(Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)
Welcome to week nine of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
It is Holy Week but the games continue with contests taking place across the DI landscape on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. This weekend’s slate features another ACC Friday night battle as well as more potential chaos-causing games in the Big Ten, and a showdown between No. 1 and No. 2.
One Versus Two Showdown
The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils will head to South Bend to take on the No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday afternoon in what is one of two top-10 battles involving ACC teams this weekend, along with North Carolina-Virginia.
Duke comes into the contest riding high as the No.1 team in the nation and coming off its 16-14 win over Virginia last Friday. The Blue Devils are on an eight-game winning streak and will looking to extend that this weekend against Notre Dame.
While the Duke offense headlined by Brennan O’Neill (35G/26A), Andrew McAdorey (22G/17A), and Dyson Williams (36G/2A), among others, is averaging 15.5 goals per game (4th in DI) and has been the most talked about aspect of this squad all season, it is the Duke defense that has made the most headway. And that is especially true in the past few weeks.
Duke held Loyola, North Carolina, Air Force, and Saint Joseph’s to single-digits in four consecutive games. It then allowed 14 goals against Virginia last week. However, Duke’s top pole Kenny Brower held Virginia’s Connor Shellennberger without a goal and to just one assist when he was on the field. Shellenberger had two assist when Brower was serving a penalty. Brower also held Saint Joseph’s Levi Anderson off the board a week earlier.
On Saturday, the Blue Devils’ defense will meet its next challenge as Notre Dame features the second-best scoring offense in college lacrosse, averaging 16.38 goals per game. That unit is led by Pat (14G/29A) and Chris Kavanagh (26G/9A), and also features the likes of Eric Dobson (18G/7A) and Quinn McCahon (11G/5A) at the midfield.
Notre Dame also has their fair share of talent on the back end with Liam Entemann (85 saves, 55%) anchoring a defense that is fourth nationally in goals allowed per game (9.50).
One of the more intriguing battles, however, will be at the faceoff dot where Jake Naso had gone 178-for-285 (62%) on the season for Duke while Will Lynch has gone 85-for-172 (49%) for Notre Dame. Naso is coming off a 41% day against Virginia last week. Lynch is coming off a 69% day against Syracuse last week.
As mentioned, the ACC will see two top-10 matchups this weekend as No. 3 Virginia travels to No. 9 North Carolina on Friday night. Led by Connor Shellenberger (14G/34A), the Cavaliers have the top scoring offense in college lacrosse (18.11 goals per game). North Carolina is averaging 16.10 goals per game as the third-best scoring offense. The Tar Heels also have a defense that has allowed under 10 goals in eight games, ranks third in scoring defense (8.50 goals allowed per game), and is sixth in caused turnovers per game (10.30).
Bedlam in The Big Ten
Two weeks into Big Ten play and here is what the standings look like:
- Johns Hopkins – 9-3 (2-0)
- Maryland – 6-3 (1-1)
- Penn State – 6-3 (1-1)
- Michigan – 5-4 (1-1)
- Ohio State – 5-5 (1-1)
- Rutgers – 7-3 (0-2)
Johns Hopkins is the only unscathed team in league play, having beaten Michigan and Rutgers. Maryland beat Penn State before falling to Michigan. Penn State beat Ohio State last week, who beat Rutgers. Michigan’s win over Maryland is its biggest win in program history. Rutgers is the outlier as the only winless team in league play.
Did you follow all that?
The Big Ten is the wildest conference through this point in the season and three weeks still remain in league play. So who knows what will go down next.
The Big Ten will see a pair of games on Friday and one on Saturday this week. Rutgers and Michigan face off on Friday at 6pm as the Scarlet Knights look to get their first league win and Michigan tries to keep building on last week’s big victory. Ohio State will host Maryland in the night cap at 8pm in a contest that will see a pair of teams looking to reel in after a loss.
Saturday night ends with what is arguably the biggest Big Ten game of the week as No. 6 Johns Hopkins travels to Happy Valley to take on the eighth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.
Hopkins comes into this contest after beating Rutgers 16-12 in a game where the Blue Jays, once again, finished strong. Hopkins outscored Rutgers 8-2 in the final 22 minutes and change. Jacob Angelus (2G/3A) led the Blue Jays with five points in the game. Scott Smith IV held Rutgers’ Ross Scott to just one goal, headlining the Blue Jays’ defensive performance.
Penn State comes into the contest after having beaten Ohio State 17-9 on Sunday in a game where they used a combined 12 goals in the second and third quarters to pull away. TJ Malone (1G/4A) and Jack Traynor (3G/2A) each had five points. Anchored by Jack Fracyon with 12 saves, the Nittany Lions held Ohio State to just three goals in the final 35 or so minutes of the contest.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Syracuse and Princeton sat atop the lacrosse world. The two programs combined for 11 national championship game appearances and 10 national titles (six for Princeton and four for Syracuse) from 1992 through 2002. The Tigers and Orange faces each other in the title game in 1992, 2000, 2001, and 2002.
The Tigers and Orange played every year from 1998 through 2013 and faced each other 25 times total from their first title game meeting in 1992 through their last meeting in 2013. Well, the old rivals will face one another for the first time in a decade on Saturday afternoon when the Princeton Tigers welcome the Syracuse Orange to Class of 1952 Stadium at high noon.
Princeton is ranked 15th nationally and comes into the contest after winning their last two games against Yale and Brown. Coulter Mackesy combined for 16 points (11G/5A) through those games as the primary leader of the Tigers’ offense.
Syracuse is coming off a 20-12 loss to Notre Dame where they were outscored 9-1 in the final frame. The Orange have been headlined by its freshman class, including Joe Spallina (28G/20A) who leads the offense with 48 points on the season.
Other Games to Watch
Brown vs Penn (Noon, ESPN +): In this Ivy League battle, Penn will be looking to earn its second win in a row after a 17-16 victory. Brown is looking to get back on track after a loss to Princeton, 16-12, and will be looking for its first Ivy League win of the season.
Robert Morris vs Utah (1pm, ESPN +): The Utah Utes and Robert Morris Colonials go head to head in a rematch of last season’s ASUN title game.
Binghamton vs Vermont (1pm, ESPN +): The Bearcats and Catamounts sit in a three-way tie with Bryant top the America East. One of them will step off the field Saturday afternoon with its first conference loss.
Denver vs Villanova (2pm, Denver Stream): Denver looks to rebound after a loss to Georgetown with a big win over Villanova. On the other hand, the Wildcats want to earn the win out west and show that they belong in the top-tier of the Big East along with the Hoyas. Villanova beat Denver in the Big East semifinals last season.
Drexel vs Stony Brook (2pm, FloLive): Drexel, Stony Brook, and Delaware all have 3-0 records in the CAA. On Saturday afternoon two of those top teams will meet as the Dragons welcome in the Seawolves in a game that will see one of them record their first conference loss.