Some teams are good. Some teams are fun. Being one does not make you the other. There are good, boring teams. There are fun, mediocre teams. A traditional Top 20 every week seeks to rank the teams in the nation from the very best on down. Who can beat who, in a specific order. That’s it. There is no consideration to the manner in which the team plays or wins games. A team that plays to a track meet, a team that plays stall ball, a team that scores fundamentally sound over hand bouncers, a team that throws BTB for goals all day, all of that fades away. But this ranking is not that.
Welcome to the Lacrosse League Pass ranking. If you’re unfamiliar, the NBA has a viewing option called League Pass. With League Pass you can watch literally every NBA game. Every single one. It’s remarkable. With that much available, difficult to decide who to watch. And so Zach Lowe, an excellent basketball writer, developed the league pass ranking. It’s the teams you just have to see play the game, and that’s it. They don’t have to be good, though they often are, they just have to be fun and exciting. They have to have you on the edge of your seat because you might see something awesome at any moment.
That’s what we’re doing here. There are literally hundreds of lacrosse games available for streaming over the course of the season. The Lacrosse League Pass rankings hopefully help you decide who to watch if what you’re looking for is purely highlights. Results don’t matter, style does.
All divisions are in play here, but most of the rankings are DI. I also am sticking just to men’s lacrosse for now since that’s basically my area of expertise, and while I’m familiar with the top end of the women’s college game, I don’t know enough about the full landscape.
An easy pick here. So many weapons who do incredible things. Obviously Shellenberger will be the top of the list, he’s a Tewaaraton contender if not front runner. He’s going to feed, he’s going to score on his own, he’ll score in two man games. The rest of this team is so fun too. Cormier will make some crazy hands play. You have to get into the second midfield, and maybe even deeper, to see a Stanford linebacker run by people in the midfield. And if you aren’t tuning in to see Ricky Miezan, you’re depriving yourself of a top tier lacrosse experience.
You gotta love watching the Orange right now. Spallina is already a bucket. He’s piling up goals, but there are also some serious highlight goal attempts happening. Against Albany, he got just above GLE, and threw a BTB shot on net that was saved, from a sharp angle, that was reminiscent of some great John Grant Jr goals. With Spallina in the lineup you’re always a possession away from that. In addition, Owen Hiltz as a passer is very fun to watch. He’ll throw feeds BTB to a spot as well as anyone. Any time he has the ball he is a true triple threat, and all three he does in a way that’s exciting. If D is your think Will Mark, the LIU transfer, is making excellent saves, including a bunch of the ones you wouldn’t expect a goalie to make. I’ll be tuning into Cuse every week.
Brennan drives this ranking. He’s appointment viewing. He’s good for several goals a week and, like Spallina, attempts at goal that will leave you throwing up your hands asking the heavens why you weren’t also blessed with superhuman abilities. Brennan’s year so far is 5+ points per game, and those can tilt either way. He went for 2g5a against Bellarmine, he went for 5g against Jacksonville. He’s a wizard. Beyond Brennan, Dyson Williams will pile up goals, and is a future 1st overall NLL pick. He’ll score from no angle, with twisters, and even through a RIGHTY BTB for a goal this year, which I didn’t realize was allowed.
4. Saint Joseph’s
The offense is going to score. A lot. Levi Anderson is a beast of a matchup who will play from everywhere. He’ll run through someone if he has to. He’ll play indoor lacrosse outdoors. Canada is very well represented in this roster with Anderson and Carter Page. On top of that, there’s LSM Levi Verch. He made a name for himself last year, among American fans, by staying on with the offense against Yale in the NCAA tournament. He’s on the Team Canada radar and part of the training roster, not easy to do. He’s always on the cusp of a pole goal. And they have Zach Cole, who may end the year as the top faceoff specialist in DI. He’ll battle with Sisselberger for that crown.
For similar reasons to the Hawks above. There are some players on the roster capable of doing extremely awesome things. On the offensive end, Mike Robinson is one of those Peterborough players that can shoot the hell out of the ball. Sharp angle? No problem. Use your right hand? No thanks, I’ll go BTB instead. Need space to shoot? Nope, I’ll just rip it through your hands and possible through your goalies body. On the other end is Owen Grant. Another Team Canada level player and future PLL pro. Grant is AGGRESSIVE. He wants to blow the game up. A dodger with his back to the defense is getting double. Grant is running the break. He’s going to finish lanes. And the offense trusts him enough to feed the ball back to him in transition. Such a fun pole to watch.
DIII Hive CHECK IN. RIT opens the season soon, but scrimmaged Yale this past weekend. They have a ton of huge bodies who can overpower you to get to their strong hand. They have some smaller guys who can just scoot around slower defenders. Luke Pilcher has a lightning fast release and shoots better than just about anyone in lacrosse. But RITs real fun is the poles. They double pole faceoffs not because they can’t win clamps (they can), but because their poles are insanely good with the ball. Taylor Jensen will be in the DIII Player of the Year mix. Mike Grace, another Team Canada guy, is everywhere. On the ride, an RIT middie sprints straight to the midline so Grace can step over and essentially play free safety. He and Jensen wreak absolutely havoc, and they have depth beyond them. This is tougher, because you might have to do some digging to see them and streams aren’t always available. But when you can, give the Tigers a watch.
Handley is a must watch. The combination of physical strength and agility is unmatched in college lacrosse. He’ll be on the Tewaaraton medal stand at worst and could be the first midfielder to win it since Ned Crotty in 2010. There are other fun pieces on this squad though. Dylan Gergar is a great shooter and throws excellent fakes. His stick skills are such that he always has some wizardry to watch. James Shipley has about as much shake as a Clemson running back of the same name, and he can play both ends. BJ Farrare might be at LSM, might play some SSDM, he can do it all. Handley is the big draw to watch, but you won’t be disappointed by the skills on display for Penn.
8. Notre Dame
The Kavanagh boys are really, really good. You’re just watching two pit bulls. What makes them so fun to watch is that usually with attackman who dodge like they do, the game plan includes trying to be physical. Shove them off their dodge, make them uncomfortable. For the Kavanaghs, it’s like they enjoy it. They want to go take on your whole defense. Street ball, angry, aggressive, but with a skill level that rarely comes with that attitude. They are the players most likely to see a double, or even triple, coming at them and beat it with sheer will. They are lacrosse John Wick.
Do you like Georgia football? Big Stetson Bennett fan? Let me introduce you to Cross Ferrera. He’s now in his sixth year with the Gulls thanks to COVID and the other eligibility goings on. He’s the all time leader in goals there, third in points, and he has a legit shot at finishing as the all time points leader in college lacrosse, all divisions, passing Jason Coffman. He’s been attackman of the year, he’s been player of the year, all sorts of All American honors, he’s so decorated he’s a Christmas tree. You should watch Cross Ferrera. If that’s not enough, Salisbury looks like they are a legitimate threat to RIT for the DIII crown. They’re loaded at every position. They have LSMs who can score, middies who can play both ends, they’ll hang gaudy goal totals all year and have a blast doing it.
DII checks on the list with Tampa, and of course it’s Tampa. A program that’s such a factory for talent they have a JV team (really, go look). Tampa is the only DII team to put a player on the Tewaaraton watch list in Matthew Beddow, a defenseman so good I legitimately believe he’d start for every team in America. Canyon Birch, a former top recruit at Penn State, transferred to Tampa and is already stacking up some points. They have first team AA players at literally every position and play a fun, aggressive lacrosse. They put up 25 goals against Wilmington, and while DII totals can be sky high in some games, it’s not always they case when it’s a game between two top 20 teams. Watch Blake Ulmer rob people with saves, Beddow break offenses on his own, and Harry Kilkowski score a ton of goals.
Michigan – Justin Brown has shake and shoots violently, a good combo for the League Pass rankings.
Georgetown – Dordevic alone is worth the watch. There is almost nobody in the sport who can cover him alone.
Ohio State - Jack Myers piles up points, but never in a League Pass Star kind of way. Ohio State is considered because of Marcus Hudgins and Bobby Van Buren. Both play aggressive, physical D and are among the best in the nation at doing it.