(Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics)
Welcome to Week Four of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
This week is where things really get rolling at high speed, and especially so now that every team has played at least one game following last week’s action. Week four of the season will feature heavyweight battles, an interesting trip to Naples, Fla., and much more.
This week’s action got started with a rare Monday night contest in Old Dominion between VMI and Hampton. The Keydets went on the road and topped the Pirates 16-5 in a game between SoCon foes that won’t count as a conference game. They two will meet again in April.
On Tuesday night, Sean Lulley scored five goals in the second half to help lead Duke to a 19-14 win over the Delaware Blue Hens. Elsewhere, Lafayette scored a big win over Drexel.
Wednesday saw North Carolina earn a bounce-back win over Brown 14-11 and Army West Point explode in the second half for a 20-10 victory over Siena.
Heavyweight Battle in South Bend
At 1pm in South Bend, Ind., the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will go head to head against the Georgetown Hoyas in a top-5 battle that will feature two of likely better defenses in college lacrosse. This meeting marks the 17th overall meeting and first since 2017 between these two.
Georgetown will be looking to win their third game of the season after beating Penn 10-8 last Saturday in a game where they had to fight for victory. In that game, Graham Bundy Jr. moved back to his natural position at midfield with the return of TJ Haley from injury. Bundy led the Hoyas with four points (2G/2A) and currently has nine on the year (3G/6A) thus far. Will Bowen and Gibson Smith have been as advertised, causing havoc for opposing offenses. Against Penn, Bowen was tasked with covering the Quakers top threat in Sam Handley in what was one of the more exciting one-on-one matchups of the season thus far. Bowen tallied four caused turnovers and two ground balls in the game. Three of those caused turnovers came on Handley, who he held to a goal and two assists. Goalie Owen McElroy (28 saves) and faceoff man James Reilly (24-for-39, 62%) have also had solid starts to the season.
Notre Dame has one game under their belt, a 24-2 blowout win over Detroit Mercy. In that lone contest, college lacrosse got its first look at how dangerous this Irish offense could be with not one, but two Kavanaghs on the same attack line. Brothers Pat and Chris combined for 14 points (eight goals) in the game. On the other end, it was Arden Cohen, Carson Cochran, and Richmond transfer Jason Reynolds that got the start at close. The three combined for four ground balls and two caused turnovers. Liam Entemann made nine saves in the 32-plus minutes of action that he got. Notre Dame is expected to me really good, but Saturday will be a much better barometer of where they are at this stage.
Virginia, Syracuse Kickoff ACC Play
Saturday will mark the start of conference play as the Virginia Cavaliers and the Syracuse Orange will face off in the first ACC game of the season. If you’ll remember, Syracuse was the only ACC team to be the Cavaliers twice a season ago, doing so in February in the Dome and then again in April on the road. This season, the early contest will be in Charlottesville and that second meeting will be in the Dome.
Virginia is 3-0, but hasn’t looked as strong in each of their games as some other top five teams have thus far. They started slow against Air Force, had to fight for a full game against High Point, and again started slower against Towson. Connor Shellenberger (5G/13A) and Payton Cormier (9G/2A) have led the way on offense with a combined 29 points through three games. Matt Moore sat out against Towson Freshman Matthew Nunes has been solid in cage, making 30 saves with a 55% save percentage. I expect those top-tier guys to be on against the Orange, and against any opponent on any given day. The two areas for Virginia to watch in this game will likely be the ride and faceoff. The Cavaliers have held their opponents to 52-for-76 (68%) in the clearing game and Petey LaSalla has gone 38-for-61 (62%) at the dot while also grabbing 22 ground balls and scoring three goals.
Jakob Phaub went 15-for-28 (53%) against Maryland on Saturday, and last season had two of his best games against the Cavaliers as he went 66% in their first meeting and 88% in the second. Phaub being able to neutralize LaSalla again would be huge for his Orange squad, who didn’t exactly see too much offensive diversity against Maryland outside of Tucker Dordevic (5G/1A) and Lucas Quinn (3G). Virginia transfer Bobby Gavin made 11 saves to anchor the Orange defense on Saturday and you can bet he will he hyped to go against his former team, similar to Ohio State’s Caton Johnson against North Carolina last week. Could a similar performance in the future for Gavin?
Ivies Facing Tests
This weekend will feature multiple Ivy League teams facing tough test in their second games of the season.
Duke and Penn will go head to head on Long Island at a neutral site (MacArthur HS) in Levittown on Saturday afternoon. Duke is looked as good as they have all season following a win last weekend over Denver in which they blew past the Pioneers in the second half. They also earned a 19-14 win over Delaware on Tuesday in which former Penn attack Sean Lulley put up five goals in the second half to lead the way. For the Quakers, they are coming off a 10-8 loss over Georgetown that saw them have success with that signature fast-paced style they used to find so much success in 2019.
In the Old Line State, the top-ranked Maryland Terrapins will welcome in the Princeton Tigers. It will be the biggest test for the Matt Madalon and the Tigers in quite sometime. The Tigers blew out Monmouth 22-6 in their season opener last week and then beat Binghamton 22-9 on Tuesday night. Chris Brown (7G/7A) and Alex Slusher (8G/2A) have been the Tigers’s leaders thus far, combining for 24 points in two games. Maryland is coming off a 14-10 win over Syracuse on the road last Sunday and has looked like the most complete team through their first three games. Logan Wisnauskas (12G/7A) has headlined this team with 19 points on the season thus far.
To cap off Saturday’s action, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Harvard Crimson will go head to head in Naples, Fla. The Buckeyes are coming off a massive upset of North Carolina where they took down the Tar Heels 20-8, in part thanks to a 69% (18-for-26) effort at the faceoff dot from Justin Inacio. Jack Myers led the Ohio State offense with nine points off two goals and seven assists. Harvard beat NJIT 17-4 in a game in which Austin Madronic and Miles Botkiss each had a hat trick.
Other Games to Watch
The Long Island Cup: Hofstra is hosting fellow Long Island programs LIU, Stony Brook, and St. John’s for what will be the inaugural Long Island Cup. On Friday, Hofstra faces LIU and Stony Brook faces St. John’s. The winners will meet on Sunday in the final game of the invitational.
Brown vs Vermont: The Bears are 1-1, having beaten Quinnipiac last week and fallen to North Carolina in a hard-fought battle on Wednesday. Vermont has’t played since beating Penn State over a week ago. They fell to Utah 11-10 two weeks ago and lost to Duke 15-7 in their opener. Both of these teams have shown to be top-20 caliber and can make a lot of noise in transition. This should be a fun one.
Drexel vs UAlbany: Both the Dragons and Great Danes are looking for their first win. Drexel returns a ton of production from a year ago, but fell to UMBC last weekend and Lafayette on Tuesday. Faceoffs have especially been a problem for the Dragons, going 37% in their first two games. UAlbany fell to Cornell last Saturday in a game that saw them get down early and never recover. Graydon Hogg had three points (1G/2A) to lead the way.
Boston U. vs UMass: Boston U. is 2-0 after beating Merrimack in their opener two weeks ago and then upsetting a top-20 Bryant team in a snow storm last week in a game that saw the Terriers hold Bryant to 12-for-19 in the clearing game. Additionlly, Jake Cates had four goals to lead the Terriers offense and Connor Calderon went 12-for-24 (50%) at the faceoff dot. Matt Garber made 14 saves. A win over UMass, who is 1-1 after a dominant win over UMass Lowell last week and a narrow loss to a top-15 Army West Point squad, would be huge for Ryan Polley and the Terriers. These two programs have never faced each other before.
Loyola vs Rutgers: The Greyhounds and Scarlet Knights have had polar-opposite starts to the season. Loyola is 0-2 after getting blown out by Maryland and falling to Johns Hopkins in a close battle. Rutgers is 4-0, but has only played one ranked opponent in Army West Point. In their 12 previous meetings, Rutgers has won just once (2007). The last meeting between these two in 2020 yielded an 11-10 win. Rutgers is headlined by what is a top-10 defense, anchored by Colin Kirst, and their NASCAR transition offense. Aidan Olmstead (1G/6A) and Joey Kamish (4G), who’s the younger brother of Rutgers’ Brennan Kamish, have been leading the way for a Loyola team that hasn’t presented much of an identity through two games.
North Carolina vs Johns Hopkins: Both of these teams come into Saturday on similar paths. Johns Hopkins scored a big win over rival Loyola last Saturday in a performance in which their defense put together a strong fourth quarter. But a week prior, they were routed in the final three quarter by Georgetown. For North Carolina, they are coming off a bounce-back win against Brown where 21-for-28 (75%) as a team at the faceoff dot and Colin Kreig made 17 saves with a 60% save percentage. That win came just four days after a blow out 20-8 loss against Ohio State.