(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Athletics)
Welcome to Week Six of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
March Madness has arrived, and as usual, expect that spirit to carry over to lacrosse as things heat up even more this week with the march towards midseason and conference playing getting closer for most teams across the landscape.
A couple midweek games remain, including the first ACC Thursday Night contest between North Carolina and Virginia, but overall it has been a lighter slate from Monday through Thursday than in previous weeks.
Tuesday saw the most action with six games on the docket. Dartmouth’s 8-7 win over Vermont and UMass’s 12-9 win over UAlbany helped headline the day’s action.
On Wednesday’s lone contest, Robert Morris blewout Canisius 23-6 to get their second win of the Craig McDonald era.
No. 7 Princeton will welcome in No. 3 Rutgers on Saturday afternoon for the 99th all-time meeting between the two programs as they fight for the Tots Mesitrell Cup. It will be the first time these two have met since 2020 and the 100th anniversary of the series.
Rutgers takes the 35-minute drive South for the rivalry game after surviving a close road contest against the Stony Brook Seawolves, 17-6, to help them remain undefeated. The Scarlet Knights have been led by a pair of converted midfielders at attack in Ross Scott (19G/8A) and Mitch Bartolo (15G/8A). Additionally, their defense with Colin Kirst in cage and Ethan Rall at LSM, have been aiding in the Scarlet Knights’ signature “NASCAR” transition offense.
Princeton comes into Saturday after earning their biggest win of the season last week, knocking off a No. 3-ranked Georgetown squad, 10-8. Their defense, which ranks 10th nationally (9.50 goals allowed per game) was especially strong last week as the Tigers’ held the Hoyas to single-digits. Ben Finlay had a big day with two ground balls and causing four turnovers to help lead the effort out in front of the cage at close and LSM Andrew Song also had three ground balls and four caused turnovers. Erik Peters made 16 saves (10 in the second half).
On Sunday, the Syracuse Orange will travel to take on the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays in what is always one of the most highly anticipated games of the season. This year’s game might have even more hype surrounding it than usual as it will be the first between Gary Gait and Peter Milliman. And, of course, it will mark the first time Syracuse defensive coordinator Dave Pietramala return to Homewood since his stint at the helm of his alma mater ended back in March of 2020.
Neither Syracuse or Hopkins are doing so hot right now. The Orange are coming off an 18-16 win over rival Hobart last week, but prior to that they suffered three-straight losses including a 17-13 defeat against Army in the Dome. The Blue Jays are coming off an embarrassing 19-8 loss against Virginia last Saturday.
Needless to say, this game could be a momentum-changer for both of these teams.
Seven Unbeaten’s Left
Coming into the weekend, seven teams remain unbeaten: Bucknell (5-0), Boston U. (4-0), Cornell (4-0), Maryland (5-0), Michigan (7-0), Rutgers (6-0), and Virginia (5-0).
Virginia will face North Carolina tonight in the first ACC Thursday Night game where they will look to move to 2-0 in ACC play and defend their unbeaten record. It’ll be a game that features two of the top-three point-getters as Chris Gray leading the Tar Heels with 41 points (25G/16A) whole Connor Shellenberger leads the Cavaliers with 33 points off 11 goals and 22 assists.
A pair of unbeatens will go head-to-head this weekend as the Bucknell Bison travel to face Boston U. in what will be the Patriot League opener for the Frank Fedorjaka’s squad. Boston U. blasted Colgate in it’s conference opener last week, 18-6. Bucknell is led by a pair of stellar freshman in Connor Davis (25G/1A) and Cam Doolan (8G/10A), who have combined for 44 points thus far and lead the team in goals and assists, respectively. Boston U. has seen a world of difference at the faceoff dot compared to last season with Maryland transfer Conor Calderon going 52-for-98 (53%) at the dot thus far to help bolster it’s already talented roster.
Ranked fourth nationally, Cornell is coming off a big win over Ohio State where they held the Buckeyes to a 12-of-19 mark in the ride and Gavin Adler held Jack Myers to just one goal on seven shots and two turnovers. The Big Red travel to take on Penn State this weekend.
Top-ranked Maryland will welcome in UAlbany to College Park on Saturday while Michigan welcome Harvard to Ann Arbor.
Other Games to Watch
Richmond vs Georgetown: Following a loss to Princeton last week, the Georgetown Hoyas will be looking to bounce back against the Richmond Spiders. While it may be a pair of poles, Will Bowen and Gibson Smith that have headlined this team, faceoff man James Reilly and goalie Owen McElroy have been very strong for the Hoyas over the past few weeks. Despite the loss, Reilly went 16-for-22 at the dot last week while McElroy made 16 saves. Additionally, Alex Trippi had four goals in his best game as a Hoya.
Brown vs Stony Brook: A pair of teams that deserve to be in the top-20, the Brown Bears and Stony Brook Seawolves will go head to head. Brown’s lone loss is a 14-11 defeat at North Carolina and they are currently riding a three-game winning streak that includes victories over Villanova and Vermont. Junior Devon McLane has been leading the Bears amidst a breakout season with 30 points (16G/14A). Stony Brook is coming off a close loss against Rutgers, their only defeat of the year, and is led by a pair of offensive weapons in Dylan Pallonetti (14G/10A) and Kevin Mack (8G/12A).
Ohio State vs Notre Dame: These midwestern foes are facing each other for the first time since 2020, a battle which the Buckeyes won 13-11, and are both looking to get back in the win column. Ohio State suffered their first defeat of the year against Cornell last week while Notre Dame has fallen to Georgetown and Maryland in consecutive weeks. While a pair of talented offensive players highlight this matchup in Ohio State’s Jack Myers and Notre Dame’s Pat Kavanagh, knowing the history of this series, a defensive battle wouldn’t be surprising.
Villanova vs Penn: A Philly battle, the Penn Quakers will be looking to win their third consecutive contest after big wins over Duke and Penn State at neutral sites in thrilling fashion the past two weekends. Villanova is coming off an 8-6 win over Hofstra. Penn holds an 18-12 lead in the all-time series, but it’s been Villanova who has been more successful recently with four wins in the past five meetings.
Loyola vs Duke: Looking for their second win of the season, the Loyola Greyhounds welcome the Duke Blue Devils to the Ridley Athletic Complex on Saturday. The Greyhounds are coming off a 14-12 win over Lafayette in their Patriot League opener that saw Aidan Olmstead tally six points (5G/1A). Duke is coming off a 14-8 win over Richmond. The Blue Devils have been lead by one of the deeper offenses in the ACC with the trio of Dyson Williams, Sean Lulley, and Brennan O’Neill leading the way at attack.
Denver vs Yale: The Yale Bulldogs head west this weekend for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Denver Pioneers. Andy Shay’s squad will be looking to continue to improve after an overtime win against UMass last week in which Matt Brandau stole the show with seven points (4G/3A), including the game-winner. Denver will be looking to get back in the win column and show their prowess after a rough start to the season that has included losses against Duke, Jacksonville, and North Carolina last week. The Pioneers haven’t looked too hot in their wins either, skimming past Utah top open the season while also having trouble at times against Air Force and Canisius, specifically in the first half.