Note from Lax All Stars’ Connor Wilson: LAS is always adding more and more high quality contributors to our ever-growing stable of thoroughbreds and this new announcement is no exception! Swanklax is a well known force on the Laxpower forum poll and he always brings a sense of total honesty, candor and humor to his posts.
I think you’ll see he once again accomplishes all three of those goals in his first post for LAS, so welcome Swank and try not to be too intimidated by his NESCAC education. Which NESCAC you ask? Well that’s a secret because unlike @connorwilsonlas/wheniwasakid…, Swank is actually able to control his bias!
That being said, Swank will also be picking some DIII games each week (since 412 is too scared) and I’ll be adding my picks to the posts as well. Take it away, Swank!
As my high school coach once infamously said, “I’m not much of a quotes guy but I think you guys should hear this.” Naturally, he proceeded to give my high school team daily quotes for as long as I can remember. In that spirit, I give you the following slice of enlightenment.
“I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.”
For all you meatheads out there, that just means that to really have a good grasp on the particulars of a given situation, it is imperative that you understand that there are certain things that you simply don’t know. This insight is especially relevant at this juncture in DIII lacrosse, where few games have been played and trying to draw season-long conclusions from such a limited sample is rather foolish. In recognition of this, I give you…
5 Things I Know I Don’t Know
1. I know I don’t know if the Empire 8 is really as bad as early results would indicate. Nazareth lost a tight one to Geneseo, Ithaca got caught with their pants down against Scranton, RIT remains winless after being spanked by Stevenson and being edged out by RPI and St. John Fisher has been plowing through cupcakes faster than Fat Albert at an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet.
Only Stevens has managed to stay unbeaten while simultaneously facing relatively stiff competition, taking care of business against the likes of Springfield and Endicott. Do these early struggles mean the E8 is doomed this year? It doesn’t look great, but the jury is still out on this one.
2. I know I don’t know if WNEC is capable of coming back from two rough early losses to Cortland and Stevenson. Gettysburg showed that Cortland isn’t the unstoppable juggernaut that some thought they would be, and WNEC got absolutely worked by the Dragons, losing 12-2.
Even worse is that the only positive thing I can say about the Stevenson loss is that the Golden Bears sucked less than they did against Cortland. This team is seriously anemic on offense with Nick Jez and Joe O’Keefe both sidelined. Jez is reportedly done for the season but a return for O’Keefe apparently remains possible.
The only ray of hope for WNEC is that sophomore keeper Brewster Knowlton is probably the best goalie in DIII and the defense in front of him isn’t too shabby either. Throw in an easy route to the NCAA tournament with the Commonwealth Coast Conference AQ bid and all hope is not lost. If they gel at the right time, they could be dangerous come tournament time but that may be asking too much of this year’s team.
3. I know I don’t know if tradition matters anymore in DIII lacrosse. Sure, you have many of the same powers of the past decade residing near the tops of the polls, but I doubt we will ever see the dominance displayed in the past by Salisbury. The Gulls have their hands full in their own conference with the upstart ‘Stangs of Stevenson, who have looked far more impressive than the Gulls in the early going. In the North, Cortland faces a similar challenge from Geneseo, who just notched a hard-earned OT win over Nazareth.
Perennial NESCAC bully Middlebury appears to be ahead of this trend, having failed to even reach the NESCAC championship game in consecutive years after a long run atop the conference. 2010 won’t be any easier for the Panthers after losing as much as any single team in the country. They will face stiff competition from top to bottom in the NESCAC. Bottom line is that the competition in DIII lacrosse has never been tighter and faded glory matters very little between the lines.
4. I know I don’t know if Washington & Lee has what it takes to challenge Roanoke in the ODAC. I had hoped the Generals would recover from significant but not overwhelming losses to graduation and continue to make the ODAC a two team race. Unfortunately, W&L has been underwhelming against mediocre competition. Even beating Ohio Wesleyan 9-5 doesn’t blow me away as I expect the Maroons would put up far more than nine goals. The good news for W&L is that Roanoke is notorious for struggling when everything is on the line, as evidenced by their two losses to end the year after turning in an undefeated regular season. The Generals are definitely a team that merit further attention in terms of evaluating how good they really are.
5. I know I don’t know who is going to win the NESCAC this year. I think Tufts is going to bury most opponents in an avalanche of goals led by All-American D.J. Hessler, but their lack of an established goalie is cause for pause.
Wesleyan has the potential to repeat as champions but needs to integrate many new pieces on offense and defense. This is an unusually daunting task defensively given the quality of player that the Cardinals lost in Spike Malangone and the intricacies of playing a zone successfully. They might struggle early but I would put them neck and neck with Tufts as favorites come May.
Then there is Middlebury, a team that has lived mostly off of reputation the past few years, failing to step to the plate and deliver on the massive amounts of talent in their upperclassmen. Now, they must develop an identity without Mike stone and many of his running mates who dominated the field for much of their careers. There is some promising talent up in Vermont, but the Panthers talent advantage over the rest of the NESCAC has evaporated and I have serious concerns about how this team will fare with less talent in the past.
Bowdoin too has the potential to be a player in the NESCAC championship picture, though their daunting schedule and hot-and-cold play from goalie Jake McCampbell makes me temper my enthusiasm for a very big and athletic squad. Beyond this “Big Four,” Trinity and Colby have both been thrown around as darkhorse candidates. I honestly have no idea what will happen when conference play begins on Saturday.
D3 Games of the Week
Cortland v. Salisbury (@ The Haverford School)
This game is big for both teams for obvious reasons. Salisbury needs to make a statement win after mostly middling results versus inferior competition to open the season. On the other sideline, Cortland will have the pain of their loss at the hands of Gettysburg fresh on their minds when they take the field on Wednesday. Salisbury desperately needs a big game from midfielder Mike Von Kamecke, who has failed to live up his billing as a preseason All-American.
Further complicating things for the Gulls is the rumored loss of talented freshman attackman Eric Law, who supposedly fractured his collarbone and is lost for the season. Unless Von Kamecke is able to significantly raise his level of play (and don’t count that out), the once-potent Salisbury offense may struggle to pull away with this one. Other concerns for Salisbury include goalie Johnny Rodriguez, who is stopping barely 50% of the shots he faces, an unacceptable number for a goalie surrounded by the talent that Salisbury has. Against the talented attackmen of Cortland, this could be a fatal flaw.
In stark contrast, Cortland sports a talented young keeper in freshman Mike Kaminski, who was just named SUNYAC Goalie of the Week. Combine my concerns about Salisbury with the fire that Cortland will undoubtedly come out with after losing to Gettysburg and I think this will be Salisbury’s last week atop my DIII poll.
Swanklax’s Pick: Cortland
Connor’s Pick: Salisbury
Geneseo v. Ithaca (@ Onondaga CC)
It appears that Geneseo learned the importance of winning every game after sitting out the NCAA tournament last year due in no small part to their early loss to Nazareth. After trumping Nazareth over the weekend, Genny will turn their sights to Ithaca, a team that is coming off an embarrassing loss to Scranton. Granted, Ithaca was missing a few starters due to suspension against Scranton, but nothing excuses losing to a team that has never accomplished anything of significance in DIII lacrosse.
For Geneseo, the keys to their success lie in senior goalie Dennis Costanza and senior attackman Craig Lange. The play of those two will go a long way towards determining the outcome of this contest. Factor in the playoff mentality that Geneseo must approach every game with in order to secure a Pool C bid if they do not win the SUNYAC, and I don’t see the Blue Knights leaving the field as anything but victors. Sorry Ithaca, but losing to Scranton does little to engender confidence in your cause.
Swanklax’s Pick: Geneseo
Connor’s Pick: Geneseo
Bowdoin @ Wesleyan
This is the big game in the NESCAC this weekend, pitting two of the top four teams against each other in a nasty battle in the Bird Cage. Last year, this was a 3-2 slugfest up in Maine that eventually saw the Polar Bears come out victorious. The Cardinals will be looking for revenge at home.
Key to any plans of victory for Wesleyan will be attackmen Jon Killeen and Teddy Citrin, who combined for eight points against Salve Regina in Wesleyan’s season-opening win. Wesleyan will need more production out of lightning-fast midfielder Lonnie Blumenthal, who failed to tally a point in the opener. In order for Bowdoin to hang with the Cardinals, they will need a strong showing from inconsistent keeper Jake McCampbell, who stopped over 80% of Wesleyan’s shots in this game last year. Critical to Bowdoin’s chances for success is midfielder Kit Smith, who will be absent as the Bowdoin hockey team plays an NCAA tournament game on Saturday night. This is a serious loss for Bowdoin, for whom Smith is their top offensive threat with his excellent size and athleticism. With the glue of one game under their belt and the advantage of the best home field in the NESCAC, I predict the Polar Bears will be seeing a lot of red on Saturday.
Swanklax’s Pick: Wesleyan
Connor’s Pick: Wesleyan (How could I not when Wesleyan is so sweet? See? That’s my bias.)
Haverford @ Gettysburg
This is a meeting between one team, Gettysburg, that is riding high after a huge win over Cortland and another team, Haverford, that is reeling from a surprising loss to St. Lawrence. The implications of this game are huge as it will likely determine who hosts the Centennial Conference tournament, as well as set the tone in the struggle for the AQ that is handed out to the eventual champion.
By all accounts, Haverford’s offense is in a funk of sorts, with players playing selfishly instead of as a team. If they want to have a chance against a Gettysburg defense that dominated a talented Cortland attack, the Squirrels will need to break this trend immediately. Unfortunately for Haverford, unless Gettyburg struggles with a hangover from their Cortland win (which I doubt they will with Coach Janczyk), I don’t think the Bullets will come up short. This just seems like a case of two teams headed in opposite directions.
Swanklax’s Pick: Gettysburg
Connor’s Pick: Gettysburg
I will be back early next week to recap this week’s games and preview next week’s. In the meantime, follow me at www.twitter.com/swanklax
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