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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: April 15th, 2024

My Top 20 presented by SPIRE Lacrosse, always a treacherous exercise.

Quint Kessenich’s Top 20 presented by Spire

1) Notre Dame

In front of 7480 fans at LIU the Golden Domers got a game-winning goal with six seconds on the clock from Ben Ramsay to take down Cornell 18-17. This game was pure enjoyment for the fans as the squads combined for 95 shots. ND (8-1) holds onto the top spot in the RPI and national polls.

Pat Kavanagh played a week after injuring his shoulder at Duke. Injuries will be a major story line for all programs from here until Memorial Day. Who has depth? Who’s going to fall apart? Who’s catching a second wind?

ND had eleven different players score a goal. Eric Dobson and Jake Taylor, each recording a hat trick. Both Pat and Chris Kavanagh recorded four points. Goalie Liam Entenmann became the program’s all-time saves leader on Sunday, passing Joey Kemp (633) for the top spot with 644 saves.

This game was the worst performance from a Notre Dame defense in the last five years. Giving up 15 goals won’t go over well in the Monday film session. They’ve been living on the edge relying too much on goalie Liam Entenmann and two shorties Carter Parlette and Ben Ramsey. With warmer weather here, the Irish are advised to play more people on defense. Coaches who attempt to shrink the bench in April, die on the vine in May. 

Rudy hosts North Carolina on Saturday at 11:30am televised by the ACC network with Matt Ward and Chris Cotter on the call. ND has the #1 scoring offense and is shooting 37%. 

2) Duke

Devils (11-3) shot 43% in a 18-12 win over Virginia on Sunday at a jam-packed Koskinen Stadium. The temperature eclipsed 80 degrees as Duke put together their most intense and complete 60 minutes across the board. 

Josh Zawada (5,1) and Brennan O’Neil were the heroes. O’Neil (4,1) laser-focused and playing with noticeably more emotion was able to impact this contest from the first whistle. The Duke attack scored 12 times, benefitting from midfield party starters who were able to ignite Virginia defensive slides and movement. The second midfield remains a work in progress but provided some solid minutes of possession time in the second half when Duke was nursing the lead. FOGO Jake Naso, an accomplished violinist, shook off an ugly twisted ankle and scored twice in the second half.  

FOGO Luke Engelke came off the bench and won 4 of 9 when Naso was getting attention on the bench. Defender Kenny Brower played well against Connor Shellenberger. Goalie Patrick Jamieson was rock solid with 13 saves. Defender Will Frisoli has now put together back-to-back efforts – covering ND midfielder Jordan Faison and this week shadowing McCabe Millon. Frisoli won both matchups. I admire Duke’s depth, a team who can handle the rigors of winning two games in three days. 

Blue Devils are off on April 20 and don’t play until April 27 at North Carolina. They are #2 in the RPI and a likely first round home team in the NCAA tournament. 

3) Johns Hopkins

Down 7-4 in Columbus and running in quicksand, the Jays woke up tying the game at 9-9. Matt Collison, for the second straight week, bagged the game winner in overtime, as JHU got out of Columbus with the 11-10 win. 

“We Want More” snapped the Columbus curse. Jacob Angelus contributed five points and Garrett Degnon added four. Hopkins deep bullpen of offensive contributors struggled against a very stingy Buckeye defense and goaltender. Survive and advance. 

Jays flew home on Monday morning and now prepare for the Terps. Expecting a rowdy crowd at Homewood for Hopkins vs Maryland on Saturday 4 o’clock ESPNU with Drew Carter, Don Zimmerman and I. 

4) Virginia

An 18-12 loss at Duke showed that when opponents get UVA to slide, their help and recovery defense is suspect. Duke ambushed Virginia early, jumping out to a 7-3 advantage after one quarter while sending UVA net-minder Matt Nunes to the showers with no saves. Nunes never had a chance against the Blue Devil frenzy. His backup Kyle Morris made a handful of stops but Duke kept their early advantage for 6o minutes. 

Bright spots were shooter Payton Cormier, midfielder Griffin Schutz and SSDM Chase Yager. The offensive midfield group as a whole needs to pick up the production. Only Schutz can draw slides and put pressure on the goal. UVA roster is suddenly banged up.  

Seven game win streak was impressive on the surface although the level of competition wasn’t top tier. In that stretch UVA had one win vs a team currently in Top 15

Robert Morris UR, Towson 18th, Maryland 5th, UAlbany UR, Drexel UR, Harvard 16th, and UNC UR. 

Cavs have struggled with Duke under coach John Danowski, losing the last 19 regular season meetings. This is the most inexplicable streak in D1 lacrosse. For some reason, Duke owns Virginia. 

Cavaliers with an RPI of #5 play at Syracuse on Saturday at 2 o’clock on ESPNU with Jay Alter and Paul Carcaterra in the booth. They will also be calling the spring football game afterwards. 

5) Maryland

A 11-6 win over Rutgers on Saturday night had viewers dozing off on the couch. “Be the Best” is like a boa constrictor, slowly suffocating the life out of their prey. They are stubborn.

Daniel Kelly scored three goals. The defense held Rutgers scoreless for the first 14:10 of the game and 15:52 spanning through the second and third quarters. Goalie Logan McNaney made 15 saves. FOGO Luke Weirman scored his first goal of the year. Maryland (8-3) improved to 38-1 against Rutgers and has won 19 consecutive meetings. 

The second half surge clinches a top-two seed in the Big Ten Tournament and secures a bye in the quarterfinals – meaning that Maryland and Hopkins will have April 27 off. Terps invade Baltimore, Saturday at 4pm on ESPNU. Maryland fans wear red. This is a chin-strap and mouthpiece rivalry, that never disappoints and elevates lacrosse in the state of Maryland to front page of the newspaper while eliciting mainstream television news coverage. 

6) Penn State

(8-3) “We Are” back in the saddle after a 14-8 win over Michigan at Panzer Stadium on Saturday. Goalie Jack Fracyon, a junior from Bullis, made a career high 19 saves. TJ Malone scored five times and added two assists. Kyle Lehman, a future star, contributed four points. PSU is now (2-2) in the B10. 

On Friday night the Bricklayers pay trip to Rutgers on BTN at 6pm. Bada Bing baby!

7) Syracuse

#HHH staggered to the finish line in a 10-9 victory at North Carolina, in front of a sparse crowd in Chapel Hill, clinching a spot in the four team ACC tourney. That’s the good news. 

Su’s last goal came with 9:34 left in 3rd quarter. That’s the bad news. 

Orange in the 4th quarter committed seven turnovers with 0 goals and 2 blown clears while playing with a multi-goal lead. 

Positives were: Billy Dwan III scored again. Joey Spallina was (1,5).  The middies can really pass. For Otto it was nearly a replay of the Cornell debacle. Game management sold separately. OC Pat March watched on ESPN+. SU Clock and score intellect not up to par. How about valuing the ball? How about backing up shots? 

Saturday 2 PM on ESPNU check out Virginia at Syracuse in the Dome.  

8) Yale

Bulldogs got 15 saves from Jared Paquette in a 18-16 win at BU on Tuesday. They gave up 64 shots. Matt Brandau had 11 points as the Dogs shot 51%. Johnny Keib nailed 5 of his 7 attempts. Yale is #30 in cumulative efficiency. 

Down 7-1 against Dartmouth on Saturday, the Bulldogs staged an epic turnaround, winning 20-13. A 10-6 Big Green lead was reversed into a 19-10 Yale margin. It was a 13 goal avalanche. Matt Brandau had nine points. That’s 20 points in one week. He has 77 points in 11 games. Do the math. Lyle Thompson scored 128 points in 2014 in 18 games. That’s 7.1ppg. Brandau is at 7.7ppg. Dennis Fink of Drexel owns the single season points per game record in 1978 of 8.17ppg. Brandau’s pace is historical. 

Yale plays Hofstra on Tuesday. The Ivy League race is cloudy and multifaceted with two weeks remaining. Cornell seems to have the tiebreaker if it’s a 3-way tie at (5-1). In that case it would be total goals head-to-head.  Cornell beat Yale by 3 and lost to Penn by 1. Yale beat Penn by 3. Cornell is +2, Yale is even and Penn is minus-2. If it’s a 2-way tie at (5-1) then the head-to-head winner is host. Princeton plays Penn at home and then at Yale. That’s the last Ivy game for both Penn and Yale who are (4-1). Cornell has Harvard and Dartmouth. Harvard must also play Brown. Got it?

9) Denver

Pios (9-2) had a monster athletic department day on Saturday. Men’s lacrosse captured a top 10 win, men’s tennis completed the only undefeated regular season in the country and then the hockey team won an NCAA record 10th national title.  Great day to be a Pio. 

Saturday was 76 degrees in the Mile High City and another sellout at Peter Barton Stadium, a great atmosphere. The Pios broke a five game losing streak to Georgetown. Goalie Malcolm Kleban made 10 saves, all of them big. They were timely. He never let the Hoya lead get to 3, allowing the DU offense time to figure it out. 10-8 win saw the DU defense log a shut out fourth quarter while the offense canned four goals. 

Pioneers are now RPI #4 with wins over Cornell, Georgetown and Hopkins and play Providence next. 

10) Cornell

(7-4) – Big Red nearly pulled off a massive upset of Notre Dame on Sunday at LIU, falling short 18-17 on a last second goal. 

CJ Kirst and company gave the ND defense fits all day, it’s rare for the Irish to surrender more than 15 goals. Senior Michael Long had seven points, Freshman Ryan Goldstein had his fourth hat trick of the year and Hugh Kelleher buried three goals. 

“Hardhat 21” is (6-0) at home but just (1-3) on the road. They shoot 36% and entertain Harvard on Saturday. Cornell is RPI #10. Their offense is wicked and they play a fan friendly style of ball. 

11) Georgetown

Hoyas (8-3) were held in check for the final 17:49 in a loss to Denver, snapping a five game win streak over their Big East rival. Nobody could earn a slide. They took only two shots in the fourth quarter. 

The Swamp Dogs sit on the bubble with a #11 RPI and #18 SOS. Only wins of merit are over Penn and Notre Dame. Their scoring offense is #21. St. John’s is next. 

12) Penn

There is very little separation between the teams ranked in the teens with teams ranked in the low #30’s. The Quakers beat Harvard 15-12 with seven unanswered goals in the middle of the game. 

Penn clinched the first spot in the Ivy League men’s lacrosse tournament. On Senior Day, Cam Rubin accumulated eight points, including his second six-goal outing of the year. Goalie Emmett Carroll stopped a season-high 18 saves. After 12 games, Carroll is at .601 save percentage. This is #1 and remarkable. 

Penn is #38 in cumulative efficiency with a bubble #12 RPI. 

Penn and Princeton is a significant game in the Ivy League and nationally. 

13) Richmond

9-5 win at High Point on Saturday night under the lights was a defensive gem. Goalie Zach Vigue made 12 saves. The close defense of Hunter Smith, Braden McClure and Jack Fabean limited Brayden Mayea’s impact. High Point shot 12% just 5 of 42. Richmond used a six goal run before halftime to seize control.


Spiders four losses are to top 10 teams. I think Richmond is a sleeper in the NCAA tournament. They’re going to give somebody a nightmarishly competitive first round game if they can grab their league AQ.  

Richmond plays at UMass this weekend, a bus ride that would take over nine hours. 

14) Army

104th Army vs Navy lacrosse game produced the largest crowd of the 2024 regular season with 10,400 fans in Michie Stadium. Army beat Navy 13-8 and sang second. 

Midfielder Evan Plunkett had five points and was the best player on the field. FOGO Will Colletti was (1,1) with a win rate of 54%. He is at 64% for the season. 

Colgate, Army, BU, Navy, Loyola and Lehigh all have 2 league losses. All are (4-2). That’s a six way tie for first place. Seeding the hosting for the conference tournament will be a puzzle of permutations and combinations. Two weeks to play and it’s wide open. Top two seeds avoid the quarterfinals. Six make the bracket. Army is RPI #15 with a low SOS of #33. I think they need to win the Patriot AQ to play in the NCAA tourney. 

Bucknell and Army face-off on Friday, April 19. 

15) Delaware

Blue Hens are (7-3) and (5-0) in the CAA, winners of four straight, the latest a 16-12 win over Stony Brook. UDel led 9-1 at half with a 29-10 edge in shots. Game over. This margin looks closer than reality. Brendan Powers and Mike Robinson scored four times apiece, and JP Ward had five assists. Hens are #4 nationally in cumulative efficiency.  

Delaware played in Championship Weekend as semifinalists in 2007 for coach Bob Shillinglaw. Two years ago (2022) they upset Georgetown in the NCAA first round. They are seeking a third consecutive trip to the big dance. 

Delaware and Drexel Square off on Saturday. The Dragons breathing fire after beating Hofstra on Saturday. 

16) Towson

Tigers are (5-0) in the CAA and (9-3) overall after a 25-2 win over Hampton. Josh Webber and Bode Maurer quietly having offensive impact. 9.0 goals against per game is the sweet spot for success. 

Monmouth spars with Towson next. According to the Towson website they are hosting the CAA Tournament on May 2 and 4.  Johnny Unitas Stadium, formerly called Minnegan Stadium, will also be the site of the 2024 men’s lacrosse NCAA south quarterfinals. Honestly, it’s a sub-par stadium for fans and television because of the track in between the bleachers and field. To be fair, I do like the location, the ample parking, quality locker rooms and tailgating aspect. 

17) Princeton

(7-4) Brutal loss to Brown (2-9) likely dashes any dreams of hosting the Ivy League tournament. Tied at 12-12 with 7:59 to play, Marcus Wertheim scored the game winner on a fantastic individual effort, tanking and barreling his way through a handful of Tiger defenders. Princeton plays Penn on Saturday. PU shooting just 28%. 

18) Saint Joseph’s

(7-3) – With eight straight wins, the Hawks are feeling good. 12-7 road victory at Hobart sparked by a 4-0 early run and the performance of Matt Bohmer. He had a team-high in points (6) becoming the first player in program history to eclipse 200 career points, surpassing Bill Oakes. Bohmer has 140 career goals. He’s being chased by teammate Levi Anderson who’s now one point shy of joining Bohmer in the 200-point club. 

Hawks will be looking for their 23rd consecutive conference win when they celebrate Senior Day against St Bonaventure. 

19) Ohio State

Buckeyes (6-7) have seven losses to the who’s who of the Top 20 – Virginia, Cornell, Notre Dame, Denver, Penn State, Maryland and Johns Hopkins. OSU sits inside the RPI top 20 based on quality losses not wins. They’ve beaten Utah, Air Force and Rutgers. Proof that being in the cool kids club has value. They own a top ten rated scoring defense and play arch rival Michigan this week. 

20) Harvard

Crimson are (7-4) with wins over Bryant, Vermont and Michigan. Harvard is in danger of being left out of the Ivy League tournament. They have a top ten offense and Sam King is second in the nation averaging six points per game.  A trip to Cornell is this week’s assignment. 

Playoff Push

Only two weekends left in the regular season. The sport would benefit from pushing the playoffs into June, thereby playing more warm weather games on campus in May.  With college athletics at a major cross roads and non-revenue sports vulnerable to potential future cuts, attendance will be scrutinized by university administrators. They’ll ask, “Why do we have a lacrosse program?” “Why are we spending money on lacrosse and nobody is coming to our games?” Attendance matters. 

Because so many games are played in frigid February and March, lacrosse hasn’t been given the ideal stage. It’s a spring sport. Not a winter sport. Play fewer games in February and more in May. 


Caught some MAACtion on Wednesday night as Marist hosted Siena on ESPNU. Thoroughly enjoyed the game.  I did however struggle with the stadium lights and shiny turf making the ball difficult to see. And was wondering afterwards if night games skew towards being higher scoring than day games? Do the darker optics hinder goalies?

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