JMU Lacrosse Eyes Final Four, National Title In 2024

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

By all accounts, JMU lacrosse’s 2023 season was successful. 

The Dukes went 19-3, finished first in the AAC in the regular season, and made the NCAA quarterfinals. It was a stellar year for a stellar program. 

Still, there’s more the Dukes want to accomplish in 2024. They’d like to win the AAC title – Florida beat JMU 9-8 in last year’s championship match – and contend for a national title. The top of the sport is a place the program knows well, having won the 2018 national title under head coach Shelley Klaes. 

JMU also has a team capable of reaching those heights again in 2024, as the Dukes enter the year as a top-10 preseason team led by one of the nation’s best players in Isabella Peterson. 

Key players

Isabella Peterson, attacker – The senior was an All-American last season and has the most goals scored (223) in program history. There’s not much else that’s necessary to say. She’s one of the best scorers in the country, and her presence makes JMU a legit national title threat. 

Maddie Epke, attacker – Just a sophomore, Epke might be the next JMU great. She’s a preseason All-AAC player who scored 17 goals last season to go with 28 assists and 72 draw controls. She’s a valuable member of the team and competitive on the national stage. 

Katelyn Morgan, attacker – A senior, Morgan finished 2023 with 35 assists and 21 goals. She’s an elite offensive talent, who works well alongside Peterson and the team’s other offensive stars. 

Kacey Knobloch, attacker – Returning from injury in 2024, Knobloch is a team captain. She scored 38 goals in 2022, so assuming she’s healthy, Knobloch figures to play a major role within JMU’s attack. She’s a graduate student. 

Taylor Marchetti, midfielder – Marchetti is as steady as they come. The senior does a little of everything for JMU, including adding a scoring punch (at least 19 goals in three consecutive seasons with the Dukes). 

Caitlin Boden, goalkeeper – The sophomore will be among a group competing for starting time at goalkeeper. The Dukes have question marks in goal and defensively following the graduations of several key players, such as defender Mairead Durkin and goalkeeper Kat Buchanan. 

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support.

Season expectations

The Dukes’ expectations should be to contend for the AAC title and make an NCAA Tournament run. In all likelihood, JMU will be disappointed internally if they don’t at least reach the Elite Eight for a second consecutive year. 

JMU is loaded offensively, and the Dukes should have the talent to make strides defensively. Given the depth and experience on offense, we’d expect JMU to be Final Four good. 

Whether the Dukes get there or not depends on plenty of factors (how does the defense look, will the Dukes have good injury luck, etc.), but JMU should field a roster capable of making a Final Four and winning the AAC. A national title might be a stretch goal, but finishing in the top-10 and reaching the Elite Eight again feels extremely attainable. 

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