(Photo Courtesy of Georgetown Athletics)
Well, that was fun!
Everybody except Notre Dame, Hampton, and the Ivy League has begun their 2022 season as week two is now in the books. Now, it’s time for my weekly installment where I breakdown multiple key points and storylines from the weekend, and sometimes week in total, that was.
So, let’s get after it.
Georgetown Defense Shines in 2022 Debut
Coming into the season, it was pretty obvious as to who had the best defense in the country – at least on paper.
That team would be Georgetown. The Hoyas return a first-team All-American in between the pipes in Owen McElroy, added All-American defenseman in Will Bowen from North Carolina, and return another All-American in Gibson Smith. And on Sunday, that very defense showed just how much trouble they can cause opposing offenses.
In the final three quarters, and some change, Georgetown held Johns Hopkins to 3-for-31 in shooting, caused four of the Blue Jays 13 turnovers during that time frame, and blocked one shot. Additionally, McElroy made 12 of his 17 saves during those final three quarters.
Gibson Smith ended the day with six ground balls and a caused turnover while Will Bowen also caused one turnover and scooped up five ground balls.
Simply put, this Georgetown defense is who we thought they were – at least through one game.
Rutgers Goes NASCAR Fast
The Scarlet Knights moved to 3-0 last week as they beat Marist on Wednesday night in what was a pretty exciting contest and then blasted St. John’s on Saturday.
While much emphasis has been on this new-look Rutgers offense in terms of the new faces that they added through the transfer portal over the summer, we have seen the the Scarlet Knights renew one aspect of this offense that was crucial to their NCAA Quarterfinal run a season ago: transition offense. Notably, coach Brian Brecht calls their NASCAR offense.
That NASCAR transition was for sure going in full-force during their midweek contest against Marist where we saw a lot of action in the middle of the field as well as in transition.
Mitch Bartolo had a first-half hat trick in that game and dished out one assists for four points on the day. He took a game-high 18 shots. Two of Bartolo’s goals came in transition. LSM Ethan Rall also got in on the offensive action, assisting on one of those Bartolo goals.
Things got out of hand early on at St. John’s, but the Scarlet Knights still capitalized when they could in transition. Rutgers had multiple goals off transition sequences in that contest.
Bellarmine-Marquette Fight in Triple OT
On Saturday, I took the 15-minute drive over to Owsley B. Frazier Stadium to watch the Bellarmine Knights host the Marquette Golden Eagles in what was a cold and cloudy, but exciting contest – especially late. I highly suggest you go watch the replay on ESPN + to see how good these defenses played late in this game.
A Justin Wescoat goal with 6:29 left was one of just three second-half goals for the Knights and proved to be the overtime forcing one as well. But this game wouldn’t just need one overtime, in fact the contest went to triple overtime.
The first two overtimes, at least in the beginning were very similar. Marquette won the faceoff in overtime period one, went down and took four shots. The first three went wide and the fourth was saved by Bellarmine’s JC Higginbotham. Oh, and all but a few seconds of that possession were man-up for the Golden Eagles. Bellarmine never got a full possession as they turned it over soon after getting it into the offensive zone.
After a timeout, Marquette would shoot three shots. Two went wide and the third was saves by Higginbotham and sent things to a second overtime. In that second overtime, Bellarmine got the opening possession but never got a shot off and turned the ball over off a shot clock violation. Marquette took one shot that was saved by Higginbotham out of a time out and then after retaining possession less than a minute later took two more shots, each saved by Higginbotham.
Bellarmine’s Jon Robbins was called for a controversial hit as time expired that flared tensions on each sides and sparked a small, quick skirmish. A one minute non-releasable unnecessary roughness call came down on Robbins. Marquette took two shots that went high or were blocked before Bobby O’Grady let one rip right as the penalty on Robbins expired. That shot would get past Higginbotham and put the seal on Saturday’s thriller in the Ville.
Here is video of those final two possessions.
The North Carolina Ride
A big piece of the Tar Heels’ identity last season was how hard and how efficient they rode. In fact, it was Christ Gray riding all the way back into the defensive zone and forcing a turnover that helped them get that win over Rutgers in the NCAA Quarterfinals and advance to Championship Weekend.
Just two games in, Carolina has shown that the ride will be part of their identity once again in 2022.
On Friday night in the Tar Heels’ beat the Richmond Spiders 13-9 and a big part of the Carolina victory was their success on the ride. The Tar Heels held Richmond to just 18-for-26 in the clearing game. That includes a third quarter where they went 4-for-9 on clears.
North Carolina scored four goals on possessions that directly followed failed Richmond clears on Friday night.
In Sunday’s game against Colgate, the Tar Heels came up with the 15-9 victory. They held the Raiders to to 17-for-20 in clearing. That includes holding them to just 4-for-7 in the first half.
Henry Vogt and Malik Sparrow Need More Press
Underrated isn’t the right word to use, but in a way both Merrimack goalie and Henry Vogt and Denver LSM Malik Sparrow put up performances that, at least I feel, should’ve gotten them much more praise nationally than they got. Now, Merrimack did play during that very busy noon window lost, and Denver being out west and playing Air Force likely didn’t draw as much attention as it could have.
But the fact of the matter is, both of these players played their butts off on Saturday.
In Merrimack’s 12-10 loss against Boston U., Vogt had himself a career day and one of the best performances from a goalie we’ve seen during this young season. Vogt recorded a career-high 23 saves and also had a goal, which he launched from well beyond the midline with under four minutes remaining in the game.
Sparrow didn’t exactly stuff that stat sheet for Denver in a way that made his play pop out amongst the rest of the great LSMs in college lacrosse on Saturday, but his effort in the Pioneers’ 13-9 win against fellow Rocky Mountain foe Air Force was certainly one that gave them a boost.
Sparrow ended the game with three caused turnovers and two ground balls. He also laid some wood in the middle of the field, and did so in highlight reel fashion.