Welcome to week two of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
Week two technically got underway on Wednesday night when Rutgers and Marist faced off in a contest that yielded a 13-10 Scarlet Knights victory.
Again, the weekend will have action in store from Friday through Sunday. It will also features multiple of the biggest early-season contests.
Week Two Storylines
Four teams (Duke, High Point, Johns Hopkins, North Carolina) will be playing double-headers this weekend with games on Friday and Sunday.
For Duke, it’ll be the second week in a row they have pulled a double-header after going 2-0 last weekend against Robert Morris and Vermont. The Blue Devils will face Manhattan on Friday at 3pm before going toe-to-toe with Jacksonville on Sunday.
Through their first two games, the Blue Devils have been led by stellar sophomore Brennan O’Neill with nine goals. Both of these games have the ability to be pretty good goalie battles as Manhattan returns co-MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Brendan Krebs in between the pipes after a season in which he made 126 saves with a .565% save percentage. Jacksonville went withe North Carolina transfer Luke Millican as the starter against Johns Hopkins in their season opener last week and he stood on his head, making 17 saves and was a big part of why the Dolphins were able to stay in the game as long as they did. Mike Adler made 31 saves with a 62% save percentage in Duke’s two games last weekend.
High Point got blown out by Maryland 21-13 last Saturday in a game that saw Asher Nolting (1G/6A) and Brayden Mayea (5G) be the only two real bright sports for the Panthers. They will now face what should be a good Colgate team on Friday before having the chance to slay another powerhouse program on Sunday when they face Virginia. The Panthers upset the Cavaliers back in 2019 and fell to them 12-11 last season.
Johns Hopkins will face in-state foe Towson on Friday night before taking on Georgetown on Sunday. The Blue Jays contest against the Tigers pits two teams who want to move forward after not too hot seasons against each other for what should be an intriguing game. And in their Sunday matchup against Georgetown will likely be a huge test as the Hopkins offense, which saw Jack Keogh (2G/3A) and Connor DeSimone (3G/1A) led the way on Saturday, will have to go up against what should be the best defense in college lacrosse. The Hoyas bring back their top pole in Gibson Smith as well as their starting goalie, Owen McElroy, and have added North Carolina transfer defensemen Will Bowen to create one of the more talented defenses the sport has seen in a while.
North Carolina opened up their season this weekend with a double-header as they face Richmond on Friday and Colgate on Sunday. The Tar Heels return the likely Tewaaraton favorite in Chris Gray to run the show at attack, as well as a strong goalie in Collin Krieg and a more than solid faceoff unit with Zac Tucci and Andrew Tyeryar, as well as freshman Chase Mullins who is part of what is expected to be a very impactful freshman class. The place were you are likely to see highly-touted freshmen making plays from the get-go this season for the Tar Heels is at the midfield position, where they lose their entire starting line of fifth-years from a year ago in William Perry, Tanner Cook, Justin Anderson. That fact is why the midfield position is where all the eyes will be in the Tar Heels two games this weekend.
The Gary Gait Era Begins in Syracuse
Welcome to the Gary Gait era, Syracuse.
On Saturday afternoon when the Syracuse Orange take to the field in the Carrier Dome against Holy Cross, they will do so with Orange legend and former women’s coach Gary Gait leading them for the first time. Former Johns Hopkins great and head coach Dave Pietramala will also be on the Orange sideline as defensive coordinator. It is indeed a new day in Syracuse.
The Orange are coming off a turbulent season that ended with a loss to Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. And on top of the coaching changes that make the start to this season so interesting, Syracuse will also be without their top returning point-getter from a year ago in Owen Hiltz. He put up 29 goals and 19 assists for 48 points as a freshman, but will likely miss significant time in 2022 following an injury sustained against Michigan in late-January.
Against Holy Cross this weekend, it will likely be Tucker Dordevic and Owen Seebold running the show on offense at the attack spot. On the opposite end, there is intrigue as to who gets the start in cage. Virginia transfer Bobby Gavin highlights the position group.
Heavyweight Battle in The Old Line State
The marquee game of the week is the Loyola Greyhounds traveling to face the Maryland Terrapins in College Park on Saturday at high noon.
Maryland is coming off a 21-13 win over High Point where the Terrapins offense put on a show with Logan Wisnauskas’ eight-point (5G/3A) performance leading the way. Keegan Khan put up six points off four goals and two assists while fellow transfers Owen Murphy and Jonathan Donville also getting in on the action.
Loyola comes into the season after ending strong a year ago, beating Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and coming within a goal of Duke in the quarterfinals. The Greyhounds returns practically everybody from last year’s squad, including Kevin Lindley and Aidan Olmstead to run things on offense, and LSM Ryan McNulty and Sam Shafer to highlight that defense. Bailey Savio also returns at the faceoff dot, which could create a good battle on Saturday with Luke Wierman being the primary guy for the Terrapins.
Saturday’s game marks just the fourth time these two programs have met since 1998 and sixth since 1959. And it could be a possible NCAA Tournament matchup preview with both of these teams expected to be sitting at or near the top of their respective conference when all is said and done.
Other Games to Watch
Vermont vs Utah (12pm): It what could possibly be the best mid-major game of the week, the westernmost DI program will visit the northernmost DI program. Vermont is coming off a 15-7 loss against Duke in which they gave the Blue Devils trouble for a majority of the game. Tommy Burke went 17-for-25 (68%) at the dot and Ryan Cornell made 11 saves for the Catamounts. Conversely, the Utes fell 14-13 against Denver last weekend in a game in which they showcased a new-look fast-paced style out west. Jordan Hyde led the way with four goals and one assist in the loss.
Robert Morris vs Bucknell (12pm): Bucknell beat Mercer 16-14 in a game in which a pair of freshmen led the way with Connor Davis scoring six goals and Cam Doolan dishing out five assists. Robert Morris saw Taggart Clark have five points off four goals and one assists while Corson Kealey netted a hat trick and dished out a lone assist against Duke. This could be an offensive showdown on western Pennsylvania.
Delaware vs Mount St. Mary’s (2pm): The Mountaineers upset Navy behind a 21-save performance from Griffin McGinley. Delaware devoured NJIT behind a nine-point (6G/3A) outing from Mike Robinson. Now facing each other in week two, things could get interesting in this one.
Denver vs Air Force (2pm): After skimming past Utah 14-13 last Saturday in a game that saw Ted Sullivan and JJ Sillstrop combine for 11 points, the Denver Pioneers welcome in the Air Force Falcons, who are coming off a 21-11 loss against Virginia in a game that saw the Falcons lead 3-0 at the end of the first quarter and didn’t go away easy, in part thanks to a 14-save performance from Jason Rose. It could be another interesting showdown in the Rocky Mountains this weekend.
Penn State vs Villanova (3pm): The Nittany Lions and Wildcats have met nearly every year since 2005, and done so in February each year from 2015-2020. That trend now returns after an odd season a year ago. Penn State is coming off a season-opening 20-15 win over Lafayette where they showcased a lot of young talent. Kyle Aldridge helped lead the way with five points (2G/3A) and 14 points (six goals) were scored by freshmen. Villanova comes into their first game of the season with a significant number of transfers highlighting their roster, in addition to returnees such as midfielder Matt Campbell, goalie Will Vitton, and SSDM Chet Comizio.