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Division 1 Lacrosse “Best of the Rest”

There’s a lot to be excited about this weekend’s Division 1 lacrosse slate. No.3 Georgetown visits No.4 Notre Dame which will dominate headlines. Gary Gait coaches his first ACC men’s game as No.9 Syracuse travels to Charlottesville to challenge the reigning champs. No.10 Penn hosts No.7 Duke in a top 10 matchup. No.11 Johns Hopkins travels to Chapel Hill to battle No.12 North Carolina. Can No.13 Jacksonville keep the winning streak alive against No.16 Denver? You get the point.

Everyone loves to talk about the top 20 of college lacrosse, as they rightfully should, but the Division 1 lacrosse landscape extends far beyond these ranked teams. There are several noteworthy unranked games that deserve attention too.

For the sake of this article, I’ve excluded any ranked teams which leaves us with the “best of the rest.” 

Vermont @ Brown

Saturday at 12:00 on ESPN+

The Catamounts travel to Providence to challenge Brown in a matchup between New England foes. These two schools have only played each other three times in program history, and Brown has won all three meetings. The most recent of which was back in 2012 when Brown handled Vermont with a 14-5 final.

Vermont is a hungry team with postseason experience; the Catamounts got a taste of the NCAA tournament after winning their first American East lacrosse Championship. UVM is battle tested after a close loss to Duke in a game where they led at halftime. Vermont endured a narrow defeat against a strong Utah squad, but bounced back in a mid-week contest against Penn State to win their first Big-Ten matchup in program history. Don’t sleep on the ‘Cats. 

Brown is set to play their fourth game in two years. The Bears battled hard on Wednesday against North Carolina and played excellent lacrosse for the first 45 minutes. The game got away from them in the fourth quarter, the Heels showed why they’re one of the most talented teams in the country and Brown just couldn’t hang on. Brown has a chance to prove themselves against a strong Vermont opponent.

Bucknell @ Marist

Saturday at 12:00 on ESPN+

The Bison are quietly off to a 3-0 start early in the 2022 season, and the best part is who is contributing. Bucknell’s leading scorers are freshmen Connor Davis (16G, 1A) and Cam Doolan (5G, 7A). Davis leads the nation in goals per game (5.33) while Doolan is ranked 3rd amongst freshmen in assists per game (2.67). The pair of Maryland native’s have already led this team to more wins than the 2021 season. Keep an eye out for these two young players. If Bucknell is going to make significant strides this season it will be thanks to the play of CD².

Marist is a dark horse in 2022. For my money, I think Marist is the best team in the MAAC even though that wasn’t reflected in the preseason coaches poll. Marist was picked to finish third in the conference and that’s just disrespectful. The Foxes got completely screwed due to Covid-19 implications in 2021, and I expect a bounce back season this spring. Marist played Rutgers close, and earned their first win against Binghamton. A lousy performance against Richmond puts them below .500, but Saturday will be a major test for the Foxes. They’ve never beaten Bucknell in lacrosse before, but Saturday will give them the opportunity to earn a statement win. 

Albany @ Drexel

Saturday at 12:00 on FloSports

As a sport, we need to be better at scheduling games throughout the weekend. All four of these matchups I’m previewing start at either 12:00 or 1:00pm EST. I don’t mean to complain for the sake of complaining because I understand it’s February and teams want to play when the weather is best, but these early start times are coming at the expense of fans.

It’s impossible to track college lacrosse when 23 of the 28 games start at either noon or 1:00pm. The staggered start times were awesome last week. There were a handful of awesome 12:00pm games like Denver/Duke, Villanova/Yale, and Georgetown/Penn, but there were games at 1:00pm (Army/Rutgers), 2:00pm (Loyola/Hopkins) and 3:00pm (Ohio State/North Carolina) which made watching games infinitely better. We need to delay start times similar to football or basketball if we want our sport to continue to grow. 

This is an Albany team that is no stranger to success. The Dane Train advanced to the Final Four in 2018, and won five of the last eight conference titles. Albany lost to a strong Cornell team last weekend, and they’ll seek vengeance in their contest against Drexel. 

The Dragons have had a disappointing start to the season with losses to UMBC and Lafayette. The Lafayette loss was really bad, and the Leopards failed to win a single game in 2021. Drexel, reigning CAA champions, need to find consistency. The biggest red flag is their faceoff percentage at just .367 which ranks 58th in Division 1 lacrosse. You can’t win games if you don’t have the ball, and Drexel isn’t helping their deficiency in possessions by losing the ground ball battle through their first two games (54 to 68). If the Dragons want to find any success, they’ll have to find ways to earn more possessions.

UMass @ Boston University 

Saturday at 1:00 on ESPN+

The Minutemen won a historic game in 2020 defeating No.1 Yale in an unforgettable performance. There were lofty expectations heading into the 2021 season – including a No.14 preseason rank in the IL media poll – but UMass didn’t deliver in a disappointing 4-6 season. The pieces never fit the puzzle and the season ended with more questions than answers. UMass welcomed Logan Liljeberg, a Sacred Heart graduate transfer, and the righty playmaker has provided balance and experience to this UMass team. The Tobin brothers (Kevin and Mike) have been staples for the midfield, and Matt Knote brings experience between the pipes. 

Boston University seems to always be on the edge of greatness, but they’ve struggled to get over the hump. This season will be their ninth year since joining the Division 1 lacrosse landscape and they’ve earned some massive wins in the process. In 2019, BU upset the then-ranked No.2 Loyola Greyhounds led by Pat Spencer. The Terriers have ranked wins over Loyola, Navy, and most recently Bryant. If BU wants to take the next step forward it needs to begin with asserting supremacy in their own state. A victory against UMass in their first ever meeting would be a good start. 

Honorable Mentions:

Hobart @ Colgate

Friday at 5:00 on ESPN+

High Point @ Navy

Saturday at 12:00 on ESPN+

Richmond @ Towson

Saturday at 12:00 on FloSports