February 19, 2010

Ten to Watch: Who'll Spring This Week's Upset?

by Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Each Friday, your crack laxperts here at Lacrosse Magazine Online will try to handicap the upcoming weekend for the top 10 college games across all divisions. Follow here at laxmagazine.com all season long.

WD1: No. 11 Vanderbilt (0-1) at No. 4 North Carolina (1-0) – Friday 4 p.m.
Everyone was high on Vandy and then, thud, a 19-10 smackdown at the hands of Duke -- at home, no less. Now the Commodores start a three-game road swing on Tobacco Road to meet the Tar Heels. UNC edged Vanderbilt in an overtime thriller last year. Though the Commodores possess good team speed on defense, they’ll need to do a better job protecting goalkeeper Natalie Wills, who faced 39 shots in the Duke loss. On the flip side, a strong performance would do first team All-American Logan Ripley a world of good after she was shelled by Northwestern in last year’s NCAA championship game.

MD1: Denver at No. 1 Syracuse – Friday 7 p.m.
Welcome to the Bill Tierney era, Pioneers. It’s some gutsy scheduling by the former Princeton coach, who starts his reign at the Carrier Dome against the two-time defending national champion, then turns around two days later for a game at Jacksonville. Tierney’s is not the only highly anticipated debut, however. For Denver, we get to see just how good Kentucky product Chase Carraro really is. For ‘Cuse, we’ll see if midfielder Jeremy Thompson lives up to the hype that preceded him at Onondaga Community College.

MD1: No. 3 Virginia at Drexel – Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Former Drexel coach Chris Bates, who took Tierney’s place at Princeton, left behind some talented, innovative players whom former Penn coach Brian Voelker has been able to mold into a system. That’s a dangerous combination. Not that the Wahoos are sleeping on the Dragons, not after Drexel did them in with that season-opening upset three years ago.

A wise man once said, “Comparative scores indicate only that the games were played.” Well, scrimmages mean even less, but I can’t get Drexel out of my head. Brown coach Lars Tiffany was highly-impressed with the Dragons following their scrimmage last weekend. He said, “They don’t look like a Feb. 13 team.” And, what the heck, it’s not like Drexel hasn’t shocked Virginia before. So, even though I have Virginia No. 1 in my personal preseason poll, I’m calling the Drexel upset.


MD1: Ohio State (1-0) at No. 19 Bucknell (0-1) – Saturday 12 p.m.

The Bison certainly have a flare for the dramatic, nearly stunning Duke last week, but they were unable to hold onto an early five-goal lead and lost in overtime. Their last three meetings with the Buckeyes have been similarly nip-tuck. Last year in Columbus, Ohio State won 10-9 in overtime on Joel Dalgarno’s sudden death goal. In 2008 in Lewisburg, Bucknell won 8-7 on John Togneri’s goal in triple over time. In 2007 in Columbus, the Bison edged the Buckeyes, 7-6. See a theme here?

Ultimately, we may look back on the 2010 season and say that the most exciting game of the year was played on Feb. 13. Last weekend, Bucknell took No. 2 Duke to overtime before losing 12-11 before over 7,000 fans in a neutral site game in Georgia. The Bison just missed winning the Patriot League title and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2009, losing by one goal to Navy in the PL championship game. With two-time All-American attackman Austin Winters leading the way, anything less than that elusive league title this spring will disappoint the Bison.


MD1: No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 2 Duke (1-0) – Saturday 1 p.m.

Notre Dame got guff last year for not boasting a tough enough schedule – that despite going undefeated in the regular season, the Irish’s NCAA tournament first-round demise against Maryland was inevitable. But are Loyola, North Carolina and Bucknell anything to sneeze at? Notre Dame is well coached and well supported, evidenced by the university’s decision to create a director of lacrosse operations position now occupied by former Scranton coach Kevin Dugan. Now the Irish need to make a similar statement on the field. Problem is, they run into a Blue Devils buzzsaw that has all the momentum after the big comeback win over Bucknell and, before that, an exhibition win over Team USA. It’s got to be a relief for Duke attackman Zach Howell, whose starting position was in jeopardy, to pot that game-winner in overtime. The Blue Devils strike quick. Parker McKee scoops off the faceoff, finds Net Crotty, who then finds Howell and, wham, game over. Notre Dame will have its hands full.

These kinds of games are won and lost in the midfield. I think Duke's bound to stumble early, and after emotional wins over Team USA and Bucknell, a letdown is at hand. Notre Dame has the guns -- Zach Brenneman and Grant Krebs, namely -- at midfield to expose the Blue Devils' weakness at the position. Stick a pole on one, and the other goes off on a shorty. Irish in OT.


MD1: No. 15 Loyola at No. 12 Navy (1-0) – Saturday 1 p.m.

Perfect strangers meet again. Did you know that, despite the institutions being just 40 miles apart, Loyola and Navy have only met six times before? In fact, they haven’t faced each other in a regular season game since 1943. Eleven different Navy players scored in the Mids’ dismantling of VMI last week. The Greyhounds make their season debut. What kind of production can we expect to see from attackmen Cooper MacDonnell and Collin Finnerty? Shane Koppens took a lot of heat off them. Without him, it’s on them to initiate.

I find Navy’s bad shooting (26.3 percent over the past five seasons) unnerving. Aren’t these guys going to be in charge of missiles and stuff someday? It’s not going to be any better shooting on the Hounds’ Jake Hagelin (.526 save pct. in 2009), who is a seasoned vet going into his junior season.

 

Navy’s returning experience on offense showed in a 16-goal effort last week, admittedly against VMI. I think Loyola’s better across the field, however, and the Greyhounds will be hungry after last season NCAA tournament miss. This wouldn’t really be an upset.

MD3: No. 17 Lynchburg at No. 4 Salisbury (1-0) – Saturday 1 p.m.

Here’s how Salisbury reloads. With three-time National Midfielder of the Year Kylor Berkman gone, the Sea Gulls turn to Mike Von Kamecke – who flourished as Berkman’s sidekick – to be “the man.” Thus, they need a new Von Kamecke. Enter sophomore Sam Bradman. In Salisbury’s season-opening rout of Greensboro, Von Kamecke led the way with five goals; Bradman scored four. And even though the Gulls appear set at attack, they have freshman Eric Law, the Colorado High School Player of the Year, rotating in as a dangerous fourth weapon.

A couple of years ago, a 19-6 win over Greensboro would have seemed oddly close by Salisbury standards. As it happens, the Gulls are still finding their form and G-boro is an improved team. The score will be even closer - I'm guessing a handful of goals - when Salisbury and Lynchburg meet, but Salisbury will take another step back towards dominance.


WD1: No. 14 Loyola (0-2) at No. 10 Virginia – Saturday 1 p.m.

For all Loyola’s promise, the Greyhounds could very well see themselves in an 0-2 hole after visiting Charlottesville, where the Wahoos have been busy building chemistry. UVA’s success largely relies on two 2007 U.S. U-19 team members – Liz Downs, its top defender, and Josie Owen, who’s looked upon to step up and become a significant contributor.

WD1: No. 2 Maryland at No. 18 Penn State – Sunday 1 p.m.
It looks like the Nittany Lions are ready to be a contender again. After upsetting Loyola, they didn’t just beat Bucknell – they throttled the Bison. What, did Hannah Nielsen steal the secret sauce from Northwestern? PSU boasts good balance up and down the scoring sheet. The Lions’ 24 goals in two games have come from 11 different scorers. Beating a team of Maryland’s caliber? Now that would be a statement. The Terps are not looking at any drop-off that the team that went undefeated until the NCAA semifinals, and they’ve stewed over the disappointing loss there to UNC.

WD1: No. 13 Stanford at No. 6 Syracuse – Sunday 1 p.m.
Stanford’s challenging nonconference schedule starts on the road at the Carrier Dome. The Cardinal then returns to California to host No. 1 Northwestern five days later. Yeesh. Syracuse is vulnerable. Just how much of the offensive load can Christina Dove carry? The defense in front of goalie Liz Hogan was a mess last year. What has Regy Thorpe done to help fortify the back end? Stanford returns its top seven scorers, leading with Lauren Schmidt (35g, 22a) and Sarah Flynn (36g, 7a).


Last Week 8-2 8-2 7-3 7-3 7-3 7-3
Overall 8-2 8-2 7-3 7-3 7-3 7-3
W: Vanderbilt @ UNC
UNC
Vanderbilt
UNC
UNC
UNC
UNC
 M: Denver @ Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
M: Virginia @ Drexel
Drexel
Virginia
Virginia
Virginia
Virginia
Virginia
M: Ohio St. @ Bucknell
Bucknell
Bucknell
Bucknell
Bucknell
Bucknell
Bucknell
M: Notre Dame @ Duke
Duke
Duke
Duke
Duke
Duke
Notre Dame
M: Loyola @ Navy
Navy
Loyola
Loyola
Navy
Loyola
Navy
M: Lynchburg @ Salisbury
Salisbury
 Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury
W: Loyola @ Virginia
Virginia
Virginia
Virginia
Loyola
Virginia
Loyola
W: Maryland @ Penn St.
Maryland
 Maryland
Maryland
Maryland
Maryland
Maryland
W: Stanford @ Syracuse
Stanford
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse

 


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