College Lacrosse: Reviewing Week 0
College lacrosse began this past weekend with a slate of games across Division 1. Many refer to the first weekend of February as Week 0, and it is always an interesting weekend in lacrosse, full of upsets and unexpected outcomes. Year after year the college lacrosse slate has begun earlier and earlier, and that is not more apparent than when the season begins on the first day of February. After practicing and scrimmaging for about a month, college lacrosse is finally back until Memorial Day. Not many better words to hear for a lacrosse fan.
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A few Top 20 teams played their first action of the young 2020 season, and none had a more surprising outcome than when #7 Duke fell to the hands of Air Force at home this past Saturday. In a cold, rainy Durham, the Blue Devils came out of the gates fast, racing to a 5-0 lead before they saw it dwindle throughout the contest. The second half was back and forth, both teams made sloppy plays and Duke simply made more of them. The Falcons were led by Brandon Dodd who tallied 4 goals and 4 assists, while sophomore Brenden Crouse (Boys’ Latin) chipped in two goals as well. The Falcons start their season with an impressive top-10 road victory and will see Denver this coming weekend. Duke’s Joey Manown turned in a 5 point performance, making up for the absence of injured Joe Robertson, and the Blue Devils will look to bounce back against High Point this weekend.
#10 North Carolina’s new look offense showed it was not to be messed with against Colgate on Saturday afternoon. The Heels got off to a fast start and never looked back. Transfer from Boston U Chris Gray lived up to his expectations and posted four goals and two assists to lead the way. Sophomore Caton Johnson stepped up big in the goal, saving 9 out of 11 shots faced on the day. After underperforming, especially in conference play last season, UNC is an interesting team to keep an eye on this year. They continue next weekend when they play Mercer at home, which should be chalked up as a win if they continue to light up the scoreboard offensively.
One of my biggest takeaways from Saturday was #4 Maryland in their drubbing of #20 High Point 23-12. 23 goals is the most a Maryland team has scored in recent memory, and last year their season high was 17. It took 8 seconds for #8 to score for the Terps and they didn’t look back from there. Senior Jared Bernhardt and juniors Bubba Fairman and Logan Wisnauskas led the way for the Terps, posting 18 combined points amongst the three of them. Maryland gets to play host to Richmond’s season opener next weekend while High Point will try to knock off Duke in February for a second straight year.
Some additional results showed #1 Penn State taking down Lafayette 16-9 and possible Tewaaraton finalist Grant Ament starting the season off with a 10 point performance. Along with the blowouts there were a few tightly contested games across the country. Andy German’s debut as Cleveland State head coach started with an OT loss to Marquette. Detroit squeaked past Jacksonville 15-14 and Holy Cross ruined the Division 1 debut for Merrimack in a 13-12 win.
Next weekend sees a lot more of the nations top teams beginning their 2020 campaign, and there are a few games right off the bat that I have my eye on. For a full list of the Division 1 schedule, read here.
Syracuse opens in the Carrier Dome against Colgate on Friday afternoon. Tucker Dordevic and Brendan Curry (Calvert Hall) should be fun to watch in that one, but Loyola transfer Chase Scanlan will be the first guy in a few years to wear Syracuse’s coveted #22 jersey. Will he and Syracuse’s offensive firepower live up to the hype?
WE WANT MORE!! The Hopkins band will be back in action at Homewood field for a matchup between Hopkins and Towson Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays bring back a ton of weapons offensively, but are without Joey Epstien who is still recovering from an injury. Something to watch however would be Loyola Blakefield teammates matching up against each other when Koby Smith should guard Cole Williams this weekend. Smith has been heralded as one of the top defensemen in the country while Williams has provided a major offensive impact for Hopkins the last three years.
Virginia and Loyola meet early for the third straight year. Loyola looks to replace the major points lost from Pat Spencer (graduation), Chase Scanlan (transferred to Syracuse), and Jacob Stover in the goal. On the other side, Virginia brings back nearly every part of their National Championship offense from last year. Ryan Conrad will be a tough act to replace, as he nearly played every position on the field for Virginia last spring.
Finally, I am interested to see Air Force come off their upset back in action against Denver. Denver lost a lot to graduation all over the field, but return their top-2 scorers in Ethan Walker and Jack Hannah. Denver is one of the most fun teams to watch in my opinion due to their recruiting ties to Canada. But this battle in the mountains will be a good one and Air Force’s win this past weekend makes it even better.
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.