Tag: Dan Donahue

10 D-III Lacrosse Teams to Watch in 2023

Jane Earley has won two national championships with Middlebury College. (PHOTO Courtesy: Will Costello)

By Matt Noonan

It’s been a few days – OK, a little over a week since the NCAA Division III college lacrosse season concluded, but before we officially say farewell to the 2022 season, I thought I would share a ten teams – five men and five women’s squads – that I believe could contend for a national championship next May.

Men’s D-III Lacrosse Teams to Watch in 2023

Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears were a team to watch this spring — hey, I thought they were the team that was going to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown last month. Despite ending their season in the quarterfinals against RIT, Bowdoin is certainly a squad to keep an eye on next spring. Coach Bill Mason will welcome back some key members of this year’s team, including Will Byrne (68 goals, 33 assists), Patrick Fitzgerald (53 goals, 16 assists), and Ethan Barnard (342 face-off wins) that will certainly help Bowdoin contend for both a conference and national title.

RIT: Coach Jake Coon and the 2022 Tigers joined an elite group of teams that captured back-to-back titles in NCAA D-III lacrosse history, but could they really contend for a third consecutive crown next spring? I believe they can, despite losing some talented upperclassmen, but if the Tigers are able to win their third-straight title, they would become the first team since Salisbury University to capture three-straight championships (Salisbury won three consecutive NCAA titles in 2003, 2004, and 2005).

Tufts University: The Jumbos’ run toward a national championship was quite exciting with the Powder Blue and Brown scoring two impressive postseason wins against St. John Fisher College and Salisbury. Tufts’ season concluded in the semifinals with a 26-15 setback to RIT. Like Bowdoin, Tufts will return some key pieces from its 19-win squad next spring that will certainly be players to watch, including Jack Boyden and Tommy Swank.

Union College: The Dutchmen’s run toward its first-ever national championship was exciting — can I say entertaining, as well? Union should be in the mix again next spring, despite graduating some key members of its 2022 squad. Dan Donahue will return between the pipes next season after an impressive second year with the squad that saw the Weston, Massachusetts native record a career-best 240 stops and 17 wins.

York College: Despite ending its season in the national semifinals, the Spartans run toward a championship was highlighted by two postseason victories over Christopher Newport and Southern Virginia. They will lose some key veterans that were either graduate students or seniors this spring, but will welcome back Ben Mayer, a first-year attack from Palm Harbor, Florida that led the Green and White with 90 points on 58 goals and 32 assists.

Others to watch: Albion College, Amherst College, Christopher Newport, Denison University, Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, RPI, Salisbury University, St. John Fisher, Wesleyan University, and Western New England

Women’s D-III Lacrosse Teams to Watch in 2023

Middlebury College: After being idle for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Panthers continued their previous momentum from 2019 and their first three matchups in 2020 by winning 22 of 23 contests this spring, including the national title game. Jane Earley guided Middlebury to its second title in three years, as well as its eighth in program history. Earley, who established new single-season records for goals (80) and points (99), will be one of many players to watch next year.

Salisbury University: Despite ending their 2022 campaign without some hardware, the Sea Gulls were once again a team to watch after finishing the 2021 season as national champions. Coach Jim Nestor will welcome back some key pieces from its 2021 and 2022 squads, including Erin Scannell, who led Salisbury with 55 goals, which should help Salisbury be in the mix for its fifth crown in program history.

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ): After scoring two impressive postseason wins over Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland last month, the Lions’ momentum vanished in the national semifinals with an 18-7 setback to Tufts. The loss, however, could help the Lions understand what they must do to contend for the program’s 14th national championship. TCNJ has not won a national championship since 2006.

Tufts University: For the second-straight season, coach Courtney Shute‘s Jumbos fell short of winning the program’s initial title. But perhaps this year’s defeat to Middlebury will be the inspiration to win the crown in 2023? Like every team, the Jumbos will graduate some key pieces from this year’s squad, including goalie Molly Laliberty and midfielder Anna Clarke.

Washington and Lee: The Generals ended their season by matching their program record for wins with 19. Washington and Lee saw its bid toward a national title conclude in the quarterfinals against Gettysburg College, but the loss will certainly fuel the Blue and White next season, which returns some impressive talent that has guided the unit to 33 wins in its last 37 contests.

Others to watch: Capital University, Colby College, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg College, Ithaca College, Kenyon College, Pomona-Pitzer, Rhodes College, Roanoke College, SUNY Cortland, SUNY SUNY Geneseo, University of Chicago, Wesleyan University, and William Smith

Union College Men’s Lacrosse Excited To Compete For A National Championship

Peter Burns and the Union College men’s lacrosse team will compete for its first-ever national championship on Sunday against RIT. (PHOTO COURTESY: Betsy Matthew/Union Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

“We’re going to the national championship,” said Union College men’s lacrosse coach Derek Witheford.

“It feels good to say.”

Witheford and his Dutchmen should feel excited about competing in this Sunday’s NCAA Division III championship where they will square off against Liberty League (LL) foe Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  

The two teams met earlier this spring with RIT snapping Union’s 10-game winning streak with a 14-13 victory.

Unlike RIT, Union has never won nor appeared in a national championship, but they will certainly be ready to contend for a title as the Dutchmen will arrive in Hartford, Connecticut with a great deal of momentum following two hard-fought wins last weekend.

Union needed a pair of late tallies to seal a quarterfinal win last Saturday over Gettysburg College. Kieran McGovern tied the game at 13-13 before Keaton McCann buried the game-winner with nine seconds left.

On Sunday, Union jumped out to a 6-1 advantage before relying on its defense to fend off a second-half surge to defeat York College, 11-8. Dan Donahue turned aside 16 shots to secure his 17th win between the pipes.

Said Witheford, “Top to bottom, we played pretty stout defensively. And Dan saved the shots that he should of, and he definitely stole some, as well.”  

Added Donahue, “I can’t say enough about the defense. They allowed me to see good shots from 15, 16-yards (out) and that’s probably the best I have seen them play and I can’t thank them enough.”

Donahue, along with the defense, will be tested on Sunday against an RIT team that has scored 20 goals or more in four postseason contests. The Tigers topped Tufts University, 26-15, in its semifinal after beating Bowdoin College one day earlier in the quarterfinals.   

Since 2005, RIT has beaten Union in 22 of 24 contests with Union’s last win over the Tigers occurring in 2008. The Tigers beat the Dutchmen in the 2019 NCAA Tournament (10-9), as well as last season in the Liberty League semifinals.

RIT is the defending champion – they beat Salisbury University last year in double-overtime and seek their second title in program history.

Brian Davis, a senior midfielder that transferred to Union after being redshirted at the University of Delaware, is excited to compete against the Tigers once more with hopes of Sunday’s meeting ending with a victory for the Dutchmen.

“I got word (shortly after our game with York concluded) that we’re playing RIT, and three of my seasons have been ended by RIT, so (hopefully) it’s a storybook ending,” said Davis.

“We’re super-excited to be there.”

Sunday’s championship between Union and RIT will commence at 1 p.m. Fans can watch the game on NCAA.com.

Noontime’s Five D3 Men’s Lacrosse Teams to Watch in April

Cross Ferrara and the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team have won 11-straight contests this spring. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brad Boardman)

By Matt Noonan

We’re a few days into the final month of the regular season for NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse, which seems hard to fathom. But luckily, there is still plenty of lacrosse to be played – don’t worry, the season is not over yet!

However, I believe there are a few teams – may be more than a few? – that we should certainly keep our eyes on down the stretch and possibly next month once the postseason begins.

Yet, before we look too far down the road, allow me to share the five teams I’ll be watching this month.


Salisbury University: I believe the Sea Gulls are the best team in Division III. But that’s my opinion.  

Salisbury secured 23 first-place votes for this week’s United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) D-III Top 20 Poll after capping the second month with three big wins over Colorado College, Whittier College, and Stevenson University.

Their most recent matchup with Stevenson was a challenging one, which saw the Mustangs outscore the Sea Gulls, 5-3 in the third quarter (Salisbury led 9-4 at the break).  

The Sea Gulls will certainly be challenged over the next few weeks with upcoming matchups against a pair of ranked teams, including Christopher Newport, which secured the second position on this week’s USILA Top 20 Poll after checking in fourth one week ago. Neither team has dropped a game this spring, so their matchup next Saturday, April 16 could feature a pair of unbeaten squads.

Christopher Newport: The Captains looked impressive in their last outing, beating Williams College by a score of 15-2.

The non-conference meeting with the Ephs was highlighted by a career-high 18 saves by Zac Hanway. Andrew Cook tallied six goals, which is the most any member of the team has recorded against a nationally-ranked opponent.

Christopher Newport will compete later today against Southern Virginia University before turning its attention to Salisbury, along with the University of Mary Washington and Colorado College.

The Captains have scored five wins this season against nationally-ranked foes and will certainly look to continue their momentum over the next few weeks.

Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears head into this evening’s meeting with Bates College riding a nine-game winning streak.

Bowdoin has won five New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchups, along with a pair of regional victories over Babson College and Western New England.

I believe the Polar Bears are the best team in the NESCAC, however, I am interested to see how they do against Tufts University later this month. But given the way they have played these last few weeks; I find it hard to see this team losing its current momentum down the stretch.

Keep an eye on Will Byrne, a sophomore from Darrien, Connecticut, that tied the school’s single-game program record with 11 points (five points and six assists) last month against Western New England.

RPI: The Engineers have certainly bounced back following a 12-9 setback to Williams last month with a pair of wins, including a 13-12 victory last weekend against RIT.

Cooper Urban concluded his team’s meeting with the Tigers with three goals and three assists while Joseph Perry recorded 23 saves.  

The win over RIT provided RPI with the top spot in the Liberty League (LL) with a 3-0 record (the Engineers currently boast a 9-1 overall record).

RPI has certainly been on my radar this spring by commencing its current campaign with seven-straight wins. They will certainly face some challenges down the stretch, beginning next Saturday with a big matchup with Union College.

Union College: The Dutchmen have scored some impressive wins thus far, including recent victories over Middlebury College, St. Lawrence University, and Tufts.

Their next three matchups will certainly tell us more about a team that I believe can compete for both a conference crown and national championship.

Union will visit St. John Fisher College this afternoon (face-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.) and RIT this Saturday, April 9.

Keep your eyes on goalie Dan Donahue, who was recently named the Liberty League’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this spring.