2020 College Lax: After Week 3
The Division 1 Top 20 underwent its biggest changes this past weekend after all of the games shook out. There were multiple Top 20 and even a couple of Top 10 matchups that college lacrosse fans across the country surely were excited to put on their tv Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Starting on Saturday afternoon, no game was more looked forward to than Penn State vs Yale. The Nittany Lions and Bulldogs were sitting at #1 and #3 and this game was projected to be a high scoring affair. After a sloppy start, both teams started to find their groove, battling back and forth. Both teams showed how balanced their offenses were and how stout their defenses were. 16 players scored in the game for a combined 22 goals, but Yale came out with the 12-10 win. This secured their #1 ranking this week and dropped Penn State to #2.
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Without a Virginia loss to then unranked Princeton, Penn State would have likely fallen further in the rankings. But Michael Sowers (4 goals, 4 assists) led Princeton to one of their biggest wins in years over #2 Virginia. A few days after scoring 14 points, Sowers dropped 8 in a huge win, catapulting Princeton to #8 in the Maverik poll. Virginia dropped to #6 in the rankings, but something special is brewing up there in Jersey.
After the Maryland vs Navy game was cancelled due to a sickness that ran through the Navy team, we will go a bit further up the road to Homewood Field, where Hopkins took on a North Carolina team that has been on a tear recently. The Heels quieted the pep band en route to a 17-10 win to hand Hopkins their second straight loss. A few different Heels led the way but none other than Chris Gray (8 goals, 1 assist) to pace this new high powered UNC offense. With Joey Epstien playing and contributing more for Hopkins now, they look to find their stride next weekend against Princeton. UNC is up to #4 in the nation while Hopkins fell out of the rankings.
Behind Sean Lulley’s 6 goals, Penn handed Duke a 14-11 loss where both teams saw themselves drop in the rankings to #9 and #13 respectively. Sitting at 1-1, the battle of Pennsylvania awaits Penn and Penn State next weekend.
Finally, Loyola saw themselves rise one spot to #11 after beating Rutgers in a tight 11-10 contest on Saturday. The Hounds play host to their third straight game next weekend when Towson travels south.
The remainder of the Saturday slate was filled out with big wins from Cleveland State, who beaat Air Force by a goal, and Merrimack who earned their first ever Division 1 win over Michigan. Georgetown also rose to #12 after handling Fairfield 25-12.
Cleveland State, High Point, Air Force and Denver played back to back games this weekend, also competing on Sunday. Denver drew Cleveland State, and took care of them by a score of 10-6 and Air Force took down St. Bonaventure 11-5.
Cornell played their second game in three days at Calvert Hall Sunday against High Point. After taking down Towson, they beat High Point 21-11. Cornell rose into the top-10 and Jeff Teat saw his first big offensive production of 2020, scoring 3 goals and adding 4 assists.
The two big games on Sunday both saw slow starts. In Notre Dame vs Richmond, the Irish saw a slow start turn into a 13-5 win where they were slowed down by a Richmond goalie who saved 22 shots. Patrick Kavanagh led the way for the Irish with 4 goals and an assist. Before getting into ACC play, the Irish take on Maryland, Denver and Ohio State in their next three.
Syracuse took on Army in the Carrier Dome and also jumped out to a slow start, where Army saw themselves score five goals in the first half, they found themselves in a hole late behind a ton of clutch saves from Cuse goalie Drake Porter and Jamie Trimboli’s five goals. Syracuse improved to 3-0 and rose to #3 while Army dropped to #16.
The remainder of the updated Top 20 is below.
2) Penn State
4) North Carolina
5) Notre Dame
18) Ohio State
There are a bunch of good games to highlight this week and this weekend as well, as teams are playing their last game in the dreaded month of February, and moving closer to getting ready for conference play.
Today, Loyola hosts Towson in a big game from Ridley. Loyola is winners of their last two over quality teams, while Towson has yet to win a game this season. As Towson looks to get off the schnide, Loyola hopes to continue their streak of big wins.
Duke hosts Richmond on Friday in a big bounce back game for both teams. As of now, both teams sit in the top-20 and are coming off losses to top-10 teams. Offensively, both teams have starts but are not necessairly “deep”. The winner of this game will be the team that finds the offensive depth. Coming out of this game and the month of February with a win would be just the spark both teams need to move into the rest of the out of conference slate.
After Maryland had the weekend off, they host the Irish of Notre Dame in a top-10 matchup from Byrd Stadium. The main key to winning this game for Maryland is coming out early and putting a few goals in the back of the net. Against Richmond, Notre Dame was slow out of the gate and found their groove in the second half. For Maryland, they need to put a few in early and not allow the Irish to mount a second half comeback. The Terps would be in a good spot if they werent down late like two of their games this year.
Hopkins needs to find themselves this weekend against a Princeton team that is doing everything right coming out of a huge win. Michael Sowers looks unstoppable as of now, and Hopkins mitigating his points will be a huge part of their game plan for Saturday. At 1-2, Hopkins is in a tough spot with a few hard games left before they get into their Big Ten schedule.
The Penn Penn State game is a battle of two teams who do a lot of things very well. Both teams are outstanding offensively which should make for a high scoring affair. If Penn State is able to control the faceoff x they should be able to be successful in this game. This would be a huge win for both sides, especially given both teams are ranked in the top-10.
Ohio State will have their hands full against a Cornell team who has proven recently they have more weapons on offense than just Jeff Teat. Teams have employed the strategy “anyone but Teat” wherein therer are other players for the Big Red who have put up numbers. Ohio State came strong out of the gates offensively but have stumbled a bit. Let’s see if they can consistently put the ball in the back of the net and go toe to toe with the high powered Cornell offense.
Virginia hosts Air Force Sunday in a game they do not want to lose. After losing to unranked Princeton, UVA needs a bounce back week and would get that with wins over High Point and Air Force.
Next up to stop the Chris Gray show is Denver as UNC travels west to take on the Pios. Averaging 18 goals a game, UNC has been putting on a show thus far. Both teams are stout defensively and have been so far this year, allowing about 8 goals a game. On Sunday, the better defense will take home a win.
Not many teams throughout the college lacrosse season go undefeated, and many have lost throughout the month of February. We will likely see a few more teams rise into the #1 ranking by the end of the year. This just goes to show you that college lacrosse, like many other college sports is very unpredictable. Teams will rise and fall throughout the season, all that matters is you come to play when it matters: in late April and May.
Sam Kuhn currently is the graduate assistant for the men's lacrosse program at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio and is working to complete his Masters of Business Administration in 2020. Sam graduated from the College of Wooster in 2018, where he received his Bachelors Degree in English and played lacrosse as well. In his four years, Sam was a two time All-NCAC selection, a first team All-Region selection in 2018, and surpassed 100 goals for his career, one of seven members in program history to do so. Sam has interned with Inside Lacrosse, and wrote for the sports section of The Wooster Voice.