The lacrosse action has been crazy this college season! Duke started out as a lot of people’s number 1 and a few weeks later they’ve already dropped a couple of games and in a free fall. I still don’t see why everyone was so high on them. A good deal of talent and even more question marks. Another highly ranked team, Notre Dame, was looking super spicy until they lost to a good Drexel squad in OT on Tuesday. Rough.
Virginia took out then number 1 Cuse in VA in one heck of a game last Sunday which featured some great shooting from both sides, physical play, and an nail biting finish. There have been so many 1 goal games between these two squads in the past but UVA leads the all-time series with a 14- 12 record.
I watched the Hopkins-UMBC game, the Cuse-UVA game and the Duke-UNC game and there’s a lot to be said about all three match ups.
Hopkins showed that it can beat the teams that aren’t quite on their level by using their ball control, bore-me-to-death offense where they rely on middies dodging hard and then cycling the ball through and waiting for the D to make a mistake.
This offense has worked against teams where the Hop can create superior match ups (but only barely in the case of Siena). This has not really worked against teams that are on Hop’s level, like Princeton.
If Hopkins wants to go anywhere beyond the quarter finals this year, they will need to make some changes, allow their middies to dodge more creatively and set up more off ball movement. Sometimes on O, their top 6 look like they’re just standing on the sideline. They seem to lack a fire in their bellies… but I’m sure Petro will scream at them enough to change it.
UMBC is scrappy and in some places they have some size or athleticism but they rarely have players with both. They have middies that can run but most are on the smaller side, including Kyle Wimer, who is really what gets the Retriever O moving. Wimer will dodge against the pole (and shows no fear) and will shoot from 12 yards plus.
Without Wimer, UMBC would be a much worse team. The Hop D looked good against UMBC but not great and if the Blue Jays are NOT going to change up their O, their D will really have to step up even more.
Cuse-Virginia was a totally different scene. You’ve got poles on both ends of the field that play physical, throw checks and extend out to pressure ball carriers all over the field. Virginia got called for a lot of penalties and sometimes that’s the price you pay for being aggressive sometimes but they’ve been able to bail themselves out with good offensive production.
Virginia has a nice face off guy in Ryan Benincasa and while he did well against most of the guys Cuse sent out there, Jeremy Thompson really gave him some trouble.
I LOVED watching Thompson play. Guys got a really good stick, he’s VERY unselfish, he can face off, play D, play O and shoot the lights out. His righty no angle man up goal was a great example of this. On top of that he can run all day and showed some nice dodges both in the open field and in settled offense. All that and he uses a traditional stick and has a 2 foot long ponytail. Deal with THAT, flow-impostors! I think Thompson will play a bigger role for the Orange as the season progresses.
Attack Steele Stanwick is a real leader out the for the Wahoos and has fully stepped in to the role of offensive quarterback. Some questioned is he step into Glading and Billings’ shoes but he’s done so very well and has to be a legit player of the year candidate at this point.
The UVA middies looked good and although I think Rhamel Bratton isn’t quite the dodger that his bro Shamel is, Rhamel does seem to find the back of the net a bit more and the back of the goalie’s stick a bit less. It will be interesting to see how this pans out later.
UNC-Duke was also a really good game. UNC sort of ran away with it in the end but the first half was really exciting and the action in the second was still really good even though the game was getting out of reach for the Blue Devils. Whatever the outcome a few things are certain: Duke’s helmets and gloves are AWESOME but those are STILL some of the ugliest uniforms I’ve ever seen. Just awful. Boo them. Boo.
I still believe Duke’s Max Quinzani is sort of thumbing the ball and Lax.com has more photographic evidence of this maneuver and it’s much better than any Zapruder film. However, Max isn’t alone this week because I found another player that may be using the thumb a bit much and it’s everyone’s favorite Chapel Hill DJ, Billy Benz Bitter.
Like I’ve said before, I don’t either of these guys are really getting any advantage from this but at the same time, they might be and refs need to start looking for this and calling it. Still haven’t seen a “thumbing” or withholding call this year and I won’t hold my breath. It would be nice though!
UNC’s D looked really good by playing guys tight but not pressing as much as Cuse. They lock down cutters and communicate and know when to try to take the ball away and when to slough off a bit. Goalie Chris Madalon is a big target in net and does a good job of leading the D and making big saves when they’re needed.
I like UNC to make some waves this year and depending on their draw, they could do very well in the NCAAs and have to be a favorite to advance to the Final Four at the very least. To compliment their stifling and disciplined D, the Tar Heel offense has numerous middies with size, speed and skill and Coach Breschi let’s these guys go to work.
Their attack is dynamic, filled with scorers in Bitter and Wood, and a very underrated quarterback in Gavin Petracca. He runs the show back there and speeds things up when they need to run and slows it down when they’re switching personnel or when the D needs a breather. UNC might not have the most depth in the country but their top 15-20 guys are as good as anyone’s.
In other news, Albany just keeps losing (I will never pick them again) but this time to UMass and Penn State is not doing any better. Both of these teams seem to have fallen off of a cliff in 2010. Brown beat Hartford in overtime and I got an excited message from D-III on my laxpower account that said, “(David) Hawley just won the game for Brown in OT. NESCAC Represent!” Hawley transferred from Williams to Brown this past summer and has really been bringing the outside cannon this season.
In D2 action, Bentley beat NY Tech. Tech is without longtime head coach, Jack Kaley now and maybe that’s the difference. Tech never would have lost to Bentley with JK at the helm. Just saying. Merrimack beat Florida Southern by 1 then beat Rollins by 10. Overall a successful Southern trip.
In D3 news, WAC is now officially awful. They lost to a decent Hampden-Sydney team but losing wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was losing by 9 goals and only scoring 8. What is happening in Chestertown, MD? Scranton beat Ithaca earlier this season but couldn’t sneak up on RIT and lost 12-8.
Union beat up on Ithaca 11-2 and everyday I am more proud of myself for not ranking them in my top 20. Salisbury beat Cortland 12-11 (in a game that our newest poster Swanklax, called for Cortland). My boys at Wesleyan kept up with their winning ways by downing SUNY Maritime 14-1.
In MCLA news, Stanford beat a really solid Texas State team 14-12, proving the LSA isn’t totally lame but also that it’s still a mid to low level conference. Other than that, the MCLA hasn’t seen the upsets that NCAA D1 saw and most of the games worked out the way we thought they would.
Until next time!
About the Author: Connor is a pretty average lacrosse player at this point who doesn’t know when to give up on the game. He played and coached in the NESCAC and still plays for the Southampton LC in NYC. Connor lives with his fiance in Brooklyn and thanks her for allowing him to keep the dream alive.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.