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ACC Lacrosse: Absolute Chaos Down the Stretch

This weekend, the ACC treated us to lacrosse upsets and high-scoring statement wins. Let’s recap the weekend for the ACC and take a look at what it means coming down the stretch towards the end of the regular season. 

#2 Virginia (13) – Richmond (17)

In a shocking upset, the Cavaliers fell to the Richmond Spiders by a score of 13-17 for the first time in the eight years since the programs have played against one another. Despite Virginia opening the game strong, scoring 7 of the first 10 goals of the game, the Spiders continued to fight. Later in the second quarter, Richmond would go on a 7 goal run to take a 12-9 lead in the game. Coming down the stretch, the freshman goaltender for the Spiders would make key saves that would preserve the Richmond lead as the Spiders claimed the 17-13 victory over in-state rival Virginia.

Key Takeaways and What to Expect Moving Forward
  1. Petey LaSalla Injury: Petey LaSalla was a dominant force at the X prior to being taken off the field due to a hard hit that he did not return from. As the Cavs head through conference play, Virginia would be at a severe disadvantage competing without him if he does not return.
  2. Connor Shellenberger: Despite his dominance throughout the entire season, Richmond’s freshman defender, Griffin Kology, found the answer to minimizing Shellenberger’s success.  After switching to man-to-man coverage, Shellenberger was held to one goal and three assists total on the day. Expect to see teams taking a good look at the film from this game and looking to see how they can adopt and adapt a similar strategy. 
  3. Goaltending: Matthew Nunes has undoubtedly been one of the most impressive goalies and freshmen in not just the ACC, but all of college lacrosse this season. However, Nunes has been underneath 50% in 4 of the last 5 games and this loss comes off of his best career game last week.  Nunes finding his rhythm again will be crucial to the Cavaliers making a run at the championship for a third straight year.

#9 North Carolina (5) – #16 Duke (15)

Coming off a disappointing loss against Syracuse, the Blue Devils responded with a dominating performance against the Tar Heels. This performance was heavily attributed to two standouts performances by Brennan O’Neill and Mike Adler. O’Neill led the team with 7 goals on 10 total shots, an offensive performance to be remembered for the young sophomore. On the other side of the field, Mike Adler opened up the game early making nearly 10 saves in the first quarter alone and finished with 19 saves on the day.  These two performances set the tone and cleared the way for a dominating ACC conference win over rival opponent UNC.

Key Takeaways and What to Expect Moving Forward
  1.  Remaining Schedule: Duke University only has ACC opponents on the remainder of their lacrosse schedule. After responding to the Syracuse loss in this fashion, I fully expect to see the Blue Devils bringing that same energy to every game moving forward. However, every game remaining on their schedule brings strong opponents in Notre Dame, Virginia, and UNC.
  2. Individual Performances: While O’Neill and Adler’s performances were impressive, Duke cannot begin to rely on individual efforts from specific players to secure victories. Future opponents are not going to be able to be defeated on the back of one or two individual players.
  3. UNC Record vs. Remaining Schedule: Despite a 7-3 record, the Tar Heels three losses all have come from other nationally ranked programs with 2 of the 3 games being humiliating losses for the Tar Heels. It will be important to see how they respond on the field throughout the remainder of their schedule as it will impact what happens on selection Sunday. With the Tar Heels already having two ACC losses against them, it will be important to pick up some wins coming down the stretch of the lacrosse season.

#18 Syracuse (8) – #15 Notre Dame (22)

Coming off a tough loss to the Virginia Cavaliers, the Fighting Irish absolutely destroyed Syracuse this weekend in a 22-8 onslaught. Surprisingly, it would be Notre Dame’s Jake Taylor who would lead the charge for the Irish posting a program record, 8 goals against the Orange. As for Pat Kavanagh, he did his own share of damage with 9 total points (6G, 3A). Defensively, Notre Dame was treated to a strong performance in net by Liam Entenmann, who finished with 13 saves and only 8 goals allowed.

Key Takeaways and What to Expect Moving Forward
  1. Notre Dame’s Record: Despite the big win, Notre Dame unfortunately does not hold an impressive record. While those who have watched Notre Dame’s games know what they are capable of, the reality is that they have no credible wins so far this season. Notre Dame must finish the ACC conference season strong and must play well in the ACC Lacrosse tournament in order to give themselves a fighting chance come selection Sunday. 
  2. Liam Entenmann: Notre Dame’s goalie is going to need to play well down the stretch as you look att the remaining ACC opponents. Entenmann will be seeing Duke twice, North Carolina, and Syracuse one more time as the regular season comes to a close. 
  3. Syracuse’s Season: Syracuse’s season has been what we expected thus far; bright spots, tough losses, and learning what will need to be done going forward. As seen against Duke, if you don’t respect the Orange, they can surprise you. But outside of that, it is clear that Syracuse has a future, but this will not be the year they actualize that potential. 
  4. Syracuse Defense and Goaltending: Syracuse is still looking for answers defensively across the board this season. Expect to see new faces for some of the remaining games and a lot of new faces for the upcoming season.