammoth 
  • Ben Wallace: 2017 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Retired
  • Brendan Bomberry: 2018 NLL Draft, University of Denver/University of Syracuse, now Georgia Swarm
  • Connor Kelly: 2018 NLL Draft, University of Maryland – now, Colorado Mammoth
  • Trevor Baptiste: 2018 NLL Draft, University of Denver – now, San Diego Seals
  • Trevor Smyth: 2019 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Halifax Thunderbirds
  • Zach Miller: Undrafted, University of Denver – now Georgia Swarm
  • Ethan Walker: 2020 NLL Draft, University of Denver – now, Albany FireWolves
  • Jordan Trottier: 2020 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Halifax Thunderbirds
  • Tyler Sceviour: 2020 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Unsigned
  • Larson Sundown: 2020 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Ottawa Black Bears
  • Danny Logan: 2020 NLL Draft, University of Denver – now, San Diego Seals
  • Thomas McConvey: 2021 NLL Draft, University of Virginia – now, Rochester Knighthawks
  • Marley Angus: 2021 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Toronto Rock
  • Patrick Shoemay: 2021 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, San Diego Seals
  • Ryan Barnable: 2021 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Saskatchewan Rush
  • Drew Hutchison: 2021 NLL Draft, Rochester Institute of Technology – now, Halifax Thunderbirds
  • Alex Simmons: 2022 NLL Entry Draft, University of Denver – now, Albany FireWolves 
  • Petey LaSalla: 2022 NLL Entry Draft, University of Virginia – now, Ottawa Black Bears

 

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