March 3, 2011

Coyne v. Censer: Joel Rides Centennial Wave

by Jac Coyne and Joel Censer | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


Censer used a trio of Centennial teams to roll to a 4-1 week, but with the conference's signature franchise heading to the Eastern Shore, Joel's getting cold feet. In hopes of slowing down the Censer express, Coyne is going for more "Northern Exposure."

I'm happy for Joel. Seriously, I really am.

The last time Censer had a weekend like this, it was his sophomore year at Haverford and he was going through his Goth stage, cleaning up with all the performance art chicks.

Censer stayed true to his conference and his school and put me in the hurt locker in week two, rolling to a 4-1 triumph. After two weeks, he's up two games, 6-4 to 4-6. I thought for sure Goucher was going to take down WAC; I figured the Cabrini-Haverford game was a toss-up; and Dickinson would probably win. But I never suspected a Centennial sweep.

And who knew Stevens would go 6-of-28 faceoffs and still knock off a tournament team by six goals?

The only positive to the weekend – other than Springfield preventing me from taking the collar – was that Censer was surely sweating when his Black Squirrels trailed, 4-1, at the half against Cabrini.

Lost in Censer's "Best Week Ever" is the Centennial's flagship program took a rare non-conference dive at home when Gettysburg bowed to (then) unranked Hampden-Sydney. It would appear Censer has caught the conference fever, because he has chosen the Bullets-Salisbury game for his pick this week. I wonder what he's up to...

CENSER
: C'mon Jac, I didn't go Goth until my post-college years when I realized the only gig my liberal arts degree prepared me for was an unfriendly Division III lax pick 'em. Then the black eyeliner came out.

And for the record, it was never the performance art chicks. The fencing squad always took a little more kindly to the barrage of over-the-head checks and the white crew socks.

Anyway, I'll try to be a graceful (think Natalie Portman in "Black Swan" graceful) about last week.

There are no tricks up my sleeve for choosing the Salisbury-Gettysburg game. Just a good ole' fashioned rivalry that deserves its due around all this northern exposure. Private school versus public school. The methodical slow-it-down style of the Bullets contrasted with the Sea Gulls' uptempo, transition-heavy approach. Mendes v. Odierna. Bradman v. Cahill and Lynch.

And who knows, maybe the sun will be out, a nice breeze will work its way in from the East, and the Sea Gull and G-burg faithful will even break out the bronzer. All while the NESCAC continues to thaw its way back from oblivion.

Onto the games...

No. 10 RPI (0-0) at No. 7 RIT (1-0) – 12 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: Seconds after I sent out the selections for this week, a whiney email from Censer bounced back complaining about the amount of "northern" teams in the queue. Listen, I select the games that are difficult to predict, not the ones we've been told are great games for these many years. This game definitely falls into the hard-to-pick category.

Both teams had warm-ups on Wednesday -- RPI downed Manhattanville and RIT took care of D-II Florida Southern on the Tigers' spring trip -- so they are each at the same point in the season. The variables are pretty close, so I'm sticking with senior attackman Iric Bressler and RIT to win by the narrowest of margins. 13-12, Tigers.

CENSER: Hmm, a battle of schools that actually learn real stuff. For RIT, Canucks Jordan MacIntosh and LSM MJ Kiekebelt, along with Bressler and Kelso Davis at attack, ensures there will be plenty of firepower in Roc' City again.

But RPI has its own stable of offensive studs (Nick Bily, Conor Chocheles) and an All-American caliber goalie (James Manchester) to match. All else being equal, I'll take the team with experience at the draw circle (RIT star draw man Jerry Ragonese graduated) and in the net. 12-10 Engineers.

No. 13 Geneseo (1-0) at Nazareth (0-1) – 12 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: The Blue Knights have become a bit of a darling – kind of like Censer after he claimed Princeton would win the national title because of its "box principles" – after snagging coveted goalie Ryan Zaremba, who was ticketed to Army. It's tough not to like what Geneseo has going right now, other than the fact it does not play a home game until mid-April.

Playing at home is a big plus for Naz, especially since the Golden Flyers are licking their wounds after falling to No. 18 Springfield in the season opener. However, Nazareth really had trouble on faceoffs, finishing 9-for-23, and that even includes the handful Springfield gifted the Flyers on jumps. The Flyers will go against another very good group of X-men from Geneseo, so this may not end well. Naz's crowd will help keep it close, however. I'm going with the Knights and the same score from last year, 9-8 in overtime.

CENSER: I'm sure Coyne was too busy following some MCLA Division II club game going down in southern Utah to notice, but the reason Princeton lost was because Jamie Lincoln (an Ontario native) scored four goals for the Dutchmen, er, Pride. But sure, nice try.

As for this game for "Upstate" bragging rights, I agree with Jac. Sure it hurts Geneseo it does not have turf and probably won't be as sharp with some of the full-field stuff (riding, clearing, etc.) as it would like. But generally, I think the Knights return enough talent -- especially on offense -- and will play with a enough of a chip on its shoulder (the result of two straight postseason snubs), to take down the Flyers. 11-8 Genny.

Washington and Lee (1-3) at WAC (1-0) – 12 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: Speaking of games that used to mean something, back when I was working at W&L in the mid-90s, this was quite the clash. Now? It's okay, I guess. At least this year it will be tough to predict. Despite making Salisbury sweat, the Generals are 0-2 against the NCAC. Washington College, meanwhile, is flying high after beating Goucher in overtime.

It'll be tough to call this one, but I'm definitely taking the under. Both teams have solid defenses and offenses prone to long droughts. Playing the level of competition it has will certainly help W&L. That, along with a nod to my two-year stint living in the Wood's Creek apartments in Lex, leads me to take the Gennies, 6-4.

CENSER: Thinking of a young Jac working in the Washington and Lee sports information office makes me laugh. I can only imagine his press releases. Game reports, stats and some Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan quotes mixed in to try to impress any of the lean-right co-eds.

I'll continue to ride the Shoremen. Chestertown's a long way from Lexington. Not to mention it isn't the easiest place to play (especially for a General offense that's already probably a little skittish pre-dueling banjos).

Hopefully for WAC, senior midfielder Doug Hergeden can build off the Goucher OT game-winner and hit the cage a little more. They're going to need him. 7-6 Sho'men.

Coyne's Pick

No. 20 Stevens (2-0) at No. 18 Springfield (2-1) – 1 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: I was ready to talk about how Springfield FOGO Mark Eaton would run roughshod over the Stevens X-men, especially after the Pride bounced Endicott. Whoops. Not only did Eaton draw even with Sam Ozyc, but the offense only managed to muster nine goals against a defense that Stevens carved up just days earlier.

I still think Eaton will have a big day, but honestly, Springfield may need perfection on faceoffs. Despite the "X" deficit against Endicott, Stevens rode Nicolas Phillipi (5g) and Eric Yando (19 saves) to a convincing win over Endicott. Alas, this one's on the road, where it's supposed to be cold and rainy in Central Mass. One could say that is a climate suited for a Duck, but I think Springfield will be "Eaton" that weather up. Pride, 14-10.

CENSER: Trying to milk Springfield for all its worth huh? All this despite the fact that the Pride just dropped one to Endicott on Wednesday (which Stevens smoked).

Anyway, we probably should've seen the Ducks coming. They return most of their significant pieces on offense, and with Yando doing his best Dave Decker impression (it helps when McHugh and company protect you), Stevens could probably throw a monkey out at the faceoff circle and still win. Extra possessions only matter when a team can advantage of them, and right now Stevens is being way more efficient in the half-field than any of the teams it plays against. I don't see that changing this week either.

Quack, Quack, Quack. Stevens 13-10.

Censer's Pick

No. 12 Gettysburg (1-1) at No. 3 Salisbury (4-0) – 1 p.m., Saturday

CENSER: It'd be easy to try to compare this year's Gettysburg team to the 2009 squad. That group lost three of its first five games before reeling off 16 straight to get to the national championship game. But personally, I don't see it. There's no Tommy Kehoe or Tom O'Donnell to work between the stripes. No quarterback like Joe Brody.

I don't think the Bullets are done. But in the post-Kyle McGrath/Brody era, they're going to need someone to take the reins on offense.

It'll probably happen, but not right away or against Salisbury. 13-5 Gulls.

COYNE: After the Bullets' loss at the hands of Hampden-Sydney at home last weekend, one might think this game is a slam dunk for the Gulls. I'm not so sure. This one is going to be closer than people think, especially considering that a mediocre Washington and Lee team went up to the shore and made Salisbury sweat it out for 45 minutes before the hosts took the 7-4 win. Not exactly an inspiring performance.

Even when they have some turnover in the roster or are trying to find themselves, the Bullets are typically an extremely dangerous team come conference tournament time. So it's important to get them early. I might be more tempted to consider Gettysburg if the calendar had just flipped to April and not March. As such, I've got the Gulls, 12-9.


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