Conference Battles Continue in Late March
Amidst the popularity of other sports gaining late and early season traction, including March Madness, Opening Day, and the home stretch of the NBA and NHL, lacrosse keeps on moving forward to Memorial Day. As many will await the start of the PLL on June 1, many of the players we watch this spring will have an impact on that league in just a few short months. Many teams have won winnable games, lost in upset fashion, and that trend will continue due to many of the rules changes in college lacrosse in 2019.
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There was some notable action to highlight from last weekend as a slew of Top 20 teams brought their talents to the same field and gave the fans highlight-reel goals and exciting finishes that was highlighted by #12 Syracuse’s comeback to beat #2 Duke in OT. In dominant fashion, the Terps beat the Tar Heels for their third straight huge win. #13 Denver toppled #8 Towson in a one goal game. #17 Penn pulls out an in-conference upset over #5 Cornell 16-15. #10 High point dropped an in conference game to Jacksonville, 12-10. #9 Virginia takes their game over #16 Hopkins, 16-11. #7 Ohio State remains the lone undefeated team in NCAA D1 with their OT win over #11 Notre Dame. With some of these higher seeds going down, and ranked teams losing, below is Inside Lacrosse’s Week 7 Media Poll:
Rank – Team (Record), Ranking Preseason
1 – Penn State (7-1) – 9
2 – Yale (6-1) – 1
3 – Maryland (8-1) – 3
4 – Ohio State (7-0) – 16
5 – Duke (8-2) – 2
6 – Loyola (6-2) – 4
7 – Virginia (6-2) – 6
8 – Syracuse (5-2) – 10
9 – Denver (5-3) – 8
10 – Cornell (5-3) – 5
11 – Towson (5-3) – NR
12 – Notre Dame (4-3) – 11
13 – Penn (4-3) – NR
14 – High Point (7-2) – NR
15 – Lehigh (6-3) – 13
16 – Army (7-2) – NR
17 – Umass (6-3) – 18
18 – Richmond (6-3) – NR
19 – Hobart (8-1) – NR
20 – Hopkins (4-4) – 7
There are three Top 20 match-ups this weekend, while many of the conference battles continue. There are plenty of games this weekend both in the Baltimore area and around the country. Here are some of the games I am looking forward to this weekend.
#7 Virginia vs #18 Richmond
The Spiders are at Klockner this weekend, something the fans haven’t seen in years, and this year the game is a Top 20 match-up. Richmond is riding a three game winning streak into Charlottesville, while the Hoos are riding in strong on the backs of their offensive youngsters. Virginia has put up double digits in every game except the first, and I don’t see that changing this weekend, despite Richmond taking down Notre Dame. Virginia 14, Richmond 9.
#12 Notre Dame vs #8 Syracuse
ACC lacrosse brings us another high-level game, but this one won’t be at a high school. Last weekends thriller was enough to get us excited about this one. These wo teams are coming off OT games last weekend, and should be able to make this one exciting as well. ACC lacrosse is unpredictable, and all are big games. Why not make it another close one, possibly OT? Notre Dame 9, Syracuse 8, OT.
#3 Maryland vs #1 Penn State
This will be the marquee match of the weekend, as we get another Top 3 clash as Big Ten powers square off. Without Grant Ament, Penn State is missing their key distributor, and Maryland should be able to key in on the other offensive Nittany Lions, while not having to worry about what would have been the single season assists leader in Ament. Maryland has been stellar offensively in their last three games after losing to Notre Dame. Expect more of that on Sunday evening. Maryland 15, Penn State 12.
#13 Penn vs #2 Yale
This might be the biggest in-conference test for the Bulldogs all year. Cornell is 0-2 in conference. Yale is 2-0. Penn is 2-0. Winner here might end up winning the conference, especially after Penn’s win over Cornell last week. The Bulldogs possess firepower on all sides of the ball, and haven’t lost since February 16. Penn as well has proven they can score the ball as well as get stops, putting up 13, 13, 19, 16 in their last four. Ill call upset in this one. Penn 17, Yale 16.
Princeton vs Brown
Although Princeton is 0-2 in the IVY, they are coming off a big win over Denver, and Michael Sowers showed us some highlight reel goals. The momentum swings towards the Tigers, while the Brown Bears won their first conference game a couple of weeks ago against Harvard. Brown has lost three in a row, and is now getting back into IVY play with a big one. Princeton 15, Brown 9.
Air Force vs Jacksonville
The Southern Conference may have found two teams capable of going head to head with High Point for the automatic bid in Air Force and Jacksonville. The Dolphins knocked off HPU last weekend, while Air Force sits at 6-3, and lost handily to Yale on Tuesday. Fresh off their upset and a week off, Jacksonville 12-8.
North Carolina vs #5 Duke
The Tobacco Road rivalry gets another chapter this weekend. North Carolina’s struggles this season are enough to pit Duke as the favorite, but this game is going to be a battle. With the ACC in full swing, it is not the time to lose. UNC still has yet to beat a ranked—yet even quality opponent coming into ACC play. Duke will bounce back off their OT loss with a win of their own over the rival. Their defense is just too big for the UNC offense who just hasn’t showed anything real brilliant this year. Duke 13, UNC 9.
In addition to the Maryland game in College Park, there are a few other games around town that you might want to look forward to. Loyola hosts Colgate in a Patriot League game. Since Colgate beat Syracuse early in the year, they have gone 2-5 and sit at 1-2 in league play, while Loyola has improved early on to 3-0. Pat Spencer should prove to be too much at home for Colgate, but don’t forget about that early win over a Syracuse team who is finding their stride in March.
Towson hosts Hofstra in a CAA matchup, in a game that the Tigers are desperate to win. After improving to the #1 seed in the rankings, Towson has lost three straight going into conference play. They emerge as the front-runner in the CAA, but will battle with UMass and Delaware for the top spot. The Tigers have five regular season games remaining before hopefully heading into the NCAA tournament.
Mount St Mary’s is 5-5 (2-0 NEC) and hosts Sacred Heart (1-1 NEC) at home this weekend. The Mount has won 5 of their last 6 and looks to continue that streak this weekend.
UMBC has struggled this season, and sit at 1-6 (0-2 America East) while their only win has been over Mount St. Mary’s. In their two conference games, they played Vermont tough, losing by 1 and got doubled up by Stony Brook. They surely are missing their senior leadership from last year, and host Lafayette in a non-conference game this weekend.
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.