Games to Watch on College Lacrosse's 2023 Opening Day
A team with a new complex, a perennial powerhouse, and a program with a legendary head coach retiring all are in action. Ohio State's brand new lacrosse complex is pictured below. PIC: Ohio State Athletics
Lacrosse, despite what many believe, is basically played year-round. Between the PLL starting up action in the first week of June and running all the way through September, to the NLL starting shortly after, there's plenty of lax action to go around. But arguably some of the biggest eyes are on the college scene, and there's certainly a loaded slate on 2023 Opening Day. The storylines are plentiful this year; between all-time coaches retiring and reigning champions filling clear voids, it's anyone's chance at the title.
GAMES TO WATCH: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2023
Ohio State vs. Air Force
It's the first ever game at the brand-new Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium in Columbus. The school claims it will offer some of the best 360-degree views to watch a game, revolutionary technologies in heated turf, a brand new market-leading training room, and other amenities. If not for Maryland, the Buckeyes would be a clear-cut favorite to win the Big Ten, and were honestly the only team that gave the Terps a run for their money last year in dethroning them from the conference title.
The Buckeyes boast three players on the Big Ten Players to Watch list, and Jack Myers is a top-three choice at Player of the Year. The 6-4 attackman racked up 38 goals and 45 assists last year, totaling 83 points. They lose their face-off man Justin Inacio, who was picked up by Archers LC in the PLL circuit last year, but just about everything else is bulletproof in this Buckeye roster. They'll take on an Air Force team that still remains as one of only three schools west of the Mississippi that sponsor a D1 lacrosse program - they're eager to prove they belong in the ring.
Last year, many wrote off Vermont after they started 2-6. But then they won 10 of the next 11 games, took home their second-straight America East title, and won the tournament. They won an NCAA tournament game against Manhattan, and then ran into the buzzsaw that was Maryland afterwards. It's safe to say things are trending up for the Catamounts, but a big question is if they'll be able to sustain the offensive success they had last year without AE Offensive Player of the Year Thomas McCoveney. They'll look to grad student David Closterman to carry the unit after his 65-point outburst in 2022.
Meanwhile, Syracuse is in desperation mode. They're on the heels of a miserable 4-10 season last year - the once mighty Orange need help. The good news? They've got the nation's top recruit, Joey Spallina - son of legendary women's lax coach Joe Spallina - who dreamed of wearing the #22 jersey at 'Cuse for his whole life. "He wants to help bring Syracuse back to the top...bring them back to Memorial Day Weekend," said Joe.
Here's a great look from Stephanie Zaso of DailyOrange.com of how dominant Spallina was in high school. It'll be nothing but up for Spallina, and Syracuse needs him now more than ever.
49 seasons after Bill Tierney got his first job coaching lacrosse, he's decided to hang up the cleats. This season will be the Denver frontman's last; and any time a coach with the national prominence of Tierney makes this announcement, it's worth noting. Tierney holds the record for most NCAA Championships with seven, and won the title at DU as recently as 2015. Most impressive of all, he remains the only coach to win two national championships with two different programs, having won another at Princeton where he made his name. Now, Denver kicks off their season with hopes of hosting the trophy on MDW, lead by senior goalkeeper Jack Thompson and a 2022 Tewaarton Award watch list player in JJ Sillstrop. They'll take on Utah, who in their fourth season ever as a program, had their best season yet - they went 10-4 and nearly picked off Robert Morris in overtime in last year's ASUN Championship.