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NCAA D1 Game of the Week
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Game Of The Week: Virginia Vs. Johns Hopkins

This game is HUGE: #1 vs #2.  Simply couldn’t have been written any better.  It will be televised (along with a number of other college lacrosse games) and it was an easy pick.  My Game of the Week is:

Virgina vs. Johns Hopkins

Will Johns Hopkins be able to stay hot and take down the number 1 team?  Or will Virgina keep rolling and stay undefeated?  I can’t wait for this game, it should be a fantastic game from start to finish – a real up and down slug fest, which will make for great lacrosse.  Here are five things to pay attention to that act as my reasons that this is THE game to watch!

NCAA D1 Game of the Week

Doyle Smith Cup:

Virgina and Hopkins are playing for the Doyle Smith Cup.  The Cup was created in 2006 to honor E. Doyle Smith Jr. to commemorate his contributions to the sport of the lacrosse.  Both teams are coming into this game undefeated – Hopkins is coming off a big win against Syracuse, and Virgina overcame a 5 goal deficit to defeat a strong Ohio State team.  This game will be a battle for the number one spot in the polls.  The Blue Jays are 5-4 in the past 9 games when facing #1 ranked opponents.

A Family Affair:

Johns Hopkins freshman attackman Wells Stanwick is the younger brother of Virginia senior attackman Steele Stanwick.  Everyone knows Steele Stanwick, but once Steele steps out of the spot light – it will be Wells who steps in.  Wells has not disappointed through his freshman campaign.  He has 10 points in 4 games, but has been sidelined from an earlier injury.  This is a disappointment for this  match-up, but Hopkins should feel confident moving forward that Wells will not be in his brother’s shadow for long.

Steele, on the other hand, has picked up right where he left off from last year.  34 points in just 8 games? Solid numbers if you ask me.  He has 25 assists so far this season, which means he can still create for his teammates while he gets double and tripled team.  25 assists is a bunch, but that is not even counting hockey assists.  Steele Stanwick is dangerous every time he touches the ball, Blue Jays beware.

Goalie Play:

Alright, alright, alright… I know, almost every week I talk about how important goalie play is going to be and how exciting it is to watch.  This week is exactly the same – Pierce Basset vs Rob Fortunato.  Both goalies are stopping 60% of shots thrown their way, this is a major reason why their teams are ranked #2 and #1 respectively.  However, the teams Bassett has played against so far this season aren’t the offensive powerhouse that Virgina can be.  He has to have a big game if the Blue Jays want to win.

With that being said, Hopkins is averging 24 shots against per game because of their suffocating defense.  You do the math: 24 shots against a game, 60% of those are saves……I don’t know the exact answer (I was a Communications Major, so I don’t have to deal with numbers) but that doesn’t give Virgina much hope. (EN: Assuming all 24 shots are on cage, that’s 14.5 saves and only 9.5 goals, but in most cases, all 24 shots aren’t going to be on cage)

Rob Fortunato is having a monster season.  When everyone talks about Virgina, it is all about Stanwick or their offense.  You have to remember that Virgina’s defense is no joke.  Virgina breeds some of the best short stick defensive middies in the game.  Rob has a solid lineup in front of him and his defense surrenders shots that he can make saves on.  Blue Jays have to dodge hard and get to the cage and put good quality shots on Fortunato if they want to win.  I can easily see both goalies making double digit saves.

Highway to the Danger Zone:

Top Gun reference – sorry, I watched it on the bus this week.  I don’t know why I continue to use these horrible puns but here it is:

Virgina’s zone defense – we’ve seen it all season long and it’s a big reason for their success.  Virgina doesn’t sit in a zone because they can’t play man to man, they play the zone strategically to disrupt offense.  Randomly throughout games Virgina will show zone, and it works.  They pick off passes, put pressure, and slide very well in the zone – it gets the opposing team’s offense out of their rhythm and creates transition.  People shouldn’t see this zone as a passive move but rather an aggressive one.

The question is: How well does the Blue Jays zone offense work?…We shall see.

Zack Palmer:

I know everyone loves watching Stanwick play, as he is one of the best players in the game (he feeds from his back for crying out loud!).  I like Zach Palmer.  I don’t know, maybe it’s because I secretly have a weakness for Canadians, but let’s be honest, those Canucks can flat out play.  He is a top 5 reason to watch this game this week, because he is electrifying – not just offensively but all over the field.  11 ground balls and 4 caused turnovers mean this kid is a banshee in the riding game.  He is a fun player to watch and I want everyone to watch him both on and off ball this week.  He does some amazing stuff – a real treat.

Johns Hopkins vs Towson men's lacrosse 15
Palmer is so dangerous. Keep an eye on him!

Well there it is, the Game of the Week!  I’m going with Virginia holding off the Blue Jays in a 11-9 contest.  Should be a ton of fun and a great game to watch, I suggest everyone tunes in.  @connors36 tweet me and let me know what you think.