April 8, 2011

Ten to Watch: LM's Staff Picks the Games

by LaxMagazine.com

Last Week
7-3 6-4 7-3 7-3 6-4 8-2 4-6
Overall 61-19 57-23
55-25
55-25 54-26 54-26 44-36








W:LOU@LOY
LOY
 LOY  LOY  LOY LOY
 LOU  LOY
M:BUC@ARM
 BUC  ARM  ARM  ARM ARM  ARM  ARM
W:UNC@UMD
 UMD  UMD  UMD  UMD  UMD  UMD  UMD
M:MER@CWP CWP  CWP  CWP  CWP  MER  CWP  MER
M:DUKvDEN
 DUK  DEN  DUK  DUK  DUK  DUK  DUK
M:UNC@UVA UNC
 UVA  UNC  UVA  UVA  UVA UNC
M:SBU@HAR
 SBU  SBU  SBU  SBU SBU SBU  SBU
M:DEL@VIL
 VIL  VIL  VIL  VIL  DEL  DEL  VIL
W:CNJ@SAL
 CNJ SAL
 CNJ CNJ
 SAL  CNJ  CNJ
W:PEN@NWU NWU
 NWU  NWU  NWU  NWU  NWU  NWU

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.

Last week, Loch-Down stole the show with an 8-2 record, climbing into a fourth-place tie with the steadily declining Portuguese Persuasion.

McLovin kept a healthy lead on the crew with a respectable 7-3 week, the same record that brough one-time cellar dweller B-Logue into a third-place tie.

This week's games include seven conference clashes, so anything goes.

Follow the weekend's action here at laxmagazine.com.

WD1: Louisville at No. 5 Loyola - Friday 5 p.m.

This Big East showdown features between Louisville's powerful offense (15.40 gpg) and Loyola's grinding defense (7.60 gpg). Last year the Greyhounds needed a late-game rally to come away with a 17-10 victory. Draw control will be the stat to watch here -- the Cardinals have a bit of an edge, statistically.

It's been written in sports that when it comes to following a legend on the sidelines, you don't want to follow the legend, but follow the coach that followed the legend. That's what Jen Adams has done at Loyola, returning the Greyhounds to the elite status not seen at Evergreen since the late Diane Geppi-Aikens had them in three NCAA semifinals from 2000-03. In her third season, Adams has righted the ship that veered drastically off course under predecessor Kerri O'Day (the 'Hounds bottomed out at 2-14 in 2007, just four years after a two-goal loss to Princeton in the final four in Geppi-Aikens' last game).
How is it that Louisville has not received votes in the IWLCA Division I poll, while underachievers like No. 13 Syracuse (3-6) and No. 18 Georgetown (4-5) remain ranked? There's no way this late in the season that any team with a losing record should be considered among the top 20. It's absurd. It's not even that the Cardinals are not ranked, they have not even received one vote. Guess that win over Vanderbilt was not enough. An upset over Loyola would do the trick... one would think.

MD1: No. 15 Bucknell at No. 13 Army - Saturday 12 p.m.

Bucknell, which has already clinched a berth in the four-team Patriot League Tournament, starts a three-game road stretch with a visit to West Point. Sparked by one of the nation's stingiest defenses, the Bison have won seven of eight and share a spot atop the Patriot's standings. Defending league champion Army is looking to rebound from last week's 13-11 loss at Colgate, which snapped a six-game winning streak. Army is 4-0 at Michie Stadium this year and has won nine straight at home over the past two seasons. Senior attackman Jeremy Boltus has scored at least one goal in 19-straight games for the Black Knights and ranks second in the nation in both scoring (4.8 points per game) and assists (2.9 assists per game).

WD1: No. 4 North Carolina at No. 1 Maryland - Saturday 12 p.m.

The defending national champions have looked fairly invincible during their current 22-game win streak, but the last team to hand them a loss was North Carolina, a 13-9 win back in April 2010. (Maryland avenged the loss, 10-5, in the 2010 ACC tournament.) Both teams are currently 3-0 in the ACC, and UNC's two non-conference losses came to excellent teams (Northwestern and Penn), both in overtime. While Maryland's defense has been smothering this season (6.25), it will be tested by Corey Donohoe, who broke UNC's career scoring record last week with a hat trick at Virginia Tech. Donohoe currently has 222 career points.

Completely mindblowing stat: the Terps have never lost a regular season home game under Cathy Reese, whose coaching record in College Park is 46-1. The one loss was a 2009 tournament game to Duke. Very hard to pick against Maryland at home.

MD2: No. 4 Mercyhurst at No. 3 C.W. Post - Saturday 1 p.m.

The driver's seat in the East Coast Conference -- a.k.a., the Central Region -- is still wide open, but the winner of this contest will have one foot inside the car. Mercyhurst has had a somnambulant first half of the season, but the Lakers finally woke up last weekend, routing then-No. 3 Dowling, 16-8. C.W. Post rebounded from its loss to Dowling with a solid win against NYIT to keep itself in position to three-peat. The loser of this contest isn't out of the hunt, necessarily, but the margin for error is down to zero the rest of the way.

Mercyhurst head coach Chris Ryan has the trip to C.W. Post down to a science. He leaves campus at 7:30 p.m. this morning, travels the length of Pennsylvania and arrives at the George Washington Bridge between 2:30 and 3 p.m. While the trip will certainly be demanding in terms of timing, don't be surprised if the Lakers head back to The Lake with pole position in the ECC. A switch got flipped against Dowling.

MD1: No. 4 Duke vs. No. 10 Denver - Saturday 2 p.m. (in Bethpage, N.Y.)

It will be a Long Island homecoming reunion for coaches John Danowski and Bill Tierney when the Blue Devils and Pioneers meet in front of a sold-out crowd at Bethpage High School's new athletic facility. Danowski, a C.W. Post graduate and the former coach at Post and Hofstra, grew up in East Meadow, about five miles from Bethpage. His daughter Kate, coaches the Bethpage girls' varsity team, and his son, former Tewaaraton Award winner Matt, is a pro with the Long Island Lizards. Tierney grew up in Levittown, also about five miles from Bethpage, and began his Hall of Fame head coaching career at Great Neck South on Long Island in 1976 then coached at Levittown. On the field, Denver could get its most impressive victory of the season. But the Pioneers will try without Andrew Lay, their top senior midfielder who is out for the season with a broken jaw suffered in practice, Tierney said this week. Duke will try to rebound from its 13-11 loss to top-ranked Syracuse on Sunday. Watch the faceoff battle with Chase Carraro and C.J. Costabile.

I think either team could win, so I'm picking based on who has most number of Long Islanders on the roster, given the location of this game. Duke has 9, Denver 0. So Duke wins. The score will not be 9-0, however.

MD1: No. 5 North Carolina at No. 9 Virginia - Saturday 2 p.m.

Despite that it remains to be seen if Shamel Bratton plays — his suspension for violating team rules was termed "indefinite" by coach Dom Starsia after the Cavaliers loss to Maryland last Saturday — Virginia's defensive problems might be more of a concern. After nearly every one of Maryland's eight second-half goals last Saturday in the Cavs' 12-7 loss, defenders and goaltender Adam Ghitelman looked puzzled, sometimes staring up at the replay board in Virginia's football stadium to see what went wrong. It won't get much easier against another ACC foe. Billy Bitter showed shades of his old self in a losing effort at Johns Hopkins Sunday and Nick Galasso looks like perhaps the best freshman in the country. An interesting sidenote: This will be UNC's first appearance on ESPN since the Tar Heels played in the 1993 NCAA championship game against Syracuse at College Park, Md.

MD1: No. 14 Stony Brook at Hartford - Saturday 7 p.m.

Stony Brook got a lot of preseason buzz – the cover of the February issue of Lacrosse Magazine no less. On a much quieter scale, a lot of coaches were talking about Hartford. To this point, Hartford has better met the preseason hype. The Hawks are 7-3, have won four straight and are coming off of a very solid 9-8 win over Albany. Stony Brook took Virginia to overtime in its first game, but has also stubbed its toe against Towson and was outclassed by Cornell. A great individual matchup will be the two faceoff specialists. Hartford senior Tim Fallon led the country last year and is winning 63.8 percent this year while Stony Brook's Adam Rand leads the country this year with a 69.0 winning percentage. Fallon dominated the match-up last year, winning 18-of-31

MD1: No. 17 Delaware at No. 11 Villanova - Saturday 7 p.m.

Delaware and Villanova staged some classic Colonial Athletic Association battles before 'Nova jumped to join the Big East when that conference materialized. Expect no less now in this non-conference tilt, with the Blue Hens' cardiac kids surging in the CAA thanks to three consecutive comeback wins. The Wildcats have stumbled slightly against Syracuse and Notre Dame since skyrocketing in the rankings, but those are the top two teams in the country, after all. Both teams boast stout defenses and capable goalies; the first to score seven might just win.

The Syracuse game two weeks ago was a milestone game in Villanova lacrosse history, but Saturday night's game against Delaware might be an even bigger challenge. Everybody loves being the underdog, and Villanova has been nothing short of amazing in that role for several years. Now they go into a game against a competitive nearby rival as the clear favorite – how do they handle it?

WD3: No. 1 TCNJ at No. 2 Salisbury - Sunday 11 a.m.

It's been a dominating start to the 2011 campaign for New Jersey, which has played just one close game, an 8-7 win at Gettysburg last week. Senior Ali Jaeger, who became the program's all-time leading goal scorer earlier this week, draws a lot of the spotlight, but it's the Lions defense that has been the real story, allowing just 26 goals through 11 games. Defending national champion Salisbury has played a tougher schedule than TCNJ, with its only blemish coming in a double-overtime loss at F&M two weeks ago. These teams split their two meetings last year, with TCNJ winning 16-12 during the regular season and Salisbury prevailing 12-7 in the NCAA regional final.

Coaches can coach, regardless the sport. Sharon Pfluger and Jim Nestor, two of the most accomplished women's coaches in the nation, both coach a second sport at their respective schools. Like her lacrosse program, Pfluger's TCNJ field hockey program ranks among the nation's elite, with seven Division III national championships and five undefeated seasons on her watch. Meanwhile, Nestor has won nearly 100 games in nine seasons with the SU women's soccer program, including five conference championship or runner-up finishes.

WD1: No. 8 Penn at No. 2 Northwestern - Sunday 1 p.m.

Say what you want about this being a down year for Penn, especially after its upset loss at Johns Hopkins, but the Quakers did beat North Carolina and always, always get their game up for Northwestern.


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