(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)
Welcome to Week Five of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
March is here and that means everything is full speed ahead in college lacrosse with conference play here or just a few weeks away for some conferences, and we are starting to get some clarity on what the identity of many of these teams are.
Week five of the season will feature multiple rivalry matchups, see conference play get underway for some in the Patriot League, and be highlighted by an NCAA Quarterfinal rematch in College Park.
Due to Air Force-Canisius being pushed back, this week saw midweek games played from Monday through Wednesday. That lone Monday contest saw the Falcons beat the Golden Eagles 9-8 in an overtime contest.
On Tuesday we saw the most jam-packed weekday slate of the season thus far and it was highlighted by Brown holding off a second-half comeback from Villanova, Cornell topping rival Hobart, and Duke beating High Point in another exciting ACC-SoCon matchup.
Wednesday saw Army West Point achieve something they haven’t done since 1973: beat Syracuse in consecutive seasons. Also, Loyola dropped to 0-4 with a loss to rival Towson and UAlbany topped Siena in a game that featured two entire coaching staffs that graduated from Albany and played under head coach Scott Marr.
Patriot League Play Begins
As usual, the Patriot League is the first conference to fully dive into conference play as everyone except Bucknell will face a conference opponent this weekend.
On Saturday, Loyola will travel to Lafayette, Boston U. to Colgate, and Navy to Lehigh. Army West Point will host Holy Cross on Sunday afternoon.
Arguably the top game will be when the Terriers of Boston U. take the field against the Colgate Raiders at high noon. Boston U. is 3-0 with wins over Merrimack, a Bryant team that was ranked No. 19 at the time, and UMass. Led by a strong attack duo of Vince D’Alto (9G/6A) and Timmy Ley (8G/4A) that help make up a very balanced and cohesive offense while Matt Garber (36 saves, 59% save percentage) anchors things on the other end.
Maybe the biggest factor for the Terriers this season has been Conor Calderone. The Maryland transfer has gone 39-for-71 (54%), which is practically a complete 180 from what the Terriers did at the dot last season (41% as a team and 49% through three games).
Colgate comes into Saturday as the more well-rested team after their game against Hobart last week was postponed. The Raiders are 1-2 with an 11-8 win over Air Force being their lone victory. They fell 11-10 in overtime to High Point to open their season before falling 15-9 at North Carolina just two days later.
The Raiders ended the Terriers season last year, beating them in the Patriot League Quarterfinals in comeback fashion. They are again led by attackman Brian Minicus, who had put up 15 points off eight goals and seven assists thus far. His younger brother, Michael, has also emerged as a leader at attack as a sophomore this season as well.
Navy travels to Lehigh at 3pm on Saturday in a game that features two teams looking to get back into the win column. Navy, who is led by a strong pair of midfielders in Patrick Skalniak (12G/10A) and Dane Swanson (10G/6A), is coming off a one-goal loss against High Point. Lehigh is on a two-game losing streak after falling to Hobart and Cornell in each of the past two weeks. The Mountain Hawks have been getting all they can from Mike Sisselberger (38-for-62, 61%), but have struggled in the six-on-six and especially so on offense where multiple injuries, including that of Cole Kirst, have hindered them thus far.
Loyola will be looking for their first win over the season as they head to Easton, Pa. with an 0-4 record and coming off an 11-8 loss against rival Towson where they only scored two goals in the second half. Lafayette is 2-2 and coming off a tough 13-12 overtime loss to Binghamton.
On Sunday at noon, Holy Cross travels to West Point to play the Army Black Knights.
Trophies Being Fought For
This weekend will see three different trophies, or cups, being fought for in rivalry games.
For the first time since 2019, the Virginia Cavaliers and Johns Hopkins Blue Jays will meet and fight for the Doyle Smith Cup. These two rivals have met 94 times, including each of the past 73 seasons through 2019. And since 2006, the Blue Jays and Cavaliers have fought for the right to hoist the Doyle Smith Cup.
Virginia comes into this contest after a blowout victory over Syracuse last week, avenging the drubbing the Orange put on them almost exactly a year earlier. Connor Shellenberger came alive once again in that game, leading the way for the Cavaliers with seven points (3G/4A) while Petey LaSalla went 19-for-28 (67%) to dominate the faceoff dot. Additionally, the Virginia defense played lights out with Cole Kastner proving to be a backbone with four caused turnovers and one ground ball to lead the way on the back end. Matthew Nunes had 15 saves.
Johns Hopkins is coming off a 15-10 loss to North Carolina where Joey Epstein had four goals, including a natural hat trick in the fourth, to help ease the deficit in a game where they were dominated for a good part of, and especially so at the faceoff dot. The Blue Jays will likely need to have a much better showing against the Virginia ride and at the faceoff dot against LaSalla if they want a chance to knock off the Cavaliers.
On Sunday, the Syracuse Orange and Hobart Statesmen will fight for the Kraus-Simmons Trophy. It will be the 107th meeting between the two programs and first since 2020 as scheduling restrictions kept them from not playing last year.
Syracuse comes into this game on a three-game losing skid and off a tough 17-13 loss to Army on Wednesday night in which they were 20-of-24 in the clearing game and committed 19 turnovers. Owen Seebold and Brendan Curry each had four goals in the game and had strong showings, especially in the second and third quarters. On Saturday it’ll be interesting to see if the Orange can put it all together for a full 60 minutes and limit the silly mistakes, which have cost them so far this season.
Hobart comes in looking for their first win over Syracuse since 2013 and second since 1986. The Statesmen are led by a pair of attackmen in Tommy Mott (8G/8A) and Ryan Archer (7G/5A) and coming off a 15-12 loss against Cornell in which a 12-2 lead helped write their end. Defense and the faceoff dot with Adam Shea going against Jakob Phaup are the two areas where Hobart likely needs to focus on if they want the dub.
In Rhode Island, Brown will face Providence in one a multiple battles for the Ocean State Cup, which is played for between Brown, Bryant, and Providence. Bryant already beat Providence so if the Bears get the win on Saturday, their game with the Bulldogs on April 26th will be for who wins the Ocean State Cup in 2022.
Maryland, Notre Dame Meet in NCAA Quarterfinal Rematch
Arguably the biggest game of the week will take place in South Bend where the Maryland Terrapins travel to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in what will be a 2021 NCAA Quarterfinal rematch.
Maryland beat Notre Dame in overtime to advance to Championship Weekend last season. Now, they will be looking to beat them in the regular season and move to 5-0 on the season as they are coming off a 15-10 victory over Princeton. Led by Logan Wisnauskas and his 25 points (16G/9A), the Terrapins have looked liked the best team in the nation all season.
Notre Dame is coming off a 16-11 home loss against Georgetown where they were dominated at the faceoff and got down 11-4 in the first half before putting together a strong second-half effort that eventually failed. We know the Irish can bounce-back with a guy like Pat Kavanagh running things on offense and Liam Entemann anchoring that defense, but only time will tell exactly how they respond.
Other Games to Watch
Vermont vs Bryant: The Catamounts and Bulldogs each came into the season as top-20 teams, but haven’t had the starts that either wanted. This game could be a big momentum-shifting game for both sides, who can run and make an impact in unsettled situations when needed.
Cornell vs Ohio State: In what will likely be their biggest test yet, the Cornell Big Red welcome in the Ohio State Buckeyes for a top-15 battle on Saturday afternoon. The Big Red are coming off a win over Hobart midweek where their offense really clicked in the second half, and saw CJ Kirst and Billy Coyle really lead the way in that end while Angelo Petrakis went 17-for-28 (60%) at the dot. Ohio State has leaned on Jack Myers (13G/17A) heavily this season while Justin Inacio has proven to be a lynchpin at the faceoff dot, going 76-for-98 (78%) thus far.
North Carolina vs Denver: Chris Gray and the Tar Heels welcome in a Pioneers team that has struggled early this season. Carolina put a beating on Hopkins last week, especially with their ride and dominance at the faceoff dot. How will the Pioneers, who went 1-1 last week with a loss to Jacksonville and win over Canisius, handle the Tar Heels?
Duke vs Richmond: Sean Lulley and Nakeie Montgomery exploded in the Blue Devils win over Richmond. Facing another SoCon team, Duke looks to continue to roll as they get deeper into the season with March arriving. Richmond is led by Ryan Lanchbury (10G/12A) and coming off a triple overtime win against Towson. Like with High Point, the question is how much trouble can the Spiders offense cause the Blue Devils defense.
Penn State vs Penn: Penn State is coming off a big win over Yale after a rather slow start to the season with a lot of young players. Aleric Fyock made 21 saves in the win. Penn is coming off big overtime win against Duke and have showed to be a top-10 team early on this season with Dylan Gergar (10G) leading the was as their primary scorer.
Jacksonville vs Utah: With Max Waldbaum and Jacob Greiner leading the way on offense and Luke Millican anchoring the defense, Jacksonville is one of the hottest teams in college lacrosse right now with wins over both Duke and Denver. Utah is coming off a 12-11 win over Marquette and has also shown a lot this season with this new-look fast-paced play Andrew McMinn has brought west. This could easily be one of the most exciting games of the weekend.