Morning Jac: Small College Weekend Watch List
Last weekend gave us a nice little taste of the season, and this weekend's slate is ramped up just a tad more as we approach the first blowout weekend of the season on March 1. The game of the weekend is obviously the national title rematch in Division III at the Carrier Dome, but there are a couple of others to keep an eye on.
No. 2 Le Moyne (1-0) at No. 15 Chestnut Hill (0-0) – 12 p.m. (at Drexel), Saturday
It was mildly surprised that the ECC coaches selected Chestnut Hill over Molloy for the fourth spot in the preseason poll. Granted, it was by just a point, but Molloy dispatched the Griffins last spring, 11-7, and appear to bring a lot more back than Chestnut Hill. Now I'm wondering if I'm missing something about Brian Dougherty's bunch. I'm certainly not expecting the Griffins to beat the defending champs, but paring down the margin of defeat (the Dolphins won, 16-3, in 2013) might show the CHC is ready to improve on its 7-6 mark.
As for Le Moyne, its 12-6 win over Assumption in the season (and conference) opener was a workmanlike effort that saw a stellar performance by Alex O'Brien in his first collegiate game (5g, 2a). The six goals allowed was surprising considering the Dolphins only allowed six goals or more seven times in 20 games in '13. PROJECTED WINNER: Le Moyne, 12-5
Springfield (1-0) at No. 12 Nazareth (0-0) – 12 p.m., Saturday
Springfield will be able to once against sleepwalk its way through the NEWMAC (formerly the Pilgrim) to a tourney berth, so the Pride's non-conference slate is more about seeding. This contest is about Nazareth and the sky high expectations for the Golden Flyers this spring. These two teams have split their last four meetings, including last year's 15-13 road win for Naz. Springfield is going to be a handful this year, so this will be an early indication if the Flyers are ready for pressure of being a contender. PROJECTED WINNER: Nazareth, 16-12.
St. Anselm (0-0) at No. 4 LIU Post (0-0) – 12 p.m., Saturday
This might not turn out to be much, but St. A's made a lot of good teams work for wins last year. NYIT (8-5), Adelphi (9-8) and Merrimack (12-10) all had to grind out victories against the Hawks. Granted, all of those games were in Manchester, but with last week's game against Queens getting called off, this might be a tester for an LIU Post team with aspirations. PROJECTED WINNER: LIU Post, 12-5.
No. 10 NYIT (1-1) at No. 6 Seton Hill (1-0) – 12 p.m., Saturday
The 1-1 trip to Florida hasn't put NYIT into "must win" territory quite yet, but a loss in this in-region contest would force the Bears into scramble mode for the rest of the season – not a fun place to be in late February. NYIT has won the last four meetings, but three of them have been by a lone goal, and Seton Hill has high expectations. They'll never be on the same side of the field, but Matt Delmonico and Luke Miller will have their numbers compared when postseason awards are analyzed. PROJECTED WINNER: NYIT, 10-9.
Franklin & Marshall (0-0) at No. 10 Lynchburg (0-1) – 1 p.m., Saturday
How close was F&M to getting a bid to the tourney? All five of their regular season losses came by two goals or less, including a 6-4 setback to Lynchburg, an 11-9 loss to W&L and 12-10 defeat at the hands of Dickinson. The Diplomats even made the Centennial finals. Will it be another season of frustrating close losses or is F&M ready to get over that last hump? This game won't be the final measure, but a win would certainly put the Centennial and/or Pool C on notice. PROJECTED WINNER: Lynchburg, 8-6.
No. 5 Dickinson (1-0) vs. No. 16 St. Mary's (1-0) – 1 p.m. (Brooklandville, Md.), Saturday
Like last year, St. Mary's enters this contest with a win over Roanoke. Unfortunately, last spring's match-up ended with Dickinson emasculating the Seahawks, 19-5. What's in store this year? St. Mary's has the confidence of being the CAC defending champs, and it showed against Roanoke. The Seahawks were composed and the game wasn't really that close. Alas, the Red Devils might be at a different level and have something to prove after last spring's sudden spasm. This is probably the second-best game of the weekend. PROJECTED WINNER: Dickinson, 13-8.
No. 15 Denison (1-0) at No. 13 Washington & Lee (2-0) – 1 p.m., Saturday
Last year's 8-7 victory for W&L still lingers for Denison, but can they flip the script? As impressive as the 29-1 triumph over Mount St. Joseph's was last weekend, this is when we'll really find out about the Big Red. Likewise, this will be when we start formulating a concrete view of the Generals. W&L is well on its way to conquering the Commonwealth of Virginia with wins over Ferrum and Christopher Newport, but the degree of difficulty increases by a factor of at least two. PROJECTED WINNER: Denison, 10-8.
No. 4 Salisbury (2-0) at Widener (0-0) – 1 p.m., Saturday
Former Salisbury standout and current Widener head coach Brendan Dawson gets to entertain his alma mater and former coach in a game in which the Pride should be playing free and easy. Widener's opener against Neumann was postponed, but expectations are high after last year's near-miss against Stevenson in the MAC Commonwealth title game. The Gulls, as usual, will be considerable favorites, but the potential for an upset is certainly in the air. PROJECTED WINNER: Salisbury, 9-4.
Goucher (0-0) at No. 9 Washington College (0-0) – 1 p.m., Saturday
This rivalry sprouted up in 2012 when the Gophers started and finished the Shoremen's season with a loss – the latter in the first round of the NCAA tournament – and both times in Chestertown. Washington College gained a bit of redemption last year by doubling up Goucher, 16-8, but there is still something there. WAC is a prohibitive favorite, but the Gophers won't be afraid heading across the bridge. PROJECTED WINNER: Washington College, 10-7.
No. 1 Stevenson (1-0) vs. No. 2 RIT (0-0) – 4 p.m. (at Carrier Dome), Saturday
Nothing needs to be said. PROJECTED WINNER: Stevenson, 12-11.
Stevens (1-0) at Endicott (0-0) – 1 p.m., Sunday
At this point of the season, both are presumptive second fiddles in their respective conferences, so this is an early gauge to determine where they fall in the national pecking order. The loser isn't out of the at-large hunt as both programs have strong schedules, but the second place squad is certainly on tenuous ground. Both teams have their strengths and challenges, and there is an unfounded sense that these two teams don't particularly care for each other. PROJECTED WINNER: Stevens 14-10.
Tampa (2-0) at Catawba (0-1) – 1 p.m., Sunday
Fresh off their win against NYIT, Tampa is undoubtedly feeling good about itself. However, there is not a better team to refocus the Spartans than Catawba. The Indians have won the last three Deep South Conference championships, including last year's title when they stunned Tampa in overtime despite Rory Whipple's squad hanging a 17-10 shellacking on Catawba during the regular season. The Indians are 2-1 overall against Tampa, but they're also coming off a humbling, 13-5 loss at the hands of Mount Olive. PROJECTED WINNER: Tampa, 15-5.