Fall Scrimmage Notes: Denver, St. Joseph’s, Harvard

(Photo: Harvard Men’s Lacrosse/Instagram)

It was a big weekend of college lacrosse as a whole host of teams got to suit up against another colored jersey for the first time since May.

For those, like myself, who typically can’t get to very many, if any, scrimmages during the fall you have been very much in luck the past few years with multiple fall scrimmages now being broadcast online.

On Sunday (following a long and exciting day of college football, nonetheless) I sat down and consumed multiple scrimmages on film: St. Joseph’s vs Canada White and Denver vs St. Joseph’s, both of which took place in Ontario, and Harvard vs Team Italy.

Here’s a look at my observations from each of those teams after their performances on Saturday:

Saint Joseph’s

On the stream of Saint Joseph’s first game against Canada white, the numbers were very hard to see. The same was true for Denver vs Canada Red, which may as well have bee filmed from the parking lot. The Saint Joseph’s vs Denver game was much better and I was able to get everyone on both teams. And, admittedly, that is the game I cared the most about when it came to both teams as it was a full college team versus another full college team.

The Hawks lost 13-7 to Canada white and 10-3 against Denver.

Saint Joseph’s had two players pulling double duty this weekend as attackman Levi Anderson was on the Team Canada Red roster while defenseman Levi Verch was on the Team Canada White roster. Anderson had two goals against his own team in the first scrimmage.

Faceoff man Zach Cole played about three quarters and took (by my count) one draw in the fourth quarter of that first scrimmage. He was the most impressive player for the Hawks all day as he went approximately 50% against Canada’s Jake Withers. Cole struggled in the first half but adjusted and looked sharp on a consistent basis in the second. He had a goal and an assists that game. He did not play against Denver.

The Hawks return a very good offense with its entire attack of Anderson, Matt Bohmer, and Carter Page back. Its top middie in Tucker Brown also returns. The talented unit had problems north of the border this weekend, though. Stick work wasn’t dialed in (a typical fall problem) and Anderson’s absence in the first scrimmage was especially noticeable. Freshman Collin Campbell started in his place that game and I counted him with one goal. I had Matt Bohmer with at least two goals on the day as a whole. I though he played really nice and had the ball was in his stick quite a bit.

In both games, the Hawks got some really good looks on cage but had trouble breaking the lid. They used the pick game quite a bit and tried to get some downhill dodging going from the midfield. Wagner transfers Stephen Dwyer and Aidan Clark both saw some action and it looks like they can fit well into that offense. Come spring, I expect a lot from this group.

On the defensive end, Patrick Clemens and Matt Popeck were the two poles that stood out the most to me. Roobie Seeley started the first scrimmage in cage and I believe he played a bit of that second scrimmage as well. He made some really good saves. The defense got some good stops and did look to jumpstart the offense at times in multiple games, but overall struggled. And clearing the ball out of the defensive zone did seem to be an issue that was especially prevalent early in both scrimmages.

Overall, the Hawks looked rusty and the fact that they didn’t have Anderson full-time and Cole not taking draws against Denver was a big factor. Even with the rust, you could see the talent this team has – especially on offense.

Denver

As mentioned previously, the stream for Denver’s first scrimmage against Canada Red was terrible and unwatchable. So the only scrimmage that I was able to truly break down was that second one against Saint Joseph’s later in the day.

The only notable absence for Denver was senior LSM Malik Sparrow. It doesn’t appear that he even made the trip up north.

The Pioneers lost to Canada Red 10-6 and beat Saint Joseph’s 10-3.

Denver loses five of its top six scorers from a year ago. So naturally I was ver intrigued with what this offense would look like on Saturday. And while the Pioneers did have some of those typical fall ball stick work troubles, especially early in the game, the way in which the offense moved the ball was one of my main takeaways. Sure, there was no shot clock, but Denver moved the ball very well and was able to set up some very nice looks for its shooters.

JJ Sillstrop, Michael Lampert, and Richie Connell was the starting attack lineup that Denver went with and they looked as advertised. At midfield it looked to be Noah Manning, Mic Kelly, and TJ Hussey running as the first line. Stehpen Avery, Joe Taraboletti, and Jack Tortolani looked to be running as the second midfield line.

I had SIllstrop with a hat trick and at least one assist. Lampert and Manning each had two goals while Connell and Taraboletti each had one.

At the faceoff dot, Alec Stathakis played a good chunk of the scrimmage against Saint Joseph’s and gave this Denver offense plenty of extra possession to work with.

The brightest star on defense for the Pioneers looked to be AJ Mecurio, who played at LSM. He brought a ton of aggressiveness to the field on defense, as well as in transition and on the faceoff wings. Close defenseman Jack DiBendetto was also a big playmaker on that end, as expected, Jack Thompson got the start in cage and anchored the Pioneers defense pretty well during the time he saw. He made a couple big saves early, including one off a transition opportunity for the opposition.

Denver had its fare share of mistakes like everyone does this time of year, but on Saturday they were the least rusty team. That was especially true when it came to how well their offense seemed to move and take advantage of opportunities. I wouldn’t say they were in midseason form, but they looked good nonetheless.

Harvard

Gerry Byrne’s Harvard Crimson squad suited up last weekend against North Carolina at the Bob Kemp Classic in Washington, D.C. This weekend, Harvard took to its home turf in a scrimmage against Team Italy in a contest that was streamed on ESPN +.

Harvard won their scrimmage on Saturday night 26-10.

From last year’s team, Harvard returns a whole lot of talent. With that comes a lot of depth. That is especially true at the midfield. I was particularly impressed with Andrew O’Berry and Ray Dearth. Playing primarily as defensive midfielders as freshmen last season, they got a lot of clock early on and showed the ability to be offensive threats. Freshmen Logan IP and Francisco Cortes also made some noise at the position along with seniors Nick Loring and Isaiah Dawson, and sophomore Andrew Perry. Miles Botkiss and Lucas Hilsenrath were also among the top names in that mix.

At the attack spot, Sam King took on that X-attackman role as expected while Hayden Cheek continued to be the off-ball threat he was all of last season. Freshman Teddy Malone and sophomore Joey Graham each saw time at that third attack spot alongside King and Cheek.

Cheek had three goals in the first half while Malone had two during those first 30 minutes of play.

Much of the same is true on the defensive end with sophomores Collin Bergstorm and Chase Strupp back at close defense. Both stood out during the time they saw on Saturday night. Freshman Charlie Mueller started in that third close spot with sophomore Tommy Martinston out due to injury. As a whole, the Crimson defense looked big, physical, and stout no matter who was in at the given time.

LSM Greg Campsis and SSDM Chase Yager also made their mark as expected on Saturday night.

The two biggest questions for Harvard coming into 20223 surround who the goalie is and who takes the faceoffs. Well, on Saturday it was junior Christian Barnard who got the start in cage and played the first half. He looked very good and anchored that defense well. Senior Jack Schledorf played the third quarter. Sophomore George Alvarez played the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Andrew DeGennaro took the majority of the draws at the dot while freshman Matt Barraco also saw quite a bit of action. Both dominated the competition.

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