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Division 1 Lacrosse Overreactions: February 10, 2022

One of my favorite segments in sports media is ESPN’s “Overreaction Monday” led by Dan Graziano and the rest of the NFL Live staff. The NFL insiders make wild takes from events that happened during the previous weekend, and debate if they are overreacting or not. 

I’ve decided to put my own spin on this segment, but focus on the sport of lacrosse instead. Week 0 doesn’t usually mean a whole lot, or does it? 

Navy’s loss to Mount St. Mary’s is a sign of things to come

One of the lone surprises from Week 0 was Mount St. Mary’s upset victory over Navy. 

Midfielders Patrick Skalniak and Dane Swanson each scored 3 goals and 2 assists in the loss, but it wasn’t enough as Mount St. Mary’s beat Navy for the first time in program history.

The verdict: Overreaction

It’s not everyday that you run into a goalie who makes 21 saves in a game. Poor shooting and bad decision making may have led to Griffin McGinley’s career day between the pipes. Navy beat the Mount in shots, ground balls, clearing percentage, and faceoffs. 

The determining factor may have been a pair of own goals that came off Navy defenseman Nick LiCalzi. It’s crazy to think that those two fluke goals may have been the difference between a win and a loss. 

The Midshipmen’s man-up unit didn’t convert a single opportunity and finished 0-5. Xavier Arline was out due to an injury sustained during the football season, but he is expected to return soon and his presence should improve Navy’s man-up.

Vermont is the best mid-major team in the country

In college sports there are the power five conferences which always seem to be winning national championships and controlling the landscape of each and every sport. The power five conferences include the ACC, Big-Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC. Men’s division one lacrosse only has two of the power five conferences (ACC and Big-Ten), but many would argue that the Ivy league should have an asterisk because of their success in men’s lacrosse. That is an overreaction in and of itself.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of a “mid-major” is a conference that only garners one bid to the NCAA tournament. Excluding the 2020 and 2021 seasons, when there was no NCAA tournament and Ivy’s didn’t play spring sports, the Ivy’s have had two or more teams in nine of the last ten NCAA tournaments. For the sake of this article, I’m not counting the Ivy league as a mid-major. 

The Catamounts have been one of the better teams in the country as of late. They beat Stony Brook twice and Albany three times including in the American East championship game to win their first conference title in program history. Almost everyone is back on UVM’s roster in 2022 including senior netminder Ryan Cornell who scored a beautiful assist in their season opener against Duke.

Vermont had an impressive showing against Duke. The defense held Brennan O’Neill and company to just two goals in the first half, but struggled to contain the Blue Devils in the second frame. UVM headed into the locker room with a 4-2 lead and sky was as blue as they’ve ever been before. Their success was short-lived and the Blue Devils came storming back to win 15-7. You can only contain Duke for so long.

The verdict: Overreaction

One could argue that the Big East and Ivy’s belong in the same category, and if we’re excluding the Ivy’s from the mid-major’s then the Big East shouldn’t be either. Regardless of how the Big East is viewed, Loyola and Lehigh are both better teams than Vermont. No.8 Loyola brings back fifth-year attackmen Kevin Lindley and Aidan Olmstead along with future pro Ryan McNulty. No.14 Lehigh returns the best face-off player in the country in Mike Sisselberger. The Catamounts are a good team and they aren’t going anywhere, but it’s a little premature to call them the best just yet. 

Penn State should panic after a slow start against Lafayette

The Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe era is over in Happy Valley. Nobody is questioning whether this is the same team that earned the No.1 seed in 2019 and averaged 17.9 goals per game. It’s not nor is it the time to reminisce over the glory days. The Nittany Lions were voted to finish last in the Big-Ten Preseason Coaches Poll, and expectations are rather low in comparison to their previous seasons. 

Penn State opened their 2022 season against Lafayette in Holuba Hall – Penn State’s indoor facility. Holuba is allegedly one of the hardest indoor places to play; the ball is almost impossible to see and the goalies really struggled. The four goalies who saw action combined for a mere 32% save percentage. 

The Nittany Lions struggled out of the gate and trailed Lafayette 11-12 at halftime. A second half spurt helped Penn State escape an upset, but Saturday was not a good showing and there’s a lot of work to be done.

The verdict: Overreaction

At the end of the day, it was Penn State’s first non-conference game since March 2020. The season is still very young, and you can’t buy too much into Week 0. It’s a long season.

Furthermore, two of the three starting attackmen are freshman. Nills Berry (3 goals 1 assist) and Will Peden (1 goal 2 assists) each played well in their collegiate debuts. Freshman midfielder Kyle Aldridge added 2 goals and 3 assists as well. Five of the thirteen point scorers were freshman. Penn State is very young this year and there will be some growing pains. 

Michigan has the best chance to advance to the NCAA tournament amongst unranked teams

Michigan’s stock has grown every year, and I don’t think that will change in 2022. The Wolverines return nine of their ten starters, and many other contributors are back in Ann Arbor. Michigan showed up in their season opener against Bellarmine with a 22-13 win. Michael Boehm had career highs in goals (6) and points (9). Junior Josh Zawada had a balanced 5 goals and 5 assists in the victory, and he had the most impressive statistical performance of the weekend according to Lacrosse Reference’s highest expected goals added (EGA) with 6.76.

The verdict: NOT an overreaction

The Wolverines had to grow up fast in 2021’s conference-only schedule. Michigan struggled in the first half of the season, but found their footing during the second half which included their first ever Big-Ten playoff win. Nearly everyone is back, and this team is finally ready for the big stage.

The Big-Ten always has multiple teams in the NCAA tournament. Maryland is the clear cut No.1 team in the conference, but it’s very gray after that. Rutgers was picked 2nd in the Big-Ten Preseason Coaches Poll, but they graduated all three starting attackmen and there’s a completely new group in Piscataway. If Michigan wins all of the games they’re expected to win and upset either Notre Dame, Rutgers, or Maryland I believe there’s a really good chance they could get in with an at-large bid.