What to Watch: NCAA Week Four

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

Welcome to Week four of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!

While we’re still a week away from every team that’s playing this season officially having a game under their belt, the number of teams who have started will once again increase this week with only a handful of teams, including the entire MAAC, being left to play a game as we enter the month of March, week four of the college lacrosse season features multiple heavyweight tilts.

Technically, week four of the college lacrosse season technically got underway on Tuesday when Delaware took down Saint Joseph’s 16-13. On Wednesday, Sacred Heart beat LIU 12-10 and Towson beat Mount St. Mary’s 11-5.

Week Four Storylines

Big Time Matchups in Big Ten Country

With the Big Ten playing a conference-only schedule this season, there will be no shortage of heavyweight battles week in and week out in the conference this spring. This weekend, which is the second of Big Ten play, features a meeting between two top-15 and top-10 squads this weekend.

On Friday, the No. 13-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions welcome the No.4-ranked Maryland Terrapins to Happy Valley. Maryland comes into this contest blowout 20-9 victory over Michigan in their season-opener last Saturday. While Michigan isn’t exactly the cream of the crop amongst the Big Ten, the Terrapins looked impressive with 11 different goal scorers, including Daniel Maltz who had five goals and Logan Wisnauskas who had a hat trick.

While we’ve known how deep this Maryland offense was and how talented of a group they had at close defense, the question of who starts in goal is likely the biggest one especially early in the season. Sophomore Logan McNaney got the start against Michigan but he and Chris Brandau each saw significant time as a starter last season.

Penn State comes into this game after an 11-9 season-opening loss against Rutgers in which they were held to single digits for the first time since 2018. First game rust after not playing in almost a year? Probably but Rutgers is also really talented on both ends. We’ll see how this Nittany Lion offense looks in their second outing of the season While Mac O’Keefe only notched one goal in their season-opener, TJ Malone, Dylan Foulds, and Dan Reaume all stepped up and were heavy contributors.

The Nittany Lions have an experienced defense with fifth-year goalie Colby Kneese and defenseman Nick Cardile leading the charge and, like their offense, should be more polished this week. The spot where many will have their eyes drawn to is at the faceoff dot, where starter Gerard Arceri and Jake Glatz each saw action last week.

On Saturday, the No. 6-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will host the No. 10-ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a battle between two teams coming off big wins in the opening week of Big Ten Play. Ohio State is coming off a dominating 14-8 victory over Johns Hopkins where their midfield of Griffin Hughes, Grant Mitchell, Omari DeBerry, and SSDM Ryan Terefenko took center stage, alongside the Buckeye defense led by Jeff Henrick, Eric Wenz, and goalie Skylar Wahlund.

The Buckeyes were simply dominant in every facet of their opener on Saturday, despite missing multiple key members including starting faceoff man Justin Inacio. It’s not clear whether or not Inacio and others will be back against Rutgers.

In Rutgers’ victory over Penn State on Saturday, the Kirst boys stole every headline. Connor Kirst tallied seven points (3G/4A) and Colin Kirst recorded 15 saves with a 63% save percentage. The game marked the Rutgers debut for the brothers, who grad transferred to Rutgers from Villanova and Lehigh this offseason.

Additionally, Jon Dugenio went 11-for-23 (48%) at the dot in his Rutgers debut while Adam Charalambides also played a heavy role on the offensive end, recording four points (3G/1A).

Syracuse-Virginia Rivalry Renewed

This game might have lost a bit of luster or hype after Syracuse’ upset loss against Army West point last week, but it’s still one of the biggest games of the week. The No. 2 ranked Virginia Cavaliers travel up central New York to take on the No. 9 ranked Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome.

Virginia’s offense has been cooking through their first three games of the season against Towson, Army, and Loyola, averaging 16.3 goals per game. Connor Shellengerger (7G/8A) and Payton Cormier (12G/3A) have been the two biggest contributors on the Cavaliers’ offense thus far, tallying 15 points in their first three games. Petey LaSalla has also been tearing it up at the faceoff dot, going 46-for-63 (73%) through three games. Goalie Alex Rode has been out for the past two games but freshman Bobby Gavin has stepped up and been tremendous.

Syracuse’s offense didn’t look the best for the majority of the contest against Army in their season-opening loss on Sunday, but did show flashes and we know how much talent they have with Tucker Dordevic, Chase Scanlan, and others. Now there defense is a different animal. Drake Porter had one of his worst games of his college career on Saturday, and while they did return some solid pieces in Grant Murphy and Brett Kennedy, how they respond against this Virginia offense could be telling. But, it’s still early.

Other Games to Watch

North Carolina vs High Point (Saturday, 1pm): Just over a week after the Tar Heels welcomed the Panthers to Chapel Hill in what was one of the best games of the season thus far, the two will meet again this weekend. North Carolina is coming off a win over another SoCon team, Richmond, 14-9 on Sunday where Chris Gray, who leads the Tar Heels with 23 points (14G/9A), was mostly silenced by the Spiders’ defense. High Point’s last contest was that 17-15 loss against North Carolina. Asher Nolting put up an impressive nine points (4G/5A) and Brayden Mayea scored five goals in that game.

Hofstra vs Stony Brook (Saturday, 1pm): The Long Island Rivalry is renewed this weekend between Hofstra and Stony Brook as the Pride welcome the Seawolves to Shuart Stadium on Saturday. The all-time series is 6-5 in Hofstra’s favor. Stony Brook won last year’s meeting 14-11. The Seawolves comes into this year’s meeting with a 2-0 record and has averaged 17 points in their two games against Sacred Heart and Bryant and held both opponents to single digits. Hofstra is 1-1 and has averaged 16 goals per game in their two games against St. John’s and Sacred Heart with Ryan Tierney (9G/4A) being their primary option on offense.

Holy Cross vs Sacred Heart (Saturday, 2pm): The J.L. Reppert officially begins in Worcester, Mass. on Saturday when the Holy Cross Crusaders welcome in the Sacred Heart Pioneers in their season-opener. Holy Cross comes into the season after going 4-3 during the shortened 2020 season and going through a coaching change in January. Sacred Heart is 1-2 and coming off a 12-10 victory against LIU on Tuesday where Logan Liljeberg put up five points (3G/2A).

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