(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)
Welcome to week ten of the college lacrosse season, Y’all
Technically, week teb got underway on Tuesday as Canisius topped St. Bonaventure. We also saw Quinnipiac best Siena and Mount St. Mary’s beat VMI on Wednesday. Syracuse will host UAlbany on Thursday while Monmouth host Detroit Mercy and UMass host Hofstra on Friday.
Here’s a look at some storylines coming into the weekend:
Week Ten Storylines
Notre Dame, Virginia Face ACC Tests
Last week, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish showed the entire college lacrosse world what they are made of as they bounced back from a loss against Virginia in their ACC opener and defeated Syracuse on the road 18-11 in quite a dominant fashion.
This week, the Irish will face perhaps their biggest test of the season when they welcome the Duke Blue Devils to South Bend on Saturday afternoon. This contest could very well give us a gauge as to what the gap looks like between undefeated Duke and the rest of the pack in the ACC.
Notre Dame comes into this contest with an offense that has seen Pat Kavanagh (11G/26A) and Will Yorke (14G) really take the reigns at attack in recent weeks, and which features arguably the most athletic midfield in the nation with Wheaton Jackoboice (7G/7A), Quinn McCahon (10G/3A), and Eric Dobson (8G/4A) while Kyle Gallagher (72%) leads a strong faceoff unit with Charlie Leonard as the backup. Liam Entenmann anchors a strong Irish defense.
While the Irish come into this contest full of energy after a big last week, the same can be said for Duke. The Blue Devils defeated in-state rival North Carolina last Thursday in an overtime thriller to stay unbeaten and take over the sole top spot in the ACC.
Duke features an offense that is highlighted by the attack of Michael Sowers (22G/29A), Joe Robertson (27G/12A), and Brennan O’Neill (27G/5A) but also has as much depth as anyone with Nakeie Montgomery, Owen Caputo, Dyson Williams all being double-digit scorers and able to strike at any time. In cage, Mike Adler has been the Blue Devils starter for the majority of the season and at the faceoff dot freshman Jake Naso (67%) has emerged as the Blue Devils’ primary option. Both specialists are coming off huge outings against the Tar Heels.
Speaking of the Tar Heels, they will welcome in the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday for a rematch of an early March battle that saw North Carolina win 15-13 and have to ward off a Virginia comeback. This time around, things are a bit different coming in as Carolina is looking to bounce back after a loss and Virginia looks to be hitting their stride with wins over Robert Morris, Notre Dame, and Richmond coming in the past few weeks, as well as their offense evolving even more with Dox Aitken getting more of the production.
Key Conference Battles
With just about three weeks left in the regular season, it is indeed crunch time. And, as usual, we are seeing multiple key conference matchups across the nation that could very well shake up conference races each week – and this week is no exception.
In the CAA, outside of UMass-Hofstra part II on Friday, the biggest game of the week in the conference is Delaware-Drexel part II. The home Blue Hens are currently sitting atop the conference with a 4-0 record in CAA play and Drexel is sitting fourth in the conference with a 2-2 CAA record. However, the Dragons are coming off a huge win over UMass last week and are very much a team that everyone is eying in the CAA as a possible disrupter. Delaware beat Drexel 19-12 last month.
The conference leader in the NEC also faces a tough battle this weekend as the Saint Joseph’s travels to take on Hobart. Saint Joseph’s is 4-0 in conference play and hasn’t lost since February while Hobart also comes in on a winning streak, albeit a smaller one, after winning their past two games which included a meeting Bryant last weekend.
In the SoCon, Air Force travels to Jacksonville on Saturday in a contest that pits the Dolphins, who are undefeated in conference play, up against the Falcons who are 1-1 in the SoCon and coming off a loss to Mercer. Both teams are currently very much in the hunt for a SoCon playoff spot.
On Sunday, UMBC is set to host UAlbany in, perhaps, the Retrievers’ biggest game in quite sometime. UMBC sits atop the America East along with Stony Brook and Vermont, both of whom the Retrievers have beaten, with a 4-1 conference record and is coming off a win over Vermont last week. UAlbany sits in behind that pack with a 3-2 record in conference play and will be coming into Sunday after facing Syracuse on Thursday.
Other Games to Watch
Penn State vs Rutgers (Saturday, noon): The Penn State Nittany Lions welcome in the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for their second meeting of the season. These two meet to open the season and Rutgers won 11-9. The Scarlet Knights come into this one after beating Ohio State by one last week and Penn State comes into Saturday after falling to Maryland.
Ohio State vs Johns Hopkins (Saturday, noon): In a rematch of these two squad’s season-opener, the Buckeyes welcome in the Blue Jays to Columbus. Last meeting, Ohio State beat Johns Hopkins 14-8. The Buckeyes come into Saturday after falling to Rutgers and the Blue Jays after falling to Michigan.
Loyola vs Army West Point (Saturday, 1pm): A week after beating Navy in a game that kept them in the Patriot League playoff race, the Loyola Greyhounds welcome in the Black Knights. Army is coming off a one-goal loss against Lehigh. Both of these teams are ranked in the top 15 by Inside Lacrosse.
Lehigh vs Navy (Saturday, 4pm): Another top 20 Patriot League battle, Lehigh welcomes in Navy. Lehigh is coming off a hard-fought win over Army last week and is currently looking like the best team in the conference while Navy comes into this week after falling to Loyola and seems to have a very little chance, if any, of jumping either Lehigh or Loyola in the South standings to get into the Patriot League postseason.
*Schedule will be fully up to date by Friday