(Photo Courtesy of Brennan Asplen/Jacksonville Athletics)
Welcome to Week 10 of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
As is typically the case this time of year, there are some big conference matchups on the horizon to highlight this weekend’s action.
Only three midweek games have bene had this week and all of them came on Tuesday night. There is one more midweek game tonight as Syracuse travels to UAlbany for the first time ever.
The most notable result was Yale’s 22-15 win over Boston U. Additionally, Stony Brook beat Dartmouth 14-13 and Princeton drubbed Marist 18-7.
Massive Clashes in The SoCon and NEC
Saturday will see the top two teams in both the SoCon and NEC go head to head in a battle that could very much have postseason implications.
The Richmond Spiders will travel down to the Sunshine State where they will take on the Jacksonville Dolphins in a heavyweight SoCon battle that could very well decide who gets the top seed in the conference tournament. The Spiders are 1-0 in conference play and coming off a historic win over Virginia, becoming the first in-state team since Washington & Lee in 1977 to knock off the Cavaliers. On the other side, the home team Dolphins are coming off a victory against the High Point Panthers in their SoCon opener.
If Jacksonville wins they likely lock up the top spot in the SoCon Tournament as they just have games against Hampton, VMI, and Mercer. If Richmond wins, then their game against at High Point in two weeks will likely be the deciding factor.
This game between two of the top teams in the SoCon will also feature a pair of top-15 offenses and defenses. Jacksonville ranks seventh in DI in scoring defense, allowing 9.64 goals per game, while having the nation’s fifth-best offense (15.54 goals per game). The Spiders is tied for 13th in scoring defense (10.11 goals allowed per game) and the 12th-ranked scoring offense (14.33 goals per game).
Up in Philadelphia, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks will take on the home Bryant Bulldogs in a battle between the top two teams in the NEC, which also happens to be a rematch of last year’s NEC title game. Bryant won that battle 16-10.
A lot of talk surrounding Saturday’s game will be how can the Bulldogs neutralize the Hawks’ Zach Cole at the faceoff dot. The senior leads DI in faceoff win percentage (74%), having gone 129-for-257 through 10 games thus far. Against Bryant in last year’s NEC title game, Jacob Alexander held Cole to 43% (13-for-30). With Nathan Laliberte is now back from injury and took all the draws last week. He and Alexander shared duties the three games prior.
Ivy League Scrap in Ithaca
Each of the past few weeks have offered high-stakes, high-profile Ivy League battles. This weekend, the biggest game in the Ivy sees Harvard travel to Cornell in what will likely be the biggest test for Gerry Byrne’s squad up until this point.
Harvard currently sits atop the Ivy League standings with a 2-0 record in league and is coming off a 7-6 win over Colgate last week in which Kyle Mullin made eight saves, including a game-winning save to seal the deal. The contest marked the lowest output for the Crimson offense, which has seen the duo of Sam King (19G/14A) and Austin Madronic (20G/9A) lead the way, all season.
Cornell sits at 2-1 in league play, along with Yale and Princeton, and is also coming off a low-scoring game as they beat Dartmouth 8-7 a week ago. The Big Red had to thwart a late-game effort from the Big Green to secure the win in a game in which they held the opposition to just one goal for 20-plus minutes during the middle of the contest.
The top two defenses in the Ivy League, both are also top-20 nationally. Harvard ranks 11th in DI, allowing 9.80 goals per game, and Cornell is tied for 18th as they have allowed 10.44 goals per game. Additionally, the Crimson and Big Red have both gone under 50% at the faceoff dot this season and have held their opponents to under 80% in the clearing game.
This one could very well go in a myriad of different directions, but I’d expect it to be fun no matter what.
Important Big East Clash in Philly
In Philadelphia at 1pm on Saturday, the Villanova Wildcats will host the Denver Pioneers in one of the biggest Big East battles of the season. The game could likely decide who gets that No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.
Denver travels east after falling 17-9 to Georgetown on their Big East opener a week ago. In that contest, the Pioneers offense, which saw JJ Sillstrop net a hat trick, was held to single-digits for the only time this season. Jack Thompson made 17 saves last outing to anchor their defense.
Villanova comes in off a blowout 22-9 win over St. John’s and arguably the best team flying under-the-radar at the moment. With the trio of Matt Campbell (29G/12A), Luke Keating (15G/20A), and Brett Baskin (21G/12A) leading the way, the Wildcats are averaging 14.11 goals per game at this point in the season. They are also holding their opponents to an average of 11.2 goals per game with a veteran-laded defense, and are getting some of the best play of his career out of faceoff man Justin Coppola. He has gone143-for-234 (61%) thus far in 2022.
Top Team Clash in Sunday Night Big Ten Battle
On Sunday night, the top two teams in the Big Ten will go head to head when the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Maryland Terrapins take the field in College Park.
The home Maryland squad is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, undefeated with a 9-0 record, and to most looks like an unbeatable machine. Maryland comes into Sunday’s marquee contest after taking down Michigan 20-12 last weekend in a game in which their top two point-getters in Logan Wisnauskas and Keegan Khan each put up identical stat lines of three goals and three assists for six points.
Rutgers is coming off a Sunday night win over Johns Hopkins in which Shane Knobloch (3G/2A) and Ronan Jacoby (2G/2A) combined for nine points. In the contest, the Scarlet Knights were also able to get their NASCAR offense running. SSDM Zackary Franckowiak was part of that as he had a stellar game with three ground balls, three caused turnovers, and one goal.
Maryland won the two contests between these two last season, knocking off the Scarlet Knights 19-12 in their first meeting and 13-9 in the second.
Other Games to Watch
Virginia vs North Carolina: The first ACC rematch of the season. The Cavaliers will be looking to earn a bounce back win after their upset loss against Richmond last week. A big question though is if Matt Moore and Petey LaSalla, who both left last week’s game with injuries, will play, and if so, are they 100? On the other side, the Tar Heels will also be looking to get back on track after getting blown out 15-6 at home against Duke. The last time these two squads met, Virginia defeated Carolina 15-11 in a game in which the Tar Heels were held to just one goal in the second half.
Duke vs Notre Dame: The ACC outside of Virginia looks like a mess at this point in the season and all five of those teams are likely fighting for two or three, maximum, NCAA Tournament spots. The two teams in that pack looking the best after last week are the Duke Blue Devils and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Duke is coming off a win over rival North Carolina in which Brennan O’Neill had seven goals and the Blue Devils played arguably their most complete game in over a month. Notre Dame is coming off a 22-6 win over Syracuse in which Jake Taylor scored eight goals in his first start. Which team can keep building off a successful week?
UMass vs Towson: In the CAA, the UMass Minutemen and Towson Tigers are both 1-0, along with Fairfield, in conference play after big wins a week ago. UMass came back from down 9-4 to beat the Delaware Blue Hens 11-10 in overtime. Towson is beat defending CAA champion Drexel 13-12 in their conference opener, which put to bed a three-game losing streak. This game could turn out to be huge in the craziness of the CAA.
Bellarmine vs Robert Morris: During the opening weekend of ASUN play, both the Bellarmine Knights and Robert Morris Colonials earned wins in inaugural games as part of the newly-resurrected men’s lacrosse conference. The Knights took down Cleveland State 15-11 and the Colonials took down Detroit Mercy 12-5. With both of these teams likely in the ASUN tournament picture, along with Utah and Air Force, this game could be a crucial one in who is seeded where in Huntsville.