March 23, 2012

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Ten to Watch: Showdown in Charlottesville

by LaxMagazine.com staff

After a big shakeup in the big board standings last weekend -- H-Dubs charged from third-to-last to third-place overall -- we try to wrap our heads around the big kahuna this weekend: Saturday's showdown of No. 1 Virginia and No. 2 Johns Hopkins. Enjoy that one, and all the games.

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   6-4  8-2  8-2 7-3 4-6 5-5
5-5 6-4 4-6 4-6
4-6 4-6
Overall 
 35-15
35-15
 34-16
33-17

33-17

33-17
33-17

32-18
32-18
30-20

28-22

28-22
M:MD@UNC UNC MD MD MD MD UNC MD MD MD MD

MD

MD

M:DUKE@GT

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

M:MER@DOW

MER

MER

DOW

MER

MER

MER

MER

DOW

MER

MER

DOW

MER

W:UNC@BC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

W:UVA@DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

UVA

DUKE

M:JHU@UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

JHU

UVA

JHU

UVA

UVA

JHU

UVA

UVA

W:LOY@GT

GT

LOY

GT

GT

GT

LOY

GT

LOY

LOY

GT

LOY

GT

M:LOY@UMBC

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

M:HOF@DRX

HOF

HOF

DRX

DRX

HOF

HOF

HOF

DRX

DRX

HOF

DRX

HOF

W:VIL@SYR

VIL

VIL

SYR

SYR

SYR

SYR

SYR

SYR

SYR

SYR

VIL

SYR


MD1: No. 6 Maryland (5-1) at No. 15 North Carolina (6-3), Noon Saturday

As is often the case with ACC teams, Maryland and North Carolina know each other really well, having played five times in the last three years. The Terrapins have won three of those five games by a combined score of 46-37, which included the Terps’ 13-6 victory last year in the NCAA tournament opener. Carolina still faced questions after its 9-8 defeat of Princeton in the Face-Off Classic two weekends ago, coming off back-to-back losses to Penn and Lehigh: Despite the win, had the Tar Heels figured things out? A week later they scored 11 goals against Tobacco Road rival Duke but lost. So where does that leave Carolina? Saturday isn't a must-win, but a loss would make the Heels 5-4 overall, 0-2 in conference, with their next two games against Johns Hopkins and Virginia. On the other side, Maryland has posted consecutive wins after suffering a midweek loss to UMBC, including an impressive 11-5 victory against No. 10 Villanova last week. The Terps have won 16 of the last 20 games against Carolina. Keep an eye on faceoffs where R.G. Keenan and Curtis Holmes will do battle.

MD1: No. 10 Duke (6-3) at No. 18 Georgetown (4-2), Noon Saturday

Stop us if you've heard this before. Duke starts a season slow, ejects everyone from its bandwagon and then makes them regret it with a midseason tear that carries them into the playoffs. After falling to 3-3 with a loss at Loyola on March 10, the Blue Devils have won three straight and looked darn good in a 20-9 lambasting of Dartmouth last Sunday. Said Duke head coach John Danowski: "Maybe we're getting better." Vintage Dino. The best sign for the Blue Devils during this streak: shifty attackman Jordan Wolf has asserted himself in the offense. He has eight goals and eight assists in the last three games, silencing any murmurs about a sophomore slump. Duke is looking for its first true road win of the season at Georgetown, which is coming off an 11-6 loss to Loyola that Hoyas coach Dave Urick attributed "self inflicted wounds" in the clearing game and with turnovers "that were totally unprovoked." Added Urick: "Against a team like [Loyola] that's going to come back and bite you in the butt." Duke won't be any less opportunistic.

MD2: No. 1 Mercyhurst (4-0) at No. 3 Dowling (4-0), 1 p.m. Saturday

"The winner of this game will have a little breathing room and the loser will have their backs again the wall, but certainly not out of it." That's the way Dowling head coach Tim Boyle describes the magnitude of the game, and it pretty well sums it up. The winner is, barring a couple of losses in the last month, the presumptive favorite to win the Central Region bid. The loser must remain perfect and hope that its resume is strong enough to outkick the second best teams in both the North and South. With that much on the line, this game should be a beauty.


I asked Mercyhurst head coach Chris Ryan what movies he had in the queue for the soul-sucking, nine-hour bus ride across Central Pennsylvania, and he thought it might be the Godfather trilogy. I suggested Apocalyse Now considering the gravity of Saturday's game. As Boyle said above, this isn't an season-ender for the loser, but it might be out of its hands. With two undefeated teams and one one-loss team in the North and a couple of decent regional records in the South, the Wild Card isn't a lock for the Central. Regardless of the machinations, I think Dowling is the pick on the home field, and champs will have to sweat out the rest of the season.


WD1: No. 3 North Carolina (9-1) at No. 19 Boston College (5-4), 1 p.m. Saturday

This game was a monumental challenge for BC even before North Carolina got upset by Georgetown last Saturday. The Tar Heels were able to quickly lick their wounds beating Old Dominion to improve to 9-1 the next day, but how intense do you think practices have been this week? Jenny Levy certainly had no trouble getting her player’s attention. This was supposed to be the year that BC took a big leap forward, but the defense has not matched a prolific offense? Graduate student and U.S. Team player Kristin Igoe, along with freshmen and U.S. U19 players Mikaela Rix and Covie Stanwick, are the anchors of a team averaging 13 goals per game, but it’s virtually impossible to beat top-rated teams when you’re giving up over 12 goals per game.

WD1: No. 12 Virginia (4-4) at No. 6 Duke (8-3), 1 p.m. Saturday

The Cavaliers are 1-3 on the road this season, and things likely won’t get easier in Durham. The Blue Devils are coming off a full week’s rest following their 9-8 OT loss at Dartmouth last week, while Virginia had to play a midweek game versus James Madison. The Cavaliers won that one, 13-9, on the strength of a career day from senior Josie Owen (6g, 1a). Owen is far and away Virginia’s point leader with 18 goals and 23 assists; freshman Sloan Warren is second with 14 goals and two assists. Duke’s defense has held opponents to an average 8.64 goals per game. Senior midfielder Emma Hamm leads the team with 16 caused turnovers.

MD1: No. 2 Johns Hopkins (7-0) at No. 1 Virginia (8-0), 2 p.m. Saturday

Two of the nation's remaining four unbeaten teams collide in Charlottesville, but only one will walk away undefeated. It's the heavyweight showdown: No. 1 vs. No. 2, the fifth time Virginia and Johns Hopkins will meet as the two top-ranked teams in the country — 1973, 1995, 2003 and 2005, three of which were won by the Blue Jays. But, in case you hadn't heard, Hopkins hasn't escaped Klockner Stadium with a victory since 1998 and Virginia has taken 15 of the last 21 meetings. In last year's matchup, Hopkins jumped out to a 4-0 first-quarter lead and went into halftime ahead 7-3 before Virginia rallied back and went on a 7-1 run to take a 10-9 lead entering the final period. But Chris Boland scored the game-winner for the Jays with 1:39 on the clock, securing the 12-11 win. What to watch for on Saturday? Reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Steele Stanwick, who scored three goals and four assists in the 2011 contest, will go head-to-head with Tucker Durkin, one of the best cover defenders in the country.


I’m leaning toward calling this a preview of the national championship game, but I’ve seen too many upsets and strange circumstances over the course of this and previous seasons to affix a lead-pipe lock to that prediction. For now, I’ll say Virginia will continue their home win streak against the Jays. Weather could be a factor with thunderstorms in the forecast for Charlottesville Friday night and a 60-percent chance of rain pouring onto the grass field at Klockner on Saturday. Mud game?
 

WD1: No. 16 Loyola (Md.) (4-3) at No. 13 Georgetown (4-3), 4 p.m. Saturday

After a slow start, the Hoyas have been on an upswing, winning a pair of close games over North Carolina and Penn. They seemed to have found their groove. Loyola has struggled at the draw, winning only 51 of 151 attempts (37 percent). Marlee Paton has been pressed into service as draw specialist after the injury of Taryn van Thof, and at she faces a height disadvantage against Georgetown’s Kelyn Freedman (5-foot-10). The Hoyas have won the last three games in this series.


This game will be a test of who’s the most likely to challenge Syracuse for Big East crown. The Orange looks pretty powerful these days, with a No. 2 national ranking and current three-game winning streak. This year’s Big East tournament will be played in the Carrier Dome, too, making knocking off Syracuse that much harder. Notre Dame, currently 5-0, also looks strong, so the Big East AQ may be hard to come by. Georgetown or Loyola might need decent regular-season wins over ranked teams to stay off the bubble on Selection Sunday, making this game important.
 

After losing three straight -- against Florida, Duke and Johns Hopkins -- the Hoyas have posted back-to-back wins over ranked opponents. They'll make it three. I'm officially on the Ricky Fried bandwagon.


MD1: No. 5 Loyola (6-0) at UMBC (2-3), 7 p.m. Saturday

The last time UMBC hosted a local opponent in a night game was when the Retrievers upset Maryland, 8-7, on March 6. That was a Tuesday with the Terps coming off a big win against Duke three days earlier. Undefeated Loyola heads to UMBC this Saturday on similar rest, having beaten Georgetown, 11-6, at home on Wednesday. But that’s just circumstance. The only thing that has so far been able to slow the Greyhounds offensive attack -- led by Mike Sawyer and Eric Lusby -- has been themselves, with poor shooting, and it hasn’t been often. This is UMBC’s first game in two weeks. Last time out it fell to Johns Hopkins 12-5 in the final game of the Face-Off Classic.

UMBC proved against Maryland earlier this year what a challenge it can be facing coach Dom Zimmerman's team on a quick turnaround, as the Retrivers knocked off No. 4 Maryland just three days after the Terrapins beat Duke. Loyola rallied in the second half Wednesday against Georgetown to remain unbeaten, and the Greyhounds have just two days to prepare for their crosstown foes. I'm not saying it's a trap game, and I'm taking Loyola, but it wouldn't surprise me if this is a nailbiter.


MD1: No. 19 Hofstra (4-3) at Drexel (3-5), 7 p.m. Saturday

The Dragons are winless at their home Vidas Field this year, but look at the losses: Virginia (9-8), Notre Dame (6-5), Bucknell (12-11). Those were all day games, and this one against CAA foe Hofstra is set for a 7 p.m. start, which could add some juice to the conference game. A fascinating matchup to watch is in the cages where two of the nation’s traditionally top goalies will set up. Mark Manos numbers aren’t where you would expect (48.4 save percentage, 43rd nationally) while Hofstra’s Andrew Gvozden is eighth in the country at 58.6.  The winner of this game will be 2-0 in the CAA, which at the very least would tie them for first in the conference in the early going, assuming a UMass win over Harvard.


Drexel is way better than a five-loss team. It opened with a one-goal loss to No. 1 Virginia and has since fallen three more times by just a single goal (Notre Dame, Bryant and Bucknell). A win over Hofstra, though, puts Drexel at 2-0 in the CAA and very much in control of its own destiny. There’s a lot to be said for that, because just making the CAA tournament will be a major challenge with the competitive nature of the league this year.


MD1: No. 14 Villanova (4-3) at No. 9 Syracuse (3-2), 2 p.m. Sunday

Syracuse's listless loss to Johns Hopkins last week was sandwiched between two uninspiring wins over perennial Big East doormats St. John's and Providence, signaling that the Orange remains very much a rebuilding project at this point in the season.  Ripe for an upset? Maybe. That said, Syracuse's two losses are to No. 1 Virginia and No. 2 Johns Hopkins, nothing to sneeze at. After platooning Matt Lerman (as the starter) and Dominic Lamolinara in goal for most of the season, the Orange gave Lamolinara his first career start Thursday in a 10-6 win over Providence. He went the distance and made four saves. Then again, Villanova's offense has cooled significantly after starting the season with at least 13 goals each in wins over Lehigh (17-7), Bucknell (13-12 in OT) and Drexel (14-9). The Wildcats are 1-3 since then averaging fewer than eight goals per game during that stretch. They did not look like contenders last week when they were swept by No. 13 Princeton and No. 6 Maryland. Villanova needs a big game from faceoff man Thomas Croonquist (59.1 percent), who actually outdueled Curtis Holmes in the 11-5 loss at Maryland, winning 11 of 16 faceoffs. As Syracuse head coach John Desko told Gary Lambrecht of LaxMagazine.com, the Orange would be happy with a 50-percent showing at the X.
 
 
It was quite a night for the Wildcats when they hosted the Orange for the first-time ever before an overflow crowd at Villanova Stadium last March. ‘Nova scored with 57 seconds left to tie the game, then lost 5-4 on an SU goal with six seconds remaining. Despite the loss, the ‘Cats announced their presence in the Big East by going toe-to-toe and holding No. 1 ranked SU scoreless for over 40 minutes. I don’t think this year’s game at the Dome will have the same drama. Syracuse by five.

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