March 7, 2014

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Ten-2-Watch: Unstoppable Force or Immovable Object?

by Lacrosse Magazine staff | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Each week, the Lacrosse Magazine staff picks and previews of the weekend's best, from all levels of the college landscape. Use #Ten2Watch to discuss the games to come, and tweet @LacrosseMag to make your own picks. Also make sure to vote in our LaxMagazine.com Fan Vote Game of the Week.

As the weather continues to linger in the "colder than we'd care to have in the weekend after Mardi Gras" zone, we've got another great slate of games happening all weekend, with pretty much all divisions operating at full steam by now. Our staff pickers generally rebounded well after a pretty rough go of it in the first week, but there's plenty of room for improvement. 

This time around, we take a crack at some doozies, including a classic dominant-offense-against-stifling-defense tilt between the Albany and UMass men Saturday. Where does the consensus lie? Would you bet with or against us? Can anybody catch Neil?









Last Week 7-3 6-4 7-3 7-3 7-3 5-5 5-5 7-3 5-5 4-6 4-6
Overall 14-6 12-8 12-8 11-9 10-10 9-11 9-11 9-11 9-11 8-12 8-12












M: ALB@MAS MAS ALB ALB MAS ALB MAS ALB ALB MAS MAS ALB
W: LOU@ND LOU ND ND ND ND LOU ND LOU ND ND ND
M: DUK@LOY LOY DUK LOY DUK LOY LOY LOY LOY DUK LOY DUK
W: STA@TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW TOW
M: DENvND ND ND ND ND DEN DEN ND DEN ND DEN ND
W: UNC@UVA UNC UNC UNC UNC UNC UNC UNC UNC UVA UNC UNC
M: DRE@BRY DRE BRY DRE DRE BRY DRE BRY DRE DRE BRY DRE
W: LOY@PSU LOY PSU PSU PSU PSU PSU LOY LOY LOY PSU PSU
MD2:SHU@MER MER MER MER MER MER MER MER MER MER MER MER
WD3:BOW@AM AM AM AM BOW BOW BOW AM BOW AM AM AM


MD1: No. 17 Albany (1-2) at No. 13 Massachusetts (4-0)

Who will win Saturday's Albany-UMass game?
Albany (1-2)
Massachusetts (4-0)

View Results
Can Connor Mooney and the Minutemen keep their perfect start going against the ruthless Albany pressure? (Cecil Copeland)

1 p.m. Saturday

The Great Danes lost their first two games of the season, to Syracuse and Drexel, by a total of two goals and beat Harvard 14-8 for their first win last Saturday. The Thompson-led offense will be put to the test against a UMass defense that's allowed just 5.5 goals per game. Miles and Lyle Thompson share the team lead for points with 18; Lyle with six goals and 12 assists and Miles with 13 goals and five assists.

UMass has a freshman to watch in attackman Nick Mariano, who has 14 goals in four games. He scored back-to-back goals in the Minutemen's 6-5 win at Army and four goals, including the game-winner with seven seconds left in overtime, to lead UMass past Ohio State, a win that vaulted it into the Lacrosse Magazine Top 20. The Minutemen also feature former U.S. under-19 men's team goalie Zach Oliveri in net. A win here could help UMass' NCAA at-large tournament case should it miss out on winning the CAA.

WD1: No. 18 Louisville (4-2) at No. 15 Notre Dame (3-2)

1 p.m. Saturday

The early part of this week saw these two teams reverse momentum, as the Cardinals dropped a close one to Ohio State, while the Irish went north to Illinois and took a thriller from Northwestern by one goal. Flip a coin whether you think Notre Dame will get more motivation out of that victory or Louisville will come in hungry off a loss. (It'll probably land on its side, anyway.)

So far, Louisville has rode a stellar offensive group to early success, with four players -- Nikki Boitja (26), Faye Brust (17), Kaylin Morissette (15) and Cortnee Daley (11) -- scoring double-digit goals already after six games. The team averages more than 14 goals per a game. The Irish have put together a similarly robust 13 goals per game with Cortney Fortunato (17), Caitlin Gargan (12) and Rachel Sexton all in double digits. Interestingly enough, neither team has a single player with double-digit assists.

MD1: No. 3 Duke (4-1) at No. 4 Loyola (4-1)

6 p.m. Sunday

Two years ago, Loyola announced its national re-emergence with a 13-8 win over the Blue Devils in Baltimore. The Greyhounds won their first NCAA championship later that May. Last season, Duke used the March Loyola matchup to turn around a 2-4 start, springboard itself all the way to nine straight wins, and a national title. In short, the winner of this one should expect good things the rest of the season.

There was also, of course, the timeout heard round the lacrosse world, called by Loyola coach Charley Toomey during last season's NCAA tournament playoff meeting with the Blue Devils. The decision wiped out what would have been a go-ahead Loyola goal with less than a minute left in regulation. Duke went on to win 12-11 in double-overtime, and won its second NCAA title a few weeks later. This is a rare Sunday evening nationally-televised game (CBS Sports Network) at Loyola's Ridley Athletic Complex. We'll have live coverage at LaxMagazine.com as well.

WD1: No. 16 Stanford (2-1) at No. 12 Towson (2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Stanford's first East Coast trip this season includes stops Friday at Towson and Sunday at Georgetown. The Cardinal recovered from a 16-15 overtime loss at Vanderbilt -- "We have yet to come off a game feeling satisfied, and this game was the final wake-up call," goalie Lyndsey Munoz wrote in a blog for LaxMagazine.com -- by thumping Fresno State 19-5.

After starting the season 2-0, Towson has lost consecutive games at Syracuse and at Johns Hopkins. Andi Raymond was a bright spot with nine points in the two contests, but the Tigers have found little offense elsewhere.

MD1: No. 11 Denver (3-2) at No. 6 Notre Dame (2-1)

3 p.m. Saturday in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Denver begins a stretch of games against three quality opponents, while Notre Dame will look to carry its second-half momentum against North Carolina across the country to the West Coast. The game will be played at Orange Coast College in the first Pacific Coast Shootout, which also includes an MCLA game between Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara afterward. It's the brainchild of Corona del Mar High (Calif.) boys' coach G.W. Mix, whose sons, Ryan and Casey, play for Notre Dame and UC Santa Barbara, respectively.

If history is any indication, this game will be close. Notre Dame has won the last three meetings by a goal, the last two in overtime. "We know this is a huge rivalry and it's a great opportunity," Denver coach Bill Tierney said this week. The Pios would like a win after dropping one to Penn last week and a game upcoming against Penn State at home on Monday. The trip back from California will be better with a victory, but so too for the Irish.

WD1: No. 1 North Carolina (6-0) at No. 10 Virginia (2-3)

1 p.m. Saturday

North Carolina proved last season that you don't need experienced players to carry you to an NCAA championship. Now the Tar Heels appear determined to prove you don't need experienced players to defend an NCAA championship. Sure, Kara Cannizzaro was the centerpiece last year. And sure, senior attacker Abbey Friend is scoring at a ridiculous clip this year (25 goals through six games). But look just below Friend on the scoring chart and you'll find freshman Sydney Holman (14 goals, 14 assists) and sophomore Aly Messinger, picking up where she left off after a breakthrough three-goal performance in the NCAA championship game with 17 goals. Look a tad further and you'll find freshmen Carly Reed (16 goals) and Maggie Bill (10 goals) paying immediate dividends.

Keep an eye on North Carolina's defense. Traditionally a top-10 unit, it has allowed nearly eight goals per game, a lot by Tar Heels standards. Sophomore goalie Megan Ward, the hero of the NCAA championship run as a freshman, has a 9.43 goals against average and 38.9 save percentage. Freshman Caylee Waters, who performed so well in a near-upset of the U.S. national team at Champion Challenge, has earned some minutes in relief of Ward and has a 5.60 goals against average and 58.8 save percentage. Coach Jenny Levy showed last year she's not afraid to supplant her starting goalie midway through the season with a hot-handed freshman.

MD1: No. 16 Drexel (3-2) at Bryant (2-2)

1 p.m. Saturday

After three straight one-goal games to start the year - losses to Virginia and Villanova sandwiched around a win over Albany - the Dragons have won their last two with a bit more breathing room, including a 16-11 win this week over No. 19 St. John's. The keys to the 3-2 start that is just a couple of timely scores away from being a perfect 5-0? Nick Saputo's tearing it up at face-off (16-119 - 64%) doesn't hurt. Neither do Nick Trizano (14G, 6A) and Cole Shafer (16, 10) having a four point per game average and Will Gabrielsen stopping nearly 57% of the shots he's seen so far.

Bryant has started 2-2, but played Yale tough last week in a one-goal loss and already have a win over Bucknell, ranked in the Top 20 at the time. The Bulldogs haven't been lighting up the scoreboard - they only broke double-digits in one game (Bucknell) and leading scorer Shane Morrell has six goals and three assists - but sophomore Gunnar Waldt is saving a gaudy 66% and Kevin Massa is doing his usual thing (46-76 FO, 24 GBs) to help Bryant keep opponents at just 7.50 goals scored a game on average.

WD1: No. 14 Loyola (2-3) at No. 11 Penn State (2-3)

1 p.m. Saturday

Two of the most mercurial teams through the first month of the season could use this game as a springboard.

Loyola looked like a bona fide top-10 team in season-opening wins over Virginia and Princeton. Marlee Paton was on a tear against the Tigers, scoring three first-half goals in an eventual 15-10 victory for the Greyhounds. But she left that game midway through the second half with an injury. As a precaution, Loyola kept her out of the next game against Johns Hopkins and lost 6-5. Although Paton returned against James Madison, the swagger was gone. The Dukes upset the Greyhounds 8-7, and then Loyola coughed up a four-goal lead late in losing to Florida 14-13 on Tuesday. A positive sign: Paton scored five goals in that loss, and the Greyhounds are three goals away from being undefeated. They should find much easier sledding when their Patriot League schedule begins.

Penn State was hyped as a final four dark horse coming into the season, but so far has wins only over Bucknell and Duquesne to show for it. That won't exactly inspire believers. The Nittany Lions have suffered consecutive one-goal losses at Virginia and at James Madison. (Looks like those Dukes are ready to make some noise again out of the CAA, huh?) They're home for this game before another two-game road swing at Rutgers and Vanderbilt. Penn State needs more out of Maggie McCormick. In losses to Maryland, Virginia and James Madison, the senior attacker has just one goal and three assists combined.

MD2: No. 6 Seton Hill (3-0) at No. 3 Mercyhurst (3-0)

1 p.m. Saturday

Just by their proximity -- the two schools are separated by 150 miles in western Pennsylvania -- and the fact they were both dumped by the ECC a couple of years ago only to form the ECAC Division II league, these two have formed a nice rivalry. The competition is based on an older brother-younger brother model, with a foundation of mutual respect. Mercyhurst has a national championship to its name and two trips to the title game while Seton Hill has one NCAA berth and is scrapping to catch up with the Lakers, while simultaneously using them as a model.

While Lake Erie will ultimately have something to say about it, this game will determine whether the ECAC tourney will be held in Erie or Greensburg, Pa. Mercyhurst won last year's meeting, 12-9, but both teams lost some important pieces off those squads. The Lakers are favored, especially playing at home, but they'll get the Griffins' best shot, just like in every sibling rivalry.

WD3: No. 13 Bowdoin (0-1) at No. 10 Amherst (2-0)

Noon Saturday

There's history in this one between two of the Top 15 ranked lacrosse teams in Division III and two of the Top 5 ranked Liberal Arts schools in the country. The last NESCAC team other than Trinity or Middlebury to reach the Final Four was Bowdoin in 2011. The last NESCAC team other than Trinity or Middlebury to win the NCAA championship was Amherst in 2003. This could provide a glimpse at whether one of these two teams can shake up that status quo in 2014.

These two have played each other five times over the past three years, with Bowdoin holding a 3-2 edge after last year's 11-4 victory in Maine. The Lord Jeffs opened their season by downing Bates, 12-8, behind three goals and three assists from Caroline Holliday. On the same day, Bowdoin lost by an identical score to then-unranked Williams It's a road game, but familiar territory for the Polar Bears. Last week's loss to Williams was played on the nearby campus of UMass-Amherst.


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