Ten to Watch: A Different Kind of One-on-One
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.
Corey "The Rookie" McLaughlin and Paul "Gandhi" Ohanian separated themselves from the pack with perfect 10-0 showings in Week 3. This week's pick 'em includes a 10-2-W first: a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 1, as Virginia and Syracuse look to settle the score.
Follow the weekend's action here at laxmagazine.com.
The consensus top two teams in the nation — co-No.1's, according to the USILA coaches poll — meet in the game of the year so far this early season. The stars will be out. John Galloway is the winningest active goalie in Division I and Virginia's Adam Ghitelman is second. Syracuse sophomore JoJo Marasco has taken over the famous No. 22 jersey and leads the Orange in points so far with nine. Virginia's attack of Steele Stanwick, Chris Bocklet and Connor English have accounted for 45 percent of the team's points. The Brattons are back in the midfield and played in a 22-6 win Monday against VMI after serving one-game suspensions during the Cavaliers' overtime win at Stony Brook Saturday. It will be fun to see how Syracuse's stout defense works against them all. When the Orange hosted Virginia in 2009, it was the same No. 1 vs. No. 2 deal, and a crowd of 16,595, the third-largest in Carrier Dome history for a lacrosse game, witnessed a 13-12 Cavs' victory. The Dome is a tough place to play but Virginia hasn't lost there since 2001, having won three straight in Syracuse.
Virginia is coming off a monster win, a 21-11 upset win over then No. 5 Syracuse. In that game, they had five different players score hat tricks, shooting on Orange goalie Liz Hogan, the reigning C. Markland Kelly Award winner. All that, and most still don't think the Cavaliers have enough offense to keep up with Maryland, which has averaged 16.50 goals per game so far this season. The lions' share of Virginia's scoring comes from Charlie Finnigan, Josie Owen and Julie Gardner. Starve one or two of them, and the Terps will easily outpace their ACC rivals.
|I can't be the only one who thinks Maryland will not lose a
game this season. The Terps' defense held Penn State scoreless for
an unheard of 50-plus minutes two games ago. And their offense hung
18 on Duke last week, using eight different scorers. What more do
WD1: No. 3 North Carolina at No. 8 Penn – Saturday 12 p.m.
This budding rivalry has gained the reputation of a defensive struggle in recent years. Northwestern showed that the key to stopping Carolina is stopping Corey Donohoe, so look for the Quakers' characteristically disciplined defense to shadow the Tar Heels' hot shot.
WD1: No. 2 Northwestern at No. 6 Georgetown – Saturday 1 p.m.
|Georgetown has a heralded freshman class and what better
way than to ease them in by playing...Northwestern. While the
Wildcats have appeared a little more mortal this year, Ricky Fried
is going to find out right away if the Baby Hoyas, led by middies
Kelyn Freedman and Hannah Franklin, are ready for prime time.
The Wildcats holds a 4-0 all-time edge against the Hoyas, including last year's 15-10 victory at home in which Katrina Dowd tallied five goals and three assists. Dowd is gone, but Northwestern marches on, with road wins at Notre Dame, North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Navy thus far. Junior Shannon Smith has 14 points in the last two games, including six goals in Thursday's 18-8 win at Navy. The Hoyas, defending Big East champions, return a talented roster, headlined by senior All-American Jordy Kirr and highly-touted freshman Kelyn Freedman, considered by many to be the nation's top recruit. The biggest question will be in goal, where the Hoyas must replace three-year starter Caitlin Formby.
|Georgetown has a charmingly old-fashioned schedule, in that
it starts in March. It's the first career start for senior goalie
Lauren Thomas, who beat out two underclassmen for the honor of
picking up where Caitlin Formby left off. It's a tough task to
stare down Northwestern, which gritted out a 7-6 OT win over No. 3
North Carolina and then steamrolled No. 11 Vanderbilt, 17-6. The
Georgetown game will end a five-game road series for
|Ricky Fried was too quick for me to cover during noon-time
hoops at Johns Hopkins when he was an assistant coach there several
years ago, and once again I'm a step behind him. I'm struggling to
comprehend the Hoyas not opening their season until tomorrow and
their doing so against Kelly Amonte Hiller and Northwestern. Either
Fried's national team commitments played a role or he's got
something up his sleeve — the latter certainly wouldn't
MD1: No. 11 Princeton at No. 9 Johns Hopkins – Saturday 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
LMO's Joel Censer thinks that Hopkins has some "dark horse mojo" going on this year. A win over Princeton will make it much harder to look at Hopkins as an underdog. While the Jays haven't been tested, they've looked terrific in outscoring their first three opponents 44-17, including an 18-5 beatdown of Delaware. This is a much bigger game for Princeton, which opened with an 11-9 loss at Hofstra, and has now won just four of its last nine games after Chris Bates opened 7-1 as Princeton's new coach last year. The Tigers need to get Jack McBride, who had only three shot attempts against Hofstra, more involved.
MD1: No. 16 Drexel at No. 4 Notre Dame – Saturday 1 p.m.
Drexel defeated Notre Dame last year on the heroics of Robert Church in overtime. That was in Philadelphia, however. The matchup moves to South Bend this season. Notre Dame's heralded defense has lived up to its hype so far this season, rendering both Duke (seven goals allowed) and Penn State (two goals allowed) impotent while breaking in sophomore goalkeeper John Kemp.
Duke struggled last week to create offense against Penn, while Maryland unloaded on Georgetown in a 20-8 win. There are clearly two different feelings among these offenses heading into their ACC opener. Grant Catalino scored more goals for Maryland (five) than Duke had total in its 7-3 loss to Penn. The Blue Devils, and Zach Howell in particular, must be sick of hearing this sort of question: Will some playmakers emerge to replace the offense lost by the graduation of Ned Crotty and Max Quinzani? For Maryland, this is a chance to continue to prove itself as a team to chase nationally. The game returns to a college campus for the first time since 2008. The last two were in Baltimore at the Face-Off Classic.
MD1: No. 14 Ohio State at Penn State – Saturday 1:30 p.m.
The Nick Myers mentor tour continues, as the Buckeyes' head coach will face Jeff Tambroni in his new Happy Valley haunts. Myers beat Joe Breschi (North Carolina) and gave Greg Cannella (UMass) a scare in the last two weeks. Tambroni, meanwhile, is coming off a week in which his team managed just two goals against Notre Dame. Perhaps contributing to the Nittany Lions' futile offense is the fact that they've played their first two games at home -- in the sometimes-frigid outdoor elements of Bigler Field rather than the cozier confines of Holuba Hall. Four of Penn State's first five games are at home.
|Since we're just two games into the Jeff Tambroni era at
Penn State, it's hard to say whether last week's 6-2 loss against
Notre Dame was more of a credit to the Irish defense or an
indictment of PSU's offense. Perhaps a measure of both. A PSU-OSU
pigskin match-up would easily draw 100,000 fans to either school's
stadium. Hopefully, lacrosse will get to the point one day where a
tenth of that figure will get excited to see these two face off in
The rivalry that has defined the MCLA over the past three seasons gets renewed in Orange, Calif., on Saturday afternoon. Three-time defending champion Michigan, which has been on a week-long spring break trip in SoCal, is off to an inconsistent start, including a double-overtime win over a winless Oregon team. Under new head coach Dallas Hartley, Chapman has responded well to a more disciplined, defense-centric philosophy despite its run-and-gun past. Despite the big stages this rivalry has been played on, it is always the Wolverines who walk away with the wins, including two national championship clashes.
|Tough sledding around here since my perfect start. This
might be a chance to pick up a game. I know the other chimps in the
USL home office will take Michigan because they've never even heard
of Chapman. I need to convince myself to take the Panthers. It's a
tough sell -- I didn't even take Chapman in my MCLA pick 'em -- especially
considering the Wolverines own Chapman psychologically. Oh, heck.
I've got to get back into this thing.
In his three games so far, new Limestone head coach J.B. Clarke has been smashing South Region competition by an average score of 24-6. It's good the Saints are figuring out how to score because goals have been scare for Limestone when they square off with the Dolphins. This is the third season in which the two programs have met in a neutral field game in the Baltimore-DC metroplex and Le Moyne has held Limestone to an average of five goals in the previous two encounters. The games have been tight -- it was 8-4 in '09 and 8-6 last spring -- but the Saints have not fared well against the Dolphin back line. Maybe this year will be different.