Returning to the college lacrosse prediction game, it's time to get aggressive. Nuts. Way out there. Absurd declarations of all time marks getting broken this year kind nuts. If anyone one of these records were to actually get broken this year it would be remarkable, let alone all seven. None of them probably happen, but let's have some fun anyway.
Chris Lyons will break Jon Reese and Miles Thompson’s goal record
I warned you, these are some seriously aggressive predictions. In 1990, Jon Reese scored 82 goals in a season. Miles Thompson tied him in 2014. Both did it in 18 games, a jaw dropping 4.55 goals per game average. Nobody else has hit the 80 mark, although Mac O’Keefe came close in 2019. In fact, almost nobody has hit the 70 mark; just five players outside of Reese and Thompson. O’Keefe, Mike McDonald (Air Force 1978), John DiMento (Air Force 1990), Jared Bernhardt (Maryland 2021) and Gary Gait (Syracuse 1988). I don’t think anyone thinks of Chris Lyons in the same way they think about these other players. Or at least, not yet. Last season, Lyons put up 62 goals in just 15 games, an average of 4.33 goals per game. He had 5+ goals in a game six different times, including a nine goal game against Villanova, and seven goal games against Brown and Cornell. His 62 goals game on 149 shots, a 41.6% shooting percentage. Moreover, as the year went on, Lyons emerged as a major dodging threat, showing an ability to run by his man from below GLE and score from sharp angles. The Yale offense is very heavily focused on the attack of Lyons, Matt Brandau, and Leo Johnson. Even with his scoring ability, Lyons likely won’t be drawing the top matchup, and may even consistently see the opposing team's third pole. His goal scoring opportunities will be boundless.
Johns Hopkins will have their best extra man efficiency in school history
In 2017, Hop scored 26 goals in 43 extra man opportunities, a mark just over 60%. It’s the best they’ve ever had according to the record books. The Jays were resurgent last year, surpassing expectations and playing a fun brand of offense. Hopkins' top 11 scorers from that team are all back. The top ELEVEN. On top of that, they added some excellent freshman talent in Jimmy Ayers and Hunter Chauvette. Ayers was already shaking defenders from X in fall ball for this team, and is a heads up, feed first weapon with plenty of shooters to find. Watch Chauvette take a time and room shot just once and you’ll get Mac O’Keefe vibes. And that’s what makes me so excited for this extra man unit. The left side of the Hopkins man up a year ago was basically comprised of Garrett Degnon firing missile after missile, until defenses had to lean his way to try and disrupt his hands. He had six goals on the extra man alone a year ago. Those two freshmen could bolster this extra man from where it was a year ago (they were 34%). Chauvette could join Degnon on that left side, where he is absolutely lethal with time and room. Ayers can distribute and see lanes through a man down defense that can’t rotate fast enough. That’s to say nothing of weapons like Russell Melendez who will be out there too. The old saying is if you foul the Jays, the band will play. The band will need to keep those instruments tuned up this season.
TJ Malone will lead the nation in scoring
Penn State’s offensive dynamo finished last season with 73 points, which was good for 18th in the country. It was his most productive season in Happy Valley. Last year’s leader was Tewaaraton winner Brennan O’Neill, who had 97. I expect the Nittany Lions to be playing pissed off all year. And if they aren’t, they should be. A missed call away from the title game, the Nittany Lions need to be hell bent on leaving no doubt, and not leaving outcomes up to anyone other than themselves. Particularly referees. Malone should be the personification of that, and the tone setter. He’s never had a problem bringing it in big games. Six points against Yale last year, five against Ohio State, eight against Hopkins. And six goals, eight points, in that Final Four game. This season, I think Malone approaches the entire season, every single game, the way he did that Duke game. Take over, dominate, and this time leave no doubt. The century mark could be in sight.
Jake Piseno will break the caused turnover record
Piseno had an absolutely incredible summer. The Albany defender took the field for the Haudenosaunee at World Championships in San Diego, and took home Most Outstanding Defender honors for the entire tournament. He finished with 11 CTs in the tournament, and six points. He’s also taken more to box lacrosse, growing his skills indoors. Last season, Piseno finished the year with 50 caused turnovers. He was second in the nation behind Richard Checo, and had just one game without recording at least one CT. He recorded multiple CTs in 14 of his 16 games, including five against Cornell, four against Maryland, five against UVM, and four against Penn. Against big time opponents, he turns it up. The single season caused turnover record belongs to Villanova’s Brian Karalunas who racked up 70 in 2011. He did that in 16 games, the only season on record with a CT per game rate over four. Note, the NCAA record book has only kept this stat since 2010. Nobody has ever had more than eight in a game, that could be on the table too. Piseno will surpass him this year, feasting on wings and between the lines.
Syracuse will score more points than any team in school history
Maybe the tallest of all tall orders we’re making here. In 1986, Syracuse played 17 games and, as a team, scored 260 goals and 198 assists, that’s 458 points. The most points in school history in a single season. The Roy Simmons Jr led Orange actually lost in the Final Four that season, losing a close one to UVA. Syracuse had an attackman you may have heard of, John Zulberti, who put up 74 points as a freshman, a Cuse record that still stands. Last year, Syracuse had 345 points. That’s a big gap to get to 458. Where will those 123 points come from? A few places. The transfer portal, where Jake Stevens, Sam English and Christian Mule bring their points to the Orange. Mule alone had 73 a year ago with Lehigh. The portal also will deliver some extra possessions courtesy of faceoff specialist Mason Kohn coming from Tufts. The new guys, like Trey Deere who will arrive on campus as one of the most skilled players on the team. And of course, the growth of players who are already there. Joey Spallina spent his summer in Orangeville, honing indoor lacrosse skills in the OJLL, where he had 148 points in 32 games, 4th in the league. His teammate at Cuse, Finn Thomson, led the OJLL in scoring with 170 points in 27 games. A pair of Cuse weapons return to school for their sophomore seasons having combined for 318 points indoors over the summer. I look across that list and I see a team that can score 100 more points than they did a year ago.
Duke’s leading scorer will be someone who wasn’t on the team last year
The Blue Devils return weapons galore from a year ago, obviously led by reigning Tewaaraton winner Brennan O’Neill. And, of course, O’Neill will be at the top of every scouting report all year, as has been the case with him since his first day at St Anthony’s. Duke also returns Dyson Williams, who could reasonably eclipse the 200 goal mark this year. But I look at the pieces that are new to Durham, and I see plenty of faces that could score a boatload this year. Josh Zawada owns the record for goals in a career at Michigan, and was the first player in school history to surpass 200 career points. He notched hat tricks against Penn State, Ohio State, and Maryland last year. Brock Gonzalez joins from DIII Amherst, and he is a load. He had 60 goals his junior season and missed almost all of last year at Amherst, but he’s an elite scorer. Duke currently lists him at 6’3, 290 lbs, so either Brock has let himself go a bit or that’s a typo, he’s typically listed around 250 for Amherst, but to watch him play he looks a good 260. Not the kind of player that gets matched up with, physically, by many defenders one on one. Finally Alex Slusher joins the Blue Devils from Princeton. In a fully healthy season in 2022, he scored 46 goals in 16 games, and shot just under 40%. He’s a player who could crush weaker defenders as O’Neill and Andrew McAdorey drop top cover men.
Connor Shellenberger will break the single season assists record
I’ve put some whoppers in here, but I’m saving the biggest for last. I don’t know if fans truly appreciate just how absurd the single season assist record is. There are six seasons on record where a player registered 70+ assists. Lyle Thompson in 2014 had 77, tied with Steve Marohl for second all time. The all time leader? Grant Ament. With 96. Yes, nearly 20 more than the second place season. In 2019, in 17 games (one fewer than Thompson played, but two more than Marohl), Ament had 96 helpers. And I’ve got Shellenberger going past that in 2024. Last year, UVA had the number one scoring offense in the nation, putting up over 17 goals per game. Shellenberger has played three full seasons at UVA (he redshirted as a freshman) and put up 140 assists total in those years. So we’re getting nuts, and saying he adds a cool 100 this year. Triple digit dimes. This is particularly lofty because Xander Dickson and Thomas McConvey graduated. But still out there with him will be Payton Cormier, who catches and finishes just about everything, Patrick McIntosh, who should be in line for a much larger scoring role this year, and players like Griffin Schutz, Truitt Sunderland, and super freshman McCabe Millon. Shellenberger has always been a pass first, unsettle the defense and create type of player. This year he will reach new heights, particularly in the record books.