(Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)
Welcome to week eight of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
April is here and with that the final march of the season has arrived for most teams. And that is especially true with both the Big East and the Atlantic 10 getting league play underway this weekend.
Friday Night ACC Showdown
Since 2004, the Duke Blue Devils are 21-2 against the Virginia Cavaliers. Those two losses came during the ACC Tournament in 2010 and in the NCAA Semifinals in 2019. Thus, Duke hasn’t lost to Virginia in the regular season since April 17, 2004 and has never lost to the Cavaliers in the regular season under John Danowski.
Last season, Duke welcomed in the Cavaliers to Durham on Holy Thursday and earned what was arguably their most impressive win, beating Virginia 17-8. This time around, the Cavaliers will be welcoming the Blue Devils to Charlottesville and doing so after beating Notre Dame 15-10 last week in South Bend and proceeding to ascend back to No. 1 in the polls.
Virginia saw Connor Shellenberger (2G/5A) and Xander Dickson (6G/1A) combined for 14 points (eight goals) in that win, leading the way for what is the top scoring offense in college lacrosse (18.62 goals per game). Subsequently, Matthew Nunes had his best game of the season in the win with 14 saves and a 58% save percentage.
Duke is coming off a 12-9 victory over Saint Joseph’s where its defense, and poles Kenny Brower and Wilson Stephenson in particular, came up huge as they held the Hawks’ top two scorers (Levi Anderson, Matt Bohmer) off the board. The Blue Devils defense is allowing an average of 9.80 goals per game this season. Its offense, led by Brennan O’Neill’s 52 points (29G/23A), is the fourth-best scoring offense in college lacrosse (15.50 goals per game).
One of the major individual battles in this contest will likely be at the faceoff dot between Duke’s Jake Naso and Virginia’s Petey LaSalla. Naso has gone 164-for-251 (65%) thus far, which includes a 62% mark against Saint Joseph’s Zach Cole last week. LaSalla has gone 131-for-223 (58%) this season.
Big East, Atlantic 10 Opens Conference Play
By the time the sun sets on Saturday night ever conference will have officially entered league play as both the Big East and Atlantic 10 get their conference slates underway this weekend.
In the Big East, the biggest game will go down in Washington, D.C., as the Georgetown Hoyas welcome in the Denver Pioneers. Since its 2018 conference title victory, the Hoyas are 5-2 against the Pioneers. That includes winning each of the last three meetings, which includes a 17-9 defeat last season.
Georgetown comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak and off a 17-15 win against Lehigh last week where Tucker Dordevic had six goals, Patrick Crogan netted his first career hat trick, and Michael Scharfenberger made 11 saves (six in second half).
Denver is coming off a bye week. The Pioneers took down Ohio State 17-12 in a contest that saw them jump out ahead early and where Stephen Avery had seven goals.
With these two teams having played in the 2018, 2019, and 2021 Big East title games, there is a chance that this could be the first of two meetings between these two.
Elsewhere in the Big East, Providence will host Marquette and Villanova will host St. John’s.
For the first time ever Atlantic 10 men’s lacrosse games will take place as UMass-High Point, Hobart-St. Bonaventure, and Saint Joseph’s-Richmond makes up the first weekend of league play. The latter of those three games is the biggest of the weekend and possibly of the season.
Saint Joseph’s comes into Saturday’s conference opener off the heels of a 12-9 loss to Duke last week. The Hawks are headlined by faceoff man Zach Cole (154-for-232, 66%) and feature an uber productive attack unit of Levi Anderson (23G/8A), Carter Page (24G/2A), and Matt Bohmer (13G/11A).
Richmond is coming off an 11-8 win over St. John’s last week. Headlined by Jake Saunders (26GB/18CT) out in front and anchored by Zach Vigue (81 saves, 50%), the Spiders have the 13th best scoring defense in college lacrosse (9.8 goals allowed per game) and have the fifth-best man down unit (77% success rate).
Saturday’s meeting between these two will be the first since 2015 and third all time. It may very well be the first of two this season as the Hawks and Spiders could very well see each other again in the A10 tournament.
Once more, some of the biggest battles of the weekend will take place in the Big Ten. All three will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Saturday will see Maryland host Michigan at 1pm while Johns Hopkins host Rutgers at 3pm. Penn State plays host to Ohio State on Sunday at noon.
Of those three contest, the biggest is arguably Johns Hopkins-Rutgers as the Blue Jays are ranked 7th nationally and the Scarlet Knights 9th.
Johns Hopkins is coming off a 15-11 win over Michigan last week where they outscored the Wolverines 5-2 in the fourth quarter to pull away. The Blue Jays have won each of their last four games and in those contest have outscored their opponents 17-6 in the fourth quarter. Hopkins has also held the opposition to a 76% (64-for-84) mark in the clearing game during those contests. Jacob Angelus (9G/28A) quarterbacks this offense while Tim Marcille (123, 53%) anchors a staunch defense in cage.
Rutgers comes into Saturday’s contest after suffering an 11-9 loss to Ohio State last week in which the Scarlet Knights had their lowest scoring output of the season and where their top two attackmen, Dante Kulas (23G/8A) and Ross Scott (22G/7A), combined for just one goal. The loss was Rutgers’ first since February. The Scarlet Knights have the seventh-ranked scoring defense in college lacrosse (9.3 goals per game) and that unit is anchored by goalie Kyle Mullin (98 saves, 54%) and headlined out in front by Bobby Russo (26GB/11CT).
Penn State-Ohio State will see two of the more impressive defensemen in college lacrosse take the field on opposite sides with Jack Posey leading that Nittany Lions group and Bobby Van Buren doing so for the Buckeyes.
In the Maryland-Michigan battle, the Terrapins will be looking to move to 2-0 in league play while Michigan will be looking to earn a big victory and snap their eight-game, regular season Big Ten losing streak.
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.
Utah vs Jacksonville (Fri, 9pm): In what could very well be the most important game of the regular season in the ASUN and a possible title game preview, the Utah Utes will play host to the Jacksonville Dolphins on Friday night.
Cornell vs Dartmouth (Noon, ESPN +): Cornell looks to move to 3-0 in Ivy League play as they welcome in the Dartmouth Big Green, who have to be feeling confident after beating Harvard last week to snap their Ivy League losing streak that dated back to 2015. This was a 9-8 Cornell win last season.
Stony Brook vs Towson (Noon, FloLive): The Stony Brook Seawolves and Towson Tigers will meet at high noon on Saturday in a battle between a pair of 2-0 teams in the CAA.
Penn vs Yale (Noon, ESPN +): The Penn Quakers welcome in the Yale Bulldogs for a contest both teams want and likely need. Penn is coming off an 18-12 loss to Cornell last week while Yale fell 23-10 to Princeton in what was the Bulldogs’ second consecutive game where they allowed 20 or more goals in a loss.
Princeton vs Brown (1pm, ESPN +): Princeton dominated Yale 23-10 last weekend to break its four-game losing skid despite being quite injured with Alex Slusher and multiple other key players out or continuing to be out. Brown got back seven seniors from suspension, including Devon McLane, on Monday in a big 13-11 win. This one should be interesting.
Syracuse vs Notre Dame (2pm, ESPN +): The Orange welcome the Irish to the Dome as they look to earn their first ACC win of the season, and do so in a big way. Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 in the nation and coming off a 15-10 loss to Virginia last week in what was the Irish’s first blemish of the season.