Digging into the Ivy League

Digging into the Ivy League

We're not in 2022 anymore, Ivy. Last week was a struggle for the Ivy League. The league had six games against the ACC, Big Ten, and Big East, conferences they will likely be competing against for at-large spots come selection Sunday in May. The teams combined to go for 1-5, further hurting their case for at-large bids in 2023.

What happened?


2022 was a great year for the Ivy League. After taking the 2021 season off, the league had the best nonconference record in D1, sent six teams to the NCAA tournament, and sent two teams to Memorial Day weekend. The league had big names like Handley, Brandau, and Kirst returning.

Young experienced rosters in Princeton and Cambridge made it seem like in 2023 the league would continue to ascend. It just doesn't seem like it's meant to be. Lacrosse Playground dug into the numbers from 2022 courtesy of Lacrosse Reference to find out where the league has gone wrong in 2023.

Records & Rankings

Team 2022 Record 2022 Ranking* 2023 Record 2023 Ranking**
Penn 3-1 6 2-3 16
Cornell 5-0 4 4-1 7
Yale 3-1 11 3-1 8
Brown 5-1 15 3-2 RV
Princeton 4-1 3 2-3 17
Harvard 3-1 17 2-2 N/R
*2022 Week 5 Inside Lacrosse Rankings ** 2023 Week 5 Inside Lacrosse Rankings

Yale is the only team in the Ivy League with the same or better than 2022. The Bulldogs were the only team to achieve victory against the other top three conferences (Big Ten, ACC, and Big East) last weekend. Yale is also the only team to earn a higher ranking than what they had in 2022.


Each of the other five conferences that made the NCAA tournament in 2023 has a worse record than they had in 2022. Cornell is the only team still ranked within the top ten. After having all six teams ranked in 2022, with three in the Top 10, the Ivy has only four teams ranked in the Top 20, and two in the Top 10. Penn has fallen 11 spots and Princeton has fallen 14 spots from a year ago.

Nonconference Results

Teams 2022 2023
Penn 2-0 0-2
Cornell 2-0 1-2
Yale 0-1 0-1
Brown 0-1 0-1
Princeton 1-1 0-2
Harvard 1-2 0-2
Total 6-4 (.600) 1-9 (.100)

This section is focused on the Ivy League's record against the Big Ten and ACC. These are the two conferences that are the Ivy's biggest The Ivy League had the top nonconference record last year in D1 lacrosse. Through five weeks in 2022, the Ivy went 6-4 against their two biggest rivals. 2023 has been a nightmare. Penn State has added to Ivy's woes in 2023. The Nittany Lions are 3-0 against Cornell, Penn, and Yale. Cornell owns the league's only victory, a 16-13 victory against Ohio State. The Ivy is 4-1 against the Big East, the league most likely they will compete with for at-large spots in May.

Digging into the Numbers

Team 2022 Offensive Efficiency* 2023 Offensive Efficiency 2022 Defensive Efficiency* 2023 Defensive Efficiency
Penn 33.5 30.3 24.4 24.4
Cornell 34.6 29.2 26.0 21.3
Yale 34.2 33.8 30.3 25.5
Brown 32.6 31.5 25.5 29.1
Princeton 37.3 35.3 25.4 27.0
Harvard 33.6 32.1 27.3 31.7
Data courtesy of Lacrosse Reference. *2022 numbers are for the full season.

Taking a closer look at the offensive and defensive production, we can see that each of the teams has underperformed compared to their 2022 form. Cornell had a three-headed monster in 2023 between John Piatelli, CJ Kirst, and Michael long. The three had more than 60 points in the season in 2022. This year, the Big Red have been two brilliant on CJ Kirst and Billy Coyle.


Cornell and Yale have seen significant defensive improvements in 2023. Cornell's defense is giving up 10.4 goals a game in 2023. Yale's defense has improved considerably from 2022 and combined with their potent 2023 offense, they are likely to find themselves playing into May. The rest of the league has seen both their offense and defensive numbers backslide in 2023. Princeton is the team that has left me scratching my head the most. Their offense returns seven starters but has seemed to lack the familiarity that you would have come to expect this season. Seven Tigers entered the portal prior to the season, they are going to want a strong Ivy League run to get another crack at the tournament.

Looking Ahead

As it stands now, the Ivy is likely to get one or two teams at most in the tournament in 2023. Cornell and Yale seem to have the inside track to the tournament. Injuries to Dylan Gergar at Penn, and suspensions at Brown make it difficult to see either two gain another opportunity to gain a bid outside of the AQ. Princeton seems to be the most dangerous, but the Tigers will need to settle their defense and goalie situation if they expect to make a run in the Ivy League. Harvard has lacked the defensive consistency one expects from a Gerry Byrne-coached team to rebound in 2023.


Dartmouth is the only team not mentioned in this article.

While I don't see the Big Green winning the Ivy League championship in 2023, I do see them making one or two teams more challenging in 2023. North Carolina was not one of those teams.

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