Ten to Watch: Splitsville in Staff Pick 'Em
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.
Defending 10-2-W champ Jac Coyne picked up where he left off with a perfect Week 1.
Unanymity was a tough sell this week, with dissension on half the games, including the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse championship game rematch between Duke and Notre Dame. Follow the action here at laxmagazine.com.
Loyola defeated Virginia last year, 15-11, and looked primed for an NCAA tournament run before stumbling down the stretch and in the Big East playoffs. Grace Gavin is the Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. On the other side, Julie Gardner, Ainsley Baker, Charlie Finnigan and Josie Owen are the core four for the Cavaliers. "What's really going to be interesting for me is how they are going to replace Brittany Kalkstein and her control of the draw," CBS College Sports analyst and Lacrosse Magazine columnist Sheehan Stanwick Burch said during LM's podcast this week. "You could match her up at center and she was going to come up with those possessions. That's the thing about draw specialists. It's a major skill that you need to find somebody to replace her, and that's very tough to do."
|Julie Myers must tread the line between honoring Yeardley
Love (UVA announced this week it will retire her number) and moving
on. "Obviously, we have some pain and some history in our hearts,"
she told me at Champion Challenge, "but we have a whole new team
and a new season ahead of us that we really want to make a mark
in." This game is as good a place as any to start.
Two borderline top-20 teams meet in an important non-conference contest. Lafayette lost Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Steve Serling, who took his grad year to Hofstra, but remains nonetheless potent on attack. Senior Tom Perini (32g, 6a) is a big part of that. He has started every game for the Leopards since freshman year, while Stefan Bauer (15g, 30a) is a two-year starter on attack and a preseason All-American. Fairfield returns just about everybody except goalie Joseph Marra -- a tough loss, but junior Charlie Cipriano is no slouch. He was a starter and at times the ECAC's top rookie in 2009 before losing the position to Marra last year.
|Lafayette was one of the feel-good stories of 2010. A good
guy and a good coach, Terry Mangan, won at a level rarely seen at
Lafayette. Now comes the bigger challenge - can the Leopards build
off that success? Fairfield is a mirror-like team also looking to
take the next step after putting together back-to-back winning
seasons for the first time in over a decade. This one will go down
to the wire, and Fairfield has a little more experience in
If you judged these two teams by comparative scores, they were pretty darn close at the end of last year. Haverford lost at Salisbury, 12-11 in overtime in the quarterfinals and Stevenson lost at Salisbury, 14-13 in overtime in the semis. And they both lost strong contributors from last year's team. Two-time attackman of the year Steve Kazimer and stand-out goalie Geoff Hebert have graduated from the Mustangs team while the Black Squirrels have lost much of their defense, including Grant Firestone. With their different strengths - Stevenson on attack and defense, Haverford in the midfield and in goal - this will be a tempo game, with the Mustangs looking to push while the Squirrels will attempt to keep a methodical pace.
|We'll likely find out Friday if Stevenson's All-American
attackman Richie Ford received his eligibility waiver from the
NCAA, but the Mustangs will beat Haverford even without him. It's
not that the Black Squirrels are a bad team. They're just not ready
for this caliber of an opponent. They never are this early. Under
Mike Murphy and, now, Colin Bathory, Haverford has always managed
to peak late, which, as it showed last year, is how you want to do
Loyola begins its first full season at the Ridley Athletic
Complex by once again welcoming Navy for the Greyhounds' season
opener. Last year Loyola won 8-7 in overtime. There's a new cast of
characters on both sides, but midfielder John Schiavone (.599 FO%,
6.43 GB) returns for Loyola and is the glue of a team set on
winning the ECAC and contending nationally. Navy (1-0) won its 10th
straight season opener last weekend against VMI, 14-8. Freshman Sam
Jones scored five goals, the most in a single game by a Navy player
since 2006. Jones led a rookie class that accounted for 12 points
on eight goals and four assists in the win. This is a good, early
season non-conference matchup for both sides.
The Wildcats begin a new era — one in which they do not
have the burden of extending a national championship streak —
with a familiar foe in the Fighting Irish. Northwestern has won 10
straight in the series after losing its first two games against
Notre Dame, and many of those wins have been lopsided. The Wildcats
also begin the post-Katrina Dowd and post-Danielle Spencer era, but
junior All-American Shannon Smith (69g, 33a) returns and is an
early Tewaaraton Trophy favorite. But she can't do it alone, and
which Wildcats step up to help her will help establish the identity
of this year's team. Notre Dame senior Shaylyn Blaney would love
nothing more than to lead her team to a final-four berth in her
hometown of Stony Brook, N.Y., but for the Irish to get anywhere
close, they'll need to play with more consistency than they
displayed in a season-opening split with Cal (W 20-6) and No. 13
Stanford (L 13-12). Sophomore Jenny Granger wanted to take a step
up this season and thus far has with eight points in two games.
Notre Dame has consistently behind a step behind Northwestern, but
perhaps the indoor setting of the Loftus Sports Center will provide
This marks the 10th straight season that Virginia is playing
Drexel in its season opener. The Cavs are 9-1 against the Dragons
in that stretch, including an 11-8 win in Philadelphia last year.
With nine of its top 10 scorers back among 28 returning
letterwinners, Virginia features a balanced and deep team
offensively. Drexel's junior goalie Mark Manos, a third team
All-American last year, is capable of keeping the Dragons close, as
evidenced by his 17-save effort vs. UVA in 2010. Coach Brian
Voelker's team is no pushover, with four top 10 victories last
year, including an early-season upset of Notre Dame.
Any college coaches that got excited by Maryland's sluggish performance against Team USA at the Champion Challenge in January aren't so excited anymore. Maryland is off to a 2-0 start and completely dominated Delaware on Wednesday, leading 12-1 just 23 minutes into the contest. Not exactly an easy debut for Penn State's new coach, Missy Doherty. The Nittany Lions have a bunch back from last year's 10-win team, but Doherty isn't the only one making a debut. Junior goalie Dana Cahill's first career start comes against one of the nation's most feared offenses.
|It's been quite a change of scenery for first-year Nittany
Lions coach Missy Doherty. A year ago, she opened the season by
leading Towson against unranked UMBC. This week, she leads her cubs
into the proverbial lion's den against the nation's top-ranked team
and defending national champs. Don't think she's not up to the
challenge. The former Terrapin had her Tigers up 8-4 on Maryland
last year before the Terps rallied for a 12-10 win.
There are a few storylines to look at here, but a glaring
difference between these two involves goaltending. Syracuse starts
preseason All-American and two-time national champion John Galloway
and the Orange have one of its strongest defenses in recent memory.
On the other end, Denver freshman Jamie Faus will make his first
career start — at the Carrier Dome no less — behind a
Pioneers' defense still learning to live without Dillon Roy. On
offense, Denver coach Bill Tierney is confident. "We can score
goals," he said of the unit led by Alex Demopoulos (36g, 24a in
2010) and Mark Matthews (38g, 11a). But they face a strong
challenge against the likes of John Lade and Joel White. The Orange
enters the regular season having won scrimmages against Maryland,
Le Moyne and Canisus, and having lost to Hofstra. Syracuse beat
Denver, 15-9, in the opener last season.
Duke rocked Siena, a team picked to win the MAAC championship that boasted the nation's fifth-ranked defense last year , to the tune of 20-6 in its season opener. The Blue Devils' supposed lack of firepower must have been lost on Zach Howell, who made a statement with his seven-goal performance. Notre Dame's defense, however, is a different beast. The Irish are four-deep at close defense, and all four are All-American caliber players. Goalie John Kemp is ready to make people forget about Scott Rodgers. And, oh yeah, it's a rematch of the NCAA championship game and the main event at EverBank Field, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, on the flagship ESPN.
|On paper, Notre Dame overmatches Duke. The Irish have five
MLL draft picks (Duke has two, none before the fifth round) and
Notre Dame is loaded on defense with Andrew Irving, Kevin Ridgway,
Sam Barnes and Jake Brems, and in the midfield with Zach Brenneman
and David Earl. I just hope the score is higher than 6-5, and I
think it will be in Notre Dame's favor.
Ohanian: Notre Dame
Lochary: Notre Dame
McLaughlin: Notre Dame
DaSilva: Notre Dame
Krome: Notre Dame
Syracuse survived a scare from Colgate on Thursday to win its season opener, 19-14. Star goalie Liz Hogan was out, of course, serving a one-game suspension due to a red card she received for decking Maryland's Sarah Mollison in last year's NCAA semifinals. Stanford has already slayed one Big East Goliath, Notre Dame. A win here would vault the Cardinal into the top 10 and give them two, presumably huge non-conference wins. The game pits U.S. teamers Lauren Schmidt (Stanford) and Michelle Tumolo (Syracuse) against each other.