(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)
Coming into this weekend after last I was unsure of just how good this slate would end up being outside of a few games. Needless to say, it exceeded my expectations.
Week six of the college lacrosse season saw what was the best game of the season to this point, and former upsetter get upset themselves, wildness in conference play, and more.
Let’s get into the action!
The calendar might say March, but what went down in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon felt like a game out of late May.
Meeting for the fifth time since 2019 and fourth time in the past three seasons, the Maryland Terrapins knocked off the Virginia Cavaliers 14-13 in overtime to add another thrilling chapter to this old rivalry.
With 2:19 remaining in the overtime period, Braden Erska found a wide open Daniel Kelly up top for the overtime game-winner to push the Terrapins past the Cavaliers. In doing so, it was Kelly goals that bookended the contest as he also put home the first of the day way back in the opening minutes of the game.
However, while Kelly put home the game-winning score, it was indeed goalie Brian Ruppel who had the best play, or plays, of the game and the Maryland defense who shined the brightest in the end. After an empty first possession of overtime for the Terrapins, the Cavaliers charged back down the field and were able to get three good looks on cage. One came off the transition sequence from Evan Zinn, the next came from Thomas McConvey, and the third came from the stick of Zinn off a rebound and on the crease.
The problem for Virginia was freshman goalie Brian Ruppel was there each and every time, making three consecutive saves in what was the sequence of game to shut out the Cavaliers in the overtime period and ensure Maryland got that last possession in which they were able to seal the deal.
Ruppel’s three game-saving saves gave him 14 on the day as he anchored a Maryland defense that held a once flourishing Virginia offense to three goals from late in the second quarter through the 13:14 mark in the fourth quarter. Ajax Zappitello was the star out in front of the cage, holding Virginia star attackman Connor Shellenberger to one goal, two assists, and seven shots. He had just one assists and four shots at the half. It marks the second time in as many meetings that Zappitello won the matchup versus Shellenberger as he held him scoreless and without an assist in last year’s quarterfinal meeting.
The Terrapins were the ones celebrating in the end but that feeling of jubilation was deflation late in regulation. Following Thomas McConvey tying things up at 13-13 for Virginia with the eventual overtime-forcing goal, Maryland’s Luke Wierman won the ensuing faceoff and took it right down the middle for the score. However, a John Tillman timeout called just prior to the shot waived off the goal that would have won it for the Terps in regulation.
Coming out of that timeout the Terrapins were unable to get anything with Virginia deflecting a pass in the final seconds and letting the clock run and things move to overtime.
McConvey’s overtime-forcing goal was part of a late-game spurt for the Cavaliers that gave them an immense amount of momentum where there previously had been little. Shellenbeger scored his lone goal off a day off a McConvey feed less than a minute prior. Shellenberger found Griffin Schutz at the 3:41 mark of the fourth to make it a one-goal, 12-11, game for the first time since early in the frame.
Virginia’s only other major spurt in the contest was its six-goal run from the 7:08 mark in the first through the 5:43 mark in the second to put them up 6-3 and help give them the 6-4 lead at half. Through that stretch, the Cavaliers were able to find those seams in the Maryland defense on a consistent basis.
Maryland, however, returned the favor for the majority of the second half as they outscored the Cavaliers 8-3 from the 14:28 mark in the third quarter through the 13:14 mark in the fourth quarter. That run pulled the Terrapins ahead 12-9 and ended with an Eric Kolar score off a Wierman feed. Jack Koras had scored seconds earlier to net himself a hat trick as he emerged as a key cog in the Terrapins’ offense late in the win.
Koras ended with four goals; all of which came in the second half. Erska had two goals and one assists for three points while Jack Brennan and Owen Murphy each had one goal and one assist. Wierman went 15-for-30 (50%) at the faceoff dot, score a goal, and had an assist.
McConvey led Virginia with five points off four goals and one assist while Cormier had a hat trick. Griffin Schutz had two goals and two assists for four points. Matthew Nunes made 14 saves in cage and Petey LaSalla went 15-for-30 (50%) at the dot.
Maryland moves to face Penn State next Saturday night in what will be the Big Ten opener for both. Virginia will face Notre Dame next week in what will be the most anticipated ACC game of the year.
Cornell Opens Ivy League Play With Blowout of Yale
A week after being upset by Penn State in a game where its offense couldn’t get much of anything, the Cornell Big Red brought its best to New Haven, Conn., where they defeated the Yale Bulldogs in a 20-10 blowout victory to start Ivy League play.
Max Krevesky and Chris Lyons would put Yale up 2-0 early in the contest but that would be the only lead the Bulldogs saw all day. Hugh Kelleher got the Cornell scoring started at the 10:25 mark in the first quarter and the Big Red continued to avalanche from there, scoring each of the next eight goals to take an 8-2 lead heading into the second frame.
The same story repeated itself in the second quarter as Chris Lyons and Leo Johnson each got on the board for the Bulldogs before CJ Kirst and Michael Long combined for four goals to take Cornell to the half with 12-4 lead. Spencer Wirtheim and Marc Psyllos followed up with two early in the third to make it a 14-4 Cornell lead. The Big Red added six more to close out the contest and earn the dominating, 10-point victory.
Billy Coyle (2G/6A) led the Big Red with eight points on the day while Kirst had five goals. Long had a hat trick and dished out one assist in his season debut to contribute to that uber-successful attack line.
The matchup of the day was Cornell’s Gavin Adler versus Yale’s Matt Brandau. Adler held Brandau to just one goal, one assist, and four shots as the leader of a strong Cornell defensive performance. Chayse Ierlan anchored that Big Red D with 21 saves in cage. Adler had eight ground balls and two caused turnovers on the day.
Angelo Petrakis went 8-for-13 (61%) at the dot for the Big Red.
Johns and Lyons each had hat tricks to lead Yale. Jared Paquette made 11 saves. Seven of those came in the first half.
Cornell moves to Penn in its Ivy League home opener next week. Yale travels to Princeton next week.
Marquette Upsets Penn State
For the past three weeks, the Penn State Nittany Lions had been the upset kings of college lacrosse as they took down Yale, Penn, and Cornell consecutively. However, meeting Marquette in a neutral site contest at McArthur High School on Long Island Saturday afternoon, it was the Nittany Lions who experienced the feeling of being upset.
Marquette knocked off Penn State 12-11 on Saturday afternoon in what was their second upset of a Big Ten team this season. The Golden Eagles previously took down Michigan, also in a neutral site game in Naples, Fla., 14-9 back in late February.
Devon Cowan and Andrew Bowman each had a hat trick to lead the Golden Eagles offense on Saturday. Bobby O’Grady (2G/1A) and Will Foster (1G/3A) were key playmakers on that end. Grant Evans went 10-for-13 (76%) at the faceoff dot. Evans combined with Luke Williams to go 19-for-27 (70%) against what had been a stellar faceoff room for Penn State.
TJ Malone (2G/5A), Jack Traynor (2G/1A), and Chris Jordan (2G) led Penn State.
Mac Costin opened the scoring to get Penn State on the board first with 9:21 remaining in the first quarter and Ethan Long put home one minutes later to make it a 2-1 game. The Nittany Lions used a three-goal run that saw Malone, Jake Morin, and Jordan each put home a score to take a 5-4 lead with 4:09 left in the first half. Those three instances were the only leads that Penn State was able to garner all day.
Cowan scored the final goal of the first quarter an the first of the second. Evans followed up with one of his own to make it a 4-2 Penn State lead early in the frame. Bowman and Foster put home a pair to end the first half before Foster found Nolan Rappis for the first score of the third quarter.
That three-goal run made it a 7-5 Marquette lead and they would never trail again. Penn State made it a one-goal game twice in the third quarter and ended the contest with a pair of goals from Costin and Matt Traynor in the final 51 seconds of play. However, the Nittany Lions were unable to tie it up or get back on top.
Marquette moves to play St. Bonaventure next Saturday. Penn State will open Big Ten play at Maryland next week.
OT Ivy Thrillers
The opening weekend of Ivy League play saw a pair of overtime thrillers. The Harvard Crimson defeated the Brown Bears 16-15 while Penn defeated Princeton 9-8 under the lights at Franklin Field.
A pair of Matteo Corsi scores gave him a hat trick and pulled Brown ahead 15-14 with 2:02 left in regulation. However, just when it looked liked the Bears were going to be able to seal the deal a turnover gave Harvard possession with just seconds left with an opportunity to force overtime.
The Crimson would do exactly that as Sam King found Teddy Malone for a bouncer on the crease with 13 seconds left.
In the overtime period, Harvard would stop the Bears on their opening possession before they were shut down on the other end by a Connor Theriault save. The Bears came up empty once more and Harvard would once again get a change out of a timeout. And once more the Crimson would come up successful as Malone found King for the game-winner.
King’s overtime game-winner gave him four goals on the day. He also dished out three assist to finish the contest with seven points. Malone had six points off four goals and three assists.
Aidan McLane led Brown with seven goals. Connor Theriault had 17 saves in cage for the Bears.
Both have non-conference battles up next as Harvard moves to face Boston U. on Tuesday. Brown will face UMass next week.
Under the lights at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, the Penn Quakers would win their second overtime contest in as many weeks. And once again it was Sam Handley who called game as dodged from up top, got his hands free, and stung the back of the cage to left the Quakers to victory in their Ivy League opener.
In the defensive battle, the Quakers only lead of regulation came at the 6:06 mark of regulation off what was the fourth score of the day from Ben Smith. That lead wouldn’t last too long as Christian Ronda converted off a Alexander Vardaro feed with 3:20 remaining to tie things up at 8-8 in what would be the eventual overtime-forcing score.
Both defenses came up with big stops late in regulation to help ensure overtime. Princeton got one shot off before turning the ball over on a man-up situation and Penn got off three shots in a row; each of which sailed wide or high before the shot clock ran out. Ronda got off the final shot of regulation for Princeton as the buzzer sounded.
Handley (2G/4A) and Smith (4G) led the Quakers offense while Emmett Carroll had 10 saves in cage.
Vardaro (2G/2A), Jake Stevens (2G/1A), and Sam English (2G/1A) led the way for Princeton. Michael Gianforcaro made 17 saves in cage.
Penn moves to play Cornell on the road next week. Princeton will welcome in Yale next week.
Three Winners and Three Losers
Winners: Cornell Big Red
A week after suffering their first loss of the season in upset fashion, Connor Buczek had his squad ready to wreak havoc on the Yale Bulldogs in a blowout 20-10 victory.
Seeing Michael Long back and playing a big role in that attack line was great, but what really showed for Cornell on Saturday was its defense. Between the 21 saves from Chayse Ierlan and the performance of Gavin Adler on Matt Brandau, this D was able to stifle the Yale offense and control the game. Angelo Petrakis back in the lineup and going 8-for-13 (62%) at the dot is another great sign for this Cornell squad as they head further into league play.
Winners: Marquette Golden Eagles
When the Golden Eagles play a Big Ten team at a neutral site you better not pick against them. Marquette has now beaten Michigan in Naples, Fla., and Penn State on Long Island. And they did the latter in bounce back fashion after failing in their rally against Bellarmine a week ago.
With Devon Cowan (3G) and Andrew Bowman (3G) helping to lead the way, Marquette got their biggest win of the season and did so in a game where they were able to continually strike back. The duo of Luke Williams (64%) and Grant Evans (77%) having the day they did at the dot is another good sign coming out of Saturday. Indeed, watch out for the Golden Eagles.
Winners: Maryland Terrapins
In what was the game of the season thus far, the Maryland Terrapins showed that they are still among the best of the best. From sprinting out of the gate to answer a strong Virginia run with one of their own, and of course the effort from Brian Ruppel late, Maryland put on a performance we’ve come to expect from them and won a game we’ve come to expect them to win.
Perhaps the most notable aspect win was the Maryland offense. Jack Koras stepped up big time with four goals while Braeden Erska had two scores and an assist for three points. Those two led the way for a Terrapins offense that showcased its depth, talent, and continued development thereof on Saturday.
Losers: Yale Bulldogs
While Jared Paquette had continued to be the more relied upon goalie in college lacrosse, Yale had shown in recent weeks improvement on the back end overall. However, the Yale defense looked like it did earlier in the season today as it started slow and was unable to handle Cornell.
In addition, Yale was unable to get the requisite possessions needed to get their offense going. And even when they did get opportunities, the Bulldogs were continually stifled by the Big Red defense. It was an all-around tough start to lead play for Andy Shay’s squad.
Losers: Penn State Nittany Lions
This is still very much a top 20 team, but they got a taste of their own medicine today with Marquette putting together a complete effort against them.
The most glaring fact from today was the Nittany Lions great faceoff stable winning just eight of 27 faceoffs. That’s 29%. Losing the ground ball gale 34-28 and seeing as the Nittany Lions were unable to strike back fully as they typically have this season were more negative aspects to take from Saturday.
Losers: Virginia Cavaliers
I find great pause putting the Cavaliers here. However, they hadn’t lost a game until today and we hadn’t seen anybody be able to hold them off the board and get their defense out of sync as much as Maryland was able to today.
Despite the loss, Virginia is still one of the best three teams in college lacrosse. How much space is between those teams (UVA, Maryland, Notre Dame) is up for debate and more clarity will come by next week.
Conference by Conference Notes
- Duke beat North Carolina 15-8 on Friday.
- Notre Dame downed Michigan 18-8 in a game where Pat Kavanagh (4G/6A) had 10 points.
- North Carolina blasted Dartmouth 25-7 on Sunday, bouncing back after a tough rivalry game loss to Friday.
- UAlbany defeated UMass Lowell 15-7. Silas Richmond (4G/1A) led the Danes in the win.
- Johnny Hackett has seven goals and one assist to help Bryant past UMBC in a big 17-13 league win.
- Binghamton beat Merrimack 14-7 in a contest that saw Thomas Greenblatt (1G/6A), Matthew Keegan (4G/1A), and Gage Adams (3G/1A) combine for 16 points.
- Vermont beat NJIT 16-10 in a game where Carson Boyle (6G) and Brock Haley (4G/4A) led the way.
- Air Force beat Queens 18-6, riding behind a five goal and one assist day from Josh Yago.
- Cleveland State earned its first ever ASUN win, beating Lindenwood 14-12.
- Dylan Watson had six goals and three assists to help Jacksonville past Robert Morris 12-6 in a snowy road win.
- Mercer beat Detroit Mercy 16-12 in what was Mercer’s fist league win under Ryan Danehy.
- Utah defeated Bellarmine 15-8 in a game where Jordan Hyde, Tyler Bradbury, and Ryan Stines each had hat tricks.
- Hobart beat Providence 13-11
- Saint Joseph’s defeated St. John’s 16-10. Levi Anderson had eight goals and two assists for the Hawks while Zach Cole went 24-for-29 (82%) at the dot.
- Stephen Avery had a career-high seven goals to lead Denver past Ohio State 17-10 on Sunday afternoon.
- Georgetown blew out High Point 22-10 Brian Minicus had six goals and one assist for the Hoyas.
- Villanova beat Monmouth 10-6 to move to 6-1 on the year.
- Rutgers defeated UMass 11-5 in a game where Dante Kulas (2G, 2A) and goalie Kyle Mullin (12 saves) helped lead the way.
- Ohio State plays Denver on Sunday
- Jack Mulcahy (1G/1A) put in the game-winner in OT to send Drexel past Towson 12-11 in its CAA opener.
- Fairfield defeated Hofstra 12-11 in a game where Will Consli (4G) and Bryce Ford (3G/3A) led the way for the Stags.
- Stony Brook defeated Hampton 19-3.
- Delaware plays Johns Hopkins on Sunday.
- Dartmouth faces North Carolina on Sunday.
- Kelly Gouin had six goals to help Mount St. Mary’s past LIU 16-13.
- VMI earned a huge league win over Siena 14-10. Jack Rogers went 17-for-24 (70%) at the dot for the Keydets.
- Wagner defeated Quinnipiac in triple overtime, sealing the deal off a Ben Stewart score. He had four goals and two assists on the day.
- Manhattan defeated Sacred Heart 9-7.
- Canisius took down Marist 18-16. Colin Kelly (7G) and Keegan Kozack (3G/2A) combined for 12 points in the win.
- Evan Plunkett had another hat trick as Army West Point defeated Lehigh 12-10.
- Lafayette defeated Colgate in overtime, sealing the deal on a Nick Rossi score. Peter Lehman had six goals for the Leopards.
- Loyola escaped Bucknell 14-13 in a contest where Matthew Minicus had seven goals and one assist.
- Boston U. blew out Holy Cross 23-9. Vince D’Alto had six goals and three assists for the Terriers.