Ten to Watch: Fives on the Hot Seat
Each Friday, your crack laxperts here at Lacrosse Magazine Online will try to handicap the upcoming weekend for the top 10 college games across all divisions.
For the second straight week, there was a 10-0 finisher, with Matt DaSilva posting perfection in Week 2. This week's pick 'em includes four top-five matchups. Follow the action here at laxmagazine.com.
North Carolina is the only team that has beaten Northwestern twice in the last six years. The Tar Heels defeated the Wildcats 18-16 last year and 9-8 in overtime in 2007. Of course, Northwestern has owned North Carolina when it counted most -- in the NCAA tournament. Does the Wildcats' narrow (by their standards) 14-11 win over Notre Dame, a team they've traditionally blown out, indicate a step backward, as some pundits have intimated? UNC will get a boost with the return of Laura Zimmerman, who missed the first three games of the season with a pulled hamstring.
|Laura Zimmerman pulled a hamstring at the South of the
Border tournament and has been out the first three games of the
season. She is on track to play versus Northwestern, and could be a
difference-maker in one of the fiercest rivalries in women's
Lochary: North Carolina
Coyne: North Carolina
The participants in the 2009 MCLA Division II championship game finally lock horns again, this time at the "Faceoff for Autism" weekend at Elon (N.C.) College. The Tommies, the two-time defending MCLA champions, return All-American Joe Costello on attack and Cooper Mazon in the midfield, but will be pressed to replace a defense ravaged by graduation. Dayton, led All-American attackman Christian Furbay and its fiery coach, Charlie Mark, probably has the most talented and deepest team since he arrived six years ago, and appears ready to dethrone St. Thomas.
McLaughlin: St. Thomas
Ohanian: St. Thomas
Lochary: St. Thomas
Krome: St. Thomas
Logue: St. Thomas
|St. Thomas knew it had a tough foe in its first game of the
seasons, but might not know just how good the Flyers are. Funny
thing is, even though I think Dayton should win this game, just the
presence of Joe Costello made me think long and hard about staying
with the champs. Costello might be the best overall player in
either division of the MCLA. He has the ability to take over a
game. This one's going to overtime, and I'm going with Dayton.
There's a distinct Canadian flavor to this matchup. Princeton's box style offense, coached by former indoor pro Chris Bates, will take shape on one end of the field. The Hofstra offense, led in part by Canadians Jay Card and Jamie Lincoln, will be on the other. But there are some Americans to look at, too: The Pride's leading scorer right now is Lafayette transfer Steve Serling, who has eight points through two games, a 6-3 win over Colgate and a 10-6 victory of Sacred Heart. Princeton should prove a tougher test for Hofstra with the likes of attackman Jack McBride, defenseman Chad Wiedmaier and goaltender Tyler Fiorito. Hofstra goaltender Andrew Gvozden has played well so far (62.5 save percentage) and has solidified his grasp on the starting role.
|The most intriguing game this week for me is Princeton at
Hofstra. Hofstra has a lofty ranking, but right now it's backed by
two ho-hum victories. Is this the year the Pride takes a step
forward after getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs
the last three years? Princeton started strong in Chris Bates'
first season at the helm, but dropped three of its final five
games. Will Bates' unique offensive strategy pay bigger dividends
in year two?
These two Pennsylvania schools haven't met since 2004, but they've got a lot of similarities which should lead to a great game. Both teams feature veteran defenses backed by promising young keepers -- Bucknell sophomore Kyle Feeney and Villanova sophomore Billy Hurley. Hurley was the difference down the stretch in Villanova's 9-8 win over Lehigh last week. The difference this week might be Bucknell's offensive firepower, which includes a new weapon in freshman Todd Heritage. Heritage had three goals in his debut against Canisius.
The only thing ebbing the excitement for this game is the fact that these teams could easily meet two more times before the season is over. Duke's offense has been prolific in its 3-0 start, but the Blue Devils will have to be much improved on the defensive end to beat Maryland. Maryland can match Duke's offensive firepower, but the numbers don't lie on defense -- Duke is giving up 10.7 goals per game, Maryland just 5.7.
|Don't read too much into Karri Ellen Johnson's goal scoring streak ending at 47 games against Penn State. She did tie a career high with three assists. More impressively, Maryland held Penn State scoreless for nearly 51 minutes. That defense is awesome. That said, the Terps are due for a hiccup and Duke can score in droves. I usually put the over-under on this game at 40, and a shootout favors the Blue Devils.|
Ohio State head coach Nick Myers' salty New England accent indicates this is something of a homecoming for the Springfield native, who wore a "Garber's Gorillas" t-shirt growing up. The Buckeyes are riding high after not only upsetting North Carolina last week, but doing so in convincing fashion with a 13-8 victory. According to Inside Lacrosse reports this week, Ohio State had several players missing from its first two games (less impressive wins over Detroit Mercy and Ohio State) due to suspensions. As Myers knows too well, Garber Field is a difficult place to play, and the Buckeyes defense will have a difficult time chasing Will Manny and Art Kell around the crease. On the flip side, does UMass have an answer for Logan Schuss? The Ohio State attackman put himself in the limelight and in the conversation as one of the best Canadians playing in the U.S. today with a special performance against UNC.
Lochary: Ohio State
It's been 279 days since Virginia defeated Stony Brook, 10-9, in
a crazy NCAA quarterfinal game in front of more than 10,000 fans at
Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium. The Seawolves' returnees, led by
Kevin Crowley and Jordan McBride, have been counting the days
since, especially with rising expectations for a Stony Brook team
ranked in the top 10 nationally in every notable preseason poll
(No. 4 by LM). "Everyone recognizes the importance of the first
game and where that will put us the rest of the season," Crowley
told Newsday (N.Y.). "Everyone wants another crack at Virginia."
The Cavaliers are led by the Bratton twins, and attackers Steele
Stanwick and Chris Bocklet, all whom played in that quarterfinal
game a year ago. If there are any question marks for the Cavs, they
are on defense. That unit, now without Ken Clausen and Ryan
Nizolek, will be challenged by Stony Brook's potent offense. After
serving a one-game suspension in Virginia's season opener,
goaltender Adam Ghitelman is back in net. The Cavs are coming off a
22-6 win over NCAA tournament team Mount St. Mary's on
|Stony Brook brings something into this marquee showdown
that perhaps it's never had before – the weight of lofty
expectations. It's one thing to pull off an upset when nobody is
expecting it. It's another thing to do it when much of the lacrosse
community believes you should. Ironically, if head coach Ricky
Sowell and his Seawolves can indeed knock off the Cavs, the weight
of those expectations will simply grow heavier with each subsequent
Lochary: Stony Brook
Coyne: Stony Brook
|I'm tempted to say Stony Brook wants the win more than
Virginia, since the Seawolves need it more for potential NCAA
tournament purposes. But the Cavs probably want this game just as
much to remind Stony Brook what a top-ranked team looks like. Both
offenses should find openings against new-look defenses. Stony
Brook may have the edge on faceoffs with Adam Rand, but Virginia
has it in goal with Adam Ghitelman.
How good are the Blue Jays? We'll find out soon enough. After expected home wins against George Mason and Mount St. Mary's, Hopkins begins a significant three-game road stretch Saturday at Princeton Stadium (road games against Stony Brook and Towson follow). The Blue Jays can't seem to solve the Tigers, winning just once in six tries and losing three times by two goals or less. Predictably Hopkins got great balance in its two wins over lesser opponents, but keep an eye on freshman midfielder Taylor D'Amore, who scored five times in the 19-9 win over GMU. A 6-10 season usually doesn't earn a team notice in preseason publications, but Lacrosse Magazine ranked Princeton No. 18 heading into 2011, so better days are ahead. They have to be. With 75 percent of the point production back, the Tigers can challenge in the Ivy League again behind All-Americans Lizzy Drumm (32g, 9a), Lindsey deButts (defender) and Erin Tochihara (goalie). We'll see how soon freshman attacker Grace Bowen, a US Lacrosse All-American from Loyola (Ill.) Academy, makes her presence felt.
DaSilva: Johns Hopkins
Logue: Johns Hopkins
As the March issue of Lacrosse Magazine, which begins mailing to US Lacrosse members over the next few days, chronicles, this matchup should feature two of the game's top long-stick midfielders in Georgetown grad student Barney Ehrmann and Maryland senior Brian Farrell. Ehrmann received a medical redshirt last season and wasted little time getting back into the swing of things, scooping five ground balls in the Hoyas' 15-12 win over Jacksonville in the Sunshine Classic last week. Farrell, who received a medical redshirt in 2009 due in part to broken ribs, sat out the Terps' 16-4 win over Detroit-Mercy last week as a precaution for a bum shoulder. Both are tall, fast, and have great stick skills — adding an unpredictable element to a D.C.-area rivalry dominated by Maryland (8-2), but one in which the road team has won the last five games. The Hoyas haven't been to the NCAA tournament in three years, and continuing this series' road trend Saturday at Byrd Stadium could look awfully nice come May.
The Black Knights return to the scene of the crime, where they pulled off last year's biggest upset, a 9-8 double-overtime win over the second-seeded Orange in the first-round of the NCAA tournament. One of the keys to that victory was the faceoff work by Army's Derek Sipperly, who also fueled last week's 12-6 win at VMI with another strong performance. His matchup against SU's Jeremy Thompson will be one to watch in this game. Thompson and his Syracuse mates flexed their muscle with a 13-7 win over Denver in last week's opener. SU's balanced offense featured five different players with two goals apiece.