What to Watch During Week Six of The College Lacrosse Season

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

Welcome to week six of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!

Believe it or not, but the midpoint of the season isn’t too far in the distance and conference play gets underway for multiple leagues this weekend with the ASUN and Ivy League getting things underway while the Patriot League, MAAC, and CAA get deeper into their conference slates.

Major Clash in Charlottesville

The two programs who have defined the era more than any over the past few seasons have been Virginia and Maryland. The Terrapins were undefeated champions last season and featured a team that was one of the best in the history of the game. Virginia won the two titles prior and had to go through Maryland to get there, beating the Terrapins in the quarterfinals in 2019 and in the title game in 2021. Maryland returned the favor with a quarterfinal defeat of the Cavaliers last season.

Last year saw these two storied programs meet in the regular season for the first time since 2014 when they were last ACC foes. This year will see them meet once more as the Terrapins head to Charlottesville for the first time since 2013.

Virginia comes into Saturday’s contest as the top-ranked team in college lacrosse and coming off a week in which they defeated rival Johns Hopkins 18-13 on Tuesday night and then Towson in a 19-12 decision on Saturday afternoon.

The Cavaliers are headlined by the nation’s top scoring offense (20.40 goals per game) and also feature the best team shooting percentage (43.6%) in DI. That offense is headlined by attackman Connor Shellenberger  as he had put up 35 points on 11 goals and 24 assists thus far in 2023. Xander Dickson (25G/7A), Payton Cormier (18G/6A), and Thomas McConvey (12G/12A), among others, have also contributed heavily to this seemingly deep unit.

Sophomore goalie Matthew Nunes (60 saves, 49.2%) anchors a Virginia defense that features the likes of Cade Saustad (15GB/12CT), Cole Kastner (10GB/6CT), and Quentin Matsui (11GB/5CT) at close while SSDM Grayson Sallade (18GB/3CT) headlines the Cavaliers’ rope unit.

Maryland comes into Saturday following a 16-9 victory on the road against UAlbany last week. The Terrapins are ranked as the No. 4 team in the country.

The Terrapins are headlined by their defense, which features arguably the best tandem of poles in Brett Makar (23GB/12CT) and Ajax Zapitello (11GB/11CT) at close. LSM Jack MacDonald (14GB/6CT) and SSDM Dante Trader, Jr., (3G/1A/15GB/5CT) have highlighted a replenished rope unit and freshman Brian Ruppel (38 saves, 58.5%) anchors things in cage, having to step into the fire after the injury to Logan McNaney early in the year.

Maryland’s offense has been coming together by week through the early portion of the season and is led by Daniel Maltz (14G/7A) and Daniel Kelly (13G/5A). Kyle Long (5G/11A), Owen Murphy (11G/3A), and Jack Koras (9G/5A) are also heavy contributors for a unit.

Where there is arguably the most familiarity between these two is at the faceoff dot as Virginia’s Petey LaSalla and Maryland’s Luke Wierman have faced each other in each of the three meetings between these two over the past two seasons. Last spring, Wierman won both battles, going 66% (24-for-36) in the regular season meeting before going 68% (20-for-29) in the NCAA Quarterfinals. LaSalla went 21-for-37 (56%) against the Terps in the 2021 national title game. So far this season, Wierman has gone 98-for-149 (65.8%) while LaSalla has gone 99-for-104 (60.4%).

ASUN, Ivy League Begin Conference Play

The ACC has played a couple of league games while the Patriot League and MAAC have seen every team get into its conference slate over the past few weeks. The CAA saw one league game go down last week. However, conference plays ramps up even more this week with both the Ivy League and ASUN getting into their league schedules, and each does so with multiple big time battle going down in this first weekend.

In the Ivy League, Cornell will travel to Yale for a noon game while Harvard faces Brown at 1pm. Princeton heads to Penn for what should be an exciting 7pm battle under the lights at Franklin Field.

Yale-Cornell is arguably the biggest battle in the Ivy League during this opening weekend of league play. The Big Red arrive in New Haven as the No. 7 ranked team in the country and coming off a 10-6 loss against Penn State where they were held to just two goals in the first half and went without a score in the final frame. Yale comes into the contest No. 8 ranked team in the nation and off an 11-9 win over Denver last week.

The headlining factor in this contest is offense. Yale features the nation’s seventh-best scoring offense, averaging 15 goals per game, and is led the nation’s leader in goals per game in Chris Lyons (12G/20A) as well as a top five leader in points per game in Matt Brandau (12G/11A). Cornell, on the other hand, is led by CJ Kirst (22G/7A), who currently ranks second in goals per game and third in points per game.

Penn vs Princeton will be matchup of a pair of teams looking to get back on track and turn the page after a less-than-stellar start to the season. Penn is coming off a 9-8 loss to Villanova where their offense wasn’t able to get going until late and Sam Handley only got two shots off, scoring on both, which each came in the fourth quarter. Princeton is coming off a 14-13 overtime loss to rival Rutgers in what was the Tigers’ third consecutive win. The Tigers looked improved in the contest with seven different goal-scorers and a defense that didn’t collapse in the second half, when Michael Gianforcaro was in cage.

In the ASUN, the two biggest contests during this opening weekend of league play are Robert Morris vs Jacksonville and Utah vs Bellarmine.

The Jacksonville Dolphins will head to Western Pa. to face the Robert Morris Colonials in a contest that will very much have postseason implications. The Dolphins are 5-1 and have seen their star attackman Max Waldbaum come back from injury in recent weeks, tallying 15 points (8G/7A) through three games. Robert Morris is the reigning ASUN champion and coming off consecutive close losses to Hobart and High Point.

Utah will welcome in the Bellarmine Knights for a contest that will makeup the night cap of Saturday’s action. The Knights head to the Rockies with the program’s best start (5-1) since 2013 and led by a strong offensive core of Kyle Playsted (11G/14A), Benny O’Rourk (16G/7A), and Christian Della Rocco (16G/4A). Utah is coming off a bye week and looking to get back into the win column after a tough start which has seen them lose to Vermont, Johns Hopkins, and Rutgers in consecutive weeks. Tyler Bradbury (8G/10A) leads this Utes offense.

Utah holds a 5-0 record in the series against Bellarmine. However, the past two meetings were 12-11 games. That includes the overtime contest in the ASUN semifinals last season.

Tobacco Road Battle

On Friday night the Duke Blue Devils will open up ACC play as they welcome in their bitter rival North Carolina. Both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are coming off sizable victories last week Duke topped Loyola 17-8 on Friday night and North Carolina beat down a depleted Brown squad 19-6 on Saturday.

Duke heads into Friday night’s rivalry contest with a 6-1 record and headlined by a high-powered and deep offense. Brennan O’Neill (22G/15A) and Andrew McAdorey (17G/15A) help lead that group with 37 and 32 points on the season, respectively. Jake Naso (120-for-185, 65%) as been strong at the faceoff dot and William Helm (80 saves, 53%) has been steady in cage to anchor an improved defense.

North Carolina is 4-2 on the season and is headlined by multiple graduate transfers in Logan McGovern (14G/10A) and Sean Goldsmith (12G/5A). Senior Lance Tillman (9G/9A) has also been a crucial piece of the Tar Heel offense. Collin Kreig (66 saves, 58.9%) has anchored the defense while Andrew Tyeryar (67-for-120, 55.8%) has served as the top option at the dot.

Other Games to Watch

Outside of the games already mentioned, here are some other games to watch this weekend. You can find a full schedule here.

Navy vs Johns Hopkins (Fri, 7pm, ESPN +): These historic rivals will take the field against each other in Annapolis and up against different circumstances. Navy welcomes in the Blue Jays looking to break their four-game losing streak and to bounce back from a 17-8 loss to Colgate. Johns Hopkins is coming off an 11-9 win over Syracuse and appears to be clicking at the moment with Tim Marcille being a solid anchor for a solid defense while Jacob Angelus and Garrett Degnon helps lead the offense.

Penn State vs Marquette (Noon, Varsity Media YouTube): Penn State and Marquette head to Long Island to meet in a neutral site contest on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are one of the hottest teams in college lacrosse after beating Yale, Penn, and Cornell each of the last three weeks. Marquette, on the other hand, is coming off an 11-10 loss to Bellarmine. The battle to watch in this game? Penn State’s Jack Posey vs Marquette’s Bobby O’Grady.

Lehigh vs Army West Point (1pm, ESPN +): Lehigh welcomes Army West Point to Bethlehem for what will be the toughest conference test thus far for both squads. Both teams are 5-1 and coming off league wins last week as the Mountain Hawks beat Holy Cross and the Black Knights defeated Lafayette. Reese Burek (15G/11A) and Evan Plunkett (11G/9A) have led Army while Scott Cole (20G/11A) and Christian Mule’ (16G/15A) lead Lehigh.

Michigan vs Notre Dame (1pm, Big Ten Plus): Michigan welcomes in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a Midwest battle that will be one of the toughest non-conference contest for the Wolverines, who are playing well right now with wins over Delaware and Harvard in the past few weeks that have seen Michael Boehm (15G/15A) be one of the big playmakers for the offense. Notre Dame is the No. 2 team in college lacrosse and is coming off a blowout win over Ohio State where Chris Kavanagh (3G/2A) and Eric Dobson (4G/1A) led the way with five points apiece.

Denver vs Ohio State (Sun, 2pm, Pioneers All-Access): The Denver Pioneers welcome in the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon for what will be a game between two programs looking to get back on track. Ohio State has lost to Virginia, Cornell, and Notre Dame in recent weeks before a midweek win over Detroit Mercy. Denver is coming off an 11-9 loss to Yale where they arguably won the game plan by making Yale play slow, but couldn’t pull out the win on the scoreboard. Both of these teams are hungry for a big win and have the talent to put up points.


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