What to Watch: NCAA Week Six

(Photo Courtesy of Georgetown Athletics)

Welcome to week six of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!

With UMass finally opening their season this weekend against Fairfield after seeing their first four games of the season get postponed or cancelled, every single team that is playing this season will have one game under their belt coming out of this weekend.

Technically, week six got underway with a fairly sizable midweek slate compared to what we’ve seen so far this season. On Monday, Saint Joseph’s beat Wagner while Bellarmine topped VMI on Tuesday. Duke beat High Point and Fairfield beat Lafayette on Wednesday. Virginia faces North Carolina Thursday night while Syracuse host Stony Brook and Boston U. host Holy Cross on Friday night. Neither of those games will be featured in this article as we focus solely on the weekend’s games.

Week Six Storylines

Big Test in The Big East and Big Ten

The Georgetown Hoyas head west this weekend to take on the Denver Pioneers in the first of two meetings between the two this season. The contest could also very well be a preview of the Big East title game.

For Georgetown, this will be their biggest test since 2019. While the Hoyas currently sport a 4-0 record and are currently riding a 10-game win streak that dates back to last season when they went 6-0 before the season was cancelled, they haven’t faced a top-10 or even top-20 caliber team since the first round of the 2019 NCAA when they fell 19-16 to eventual runner-up Yale. That fact as caused some to be hesitant about how good this Georgetown team is, despite the fact that they are the No. 5 team in the land and are only allowing and average of five goals per game this season. I, however, don’t subscribe to that belief and do believe this Georgetown team could very well end up being not only a Big East contender, but a national title contender.

Denver comes into this contest with a 5-2 record and is playing some of their best lacrosse all yer after a bumpy-ish start with Jackson Morrill and Lucas Colter being plugged into that offense alongside Ethan Walker, Jack Hannah, and others. Since their 24-13 loss against North Carolina in early February, the Pioneers have won four straight. They averaged 17 goals in those four games, which includes a 20-goal and 23-goal outing against Providence and St. John’s over the past two weeks.

UPDATE: Due to inclement weather, Denver-Georgetown has been postponed to Tuesday March, 16th.

Elsewhere the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins will welcome in the No. 4 Rutgers Scarlet Knights for a top-5 Big Ten matchup.

Similarly to Georgetown, this weekend presents a massive test for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights come into this contest with a 3-0 record and wins over Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. The latter two were blowouts. With Adam Charlambides and Connor Kirst leading this Rutgers offense and Colin Kirst anchoring the Scarlet Knights’ defense, this Rutgers team looks as good or better than the 2016 version that went to the Big Ten title game or 2017 version that once sat atop the standings as the No. 1 team in the nation. If the Scarlet Knights can win or even look as they have all season against a stacked Maryland team that has been a Championship Weekend staple under John Tillman, it’ll really put into context for many how good this Rutgers team actually is.

Maryland comes into this contes boasting a 3-0 record with wins over Michigan, Penn State, and rival Johns Hopkins. In all three contest, the Terrapins have clearly been the more talented and athletic team front to back. Led by Logan Wisnauskas and Jared Bernhard, this Maryland offense has been stellar and Logan McNaney has provided a solid anchor for what many would call the best defense in the Big Ten with Nick Grill, Matt Rahill, and Brett Makar forming a three-headed monster on the back end.

Welcome to The Show, UMass

After having the first four games of their season postponed, the UMass Minutemen will finally take the field on Sunday against the Fairfield Stags.

The Minutemen come into the season as the favorites in the CAA and feature, perhaps, the most talented and experienced roster in the conference. Among that talent and experience on the Minutemen’s roster this season includes six fifth-year seniors, including midfielders Billy Philpott, Jeff Trainor, Charlie O’Brien, attackman Devin Spencer, defenseman Jackson Suboch, and goalie Cameron Carpenter. They also return a slew of impactful underclassmen, including attackmen Chris Connolly, who led the team in points last season, and Gabriel Procyk as well as goalie Matt Knote, who was their starter as a freshman last season.

In their first contest of the season, the Minutemen go up against a Fairfield squad with three games under their belt and coming off a midweek game this week.

Other Games to Watch

Hobart vs LIU (Saturday, 12pm): Coming off the heels of a 13-9 season-opening win over Mount St. Mary’s the Hobart Statesmen welcome the LIU Sharks to Geneva on Saturday afternoon. Ryan Archer and Jason Knox led the high-powered Hobart offense last week, combining for 10 points (6G/3A). LIU boast a 2-1 record and is coming off a 13-10 win over Sacred Heart over the weekend in their second meeting of the season. Will Mark is anchoring the Sharks’ defense with 42 saves and a 58% save percentage while Richie LaCalandra has led their offense with 19 points (9G/10A).

Johns Hopkins vs Penn State (Saturday, 12pm): After winning their first game of the season last week against Ohio State, the Penn State Nittany Lions go into Homewood looking to get a second consecutive win and keep their offense resurgence going. TJ Malone has been the leader of the Penn State offense through the first three games of the season, recording 14 points (9G/5A). The Blue Jays are looking to regroup after getting blown out against rival Maryland last week. Connor DeSimone and Joey Epstein have been their two offensive leaders, putting up 12 and 11 points thus far.

UAlbany vs Vermont (Saturday, 1pm): Looking like the clear-cut top two teams in the America East at this point in the season, UAlbany and Vermont will deke it out on Saturday afternoon in the marquee mid-major contest of the week. The Great Danes come into this contest after a 16-6 win over Hartford where Tehoka Nanticoke put up seven points (3G/4A) in his season debut. Vermont comes into Saturday after hanging with Syracuse in a 17-13 loss that saw Thomas McConvey put up four goals.

Detroit Mercy vs St. Bonaventure (Saturday, 3pm): The St. Bonaventure Bonnies made history last weekend, kicking off their third season as a program with their first-ever victory. They come into this weekend off the heels of that marquee win and will be looking to hand Detroit Mercy their second loss of the season after they fell to Marist 15-11 in their season-opener last week.

Bucknell vs Lehigh (Sunday, 1pm): The biggest game in the Patriot League goes down on Sunday, as the Bucknell Bison host the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Bucknell is coming off a season-opening 15-9 win over Cleveland State in which their offense, led by a nine-point (7G/2A) outing from Tommy Sopko, shined bright. Lehigh is 2-0 and coming off their first-ever win over Loyola where Mike Sisselberger stole the show, going 16-for-19 (84%) from the dot and scoring a goal.

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