Women's Weekend Watch: ACC-Stacked Weekend
1. ACC play highlights Easter weekend.
No. 5 Syracuse (7-3) at No. 4 Notre Dame (9-1): Saturday, 12 p.m.
No. 3 North Carolina (7-2) at No. 11 Boston College (6-3): Saturday, 1 p.m.
No. 13 Virginia (5-5) at No. 14 Duke (7-4): Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
As the end of March nears, only conference play remains for several Division I teams. The ACC again seems to be the top conference in the country with seven of its eight teams ranked in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Top 20 with just five weeks until the conference tournament and seven until the first round of the NCAA tournament.
In its last five games, Syracuse has gone 2-3 with its wins over Virginia and unranked Harvard. The Orange fell to the top two teams in the country, Maryland and Florida, and then unexpectedly to Boston College last week. They will be looking to rebound to net a key Top 20 win, but Notre Dame is no easy task. The Irish have only one loss on the season – in double overtime to the red-hot Louisville Cardinals – and boast not only the No. 4 scoring defense behind Tewaaraton finalist Barbara Sullivan, but also the No. 1 scoring offense led by Cortney Fortunato. Syracuse, however, could have the edge on the draw on Saturday as senior Kayla Treanor is No. 2 in Division I with 10 draw controls per game.
After an overtime scare for North Carolina against Northwestern and losing two key players to injury, Sydney Holman and Olivia Ferrucci (lower right leg injuries), the Tar Heels need to hold strong against Boston College, who is likely still riding its Syracuse upset into this weekend. However, one of the Eagles' best players in freshman Sam Apuzzo also went down with injury and it's currently undetermined whether she will play. Kenzie Kent, who just lost in the NCAA ice hockey championship, could return to the team and be a key replacement for Apuzzo if she's out. While the injury bug and one-goal wins seem to plague UNC, Carolina could have an advantage with Sammy Jo Tracy on the draw (No. 4 in Division I).
Perhaps the most intriguing game in ACC play on Saturday is the Virginia-Duke tilt. Both teams graduated six starters and appeared to be in the same boat during the preseason. The Blue Devils lost 72.58 percent of its offensive production while the Cavaliers lost 62.71 percent. Yet, each squad has had its ups and downs in 2016. Virginia opened its season with an upset over Northwestern, but have gone 1-4 in its past five games. Duke lost to unranked Elon and Georgetown, nearly fell to Columbia after trailing at halftime, but upset Louisville. This game will be a good indicator for which team has the edge this season.
Virginia Tech (5-7) also plays No. 7 Louisville (10-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
2. Stanford wants to prove it's here to stay.
No. 8 Stanford (6-1) at No. 16 Stony Brook (5-3): Saturday, 3 p.m.
After defeating Johns Hopkins in double overtime on Wednesday, Stanford hopes to return home undefeated after traveling up to Stony Brook for its second game in one week. With an East Coast trip planned against teams in traditional lacrosse hotbeds, coach Amy Bokker told her team this was an opportunity to show West Coast lacrosse is the real deal.
"That was a big part of our talk coming in, proving that we're relevant on the East Coast and not only on the West Coast," she said. "Obviously, USC is doing a great job. ... The respect is starting to come and we really love that we can come here and show that."
While Stony Brook was battle-tested in 2015, this season has gone a bit differently than planned, falling to Florida, Northwestern and USC. The Seawolves have yet to beat a Top 20 opponent and its best win could be argued to be its 8-7 victory over Delaware last Saturday. With Stanford as the first of two remaining Top 20 opponents on its schedule, Stony Brook will be looking to earn a quality win to help their postseason positioning in the NCAA tournament, if they don't win the America East championship.
Stanford, however, has the No. 4 scoring offense and is No. 4 in saves percentage (thanks to goalie Allie DaCar's 0.531 mark) and No. 2 in draw controls per game. While Stony Brook has been struggling on the draw this year, Courtney Murphy is tied for second in Division I with goals per game.
3. CAA Showdown
Delaware (8-2) at No. 19 Towson (6-2): Saturday, 12 p.m.
Towson jumped into the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Top 20 thanks to an untouched early season record at 6-0. However, the Tigers were trounced by Florida and Penn by a combined 11 goals. Interestingly, while CAA play opens this weekend, Towson does not sit at the top of the conference standings – unranked Delaware leads the CAA with an .800 win percentage. The Blue Hens are also in the midst of a key stretch of their season with three Top 20 opponents on the schedule. They fell to Stony Brook last week by only one, but have the opportunity to net a Top 20 win – and possibly jump into the Top 20 – if they can succeed against Towson on Saturday and Princeton next Sunday.
Where to Watch on TV/Streams
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