Spring sport spotlight: Welcome back, Duke men's lacrosse and Brennan O'Neill

Brennan O'Neill already has 12 goals through three games this season.
Brennan O'Neill already has 12 goals through three games this season.

As the spring sports season begins for many of the Blue Devil sports teams, each week the Blue Zone will highlight a big performer in one of Duke’s spring teams. This week, it is Brennan O’Neill from Duke men's lacrosse:

It was more than likely inevitable that the senior O’Neill would pop up in a spring sport spotlight, seeing as he has had one of the most impressive college lacrosse careers in recent memory. Despite a team loss in the national championship game last year, O’Neill racked up awards like they were nobody’s business in the 2023 campaign. Most notably, he received the Tewaaraton Award for the most outstanding men’s college lacrosse player. Beyond that, he was named to multiple All-American teams and was otherwise consistently lauded as one of the best to do it. Now, he has led his group to some early wins as the team looks to build a campaign and avenge its loss in the 2023 championship. 

In all three of Duke’s games thus far, O’Neill has put up at least two goals and six points. One especially notable performance came Sunday afternoon against Saint Joseph’s, where he had six goals on seven shots on goal, including an acrobatic behind-the-back attempt that closed an early 4-2 deficit for the Blue Devils. 

O’Neill is the definition of an offensive catalyst, arguably the best scorer in the game right now. His combination of speed, strength, size and skill is unmatched, and he always draws attention when Duke has the ball. 

Indeed, it is not just his scoring that has earned O’Neill the praise of his fellow players and coaches. He facilitates both consciously and unconsciously. His passing is excellent, and his ability to attract disproportionate attention from opposing defenses means that there is always somebody open when the Blue Devils are attacking the net. While O’Neill found himself busy scoring against the Hawks rather than assisting, he has at least three in the other two matchups this season. His offensive abilities, in all facets, are unparalleled. 

While it is very much early in the season and Duke is yet to play any of the challenging teams it will encounter down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs, O’Neill has been a big part of why the Blue Devils are the No. 2 team in the country. The first early test is Friday, when Jacksonville comes to town. The Dolphins have historically been an early trap game for Duke, and they were the team to hand the Blue Devils their first loss last year. It will be up to O’Neill and his talented teammates to find their rhythm and come out on top to set the tone for the rest of the year. 


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