Competing the Z: Italians and St. Patrick
|A young Dave Zazzaro and his first St. Patrick's Day dinner.|
With a name like Zazzaro, you know Dave is whipping up a batch
of marinara with meatballs and linguine tonight as the rest of the
world drinks green beer. That’s just the way Z is. He tends
to go against the grain.
Take last week, for example.
While I was picking nearly all the games correctly, Zazzaro – ever the iconoclast – opted to pick almost all losers. That’s just the way he is.
That’s okay. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and as a dual citizen of Ireland and the U.S., I try to enjoy all of the many cultural additions the Emerald Isle has added to our world. As such, this preamble will be “short and sweet,” as my Nana used to say.
I’ll give Z the last word because he’s a little sore about me halving his lead down to two games. Zazzaro acts like he’s a couple of games from perfection, but his 1-4 week dips him below .500 for the season with a 7-8 mark. I posted the 3-2 campaign, but I’m still lagging at 5-10.
“I'm happy for Jac,” said Zazzaro, tomato sauce dripping from his chin. “He had a nice week and he picked up a couple of games on me. I like the competition. It also helps with his credibility writing for Lacrosse Magazine when he wins in a pick 'em contest. He needs that every now and again to boost his confidence. But his success will be short-lived.”
On to the games…
No. 7 Denison at No. 14 Haverford, 12 p.m., Saturday
COYNE: Why do I like this game? Because it’s really the only chance we’ll get prior to May 1 to see what kind of team Denison is. The Big Red’s schedule is putrid. And I never thought I’d say that losing Merchant Marine would kill a schedule, but Denison needed that game to be played. If Haverford wins, which I think they will, then the Big Red will have to fall off the table in the polls.
Brief interjection: here’s a little story about Denison and Michael Caravana I wrote for the mag.
I like Denison and I think they have some great players, especially Brady Burton, but you can’t start a season against Mount St. Joseph, Fontbonne and St. Mary’s over the course of a month and expect to be ready for a grizzled team like the Black Squirrels. ‘Fords, by four.
ZAZZARO: I really think Denison is a team to watch. They have Final Four capability – they have tons of firepower and are strong at each position. Haverford is a team that has big-time game experience already this season along with some excellent playmakers at attack. At this point, the game has more (NCAA Pool C) implications for Haverford, but my feeling is Denison wins this one, 11-10.
No. 16 Wesleyan at No. 5 Middlebury, 1 p.m., Saturday
COYNE: In some ways, Wesleyan can be at peace with themselves. They know they have no chance of getting an at-large bid with a loss to Montclair State and a nearly full NESCAC slate ahead of them (good for at least two losses). So they’ve got all their eggs in one basket (Easter reference) and can now concentrate on fixing what ails them.
Allowing 11 goals to Bowdoin and 10 goals to MSU tells you the defense is struggling. Coach John Raba will tell you they have to be in the 6-8 GAA range to be successful, and they’re not close right now. So after 100 words talking about Wesleyan, I’m picking the Midd kids, 11-8.
ZAZZARO: It hasn't been since the ‘90s when Wesleyan had two losses by St. Patrick's Day. Middlebury had a nice win against Bates, but Midd's new attack will be tested and there will be a premium on good decision-making and finishing. This game has turned into quite a rivalry (like Bowdoin and Middlebury from the ‘70-‘80s), but I'm taking the home Panthers in another classic, 7-6 (ot).
WNEC at No. 13 Nazareth, 7 p.m., Saturday (at Dallas)
COYNE: This is a pair of teams I’ve had high hopes for this season. Both programs, despite WNEC’s tough start, are going to be around in May and, while not title contenders, will be an annoying out in the tournament.
Both teams took down a good Bowdoin team – Naz relatively easily, WNEC in extra time – in Dallas, but Nazareth is clearly the better team right now. The only hole in their game is at the face-off X, which is obviously important, but they’ve managed to mitigate that problem so far. I like the Flyers by three, 9-6.
ZAZZARO: I'm impressed with WNEC's win against Bowdoin, but Nazareth looks like they may be the team to beat in the Empire 8 (with Stevens a close second). These spring break games are tough to figure out, sometimes there is just enough wackiness on a trip to cause an upset. But these teams are virtually even and WNEC has a big win already in Dallas. So I'm picking WNEC in another 12-11 overtime game.
York (2-5) at Catholic (4-0) , 2 p.m.
COYNE: I think this is a pair of teams running at about the same level, but one has been tested a lot more. York has taken its lumps against No. 8 Roanoke, St. John Fisher, No. 14 Haverford and No. 10 Dickinson, but that kind of trial by fire only pays dividends, especially against a team that’s biggest win came against an 0-5 Wesley team.
This game is designed to trick Zazzaro, as he tends to look at the shiny records when selecting. We’ll see if he takes the bait. York wins comfortably.
ZAZZARO: I have no idea in this game. Catholic is undefeated, but they haven't been tested yet. York has gone against some of country's finest teams and their record reflects that. Last year, these two teams played to a one-goal thriller. I'm going to take York on a hunch, 10-8.
COYNE: Son of a…
McDaniel at Washington College, 1 p.m., Saturday
ZAZZARO: The Centennial League looks to be very deep and making the conference tournament will be an accomplishment. This is an important game for both programs if they hope to extend their seasons in May. I like McDaniel, 9-7.
COYNE: You figure Gettysburg, Haverford and Dickinson are locks for the four-team Centennial Conference tournament, leaving six other teams clawing their way to the fourth spot and the accompanying quick exit, compliments of the Bullets. The Shoremen and Green Terror are jockeying for that honor.
After a glimmer of hope at the start of the year, WAC has hit the skids with a three-game losing skein, capped off by a recent overtime loss to Muhlenberg. McDaniel has won two-straight, including a road win over Colorado College. I’d like to pick Washington in this one, but the Terror’s performance against Salisbury (L, 12-6) has me sold. I like Mickey D’s by three.
Previous installments of Competing the Z
Weekend of Feb. 27
Weekend of March 6
Weekend of March 13
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