(Photo Courtesy of Cornell Athletics)
The NCAA lacrosse season is just over a week away. And while there are certainly some marquee matchups between teams to circle, there are also some one-on-one matchups that you won’t want to miss, as well.
Here is a look at some of the biggest one-on-one battles that you should get excited about as the 2020 NCAA lacrosse season draws nearer.
Jeff Teat v.s. Chris Fake
One of the most highly anticipated matchups over the past few seasons has been between Cornell attackman Jeff Teat and Yale defenseman Chris Fake. The first matchup between these two was in 2018 when Teat was a sophomore and Fake was a freshman. Ever since then the hype around the matchup has grown bigger.
In 2018, Yale won the regular -season meeting and Cornell won their meeting in the Ivy League championship. And the Teat-Fake matchup played out similarly. Teat had an easier time with the then-freshman, tallying six points (4G/2A) in the regular-season meeting. However, Fake pretty much locked off Teat as a scorer in the Ivy League championship, limiting him to just one goal. He did have five assists.
Yale won last year’s regular-season contest 16-11 and Fake was able to shut off Teat, limiting him to just one goal and one assist. The junior attackman was able to get some good shots off, but Fake was able to keep him in check for the majority of the game. However, in the Ivy League tournament Teat played Fake much better, scoring five goals in a 15-10 loss.
Joey Epstein v.s. Nick Mellen
Johns Hopkins’ freshman phenom attackman Joey Epstein led the Blue Jays in scoring last season with 73 points and was unanimously voted Big Ten Freshman of the year. And one of the defensemen that gave him the most fits was Syracuse’s Nick Mellen.
Last season, the then-junior held the then-freshman to just two goals, which were both scored in the second quarter. Other than then, Mellen was able to shut down Epstein. He turned him into turn-style almost. The ball moved through him on almost every possession, but he couldn’t really make much happen for most of the game.
Coming into 2020, these two rivals are coming off “down” years and looking to rebound. As always, this game is one to circle and the matchup between Epstein and Mellen will be highlighted, for sure.
Grant Ament v.s. Chris Fake
Penn State’s offense was absolutely electric last season with Grant Ament as the leader of the pack. And the one team that found a way to take down the Nittany Lions was the Yale Bulldogs, winning 14-13 in the regular-season and 21-17 in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Yale’s Chris Fake got Ament in both matchups, and while he was able to do a good job staying on him and limiting his chances as much as he could. But Ament found a way to burn him in both contests, tallying nine points (2G/7A) in the regular-season meeting and eight points (3G/5A) in the NCAA semifinals. This matchup will surly be a highly anticipated one again in 2020.
Chris Gray v.s. JT Giles-Harris
The Tobacco Road rivalry is going to be a bit more interesting this year with senior attackman Chris Gray transferring to North Carolina after playing his first three seasons at Boston U., Add in the fact that Duke senior JT Giles-Harris is one of the best defensemen in the country, and that is a must-see matchup.
While Gray and Giles-Harris aren’t too familiar with playing against one another, the Blue Devils did face Gray once when he was at Boston U. back in 2018. Gray was held without a point against the Blue Devils in that 13-9 Duke win on Senior Day. Giles-Harris didn’t start that game or record any stats, but he did play. It’ll be interesting to see if Harris does indeed get the matchup and who wins it.
TD Ierlan v.s. Kyle Gallagher
TD Ierlan has been the most dominant faceoff man in college lacrosse since his arrival at Albany. And he even took it up a notch last year as a junior after transferring to Yale. Kyle Gallagher did just the same after he transferred from Hofstra to Penn.
In their first meeting, Ierlan won the battle 15-29. And while that first meeting didn’t provide many fireworks, their meetings in the Ivy League championship and NCAA quarterfinals. Gallagher won their second meeting, going 13-24 against Ierlan, while Ierlan went 11-24. Ierlan went off in their meeting in the NCAA tournament, winning 22-40 draws. Gallagher went 19-40.
Turner Uppgren v.s. Drake Porter
Last season, the Syracuse-Duke matchup at Ciero North HS was memorable for multiple reasons. The overtime finish, the comeback from Syracuse, and how insane both goalies played, especially down the stretch.
Porter won the matchup making 12 saves for the Orange and allowing eight goals against. Uppgren made 11 saves for the Blue Devils and allowed nine goals against. With Porter coming back as a senior and Uppgren as a redshirt senior this year, the matchup between these two goalies should be a good one, again.