March 25, 2013

Washburn: Gut Reactions from a Week of Lacrosse

by Evan Washburn | LaxMagazine.com

Ryan Brown scored three goals with one assist Saturday against Virginia while running on a Johns Hopkins' second midfield unit that saw plenty of playing time.

More lacrosse on TV is a good thing, for a variety of reasons. Last week was a great opportunity to watch a bunch of lacrosse without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Here are five games that I watched, with my five gut reactions.

UMass tops Lehigh 7-5

Gut Reaction: Lehigh's offense needs another dimension

The Mountain Hawks do not have the presence at midfield that forces a defense to slide on a consistent basis, which has made this group one-dimensional. Attackman Dan DiMaria and Dante Fantoni are talented and play a great two-man game, but it's just not enough against a good defense.

The graduation of the Lao-Gosney twins, Roman and Cameron, has proven more significant than I thought. The twins accounted for 48 points in 2012, but beyond that, the Lao-Gosney's athleticism and the fact defenses had to pay so much attention to them gave attackmen DiMaria and Fantoni a lot of breathing room.

For UMass, Will Manny's lacrosse IQ was impressive and he is the best feeder I have watched this season.

If Manny chooses to play for the Boston Cannons, who have his draft rights, he will make a solid Major League Lacrosse player.

Princeton holds off Yale 10-9

Gut Reaction: The Tigers have a complete team

Princeton's offense was incredibly balanced on Friday afternoon with six different goal scorers. The one question that remains is depth. All 10 goals came from the starting attack and first midfield line. This team needs more from the second midfield to consistently beat top-5 teams.

Against Yale, the Tigers played solid on-ball defense. Mark Strabo and Derick Raabe played with great physicality in front of goalie Matt Connor, who reminded me of a young Jesse Schwartzman, making a bunch of big body saves.

Sophomore faceoff specialist Justin Murphy was the most important player on the field, winning 13 of 22 draws for the Tigers. What made Murphy's performance even more impressive was that he did it against a top-5 faceoff man in Yale's Dylan Levings.

No. 1 Maryland suffers first loss to UNC

Gut Reaction: The Tar Heels have the best attack in the country, but Maryland is still the nation's best team

Eight of the North Carolina's 10 goals came from the attack unit of Marcus Holman (two goals, two assists), Jimmy Bitter (three goals, two assists) and Joe Sankey (three goals).

Since so much of the college lacrosse game has become midfield oriented, it was refreshing to see a team rely on the attack to dodge and score.

Maryland came out flat against a very talented team, but responded by outscoring the Tar Heels 6-4 in the second half. It was too little too late, but watching the offense put up points in a hurry once there was a sense of urgency was impressive.

The Terps top guns, Kevin Cooper, John Haus, Jake Bernhardt and Mike Chanenchuk scored five of the last seven goals of the game.

My Top 10 Media Poll Votes

1. Notre Dame (6-1)
2. Maryland (6-1)
3. Cornell (7-1)
4. Princeton (5-2)
5. Denver (5-2)
6. Duke (7-4)
7. UNC (5-3)
8. Johns Hopkins (6-2)
9. Loyola (7-2)
10. Bucknell (8-1)

Colgate dominates Navy 11-3

Gut Reaction: Ryan Walsh is an elite attackman

When I saw Ryan Walsh as a freshman I saw a physically imposing player with a great shot. In his second season Walsh is showing added layers to his game.

At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds Walsh is a tough matchup for any defenseman, but beyond his size it is his field awareness and vision that have improved exponentially.

In Saturday's win over Navy, Walsh had four goals, three assists and eight shots. At no point during the game did you feel that he was playing outside of himself.

The way Peter Baum plays with Walsh is fun to watch, even deferring at times, knowing that it is the right lacrosse play.

My gut tells me that Walsh will have more points than Baum at season's end.

Johns Hopkins rebounds with 15-8 win over Virginia

Gut Reaction: Let's see more of Lee Coppersmith, Ryan Brown and Rex Sanders

Congratulations go out to Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala and offensive coordinator Bobby Benson, who shook up the Blue Jays midfield this week.

The second midfield of Lee Coppersmith (one goal), Ryan Brown (three goals, one assist) and Rex Sanders (three goals) combined for seven goals and one assist in their first game playing together on the same line. This group had as many, if not more, runs than the first line of John Ranagan (no points), John Greeley (one assist) and Holden Cattoni (one goal, one assist).

Ranagan and Greeley have been staples of the Hopkins midfield for the past few seasons, but the production has just not been there.

The two seniors have combined for 10 goals and 17 assists while shooting 24 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

The line of Coppersmith, a senior, Sanders, a junior, and the freshman Brown provides Hopkins with the perfect blend of speed, shooting accuracy and decision-making, something the Blue Jays offense has been lacking.

Evan Washburn, the former Delaware defenseman and current CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network lacrosse commentator, will be providing a column each Monday during the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse season. Follow Evan on Twitter @EvanWashburn.


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