April 13, 2012

Ten to Watch: Rivalry Weekend With a New Twist

by LaxMagazine.com staff

It's rivalry weekend. There are some old traditions with Johns Hopkins-Maryland, Army-Navy and Loyola-Denver set to renew acquaintances. And then in the middle of the country, a new lacrosse rivalry is born when Michigan plays Ohio State. Also in the Midwest, the Northwestern women host No. 3 North Carolina. We're inching towards our pick 'em playoffs.

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   5-5  6-4  6-4 7-3 6-4 5-5
6-4 7-3 5-5 4-6
5-5 6-4
Overall 
 54-26
53-27
 52-28
52-28

50-30

49-31
49-31

47-33
47-33
46-34

45-35

43-37
M:DUKE@UVA UVA UVA UVA UVA UVA
DUKE UVA UVA UVA DUKE

UVA

UVA

W:UNC@NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

M:NAV@ARMY

NAV

ARMY

NAV

ARMY

ARMY

NAV

ARMY

ARMY

ARMY

NAV

NAV

NAV

W:LOY@COR

COR

COR

LOY

LOY

LOY

LOY

COR

LOY

COR

LOY

LOY

LOY

W:PSU@OSU

PSU

PSU

PSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

PSU

PSU

OSU

OSU

W:TRN@MID

MID

MID

TRN

MID

MID

MID

MID

MID

MID

MID

TRN

TRN

M:OSU@MICH

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

OSU

MICH

OSU

M:MD@HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

HOP

M:BUC@LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

LEH

BUC

LEH

M:LOY@DEN

LOY

DEN

LOY

LOY

DEN

DEN

DEN

DEN

DEN

DEN

DEN

LOY


MD1: No. 7 Duke (10-3) at No. 1 Virginia (10-1), 6 p.m. Friday (ESPNU)

One of the sport's great and well-documented anomalies — at least recently — hits center stage Friday night when Duke travels to Charlottesville. The Blue Devils have won 11 of the last 12 matchups against Virginia since 2004; over that same eight-year span, the Cavaliers have lost just 22 games. Any trend in those games? Not particularly. Duke has won low-scoring games, high-scoring games, blowouts and one-goal victories and everything in between. But the results suggest something more than coincidence. To the winner of Friday's game go the ACC regular season spoils. A runaway Virginia victory (by 18 or more goals) would result in the teams meeting again next Friday in the conference tournament, otherwise a potential rematch couldn't happen until Sunday.

Duke is riding a seven-game win streak, though the Blue Devils haven't been particularly consistent during the stretch, as they needed a fourth-quarter rally to sneak past Marist 11-10 last week and beat Brown by one. But the mark of teams coached by John Danowski: they get better as the season progresses and peak at the proper time — which would be now. After dropping an overtime decision to Johns Hopkins, the Cavaliers earned back-to-back workmanlike ACC victories over North Carolina and Maryland. What to watch for Friday: How will Duke handle reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Steele Stanwick, and how much zone defense will the Cavaliers play? Additionally, who will win the ground ball battle? Each team has been out-scooped by an opponent only once (Duke to Loyola, Virginia to Cornell), but something has got to give.

WD1: No. 3 North Carolina (13-1) at No. 1 Northwestern (12-0), 8 p.m. Friday (Big Ten Network)

This game will unquestionably be one of the best regular season. It's a rematch of the 2011 semifinal. It features the No. 1 goalie in the country (Northwestern's Brianne LoManto, 6.72 GAA) and the No. 2 (UNC's Lauren Maksym, 6.94 GAA). Last time the Tar Heels had some bad shot selection (10 goals on 30 shots). They are currently shooting .505%. Shannon Smith burnt the Tar Heels for 4 goals (including the game-winner) last time around; the UNC defense will have to find a way to minimize her effect. Northwestern leads the series 9-2 and has eliminated UNC from the NCAA tournament for three years running.

This game could become a fierce, physical battle, as their last meeting in the 2011 semifinal was. I hope it stays under control.


MD1: Navy (5-5) at Army (5-6), Noon Saturday (CBS Sports Network)

The pageantry surrounding this military academy rivalry makes it like no other in college sports. The Army-Navy game returns to Michie Stadium in West Point for the first time since 2008 (minus the Patriot League playoff tilt in 2010). Although Navy owns a commanding lead in the all-time series (57-30-3), Army has won four of the last five meetings, a turn of events which precipitated a coaching change in Annapolis. If you need any added significance, take a look at the Patriot League standings. Lehigh, Colgate and Bucknell are tied atop the conference with 3-1 records. Navy and Army are next at 3-2 and 2-2, respectively. Four teams make the Patriot League tournament. Do you smell what we're cooking? Barring some mind-blowing upsets by either Lafayette or Holy Cross, this game could end up determining the fourth and final spot in the playoffs. Army wins and it's in. Navy wins and, well, it would take a lot to knock the Mids out. Army is coming off its biggest win of the season, a 6-5 double-overtime upset of Bucknell, to put itself in this position. In addition to big boomer Garret Thul (31 goals), the Black Knights boast a rising star in freshman midfielder John Glesener (14 goals, 10 assists), arguably their best all-around player. Navy is on a two-game losing streak after losses to Lehigh and Maryland. Tucker Hull (20g, 17a) has been lights out for the Mids.

The Chicken Littles of the lacrosse world have been bemoaning the middling performance of the Mids under first-year coach Rick Sowell, which is ridiculous. The first year of a new regime is often a rough ride, with new personalities and new systems to figure out. However, if Navy gets this win for the first time in four tries, it will silence the grumblers, at least a little bit.


WD1: No. 11 Loyola (Md.) (8-3) at No. 15 Cornell (7-3), 1 p.m. Saturday

The Big Red is having its best season in years and has a veteran squad with nine seniors determined to make it into the NCAA tournament.

"I really like puzzle solving. Last year it was a total mental anguish year to try to get a group to produce the shots and produce the goals. It didn't make sense to me why we weren't a better offense," said head coach Jenny Graap. "We've tweaked some of our strategy a bit. We've worked a lot more on the individual pieces."

The Big Red is now averaging 14.30 gpg. Jessi Steinberg leads the team with 33g, but Olivia Knotts has had a huge breakout season for the Big Red, adding 23 goals of her own.

"From an improvement standpoint, Knotts is off the charts," said Graap. "It's ridiculous. She's a crease attacker and she's pretty specialized in what she's doing. When we can feed her, when we can get her the ball, she's going to finish."

Knotts may want to watch it on the crease versus Loyola – Greyhounds goalie Kerry Stoothoff is excellent at picking off passes and leads her team with 14 caused turnovers.

WD1: No. 13 Penn State (9-4) at No. 10 Ohio State (8-3), 1 p.m. Saturday (Big Ten Network)

Ohio State has nine wins this season, but its two most impressive games might have been losses. The Buckeyes took top-ranked Northwestern to overtime before falling 13-12 and also played Florida tough in a 10-8 loss. Fresh off a 13-11 win over Vanderbilt, the Buckeyes feature one of the nation's most dangerous players in senior attack Alayna Markwordt. Markwordt (32g, 37a) ranks fourth nationally with 5.8 points per game and is just seven points away from 300 for her career. Penn State has quality wins over Virginia and Vanderbilt, but struggled in losses to Florida (20-11) and Northwestern (14-7), and could use another statement win to boost its NCAA prospects. Freshman Tatum Coffey, a star on the U.S. U19 team last summer, leads Penn State in goals (28), draw controls (45) and caused turnovers (15). In a season in which only eight goalies nationally have a save percentage higher than 50.0, this game has two of them – Penn State senior Dana Cahill and Ohio State freshman Tori DeScenza.

WD3: No. 3 Trinity (Conn.) (9-0) at No. 5 Middlebury (9-0), 2 p.m Saturday

Two of the four undefeated teams remaining in the division square off in what will be a game to determine the top seed in the NESCAC tournament. Middlebury is showing signs of its old form after suffering at least five losses in each of the past four seasons, but if Missy Foote's squad is truly back to its menacing self, it will have to get by one of Foote's former players in Kate Livesay. In her six years at Trinity, Livesay has turned the Bantams from a NESCAC middleweight to a national power. The Middlebury, Vt., native would like nothing better than to beat her alma mater to continue the program's upward trajectory.

MD1: Ohio State (5-6) at Michigan (1-10), 2:30 p.m. Saturday (Big Ten Network)

There a few rivalries deeper and grounded in dislike more than Ohio State-Michigan. The Division I men's lacrosse version begins Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor at the 109,901-capacity Big House, where the Wolverines host the Buckeyes immediately following Michigan's spring football game. Ohio State has been known to set its own attendance records during a few games it has held at the Horseshoe in conjunction with its own spring football game. The Buckeyes own the top three attended regular season D-I men's games, according to our resident attendance expert Paul Krome, topping out at 31,078 for a game versus Air Force in 2010. How nice of rival Michigan to set out to better that mark, and put on its own show in its first varsity season. Team One, as the Wolverines call themselves, has predictably struggled to win games, with what is essentially a club roster. But they only lost to CAA foe Delaware, 11-7, last week and Harvard, 11-7, the game before that. The Buckeyes are seventh in the nation in team defense (7.64 goals allowed per game) and Logan Schuss leads the offense with 31 goals and enters the game having recorded a point in 41 straight contests.

For fans that stick around after the football game to check out some lacrosse, it should be a great event. This is a big deal for Michigan. Just read what athletic director Dave Brandon wrote about the event recently. Former Buckeye and current Ohio Machine defenseman Greg Bice will provide analysis for the Big Ten Network.


With a sub-500 overall record, it's probably safe to say that it's been a disappointing season overall for the Buckeyes. Nevertheless, with a 3-1 league mark, OSU could still make some noise in the ECAC. What they can't afford is a loss to their arch-rival, in its first varsity season, in the Big House. OSU's defense should be able to keep the struggling Michigan offense at bay while Schuss and company provide enough points to pull the Buckeyes back to .500.


MD1: No. 9 Maryland (6-3) at No. 3 Johns Hopkins (9-1), 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)

This is the 108th meeting of these longtime rivals, but it's the first time they've played at Homewood since 2008. With a great weather forecast, you can be sure it's going to be an electric atmosphere. Hopkins, which has won eight of the last 10 in the series, has been led by the 1-2 Canadian punch of Zach Palmer (15g, 19a) and Brandon Benn (21g, 5a), but has now had Chris Boland back in the lineup the last two games following an injury. Boland had five second-half goals in Hopkins 12-11 overtime win at Maryland last year, a game in which the Terps blew a 7-2 halftime lead. A big key to the game will be faceoffs. Maryland's Curtis Holmes won 63 percent last season to earn All-America honors, but is winning at just a 53 percent clip this year. Hopkins' Mike Poppleton has been a pleasant surprise – winning 60 percent this year after taking just 39 faceoffs over his first two seasons.


This is no doubt an emotion-filled contest that will have the adrenaline pumping on both sides. Anyone who witnessed last year's classic can tell you that. I don't see Hopkins losing in front of the home crowd. Depth and health in the midfield has been an issue for Maryland, and the Terps have been worn down late in games at times. And the more I think about Johns Hopkins' win over Virginia earlier this season, the more I am impressed with the Blue Jays capability, given how strong the Cavaliers have looked against everyone else.


MD1: No. 18 Bucknell (8-4) at No. 11 Lehigh (10-2), 7 p.m. Saturday

Raise your hand if you know who is going to win the Patriot League? Lehigh, Bucknell and Colgate each stand a 3-1 in the league and Navy and Army are just waiting to be spoilers. No team has been eliminated from Patriot League playoff contention yet, even last-place Lafayette, with just two regular-season weekends to go. But we're getting very close. The winner of this particular tilt will enter the last weekend of the regular season with a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed for the Patriot postseason tournament, which would mean hosting the postseason tournament. The loser Saturday night has no chance of earning that top seed. For everything Lehigh has accomplished this season, Bucknell has to find a bit of comfort in having beaten the Mountain Hawks the last six times they've played. Lehigh's seniors have never beaten the Bison. This is Senior Night under the lights in the Lehigh Valley, yet another test for a team that has made history at several stops along the schedule.

MD1: No. 4 Loyola (Md.) (10-0) at No. 10 Denver (7-3), 9 p.m. Saturday

They're sold out at Peter Barton Stadium, which gives you an indication of the significance of this ECAC tilt. Moreover, Denver coach Bill Tierney said a win here would fortify the Jamie Faus-less Pioneers' position for an at-large bid come NCAA tournament selection time -- perhaps a partial admission that winning the ECAC AQ back-to-back years could prove too tough, even if the conference playoffs are in Denver. Freshman goalie Ryan LaPlante seems to have his sea legs under him, posting 16 saves against Bellarmine, his fourth career start. Loyola showed resolve in its 8-6 victory over Fairfield, rallying from two down to score the games final four goals. And that was after grinding out an 8-7 win over Ohio State. Justin Ward has stepped up lately to become a threat alongside the Mike Sawyer-Eric Lusby show on attack, notching three goals and four assists in the last two games. Ward leads the Greyhounds with 17 assists.


First to 15 wins? With two of the nation's top-10 scoring offenses, wouldn't surprise me if that's the case. What if I told you this: Loyola is averaging five more shots per game than Denver? The Greyhounds can sling it. But, if for no other reason than recent history (12-4 and 12-8 Pioneer wins in last two years), I'll go with Denver.


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