March 30, 2012

Ten to Watch: The Orange's Watershed Moment?

by LaxMagazine.com staff

We're getting to that point of the season where teams can begin to think, "If we don't win this game, then we have to win the next one." Conference seasons are heating up and it's good to start off strong. Navy and Lehigh men square off in the Patriot League, Cornell and Princeton women have an interesting Ivy matchup as do the Notre Dame and Loyola women in the Big East. Then there's always the meat-grinder ACC games.

But there are a few interesting non-conference games out there. Both Syracuse and Duke men have looked shaky this season, with the Orange most recently losing its first Big East game last Sunday to Villanova and the Blue Devils winning a few games despite ugly fourth-quarters. Both need a win Sunday at MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL's New York Giants and Jets.

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  6-4  4-6 5-5 5-5 6-4
5-5 4-6 5-5 6-4
7-3 4-6
Overall 
 41-19
41-19
 39-21
38-22

38-22

38-22
38-22

38-22
37-23
36-24

35-25

32-28
W:MD@PENN MD MD MD MD MD MD MD MD MD MD

MD

MD

W:DUKE@UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

DUKE

UNC

UNC

UNC

UNC

M:LEH@NAVY

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

NAVY

NAVY

LEH

M:UVA@MD

UVA

MD

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

MD

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

M:NOVA@PSU

PSU

PSU

PSU

NOVA

NOVA

NOVA

NOVA

NOVA

NOVA

NOVA

NOVA

NOVA

W:COR@PRN

COR

PRN

PRN

PRN

PRN

PRN

COR

COR

COR

PRN

PRN

PRN

W:BU@UMBC

BU

BU

BU

UMBC

UMBC

UMBC

BU

BU

UMBC

UMBC

BU

UMBC

W:ND@LOY

ND

ND

LOY

LOY

LOY

ND

ND

ND

ND

LOY

ND

ND

M:DUKE-CUSE

DUKE

DUKE

CUSE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

CUSE

CUSE

CUSE

CUSE

DUKE

DUKE

M:UNC-HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP


WD1: No. 3 Maryland (10-2) at No. 8 Penn (5-2), 6 p.m. Friday

The Terps have lost only two games this season – but both losses were the type of slow-burn defensive grinder that Penn loves to play. It will still be a challenge for the Quakers to slow down Maryland's powerful attack, led by Katie Schwarzmann (38 goals, 7 assists) and Karri Ellen Johnson (33 goals, 13 assists). Penn itself has a fairly balanced offense. Senior Erin Brennan is the assist leader (14) by a long shot, but she hits a lot of different targets. The Terps lead this series 16-2. The Quakers' last win came in the 2007 NCAA quarterfinals.

WD1: No. 7 Duke (8-4) at No. 5 North Carolina (10-1), 7 p.m. Friday

Carolina went toe-to-toe with Northwestern in last year's NCAA tournament and began this season looking very much like a title contender with wins over Florida, Vanderbilt, Penn and Virginia. But the Heels have looked a little shaky the last two weeks, losing on the road to a struggling Georgetown team on March 17 and then barely getting by Boston College last week. Abbey Friend leads the nation with 37 goals and Laura Zimmerman is one of the nation's top midfields, but both Georgetown and BC found a way to slow the UNC offense. It would be easy to count out Duke, which is coming off back-to-back losses to Dartmouth and Virginia, but the Blue Devils own a huge win over Maryland already this year, and Emma Hamm (60 draw controls) could certainly dictate possession. The game will be available live on ESPN3.

MD1: No. 7 Lehigh (9-1) at Navy (5-3), 7 p.m. Friday

What will happen in Annapolis Friday night? Lehigh has been a darling story this season, rising from a middle-of-the-road team nationally to the top 10. With four Patriot League games remaining before the conference postseason tournament, can the Mountain Hawks keep their great season going? Navy, since losing three in a row in the early part of the season, has won four straight for the first time since 2009, including an upset of then-No. 12 Colgate last Saturday. The Mids, under first-year coach Rick Sowell, seek their first five-game win streak since 2008. Read more about Navy's turnaround here from LaxMagazine.com's Gary Lambrecht.


Lehigh is 9-1 and is ranked seventh in the latest coaches' poll, but there still have to be some doubters out there. I'm not one of them, but Navy has some confidence heading into a Patriot League contest on their home turf. I wouldn't be surprised if either team wins, but a Lehigh victory would surely go a long way to boost the Mountain Hawks' image even more. Colgate and Bucknell are up next after this.

 


Where have we seen this before? A rejuvenated defense, sparked by a rookie goalie, leads an unheralded team to record-setting accomplishments and an unexpected appearance on the national stage. Could the Mountain Hawks, unranked in the preseason but now No. 7 in the nation and riding a school-record eight-game winning streak, be this year’s reincarnation of the 2011 Denver Pioneers? Led by junior Mike Noone and freshman keeper Matt Poillon, Lehigh has the nation’s top-ranked defense and may be positioning itself for a possible darkhorse run to Foxboro.


MD1: No. 3 Virginia (8-1) at No. 9 Maryland (5-2), Noon Saturday

We found out last week that Virginia is vulnerable. Actually, a lot of people saw it, as the Cavaliers' overtime loss to Johns Hopkins earned the highest ratings in the history of ESPNU lacrosse coverage, including NCAA playoffs. This week, the Cavaliers start their ACC slate just as Maryland finishes it. (The Terps beat Duke but fell last week to North Carolina.) Oh yeah, it's a rematch of the 2011 NCAA championship game and will likewise be broadcast live in HD on ESPNU. Maryland's success comes from sharing the ball on offense, which will be important if Virginia slips into its now-fabled zone defense at any point in the game. That's why the Terps need to get ahead early if they have any hope of pulling off the upset, and that could hinge on what they get out of faceoff man Curtis Holmes, who has underperformed this season (under 50 percent) and was particularly ineffective in losses to UMBC and UNC. All Maryland has to do on defense is stop Steele Stanwick, who leads the nation with 3.11 assists per game. Good luck with that. The Terps did upset the Cavs during the regular season last year 12-7 before Virginia exacted its revenge in the NCAA final with a 9-7 victory. First one to 10 wins?


Lost in the mix of last weekend's clash of the titans: Virginia was very solid in half-field settings against Johns Hopkins, both offensively and defensively. The Cavaliers' 3-3 zone defense gave the Terrapins problems in last year's national championship game. The Wahoos lost back-to-back games to Hopkins and Maryland during a similar stretch last year, but before that they hadn't dropped consecutive games since 2007. I'm taking Virginia.


MD1: No. 12 Villanova (5-3) at No. 18 Penn State (4-4), 1 p.m. Saturday

What will Villanova do for an encore? The Wildcats earned the biggest win in program history last week with an 11-10 upset of Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, a game in which they showed the defensive resolve they lacked in losses to Delaware, Princeton and Maryland. But who will dictate the pace of play? Penn State has bored us to tears with six games this season in which neither team scored in double figures. It's not like the Nittany Lions have won all those games, though. Since a 4-3 overtime upset of Notre Dame and a 5-2 win over Ohio State at the turn of the month, Penn State has lost four of five to drop to 4-5. It's desperation time in Happy Valley. Villanova has won the last two in the series, including a 17-5 blowout win last year. The Wildcats rely on an experienced offense in which 84 percent of the production has come from juniors and seniors.

WD1: No. 18 Cornell (6-2) at No. 16 Princeton (4-3), 1 p.m. Saturday

Princeton has dominated this series to the tune of a 30-3 advantage over the years, but Cornell has a much more experienced group than Princeton. Could an upset be in the cards? Cornell won just six games last year, but a season-ending upset win over Florida has propelled the Big Red into 2012. Last weekend's one-goal loss to Penn showed that the Big Red is a serious Ivy League contender. Cornell has relied on offense this year, ranking ninth in the country with 15.7 goals per game and is led by Jessi Steinberg with 27. Princeton started 1-2, but then put together a three-game winning streak that included a win over Virginia. Last weekend's loss to Johns Hopkins derailed that momentum, and now the Tigers will send out freshman goalie Annie Woehling against Cornell's talented offense. Woehling is one of several rookies playing big roles for the Tigers. She's started all seven games. Erin McMunn leads the team in assists and Erin Slifer leads the team in draw controls.

WD1: Boston (5-4) at UMBC (4-5), 1 p.m. Saturday

Two teams with U.S. National Team ties (Boston junior attack Danielle Etrasco and UMBC coach Kelly Berger) go at it in a game that will raise awareness for a good cause, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. At UMBC Stadium, each team will wear bright yellow colored socks representing UCF and Team Fight, with logos of each university. And both teams will receive pregame pep talks from young adult cancer survivors. UMBC junior midfielder Lindsay Cox leads the Retrievers in scoring and is sixth in the America East in goals per game at 2.67. Boston is on a four-game win streak, led by Etrasco. She ranks sixth nationally in goals (3.56). UMBC is 1-4 versus Boston at home.


Texas can be proud of Anna Barnett, the America East Defensive Player of the Week, who made nine saves in her first career start and helped the Retrievers to an 8-5 upset over reigning AE champion Albany. She'll have her work cut out for her facing down BU's Danielle Etrasco, though. Etrasco had six goals in the Terriers' 16-15 win over AE rival Vermont. Etrasco also had a six-goal game the last time these two teams met, when BU had to rally to beat UMBC, 13-9, in the 2011 regular season.

 


As a "celebrity" prognosticator, sometimes you need no more reason than a little brotherly love. Here’s to a big game for No. 13 in the black and gold.


WD1: No. 6 Notre Dame (7-0) at No. 15 Loyola (Md.) (5-3), 1 p.m. Sunday

Can the Greyhounds end Notre Dame's undefeated streak? Will Loyola's veteran defense be able to hold off Maggie Tamasitis (27 assists) and Lindsay Powell (23 goals)? Loyola has won the last two games in this series, both in 2011, including the Big East Championship, so it could happen. However, they've never faced Powell – the sophomore sat out last season with a knee injury but returned in 2012 for a breakout season. She has recorded at least three goals in six of the seven games she's played. The Greyhounds have some talented underclassmen on their attack as well. Annie Thomas got the game-winner in OT versus Georgetown last week, and not a single senior has registered a point. 


Through the non-conference slate, Notre Dame looks like a team that will have some staying power come the postseason. Heading into a game Friday against Rutgers, the Irish and Northwestern are the only undefeated teams in the Division I women's ranks. We'll learn some more about ND upcoming. This is the first part of back-to-back games against Big East foes Loyola and Syracuse.


MD1: No. 8 Duke (7-3) vs. No. 14 Syracuse (4-3), 4 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium

A year ago John Galloway stood between the pipes for Syracuse the Big City Classic, turning away 16 Duke shots to become the all-time career wins record holder for a goalie in leading the Orange to a 13-11 victory. On Sunday, Galloway — now a volunteer assistant with the Blue Devils -- will walk the sidelines at MetLife Stadium trying to take down his former college team and teammates. "To say it will be strange is to put it nicely," Galloway told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "It is going to be weird. It's going to be a challenge."

Since losing back-to-back games to Maryland and Loyola, Duke has won five straight, which included its first road victory of the season over Georgetown. But the Blue Devils had a dissapointing fourth quarter in that game, and again Tuesday against Brown. After last weekend's one-goal loss to Villanova, Syracuse has fell in three of its last five. Whichever team loses this game could find themselves in a precarious postseason position. The faceoff X could be critical: Duke's C.J. Costabile and Brendan Fowler have combined to win 59 percent of draws, while six Syracuse players are a combined 72-of-158 (45.6 percent).

MD1: No. 11 North Carolina (7-3) vs. No. 1 Johns Hopkins (8-0), 6:35 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium

The nightcap of Sunday's Big City Classic features two teams with opposite defining characteristics: Johns Hopkins has been the nation's most consistent team, opening the season 8-0 for the first time since 2005, while Carolina has been anything-but-consistent while putting together the pieces of its offensive puzzle. Coming off an 11-10 overtime defeat of then top-ranked Virginia, how will the Blue Jays handle their biggest win of the season? The Tar Heels deal will be without sophomore Greg McBride, serving an NCAA-mandated one-game suspension stemming from an altercation with Maryland last week.

Hopkins topped Carolina 11-10 in last year's meeting at the Meadowlands behind three goals from midfielder John Ranagan, last week's hero who scored the game-winner against the Cavaliers. Billy Bitter, since graduated, scored four goals in the loss for the Heels. Hopkins' Matt Dolente, also since graduated, dominated the faceoff X last year (16-of-22), but R.G. Keenan has been one of the best in the country in 2012, winning 62.2 percent. Carolina has lost its last 11 games against the nation's No. 1 team, including three against Hopkins.


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