Well, how was that for a weekend of NCAA lacrosse? There are few words that can actually describe what we saw. This all means that for me, trying to put together a ballot for this week’s poll was, shall we say, difficult.
I’ve been at this for a few years now, and I have to say that this was one of the toughest weeks to assemble a coherent top 20. Basically, because everyone lost. Normally that makes things easy, but doing so this early in the season means there are so few data points to work from.
So, once again, I need to explain my approach to voting in the poll. Every voter has a slightly different approach with their own priorities built into it. Some treat it as a clean slate every week. Some throw the previous week’s vote out the window and make changes with the national poll as their base. Some will reward big wins and punish any loss the same. Now, I don’t think there is anything actually wrong with doing any of that. I just don’t believe for me personally that it yields the best results. That is why if you have enough weirdos like me, things even out and things make a little more sense.
Anyway, I said I would explain the way I approach it, and not other people. So, here are a few things I keep in mind. I try not to overreact. But sometimes I do. I try to honor head-to-head results when they’re close. While people seem to be losing their minds over this right now, IT WILL HAPPEN as the season moves on. I’ve never gone a full season without teams leapfrogging someone they have beaten already. It happens. Get used to it. The other thing I really don’t worry about too much is if teams are less than a handful of spots from where everyone else has them. Do I have a team at No. 7, but they are No. 4 nationally? OK. This brings us to my final criteria: there’s always next week. If I am slow to get behind a team, that’s fine. Usually they win their next game, or have a good showing right away. That way they keep moving. If I have someone way too high and they don’t produce, I’ll start dropping them.
Basically, it’s important to remember that this is 100% subjective. If winning teams always moved up and losing teams always dropped, you’d have standings, not rankings. UNC has the best record in the ACC. Are they the best team? Do power conference teams get automatic love over smaller conferences? That’s where subjectivity comes into play. But like I said. Having a team “wrong” now just means I can “correct” it next week. If they are that good, they’ll still be up there. If they’re not, no harm, no foul. Now, let’s take a look.
This week, my No. 5, 6, 7 and 8 teams all lost. That allowed Denver to jump up a few spots. Also, nearly everyone ahead of Penn State lost, while they were one of few teams in the country to truly impress. Towson also shot up like a rocket. It was a crazy week.
(For reference, here is the Inside Lacrosse media poll results for this week. See how my ballot stacked up!)
Rank/Team/Last Week’s Rank/National Poll
1. / Yale / LW: 1 / National Poll: 1
Did not play
2. / Maryland / LW: 2 / National Poll: 3
W 11-6 vs. Bucknell
W 10-9 vs. Richmond
These wins are a little shakier than what I like to see from the ‘Terps, but they’re still wins. Especially when seeing what everyone else is doing, that’s not something to minimize.
3. / Cornell / LW: 3 / National Poll: 5
Did not play
4. / Loyola / LW: 4 / National Poll: 2
W 17-9 vs. UVA
This was a top 10 matchup and Loyola absolutely dominated. I don’t think that really says anything to poorly about UVA yet, but we were expecting a big year from the Greyhounds and it looks like they are delivering.
5. / Penn State / LW: 15 / National Poll: 4
W 17-7 vs. Nova
W 27-10 vs. Robert Morris
In the original poll, I said this in my Penn State description while having them at 15. “If they come out of the gates on fire, I’ll be more than happy to move them out of this valley.”. They came out on fire. I moved them up. They might keep climbing, too.
6. / Denver / LW: 9 / National Poll: 6
W 11-4 vs. Air Force
While I did not expect too much from Air Force just yet, this was still a good opening win for Denver. Their first post-Baptiste game brought them a 15/19 performance at the X. Next up is Duke, who the Pios really need to beat to show this past weekend wasn’t a fluke for everyone involved.
7. / Notre Dame / LW: 10 / National Poll: 9
Did not play
8. / University of Virginia / LW: 6 / National Poll: 11
L 9-17 vs. Loyola
Sure, UVA was smoked by Loyola, but I don’t want to punish them too badly just yet. Given their competition, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. The thing to keep an eye on is UVA is the team that is supposed to be playing fast. With the new rules, we will hopefully be seeing way more than just nine goals from them each game.
9. / Towson / LW: UR / National Poll: 7
W 17-8 vs. Hopkins
Now, I may be preaching no overreacting, but Towson earned this jump. They were about as dominant as a team could be and just embarrassed a highly ranked Hopkins team. Nearly their whole offense was seeing a new role a season ago, and that seems to be paying off. They were looking crisp. And it wasn’t just the throwback unis.
10. / Rutgers / LW: 18 / National Poll: 8
W 15-8 vs. Lafayette
W 19-15 vs. St. John’s
Rutgers was scaring me. They looked flat and timid early on against St. John’s. But as the game wore on, they turned into the Rutgers team we expect them to be. They played with confidence and were making plays. They still let the Johnnies smell a comeback, but they closed it down in time.
11. / Georgetown / LW: 11 / National Poll: 16
W 13-10 vs. Sacred Heart
Georgetown is this high because of everyone losing. I don’t truly think there are only ten teams better than the Hoyas, but such is life. Their ranking will be subject more to what goes on around them for a little bit. I think they should be ranked, but the mid teens feels right.
12. / Duke / LW: 5 / National Poll: 10
W 17-9 vs. Furman
L 13-9 vs. High Point
W 15-8 vs. Jacksonville
So yeah, Duke dropped. They should be 3-0, but High Point put on a show and beat them in every phase of the game from start to finish. It was not pretty. Jacksonville had them on the ropes as well. My confidence in Duke was shattered and they’ll need to really put together some good games to climb back up. Denver is a great chance to show where they belong.
13. / Albany / LW: 12 / National Poll: 15
Did not play
14. / Navy / LW: 19 / National Poll: UR
W 13-8 vs. Vermont
Now we get to the fun stuff. Navy is not ranked in the national poll, but I think they earn a spot here. They certainly have talent, they played well against Vermont, but their ultimate test will be the Patriot League as always. I’m more confident here than with Georgetown, but they are this high because of others.
15. / Lehigh / LW: 14 / National Poll: UR
W 15-8 vs. NJIT
L 4-3 vs. Hofstra
I slipped Lehigh just one spot, and they’re also not nationally ranked. If there’s a conference stock market, I’m buying big on the Patriot League. Their win over NJIT was excepted, and their 4-3 loss was not pretty. But I’ll still take the 4-3 loss over some of the other games we saw this weekend.
16. / Syracuse / LW: 8 / National Poll: 20
L 12-9 vs. Colgate
I dropped ‘Cuse eight spots. I also know that anyone who knows me is going to look here first to see where I have them. So I think about their placement very carefully. ‘Cuse is my NCAA litmus test. As their season goes, I judge other teams against them. And I’m not as sour as others are on the Orange. The were on their heels early against Colgate, but they fought their way back into it. Once they gathered themselves, they looked like a team that was going to lose the game, but not a total train-wreck. Their mistakes are fixable. How they deal with Albany will be very, very telling.
17. / Army / LW: UR / National Poll: UR
W 12-11 vs. UMass
Another team that I have in my top 20, but still sits unranked nationally, is Army. They did surprise me by beating the Minutemen, and that was due in large part to Miles Silva netting four goals, equal to his career output.
18. / Hopkins / LW: 7 / National Poll: 17
L 17-8 vs. Towson
The good things I said about Syracuse do not apply here. This was a terrible game from Hopkins. I think one play that perfectly sums up how bad it was: in the fourth, one of their close defender tried to pick up a ground ball in front of the goal with no one around. He had time and all the momentum. After two tries, he still could corral it and a teammate did. It was that kind of day.
19. / UMass / LW: 13 / National Poll: UR
L 12-11 vs. Army
With all the other teams losing are dropping, I should also have just removed UMass complete and pulled in Colgate. But right now, they probably have the shortest leash on the list. This was not a game they were supposed to lose.
20. / High Point / LW: UR / National Poll: 13
W 13-9 vs. Duke
High Point shocked everyone with that win over Duke. And they look very good in the process. They were far enough off my radar that despite how they looked, jumping all the way to 13 just seems like too much right now. But optimism is high. They can keep moving up.
Who did I drop?
Who did I leave out?
#12 Ohio State
With regards to OSU, and UNC, I have a very close eye on them both. They are definitely both ranked solely on preseason expectations right now, so we’ll see. I understand completely that Colgate should be in, and they’re probably my #21 this week. Michigan, I’m not sold on at all. Interestingly enough, Princeton was ranked, now they’re not. Even though they didn’t do anything and everyone lost. Happens.