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2023 #ASUNMLAX Season In Review

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via the ASun press release/website

Posted: Jun 08, 2023

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Standings | Schedule | Statistics | Record Book

ATLANTA – With the third season of ASUN Conference Men’s Lacrosse in the books, we take a look back at the highlights and accomplishments of the 10 league clubs following the 2023 season. Jacksonville and Mercer made their return trips to the league since 2014 highlighted by a trip to the ASUN Championship while Queens and Lindenwood stepped up to the Division I level this season. Utah summited the ASUN mountain with a perfect 11-0 record to claim its second consecutive regular season title and first championship banner. The 2023 Championship’s top-seeded Utes defeated #2 Air Force, 11-9, to earn its first NCAA automatic qualification.

The Utes broke five different championship single-game records as ASUN Tournament MVP Cole Brams set two records of his own with 22-of-23 faceoffs won and 21 ground balls against Bellarmine in the semifinals of the postseason run. Eight different Utes earned recognition on the All-Conference Teams as Joey Boylston, Samuel Cambere, Tyler Bradbury (Scholar-Athlete) and Jordan Hyde all earned First Team honors while Colby Plotts, Jared Andreala and Koa Todd joined Brams as Second Team selections. Ryan Stines was tabbed ASUN Freshman of the Year and was joined by Plotts as All-Freshman Team honorees. Head Coach Andrew McMinn garnered his second Coach of the Year honor, leading the Utes to a No. 19 ranking in the national polls this season.

Air Force was led by ASUN Player of the Year, Brandon Dodd, in earning runner-up status this season. Dodd finished second in the league with 75 points (41 goals, 34 assists), leading the Falcons in all three categories. He led the league with 51 points on 27 goals and 24 assists against ASUN competition. Chris Bardak and Aidan Tolen joined Dodd as First Team All-ASUN members while Jason Rose was the unanimous Second Team goalkeeper. 

Bellarmine’s Kyle Playsted had a career year to also be named ASUN Player of the Year as the Knights finished in the league’s final four for the second straight season. Playsted set the league’s single-season record with 39 assists and 79 total points in 2023 to lead the Knights to a program-record 11 victories. Jacksonville’s Troy Hettinger earned Defensive Player of the Year accolades and became the second ASUN player to be drafted when he went 12th overall in the PLL College Draft by the Chrome Lacrosse Club. Hettinger tied teammate Tucker Garrity with 25 caused turnovers this season helping the Dolphins earn a return trip to the ASUN Championship.

Cleveland State’s Gannon Matthews rounded out the superlative awards for the season as the Midfielder of the Year. Matthews posted 46 points on 22 goals and 24 assists as an integral part of the Vikings’ lineup.


Air Force Falcons (11-6, 7-2 ASUN)
Twitter: @AF_Lax
– The Falcons took another step up in its second season of ASUN Men’s Lacrosse finishing as the championship runner-up in 2023; The Falcons were guided by three 20-plus goal scorers in Brandon Dodd (41), Ethan Grandolfo (33) and Aidan Tolen (26)
– Dodd and Tolen were joined by Chris Bardak on the All-Conference First Team, Bardak scooped up 45 ground balls and finished seventh in the league with 22 caused turnovers; Luke Versansky earned All-Freshman recognition after his 11-point rookie season (8 goals, 3 assists)
– Jason Rose picked up his second All-Conference nod as the All-Conference Second Team goalkeeper; Rose capped the 2023 season leading the league with a .538 save percentage and was second with a 10.08 goals-against average

Bellarmine Knights (11-6, 5-4 ASUN)

Twitter: @BellarmineLax
– The Knights rewrote almost every offensive statistical category in program history during their program-best 11-win season; Bellarmine was led by ASUN Player of the Year and unanimous First Team selection in Kyle Playsted
– Playsted broke the league’s single-season assists (39) and points (79) record while Christian Della Rocco set the single-season goals record (50); Playsted was joined by Benny O’Rourk and Jacob Berggren on the All-Conference list as the two landed on the second team 
– Grant Guthrie was a unanimous pick to the All-Freshman Team, finishing fifth in the league with 127 faceoff wins (47.0%) and 75 ground balls to break a 17-year Bellarmine record 

Cleveland State Vikings (6-7, 4-5 ASUN)
Twitter: @CSUVikingsLax
– The Vikings went 4-5 in the league, just missing out on its first trip to the ASUN Championship; the team was guided by Midfielder of the Year in Gannon Matthews and All-Freshman Team selection Xander Johnson
– Matthews, also an All-Academic selection, finished 10th in the league and led CSU with 46 points on 22 goals and 24 assists; Johnson averaged 1.9 goals per game in eight contests and netted 11 goals in five ASUN contests before an injury derailed his rookie campaign 
– CSU averaged 11.54 goals per game and ranked second in the league with 168 goals against; Cameron Logan ranked fourth with 161 saves while posting a .494 save percentage and 13.00 goals-against average 

Detroit Mercy Titans
 (2-11, 2-7 ASUN)
Twitter: @UDMLAX
– UDM posted victories over Robert Morris and Lindenwood this season and scored at least 10 goals in six contests; Ryan Birney earned recognition on the All-Conference Second Team and Drew Kessenich earned All-Freshman Team recognition
– Kessenich tied teammate, Luke Majick (20 goals, 11 assists) with 31 points this season with 21 goals to go along with 10 assists while Birney was third on the Titans registering 29 points (team-best 24 goals and 5 assists)
– Jakob Hemme and Tyler Hart both earned a victory in the cage as Hemme collected 137 total saves and had a .479 save percentage as the primary keeper (11 appearances) while Hart added 47 saves in eight appearances

Jacksonville Dolphins
 (12-4, 7-2 ASUN)
– Jacksonville’s return to the league started off strong with an eight-game winning streak after upsetting then-No 7 Duke on Feb. 11; the Dolphins navigated their way past seven more opponents until running into Utah on March 31 
– The Dolphins earned the #3 seed in the ASUN Championship and set a new ASUN single-season team record with 192 caused turnovers; JAX ranked second in the nation averaging 11.94 caused turnovers per contest
– Troy Hettinger headlined the team as the ASUN Defensive Player of the Year and became the second-ever ASUN draft pick in the PLL College Draft going 12th overall to the Chrome Lacrosse Club; Luke Millican earned a First-Team Goalkeeper selection as he and Hettinger were joined by Brandon Galloway on the All-Conference First Team while Jack Heed and Dylan Watson were named to the Second Team

Lindenwood Lions
 (2-10, 1-8 ASUN)
– Lindenwood collected two victories in their debut DI season; the Lions picked up a non-conference win on Feb. 18 against LIU (9-8) on a game-winner by Mason Homer with one minute remaining then defeated fellow newcomer Queens (15-6) on March 29
– Wesley Scurci and Flint Thielen earned recognition on the ASUN All-Freshman Team; Scurci led the Lions with 24 goals and 30 points this season while Thielen added 15 goals  
– Defensively, the Lions were led by Brian Kallberg (22) and Jack Huntingdon (20) with more than 20 caused turnovers as the duo ranked among the top 10 in the league while Joseph Sarno collected 61 ground balls (7th in ASUN) and won 124-of-229 faceoffs (6th in ASUN) this season

Mercer Bears
 (6-10, 5-4 ASUN)
– Under first-year head coach Ryan Danehy, Mercer won five of its six games of the season in conference play to reach the ASUN Championship as the #4 seed; the Bears made their first appearance in the league since the inaugural 2014 season
– Ashton Wood and Wesley Chairs played to All-Conference selections as Wood earned First Team recognition and Chairs was a Second Team choice as a defender; Wood won 241-of-387 faceoffs (2nd in ASUN) and was fifth in the league with a 62.3 faceoff win percentage while Chairs ranked ninth in the league with 20 caused turnovers and collected 30 ground balls
– Parker Junod led the Bears’ offense scoring 48 points, his 30 goals ranked 11th in the league while his 18 assists were ninth; Carl Klepper and All-Freshman Team selection Michael Frederick tied for second on the team with 30 points

Queens Royals (2-12, 1-8 ASUN)

– Queens earned two victories in its inaugural DI campaign with a 17-10 win at Hampton on Feb. 19 and a 9-5 outcome against Detroit Mercy on April 1; the Royals posted four 10-plus goal games with three coming against ASUN foes
– Jack Royer led the team with 34 points on 20 goals and 14 assists while All-Freshman selection Brendan Nace was second at 23 points (14 goals, 9 assists); Jacob Bowen and Hunter Mayer chipped in with 21 and 20 points, respectively, for the offense
– Wesley Wheat played the most minutes (388) in net for the Royals collecting 90 saves and a .479 save percentage on the season and earned the win against UDM; William Powley was credited with the victory against Hampton and led the Queens’ goalkeepers with a .485 save percentage on the year

Robert Morris Colonials
 (8-8, 4-5 ASUN)
Twitter: @RMUMLacrosse
– RMU came just short of a repeat ASUN Championship, falling in the semifinal round; the Colonials’ Taggart Clark earned All-Conference Second Team honors and was selected to the All-Tournament Team  
– Clark finished the season ranked seventh in the league with 54 points (31 goals, 23 assists) and tallied two goals and four assists in the postseason; Clark was joined by Owen Down as a Second Team member while James Christaforatos earned All-Academic Team accolades
– Steven Dellemonache ranked fourth in the league with 98 ground balls and 185-of-342 (54.1%) faceoffs won while Nate Randall was fourth in save percentage (.508) and third in goals-against average (10.91) in his 13 starts (15 appearances)

No. 16 Utah Utes
 (12-5, 9-0 ASUN)
Twitter: @UtahLacrosse
– The Utes completed another undefeated regular season to claim their second ASUN Regular Season Championship banner and added a postseason championship banner as well before falling to eventual national champion Notre Dame in the NCAA Championship First Round
– Utah capped the 2023 season ranked 16th in the final InsideLacrosse Coaches Poll; led by eight All-Conference selections and two All-Freshman Team honorees, the Utes had the second-best scoring offense (16.12 gpg) and second-most points per game (24.59) in the country
– Tyler Bradbury and head coach Andrew McMinn collected their second consecutive Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year accolades while Ryan Stines earned Freshman of the Year honors following a 49-point season (38 goals, 11 assists); Cole Brams shined in the postseason to earn the Tournament MVP honor after setting championship records for single-game ground balls (21) and faceoffs won (22)

ASUN Conference, Atlanta – the only DI conference headquartered in the ATL, our footprint’s primary media, sports, business, transportation and cultural hub
The ASUN, a Division I conference member of the NCAA, boasts a membership of institutions that share visionary leadership, bold ambition and creative innovation. As a nimble adaptive conference, unafraid to blaze a national pathway for better service to our student-athletes, teams, and institutions, the ASUN has a proud history of firsts, national academic and athletic achievements and a conference culture that walks the walk with its four ASUN Beams. Students First! Rise. Connect. Impact. #ASUNBuilt by Austin Peay (Clarksville, Tenn.), Bellarmine (Louisville, Ky.), Central Arkansas (Conway, Ark.), Eastern Kentucky (Richmond, Ky.), FGCU (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jacksonville (Fla.), Jacksonville State (Jacksonville, Ala.), Kennesaw State (Ga.), Liberty (Lynchburg, Va.), Lipscomb (Nashville, Tenn.), North Alabama (Florence, Ala.), North Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.), Queens (Charlotte, N.C.) and Stetson (DeLand, Fla.).