Buffalo wins Game 2 15-13 to clinch Back-to-Back Titles; Byrne is Finals MVP

Scores / Schedule

Williams vs. Cormier is a Matchup All Lacrosse Fans Can Get Behind

Battles between Dyson Williams and Payton Cormier have a special way of capturing the lacrosse worlds attention.

On Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. EST, the pair of 2023 NLL Entry Draft picks will square off in NCAA action. Williams (first overall, Albany FireWolves) and the Duke Blue Devils will meet Cormier (fourth overall, Vancouver Warriors) and the Virginia Cavaliers in an epic ACC matchup. This is potentially the last time these two Canadian stars will go head-to-head in NCAA DI action.

This will be the fifth collegiate meeting between the box and field titans. Williams and the Blue Devils have won each of the four prior meetings, although three of the four games were decided by two goals or fewer.

In their two matches last season, Cormier did all he could to help his Cavaliers take home the win – he scored six goals (a sock trick) in the teams first meeting in 2023 and then notched four goals in the rematch two weeks later. Williams has also posted big-game performances during these ACC rivalry matchups. He scored a hat trick in the game that Cormier netted his sock trick. And in the teams 2022 meeting, Williams also had a hat trick.

But for these two collegiate stars, their fierce battles go much further back than their time in the NCAA. 

If you can believe it, Cormier and Williams have been competing against each other since their Tyke lacrosse days (lacrosse for seven and eight-year-olds). Cormier was a member of the Mimico Mountaineers program, and Williams was a member of the Whitby Warriors program. If you think Duke and Virginia are fierce rivals, the feud between Mimico and Whitby runs just as deep. During the mid-to-late 2010s, Cormier and Williams were staples of their organizations.

With how long these two have been playing against each other and how big of a factor theyve each been for their teams, these NCAA matchups between Cormier and Williams are just as intriguing to Canadian box lacrosse fans as they are to American NCAA field lacrosse fans.

Its great for the kids back home in Canada playing box lacrosse and having that dream to make it to the NCAA [seeing] that they can make it there,” Williams said. “Theres obviously a lot of guys who shaped that for guys like me and Payton, and guys our age, to follow in their footsteps in the NCAA. Now, the number [of Canadians in the NCAA] continues to grow at a rapid pace.”

Williams and Cormier are aware of the importance and impact that games like this weekends have on Canadian youth lacrosse players.

Dyson Williams with the Jr. A Whitby Warriors (Photo: Ontario Lacrosse Association)

Its huge for Canadian lacrosse and box lacrosse players in general,” Williams said. “A guy like Payton – I grew up playing against him every year. We were rivals. The Whitby Warriors and Mimico Mountaineers rivalry runs deep in minor lacrosse – we would battle all summer long… Its cool seeing guys like Payton and myself, with a rivalry against each other, seeing each other 15 years later, and Im seeing him on the biggest stage, an ACC rivalry game.”

Coming into this conference matchup, Cormier and Williams are neck-and-neck in the race to be the top goal scorer in DI this NCAA season—Cormier is tied for the lead with 41, and Williams is right behind him with 40.

Regarding their respective teams, their teammates are in an equally grueling fight to claim bragging rights as the top team in the ACC. Virginia is currently ranked second in the nation and has a 10-1 record, while Duke sits in the fourth position nationally and has a record of 10-3.

Conference play is when things begin to separate. Surprisingly, Duke started conference play with an 0-2 record, with Virginia being 1-0 after just one ACC game. At these earliest stages of conference play, Cormier explained just how big this matchup is for both teams.

Payton Cormier with the Jr. A Mimico Mountaineers (Photo: Ontario Lacrosse Association)

Especially in the NCAA, these ACC games are so big,” he said. Theyre so important for getting you in tournaments, getting you a higher seed or a lower seed, and all of those things. The main goal in games like this is focusing on getting the win and putting yourself in a better position to be successful.

This is a pretty big game – theres no way to sugarcoat it. Anytime youre looking at a team like Duke, theyve had a lot of success in regular season play and post-season play, and theyve been one of the best teams for a long time. Weve got our work cut out for us.”

Regardless of how many times theyve played each other and how much they may have wanted the other one to lose, the young stars have plenty of respect for one another. Yes, theyve primarily competed against each other throughout their careers, but there have been a few opportunities where Cormier and Williams have gone to war for the same side.

They played together for Team Ontario during their teens, and they suited up alongside each other for Brooklin Lacrosse Club in Major Series Lacrosse (Sr. A). Both players have fond memories of playing together in 2022 in the MSL, in part, because they didnt have to try to one-up the other one.

Its not great playing against him [Williams],” Cormier said. Anytime you play against someone that is a very talented lacrosse player, its not awesome because theyre going to do well. Youd rather somebody else be out there than them.”

As soon as the opening whistle blows on Sunday afternoon, Cormier and Williams will put their friendship back on hold. Winning will be all that matters. Once the game has concluded, theyll reconnect. This is how it has always gone for these two, and that is how it usually goes for any former teammates and friends who are now foes on the floor or field.

If theres one non-box lacrosse game to keep your eyes on this weekend, it would be this one. Duke vs. Virginia. Williams vs Cormier. The reach of one game doesnt get much broader than this.