April 6, 2012

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Ten to Watch: Big Weekend in North Carolina

by LaxMagazine.com staff

If you find yourself in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Saturday, congratulations. You don't need to leave the area to see two of our Ten to Watch. The top-ranked Virginia men play the No. 9 Tar Heels and third-ranked Maryland visits the fourth-ranked UNC women. 

Our overall standings continue to be bunched near the middle. We were all burned by North Carolina upset of the Johns Hopkins men a week ago. If the Tar Heels manage to upend top-ranked teams in back-to-back games we'll all get burned again, as everyone picked Virginia. Oh, well.

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  6-4  7-3 7-3 6-4 6-4
5-5 5-5 4-6 5-5
4-6 5-5
Overall 
 49-21
47-23
 46-24
45-25

44-26

44-26
43-27

42-28
42-28
40-30

40-30

37-33
W:F&M@TCNJ TCNJ TCNJ TCNJ TCNJ TCNJ
TCNJ TCNJ TCNJ F&M TCNJ

TCNJ

TCNJ

M:UVA@UNC

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

M:PRN@CUSE

CUSE

PRN

CUSE

PRN

CUSE

PRN

PRN

CUSE

CUSE

PRN

CUSE

PRN

M:PSU@DRX

DRX

PSU

PSU

PSU

PSU

DRX

DRX

DRX

DRX

PSU

PSU

PSU

M:LOY@FAIR

LOY

FAIR

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

W:FLA@JHU

FLA

FLA

FLA

FLA

FLA

FLA

FLA

JHU

FLA

FLA

FLA

FLA

M:MER@LEM

MER

LEM

LEM

LEM

LEM

MER

LEM

LEM

MER

MER

LEM

LEM

M:LEH@COL

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

W:MD@UNC

UNC

UNC

MD

UNC

MD

UNC

UNC

MD

MD

MD

MD

MD

W:OSU@VAN

VAN

OSU

VAN

OSU

VAN

OSU

OSU

VAN

VAN

OSU

OSU

OSU


WD3: No. 8 Franklin and Marshall (8-2) at No. 3 TCNJ (9-1), 6 p.m. Friday

TCNJ's Leigh Mitchell continues to set records with the latest big one coming Tuesday in a win against Rowan. Mitchell is now the program's all-time leading scorer after the eight-point outing, moving past former teammate Alison Jaeger at the top of list with 365 career points. The Lions welcome Franklin and Marshall into town on Friday night. F&M has just two losses this season, to the two teams ranked above them: No. 1 Salisbury, a 10-8 loss, and No. 2 Cortland, 15-9. TCNJ's only loss? Also to Cortland, 9-8.

MD1: No. 1 Virginia (9-1) at No. 9 North Carolina (8-3), Noon Saturday

It took North Carolina 16 years to knock off a No. 1-ranked opponent. Can the Tar Heels do it twice in two weeks? A tumultuous month in the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse ranks has left us with just two unbeaten teams — Loyola and Massachusetts — and wide-scale debate over which should be considered the top team in the land. It turns out to be neither of those two, but rather one-loss Virginia, which rode another stellar Steele Stanwick performance to a 12-8 rebound win over Maryland. North Carolina defeated previously No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Johns Hopkins 13-9 on Sunday. The Tar Heels showed the nation their dangerous new mix of speed and callousness with Joey Sankey and Jimmy Bitter on attack, plus Ryan Creighton, Duncan Hutchins and Chad Tutton at midfield. They say they've finally found the right combination of players on a roster so deep with talent that All-American transfers Davey Emala and Jack McBride run with the second midfield unit.

Some series history: Virginia is 48-24 against North Carolina. The last two games on campuses (the UVA-UNC tilt was part of the Big City Classic for two years) have gone to overtime, with the Cavaliers prevailing both times. Goalie Rob Fortunato has been a pleasant surprise between the pipes for Virginia, saving 60.6 percent of shots sent his way, while Marcus Holman — whether at midfield or at attack as he is now — is the glue of North Carolina's offense with a team-leading 23 goals and 39 points.


Watching North Carolina's prolific offense give Johns Hopkins problems at the Big City Classic, knowing the Tar Heels are riding some serious momentum and accepting this game is being played in Chapel Hill, signs point toward a Carolina pick. But I'm going with Virginia. Steele Stanwick takes games over in the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers' zone should slow speedy Joey Sankey and Jimmy Bitter.


MD1: No. 11 Princeton (6-2) at No. 17 Syracuse (4-4), 1 p.m. Saturday

Syracuse has not lost two straight games in the Carrier Dome since 2006, the year the Orange started 1-4 but turned it around to make a run to the final four. Syracuse has not had a three-game losing streak since 2007, the forgettable season in which the Orange wound up 5-8 and missing the NCAA tournament. These are not kind omens with Princeton coming to the Carrier Dome, as Syracuse followed its upset home loss to Villanova with its first loss to Duke in 34 years. It's not that the Orange's four losses have been terrible — they've come by a combined 10 goals with teams like Virginia and Johns Hopkins on the slate — but whom has Syracuse beaten? No one's writing home about wins over Albany, Army, St. John's and Providence that were all closer than you would expect. So yeah, the Orange needs a signature win. Princeton at least has victories over Hofstra and Villanova, and the Tigers probably should have beaten North Carolina if their shooters were more on the mark. Princeton has managed double-digit scoring in its last four games, all victories, including a 3-0 start to its Ivy League schedule. (Do the Tigers smell blood with Rob Pannell out at Cornell?) Sophomore midfielder Tom Schreiber is on page to become the first Princeton player to notch 30 goals and 30 assists in the same season since David Tickner in 1976. This series returns to the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2008.


It's make or break time for Syracuse if it wants to stay in the running for at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and not face the task of needing to win the Big East tournament to get in. After this game, comes a quick turnaround to a Tuesday game at Cornell. Meanwhile, I'm still not quite sure what to make of Princeton after the Tigers beat Yale in five overtimes and blasted Brown, 13-2, in their last two games. This game will tell us if Princeton has that killer instinct to put a struggling, but talented team away. I think they will.


MD1: No. 16 Penn St. (5-5) at Drexel (5-5), 1 p.m. Saturday

Outside of UMass, what CAA team could position itself for a postseason berth? Well, a good place to start will be the winner of this matchup. Drexel opened the season by losing five of its first seven games — including four by one goal — but has rattled off three straight since, while Penn State has been up-and-down: The Nittany Lions have resume-building wins over Notre Dame and Villanova, but they dropped four of six in one stretch. Featuring two of the nation's leaders in scoring defense, Saturday's contest might be decided by the first to 7 or 8, though the Dragons beat Penn State 14-13 last year.

MD1: No. 4 Loyola (Md.) (9-0) at No. 14 Fairfield (9-1), 1 p.m. Saturday

A conference clash pitting two teams that played a pair of one-goal games last year, Loyola and Fairfield will battle for ECAC supremacy Saturday. This one has a chance to be high-scoring, as it features two of the nation's top 15 offenses: Loyola's Mike Sawyer and Eric Lusby versus Fairfield's John Snellman, Brent Adams and Sam Snow. Loyola's streak of double-digit scoring in the first nine games of the season was snapped last week in a close 8-7 against Ohio State, but the Greyhounds are still undefeated. Loyola presents the toughest test yet for Fairfield, which has a chance to prove its legitimacy. Could the ECAC possibly receive three bids to the NCAA tournament? If the Stags pull the upset, it wouldn't be out of the question.

WD1: No. 5 Florida (12-2) at No. 19 Johns Hopkins (7-3), 1 p.m. Saturday

Florida heads to Baltimore riding an eight-game winning streak, but it will be no walk in the park facing a Johns Hopkins team that has several strong wins this season, including Georgetown and Princeton. Hopkins, coming off a loss to Vanderbilt, will face the monumental challenge of shutting down Florida's dangerous offense. The Gators have scored 20 or more goals seven times this season, including four of their last five games, which includes wins over nationally-ranked Dartmouth and Penn State.

MD2: No. 3 Merrimack (7-0) at No. 2 Le Moyne (9-0), 1 p.m. Saturday

When the members of the Le Moyne program look back on the 2011 season, they now know what kept them from returning to the NCAA tournament. Merrimack, already eliminated from postseason consideration by that time, played the role of spoiler and handed the Dolphins a 7-6 loss in the semifinals of the Northeast-10 tourney. The Warriors return to the scene of the crime on Saturday and the stakes will be huge for both teams, as the winner will be the clear frontrunner for the North region bid. Both teams will be at their best because Le Moyne wants revenge, and Merrimack knows it.


This is a game to six. Whichever team can crack the magic number will walk away with the victory. Le Moyne is an extremly methodical team that has the discipline to wait out even the best defenses. Merrimack has a slightly higher tempo, but they'll work for their shots, as well. The Dolphins have an advantage at faceoff, as well as the home field, but I think the Warriors will get the six they need.


MD1: No. 7 Lehigh (10-1) at No. 17 Colgate (8-2), 2 p.m. Saturday

Now it gets tough. Underdog darling Lehigh begins a two-game stretch against nationally-ranked Patriot League teams Saturday in Hamilton, N.Y. A tilt with red-hot Bucknell looms next weekend for the Mountain Hawks. In this one, the main storyline centers on Colgate's offense (13.6 goals per game, first in the nation) against Lehigh's defense (5.45 goals per game, first in the nation). How will the Hawks approach Colgate's Peter Baum (42 goals, 13 assists) and Ryan Walsh (24, goals, 13 assists)? If you believe in the common opponent theory, things bode well for the Hawks. They beat Navy, 9-4, on the road last Friday. Colgate was upset by Navy, 12-11, at home a week earlier. In Lehigh's win over the Midshipmen, leading scorer David DiMaria (16 goals) did not play because of a team rules violation. Coach Kevin Cassese said after that game that DiMaria was on the path to returning to the field. We'll find out if he does, and more about the Patriot League race Saturday.

WD1: No. 3 Maryland (11-2) at No. 4 North Carolina (12-1), 4 p.m. Saturday

If the Tar Heels win this game, they'll clinch the top seed in the ACC tournament and the regular season title. North Carolina is currently 4-0 in conference, while Maryland is 1-1. The Terps are on a three-game winning streak since a Feb. 25 loss to Duke. They are also on a three-game winning streak versus UNC, dating back to 2010. Junior attacker Alex Aust has been on the rise lately, winning ACC Player of the Week for her 10 assists in two games.


I can't imagine the change of pace the Tar Heels will experience between that excruciating 4-2 win over Duke last week and a run-and-gun team like Maryland, which averages 14.85 gpg.


WD1: No. 11 Ohio St. (7-3) at No. 15 Vanderbilt (6-4), 2 p.m. Sunday

Vanderbilt is on a two-game win streak. Ohio State is coming off a painful loss, having blown a four-goal lead to Northwestern, and is looking for its first ALC victory. The sharp-shooting Buckeyes might have their way with the Commodores' defense, which averages 10.64 goals per game. Ohio State senior midfielder Gabby Cappuzzi will square off with Vanderbilt star Ally Carey on the draw.


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