March 10, 2014

McAnaney: Desperate Teams Find Ways to Win

by Eamon McAnaney | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


Denver was the latest team to bounce back from an upset loss, defeating up-and-down Notre Dame in Orange County, Calif., 10-7 on Saturday. How much will the Pioneers have left in the tank tonight against Penn State? (Dirk Dewachter)

Just more than a month into the season, it appears college lacrosse in 2014 will resemble the NFL. In an even matchup, the more desperate team will find a way to win.

Follow the trend with me: Loyola lets one get away in the opener at Virginia, but then is able to knock off Penn State in overtime in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions then bounce back in South Bend by holding off the Irish 8-7, and Notre Dame avoids the losing streak by coming from behind against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. But then the Irish fall to Denver, a team reeling from its loss at Penn.

Sure, go ahead and call it simplistic. But keep this trend in mind when you’re circling your picks in the weekly office pool.

Here’s a closer look at the four most impactful results this weekend.

Cornell 12, Virginia 9

No one was quite sure what to expect from the Big Red this year after Tewaaraton Award winner Rob Pannell and 15 other seniors graduated and after a tumultuous offseason beset by a hazing investigation and the dismissal of coach Ben DeLuca. The skepticism did not go away when Cornell was pushed to overtime by Michigan last week.

But Cornell delivered a big statement Sunday in Ithaca with this victory over the second-ranked Cavaliers. Interim coach Matt Kerwick’s club makes the biggest jump in my poll, moving from 15 to 6.

“You are not the only one wondering where we are as a program,” Kerwick said Sunday. “I don’t even know if we did, so we knew Virginia would be a measuring stick. We’re still a work in progress, but we are finding our way.”

Big Red faceoff man Doug Tesoriero turned the tide in the second quarter, and freshman Christian Knight made 15 saves in his first career start. But make no mistake, this is a proud program playing with a chip on its shoulder.

“We knew there would be a growing period, but we were a little disappointed that coming off a final-four season, some people didn’t even have us in the top 20,” Kerwick said. “The goals are the same here, and those are the Ivy League title and to be playing deep into May. There is an edge with us right now, and I don’t have a problem with that.”

Denver 10, Notre Dame 7

What better way to show the growth of the sport then to have a school from Indiana meet a school from Colorado in front of nearly 6,000 fans in Orange County — and the player of the game grew up right down the road.

That’s what happened in the inaugural Pacific Coast Shootout, as Anaheim native Erik Adamson led the Pioneers with a career-high six goals. Coming out of Foothill-Santa Ana High, it appeared Adamson would play in the MCLA until his tape wound up in the hands of Denver coaches.

Now let’s see what the Pioneers have left in the tank later today against Penn State at home.

Albany 25, UMass 10


Albany coach Scott Marr had to be examined by trainers after feeling lightheaded and dizzy Saturday during the first half of the Great Danes' 25-10 blockbuster win over UMass. He was able to return to the sidelines and felt better on the bus ride home.

Those who jumped off the bandwagon of the Magical Mystery Tour after one-goal losses to Syracuse and Drexel must be dying to get back on after the Great Danes dropped 25 goals on previously undefeated UMass and the nation’s third-ranked defense.

The Thompson trio led the way with 22 combined points. “It was just one of those days where everything went in,” Marr said afterward. “It was really remarkable to be honest. We showed today just how good we can be, and if we can get the game at our pace and get a lead to make teams chase us, we can be dangerous.”

Marr had to be examined by trainers after feeling lightheaded and dizzy in the first half, but he was able to return to the sidelines and felt better on the bus ride home.

“It was a weird week for me with a back issue and a bit of a sinus thing,” he said, “and then the adrenaline of the game took over and it all caught up with me.”

Hofstra 7, Ohio State 5

The Pride is back in my top 20 with three straight wins after opening with losses to Marquette and Princeton. Sam Linares had three goals and one assist. He has 10 and 10 through the first five games of the season.

Ohio State was a preseason top-10 team and a popular sleeper pick to make its first appearance in championship weekend. Well, now the Bucketes are out of the top 20 and 1-4 on the season.  They have games left against Denver and Notre Dame to improve their non-conference resume, but they could be in danger of representing the ECAC in the first four play-in games.

My Top 20

1. Maryland
2. Loyola
3. Johns Hopkins
4. Duke
5. Penn State
6. Cornell
7. Virginia
8. North Carolina
9. Syracuse
10. Penn
11. Denver
12. Notre Dame
13. Albany
14. UMass
15. Lehigh
16. Yale
17. Princeton
18. Bryant
19. Drexel
20. Hofstra

Eamon McAnaney is an ESPN announcer and former Notre Dame lacrosse captain. For a list of upcoming ESPN and other lacrosse broadcasts, visit LaxMagazine.com/TV.


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