February 12, 2010

Ten to Watch: LMO's Staff Pick 'Em Returns

by Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Each Friday, your crack laxperts here at Lacrosse Magazine Online will try to handicap the upcoming weekend for the top 10 college games across all divisions. Follow here at laxmagazine.com all season long.

MD1: No. 17 Massachusetts at Sacred Heart – Friday, 3 p.m.

Who’s going to be UMass’ starting goalie? Who is in the unenviable position of replacing Doc Schneider, while Schneider himself patrols the sidelines as Greg Cannella’s assistant? Cannella would not reveal his starter in an interview with Lacrosse Magazine Online this week. Whomever it is will have a tougher-than-expected time containing Sacred Heart scorer Timmy Katz.

485 inches of snow. Temperatures barely above freezing. Snow banks as high as telephone poles. Ideal conditions for the Winter Olympics, right? Nope, it just sounds like the start of another college lacrosse season to me. Let the real games begin.

MCLA2: No. 9 Elon at No. 2 Dayton – Friday, 8 p.m.

With the 12-team D-II playoff format last year, Elon was arguably the first squad omitted from the field. The tourney has expanded to 16 programs in 2010, so the Phoenix should be a near lock for a Denver trip. Elon will get a good idea of how it'll stack up when it arrives in the Mile High City because Dayton will definitely be there, and probably one of the top three seeds.

MD1: Bryant at No. 4 North Carolina – Saturday, 12 p.m.

On the surface it’s a no-brainer. The unranked Bulldogs get creamed in Chapel Hill, right? Not so fast. With UNC down two attackmen (Gavin Petracca and Ed Prevost), who are not expected back until next week, and a starting midfielder (Sean Burke), who’s out for the season, the Tar Heels are vulnerable. Who better to expose that vulnerability then Mike Pressler-led Bryant. The Bulldogs have a big advantage on faceoffs with Andrew Hennessy (248-of-349, .711 FO pct.), and if Jacksonville could hang with UNC, Bryant certainly can too.

Much as I'd like to see an upset here, because I think UNC is overrated, I don't think the Bulldogs have an answer for all of the Tar Heels' weapons

 

Having coached at Duke for years, Mike Pressler may have an extra spring in his step given that it’s Carolina week for him. The problem is, he doesn’t have the weapons he had with the Blue Devils, yet. The Heels did a good job asserting themselves in what could’ve been a trap game last Saturday at Jacksonville, and teams usually show considerable improvement from game 1 to game 2. UNC, comfortably.

MD1: No. 19 Bucknell vs. No. 2 Duke (in Atlanta) – Saturday, 1 p.m.

If history were an indication, you’d expect Duke to win with offense or Bucknell to win with defense. Only the tables have turned. The Bison are arguably the better offensive team, spearheaded by two-time All-American Austin Winter and fourth-year starter Tim Brandeau on attack and Patriot League Rookie of the Year Charlie Streep on midfield. They’ve lost their top defenseman, Billy Haire, and face uncertainty in the cage with junior Sam Finnell, who will make his first collegiate start Saturday. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, showed in an exhibition upset of Team USA that defense is their strength. Parker McKee and Mike Manley lead the fleet of long poles that might just be the best in the nation.

Wait a minute. Didn't Duke just beat the U.S. national team with its best player wearing the Stars & Stripes? And now we're supposed to rack our brains to pick the outcome of the Duke-Bucknell game? I'll be the first to admit I know little about D-I, but isn't there a 3-on-3 Chumash competition going on at Vail that will be more difficult to predict than the Blue Devils-Bison tilt? It's only the first week of 102W and DaSilva is already mailing it in.


MD1: Villanova at Ohio State – Saturday, 1 p.m.

Both teams received votes in the most recent USILA coaches poll. Villanova lost a lot on defense, including its starting goalie, while Ohio State lost a lot of its offense in two-time All-American Joel Dalgarno, its all-time leading goal scorer. There’s excitement surrounding freshman attackman Jeff Tundo, one of the nation’s top high school players from Orchard Park (N.Y.) and UMass transfer Zach Rodgers, who led the Minutemen in assists in 2008.  This is Villanova’s first time playing in Columbus. Both teams enter the 2010 season as members of new conferences -- with Villanova, formerly of the CAA, in the Big East and Ohio State, formerly of the GWLL, in the ECAC.

MCLA: No. 2 BYU at No. 3 Chapman - Saturday, 7 p.m. Pacific

The first televised game of the 2010 collegiate season will feature the MCLA, as this clash will be broadcast live on Fox College Sports at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET). Those that tune in shouldn't be disappointed as the Panthers and Cougars are two of a handful of team with realistic national championship aspirations. This is a rematch of last year's national semifinals, which was won in overtime by Chapman.

WD1: No. 14 Loyola at No. 18 Penn State – Sunday, 1 p.m.

There will be a strong Australian influence in Holuba Hall. Loyola’s head coach (Jen Adams), Penn State’s assistant coach (Hannah Nielsen), Loyola freshman Cass Cursaro and Penn State freshman Hayley Sofarnos all hail from Down Under. Loyola was limited in practice this week by severe winter weather in the Mid-Atlantic region. Penn State boasts more suitable indoor facilities. What impact will that have on the outcome? Penn State’s attack was dealt a significant blow in the fall when 2009 leading scorer Marisa Lozano was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Some interesting debuts this week -- Matt Schneck as head coach at BYU, Kyle Harrison as offensive coordinator at Chapman -- but the one I'm most looking forward to is Meg Decker at Loyola. After lighting it up at Navy, she's been waiting over a year to get back on the field and Jen Adams has been salivating to see it too.

WD1: No. 16 Ohio State at No. 20 William & Mary – Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Buckeyes are fronted by the dynamic duo of Kelly Haggerty and Alayna Markwordt, who will be featured in the March issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Ohio State jumped out to a 9-1 start last year before stumbling with five losses in its final seven games. William & Mary is led by three preseason All-CAA players in Grace Golden, Ashley Holofcener and Sarah Jonson -- the Texas native and tough-nosed defender who ranked sixth nationally with 39 caused turnovers last year. Look for a Jonson-Haggerty matchup.

WD1: No. 5 Duke at No. 11 Vanderbilt – Sunday, 1 p.m. Central

Upset watch. The host Commodores are stacked and return 11 starters, including seven seniors. They’re buoyed by the momentum of three straight NCAA tournament appearances. Vandy is led by All-Americans Sarah Downing, who set single-season school records in 2009 for goals (55) and points (81), and Alex Mundy (43 GBs, 23 CTs), one of the fastest wing defenders in the game. Vandy goalie Natalie Wills was named to the 2009-10 U.S. Developmental team. Across the field, Duke must rely on a stable of new contributors, and suffered a severe blow when Emma Hamm went down for the season with a knee injury in the fall.

Duke is young and faces a ton of question marks. I like the way Kat Thomas asserted herself as games wore on at Champion Challenge. The Blue Devils need that kind of bully up the middle with Hamm out. Still, given that Duke actually opens Friday against Denver and must turn around two days later to face a Vanderbilt team that's loaded with talent and experience, it's not too hard to conjure this upset.

WDIA: No. 2 UCSB vs. No. 3 Colorado – Sunday, 1 p.m. Pacific

The signature matchup of the Santa Barbara Shootout is one of 10 games pitting preseason top 10-ranked squads against one another this weekend. Early edge goes to the host Gauchos, who feature LM Preseason Player of the Year finalist Maggie Aker. Aker’s versatility was a big reason why the Gauchos won the 2009 Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) championship and advanced to the WDIA semifinals. In addition to putting up the points (48g, 15a), she corralled 42 draw controls and 54 ground balls, to go along with 34 caused turnovers as a first-team All-American.


Last Week 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0
Overall 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0
M: UMass @ Sacred Heart
UMass
UMass
UMass
UMass
UMass
UMass
M: Elon @ Dayton
Dayton
Dayton
Dayton
Dayton
Dayton
Dayton
M: Bryant @ UNC
UNC
UNC
UNC
UNC
UNC
UNC
M: Bucknell vs. Duke
Duke
Duke
Duke
Duke
Duke
Duke
M: Villanova @ Ohio St.
Ohio St.
Ohio St.
Ohio St.
Villanova
Ohio St.
Ohio St.
M: BYU @ Chapman
Chapman
Chapman
Chapman
BYU
Chapman
BYU
W: Loyola @ Penn St.
Loyola
 Loyola
Loyola
Loyola
Loyola
Loyola
W: Ohio St. @ W&M
Ohio St.
Ohio St.
Ohio St.
W&M
Ohio St.
W&M
W: Duke @ Vanderbilt
Duke
 Duke
Vanderbilt
Duke
Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt
W: UCSB vs. Colorado
UCSB
UCSB
UCSB
UCSB
UCSB
UCSB

 


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