NCAA Lacrosse Review (Feb 15th-17th) and Preview (Feb 22nd-23rd)
After a few weeks of the NCAA Lacrosse season, not many people know what has changed from last year. Debatably, the first few weeks of the 2019 season have been described by just one word: Mayhem. On Sunday, Inside Lacrosse released their Week 2 poll, and by and large there are some surprises. Here is what IL believes are the Top 20 Division 1 teams in the nation. Of course, teams flop throughout the year, moving up and down the polls, but here are some numbers that surprise me, and why:
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
(6) Yale – Yale is 0-1 after losing their season opener at home against Villanova. Even though Nova has Yale’s number after now beating them two years in a row, I did not expect the Bulldogs to be taken down, at home, in their first game after winning the National Championship. Yale returned a lot of their starters and got TD Lerlan (but graduated Ben Reeves). Expect the Bulldogs to bounce back from this season opening loss.
(7) Towson – The Tigers are sitting high in the rankings after beating Hopkins and Mt. St. Mary’s. The win against Hopkins looks a lot worse after the Jays were routed by Loyola last weekend and currently sit unranked. Hopkins has some adjustments to do, but that is another story. The Tigers have Gtown, Loyola, Cornell Duke and Denver in a stacked rest of the year. Alex Woodall will give them possessions as he might be the second best FOGO in the nation.
(11) and rising High Point – The Panthers could be given the ACC crown right now, after taking down Duke and UVA on the road. Asher Nolting and Timmy Troutner constantly are making high-caliber plays, showing that High Point could have the ability to make a postseason run. They look to be in line for an AQ if they don’t win the SoCon. They have St. Johns, Robert Morris and UMBC before getting into conference play. The Panthers could be (dare I say it) undefeated going into May.
(17) Syracuse – The Orange expected to be a lot higher going into their third game, but an early season setback dropped them in the polls. Luckily they bounced back over Albany on Saturday in a dominant, hard-hitting fashion. Brendan Curry (Calvert Hall) leads all scorers for the Orange and has started out his sophomore campaign in a great way.
(19) Rutgers – They took a big drop in the polls this week after losing to Army by 1 last weekend. The Scarlet Knights have Charlambides back and Kieran Mullins running the offense and should be able to contend in the Big Ten this year with Maryland (who right now is leading the way).
(NR) Hopkins – Wow. A team that graduated more than people thought cannot find their way the first couple weeks, losing big to Towson and Loyola. The Jays youngsters are looking up through their first two games, but Hopkins is going to have to find their tick before they faceoff against the remainder of their schedule.
(NR) Albany – Albany scored 5 this past weekend against the Cuse, and will have to tune themselves up before going to Cornell on March 2nd. Nanticoke scored two goals, and nearly killed a goalie on a dive attempt, while later in the game met up with a brick wall in the middle of the field coming down on a fast break. The Danes should still be able to contend for the America East championship in May.
(NR) Lehigh – The Mountain Hawks were looking up into 2019, but have been plagued by injuries early. Andrew Petit tore his ACL in practice, while seven other players are listed as “out indefinitely” to start 2019. They kept it close against Drexel and Virginia, but might run into trouble when they start Patriot League play later this spring.
As we move into the third big weekend of college lacrosse, I don’t look to see who will continue to win the games they should win, but who will respond from the games they should have won. Which teams will bounce out of the early season slump, make the adjustments that need to be made and get themselves back on track. The season is still young, and losing two games early will not write a team off for the entire year.
Big games to watch this weekend (2/22 – 2/23)
Princeton vs Virginia
This will be a close one down at Klockner Stadium. The Hoos have started off the season slowly, and now welcome Michael Sowers and Princeton to town. Princeton’s attack unit put up 22 points last week (13 goals) and Virginia has proven not to be able to stop much defensively this year. Alex Rode (St. Pauls) will need to step up in cage to give Virginia a fresh start to 2019.
Richmond vs Notre Dame
The Spiders have quietly had a good start to the year and sit at 2-1 with a 1 goal loss to Maryland. Notre Dame will be a tough test, especially as they try to stop Bryan Costabile (Mt. St. Joseph). The Irish have a week off after this one, so they will need to earn it with a win in Richmond.
Maryland vs Navy
Maryland showed why they are ranked #3 on Monday night against Colgate, but slowed down in the second half. They are 4-0, but Navy is lurking right outside of the polls, and this might be the game the Midshipment need to catapult their 2019 and get them into the top-20. The Terps are coming off a short week, and this is a game that could go either way.
Georgetown vs Towson
Here we have another top-20 matchup. I don’t think the Tigers should be as high as #7, and they will find another test this weekend against #18 Georgetown. Towson will prove to be too strong for the Hoyas, but this is another game I see being big early for both teams as they want to prove themselves once again.
UNC vs Johns Hopkins
Hopkins needs a statement win. UNC cannot lose this game they should win. The ACC has been upset a couple of times this season so far, and crazier things have happened. As Hopkins hits the road for its first of three, can their youngsters step up even more and deliver the Jays their first win of the year. Epstien has been great, but Marr and Williams need to show their experience and bring it in this big one.
Yale vs Penn State
Oh, what could have been. The fans could have been treated to a #1 vs #3 matchup in February, but Yale was upset in their opener. Nevertheless, #3 Penn State gets #6 Yale this weekend, and this should be the best one of the weekend. Penn State has been on fire this spring, putting up 20.3 goals per game. Can Yale’s superstars slow them down?
Rutgers vs Loyola
There is a new #1 in town. Pat Spencer has been toying with defenders this spring, and has showed no sign of slowing down. Rutgers was upset last weekend at home vs Army, and will need to pull something out of their sleeve to slow down the electrifying Loyola offense. Expect Loyola to stay at #1 into next week and we might see Spencer put up another 7 points. Spencer has proven he can do it all, tune in to this one to see what else he has in store for the viewers.
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.