March 9, 2012

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Ten to Watch: Big-Time Teams in Big-Time Road Games

by LaxMagazine.com staff

We prognosticated that Week 3 could have been a swing weekend and it was just that for some. 10-2-Watch rewards consistency, if nothing else, as our newcomers are learning. But, in total, everyone is at least three games above .500, a record that would make Chris Berman blush. This week doesn't get any easier, for us or top-ranked teams. On the men's side, Duke and Denver head on the road against top 10 foes and in women's action, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 6 Syracuse travel to Virginia and Maryland, respectively.

In the event of ties, we're listed alphabetically by last names. All times Eastern.

Follow the weekend's action here at laxmagazine.com.













Last Week   8-2  7-3  8-2 8-2 8-2 7-3  7-3 7-3 5-5 6-4
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M:PRN-UNC PRN UNC PRN UNC UNC PRN UNC UNC PRN UNC

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M:DUKE@LOY

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M:LIME-MER

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M:DEN@PSU

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W:CUSE@MD

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W:UNC@UVA

UNC

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W:GT@DUKE

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M:COR-UVA

UVA

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M:ND@HOF

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M:YALE@LEH

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YALE


MD1: No. 14 Princeton (2-1) vs. No. 8 North Carolina (4-2), 11 a.m. Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

After offseason foot surgery, sophomore attackman Nicky Galasso has yet to see significant minutes up for North Carolina this season, and it has shown in back-to-back upset losses in which the Tar Heels were plagued by turnovers. North Carolina committed 36 turnovers in the two games last week against Lehigh and Penn. Without its focal point in Galasso, the Tar Heels' high-flying offense has been reduced to single-digit scoring in the last three games -- including the 9-8 comeback win over Navy that preceded the two-game skid. It will be North Carolina's third game in seven days, while Princeton has had eight days to prepare for the Tar Heels. The Tigers are coming off a 10-8 loss to Johns Hopkins in which the Blue Jays dominated possession and surgically picked their spots against a tough Princeton defense. 


With both teams coming off losses and searching for a win before conference play begins in earnest, there's no doubt Saturday is going to be a hard-fought game. Aside from a furious fourth-quarter comeback against Navy on Feb. 25, North Carolina hasn't exactly played inspiring lacrosse since its season-opening 14-10 defeat of Penn State. The Tar Heels have a bevy of offensive talent, they just haven't put all the pieces together into a cohesive unit. When they do, it could be scary. But for now, I'm in wait-and-see mode. Princeton goalie Tyler Fiorito didn't play his best game against Johns Hopkins last weekend, but I expect him to rebound against Carolina. Princeton's Chad Wiedmaier is one of the nation's top defenders, and midfielder Tom Schreiber has impressive field vision and instincts. I'm taking the Tigers.


MD1: No. 11 Duke (3-2) at No. 9 Loyola (Md.) (4-0), Noon Saturday

Following Duke's 10-7 loss to Maryland last weekend, coach John Danowski said "Spring Break couldn't come at a better time." The Blue Devils have been all lacrosse, all the time since, learning from their mistakes and preparing for Loyola, which is off to its first 4-0 start since 2002. Duke has struggled to find consistent production from its midfield and star attackman Jordan Wolf has been banged up, but there's no reason to panic; Danowski-coached teams seemingly always improve as the season wears on. Sparked by the return of Eric Lusby and two transfers at the midfield, the Greyhounds are averaging 13 goals per game. Mike Sawyer scored five goals for Loyola in last year's meeting in Durham between these two teams, but Wolf's four goals powered Duke to a 14-9 victory. Saturday will provide an opportunity for Duke to right the ship and/or Loyola make a major statement.


Loyola is off to its first 4-0 start in 10 years and the Greyhounds are using a tried-and-true blueprint for their success - face-off domination and extra-man success. The healthy return of senior attackman Eric Lusby, who tore his right ACL in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and missed virtually all of the 2011 season, hasn't hurt either. Lusby has apparently regained his All-ECAC form as he is tied for the team-lead in scoring with 12 goals through four games.


MD2: No. 3 Limestone (7-0) vs. No. 6 Merrimack (1-0), Noon Saturday in Baltimore

Limestone is probably going to be a little jittery entering this contest. The Saints were favorites when they entertained North region flag-bearer Adelphi last year in the NCAA semifinals and the Panthers eventually blitzed Limestone, 14-11. Now Limestone is playing another NE-10 contender on a neutral field. The Saints have managed to stretch their legs against a mish-mash of Deep South and Conference Carolinas hopefuls, but the competition level will undoubtedly ratchet up on Saturday, especially with the likes of Merrimack's Corey Lunney.


Yea! The Circus is back in town! A year after Limestone upended Le Moyne in Baltimore thanks to the Canadian duo of Riley Loewen and Shayne Jackson - a tandem dubbed "The Circus" by Saints head coach J.B. Clarke - the Saints once again revist Charm City to tackle a Northeast-10 contender. This time, it's No. 6 Merrimack. The Warriors may very well contend for the NE-10 crown with the likes of Le Moyne and Adelphi, but it's way too early in the season to be visiting this tent, especially when Limestone is seven games in.  


MD1: No. 13 Denver (3-1) at No. 10 Penn St. (3-1), 1 p.m. Saturday

Bill Tierney said this week that if either team gets to 10 goals, they will likely win this matchup. One could only assume Tierney was hoping his offensive group would be the first to reach that number. Penn State has managed less than 10 goals in its last two games combined, but they've both been wins over ranked opponents (4-3 in overtime against Notre Dame and 5-2 against Ohio State, both on the road). This one is in Happy Valley in what's probably the biggest home game of Jeff Tambroni's tenure. It will be interesting to see how Penn State goalie Austin Kaut fares against Denver's Canadian-flavored offense. Even Team USA goalie Drew Adams, a Penn State alum, took a while to adjust to the Pioneers finishers when the U.S. scrimmaged Denver at Champion Challenge in Janurary. Denver survived against Hartford last week, 11-10.


The Penn State defense got a nice warmup last Saturday in guarding Canadian Logan Schuss, limiting him to two points. Denver has more north-of-the-border natives and ways they can beat you, but the Pioneers in general haven't exactly blown the doors off opponents (see, 11-10 win over Hartford last Saturday). This could be the game they break out, and if they get up early it will be tough for Penn State to keep pace. But should the Nits be able to produce a number similar to the 10 goals they hung on UNC in a losing effort to start the season, they can pull off a third straight win over a ranked opponent. Ausin Kaut will make some big saves early, the Lions will keep it close and edge Denver by one.  


WD1: No. 6 Syracuse (2-2) at No. 3 Maryland (5-1), 1 p.m. Saturday

In a game that pits former Terp assistants Cathy Reese and Gary Gait against each other, you'd expect to see a fast-paced, high-scoring shootout. That was not the case when they met last year. Maryland won a 7-5 squeaker in which the Orange attempted a slow-down strategy to neutralize the Terps' powerful offense. Expect to see a similar look this time around. In order to execute that plan, Syracuse will need possession first. They'll look to freshman attacker Kailah Kempney, who leads the team with 20 draw controls. She'll have to match up with some of the best in the business, though – Katie Schwarzmann and Karri Ellen Johnson.


Syracuse seems to be on a big upswing, taking Northwestern to OT and beating Florida. But I just can't pick against Maryland at home. Cathy Reese has lost exactly one home game in her six seasons as the Terps' head coach. And Maryland is 11-0 versus Syracuse.


WD1: No. 2 North Carolina (7-0) at No. 8 Virginia (3-2), 1 p.m. Saturday

With the exception of a two-goal win over Florida, the 7-0 Tar Heels have defeated their opponents by an average margin of 10.67. For the Cavaliers, who are looking to end a two-game skid, that's a bad sign. Laura Zimmerman (21g, 8a) and Abbey Friend (24g, 2a) are the heart of the Carolina attack. Virginia goalie Kim Kolarik will need to stay on her toes to keep Friend (.686 shooting %) from racking up goals. The Cavaliers will also need to start strong against the Tar Heels. (They spotted Penn State a 6-0 lead last week, and lost 14-7.) That's tough for a team that starts four freshmen.

WD1: No. 15 Georgetown (2-1) at No. 4 Duke (6-2), 1 p.m. Saturday

After a 3-2 start that included an eight-goal loss to Northwestern and a surprising loss to Vanderbilt, Duke has righted the ship. The Blue Devils have won three straight – a huge 10-9 home win over then No. 2 Maryland and road testers at Princeton and Stony Brook. Five Blue Devils have at least 12 goals, and that doesn't include do-it-all Emma Hamm (9g, 9a, 37 DC, 11 CT). The Hoyas opened with easy wins over Delaware and Villanova before a 12-9 loss to No. 5 Florida on Wednesday. The Hoyas have been good in recent years, but haven't really had a signature non-conference win since beating Duke in 2009. Georgetown has not shot particularly well (35.2) early in the season and will need to be better than that to beat Duke's Mollie Mackler.


After watching Georgetown’s skilled but very, very deliberate offense hang with but ultimately lose to Florida, I’ve got to go with Duke here. The Hoyas need to find a way to take advantage of fast breaks. Even if you don’t deploy it often, you need to have it in the arsenal.


MD1: No. 3 Cornell (3-0) at No. 1 Virginia (6-0), 1:30 p.m. Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

This Face-Off Classic contest was supposed to be the main event — the headline act — of the 2012 "Rob Pannell-versus-Steele Stanwick" season and Tewaaraton Award race. With Pannell out indefinitely after suffering an apparent left foot injury, the storylines have shifted, but Saturday's game hasn't lost much luster: It's still the triple-header's marquee matchup being played at an NFL Stadium featuring two top-10 teams. There should be plenty of excitement; these are two of the top four scoring offenses in the country. Behind seven points from Stanwick and 7-0 second-quarter run, the seventh-seeded Cavaliers upset second-ranked Cornell in last year's NCAA quarterfinals. Steve Mock paced the Big Red with four goals. Even without Pannell, the reigning USILA Outstanding Player of the Year and No. 1 overall pick of the Long Island Lizards, Cornell will compete. But who will emerge in Pannell's role? It could be Connor English, a Virginia transfer, or freshmen Matt Donovan and Connor Buczek. For Virginia, will there be any hangover after last weekend's big game against Syracuse?

MD1: No. 7 Notre Dame (2-1) at No. 19 Hofstra (2-2), 3 p.m. Saturday

Notre Dame's vaunted defense is at it again, allowing just four goals per game behind the stout goalkeeping of junior John Kemp, who ranks first nationally in goals against average (3.91) and save percentage (.774). And even though sophomore attackman Lance Yapor (nine goals) has been a pleasant surprise, it's not like Hofstra has a ton of guys who can bring the heat. But then again, Notre Dame doesn't light up the scoreboard either. The Irish share the ball well on offense, but they've been prone to slow starts (just one first-quarter goal in three games) and content to grind it out in single digits. Notre Dame is coming off a 6-5 win over Drexel. Hofstra is coming off a 7-6 win over Harvard. Sounds about right for this score.

MD1: No. 15 Yale (2-1) at No. 16 Lehigh (5-1), 1 p.m. Sunday

Say hello to the Lehigh Valley, lacrosse world, the site of another intriguing top 20 matchup this weekend. The upstart Mountain Hawks, winners in their last two games against North Carolina and Penn, face another Ivy League foe in Yale. While Lehigh may have taken some teams by surprise before, this likely won't be the case with the Bulldogs, who were upset on Tuesday by Sacred Heart. Lehigh's defense has been for real, as has its faceoff man Ryan Snyder (.634 win percentage entering this week). Yale has tried two specialists so far this season -- Dylan Levings (20 of 35) and Cole Yeager (24 of 45). That's a matchup to watch. So is one between senior Matt Gibson (13 points) and sophomore Brandon Mangan (11) versus Lehigh's D. This is the Bulldogs' first game on the road. 


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