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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: April 22nd, 2024

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

Quint Kessenich’s Top 20 presented by Spire

1) Notre Dame

The Irish (9-1) handled North Carolina 14-6 without incident. The Heels were without Owen Duffy. Carolina is now on a five-game losing streak. ND got six points from Pat Kavanagh, five from his brother Chris and Devon McClane bagged a hat trick. With six goals allowed, the Irish have limited UNC to single digit goal outputs in each of the last four meetings.

SSDM Carter Parlette has become the glue of the defensive unit. The Florida native is the energy guy. His position (SSDM) lends itself to lots of work and strain and yields little or no external adulation. Those who watch the Irish closely see his impact. 

Rudy, on a seven-game win streak, faces UVA at Klöckner at 2pm (ESPNU) with Chris Cotter and Paul Carcaterra. 

2) Duke  

(11-3) Blue Devils were off on April 20 and now play UNC on April 27 at noon (ACCNetwork) in Chapel Hill. Anish and I will be on location for this rivalry game. Andrew McAdorey is putting together a productive season and making plays in the middle of the field that don’t always pop off the pages of the box score. He should be playing attack but was moved to midfield for the betterment of the team. His impact will be critical in May. 

3) Johns Hopkins

Over 10,000 fans at jam-packed Homewood Field were treated to a defensive showcase, as Hopkins (10-3) outlasted Maryland 7-5. The Jays managed just 12 shots in the second half. Maryland took 11. The Terps committed 19 turnovers. After being penalized four times in the first quarter, the defense settled down, owning every matchup and sliding only when necessary. Chayse Ierlan made 11 saves, not allowing any soft goals and stealing one or two along the way. Maryland spun its wheels, unable to test the JHU shorties or change matchups. 

Jacob Angelus is shooting 53%. 

“We Want More” has made 48 NCAA tournament appearances. They earned a bye into the B10 tournament semifinals as the top seed. JHU will play the winner of Ohio State and Michigan. The semifinals are at Ohio State on May 2. 

Further down the road I can easily envision Hopkins being paired with Maryland or Virginia in an NCAA southern quarterfinal game at Towson to drive ticket sales, interest and revenue. 

4) Syracuse

#HHH (11-4) won a back-and-forth, old-school game of runs with Virginia 18-17 on Saturday in the Dome. Owen Hiltz had eight points. SU was down 17-14 with 9:18 to play and finished the game with a 4-0 run to solidify their post season aspirations. SU defender Billy Dwan III scored again, this time off a ground ball scrum in front of the Virginia goal, scooping the ball with his back to the net and heaving it backhanded over his shoulder blindly into the goal making it 17-17. Sam English scored the game winner with48 seconds on the clock. 

The Orange honored Paul Gait’s #19 jersey at halftime. Paul was a monster, – skilled, powerful, fast, and innovative – an unstoppable force for more than a decade outside and indoors. I played against him, and with him for Team Toyota and then covered his pro and indoor career – he was always humble, a sharp thinker whose ideas and vision shaped Gait Lacrosse, a man who cares deeply about the sport, this recognition was long overdue. 

Orange defender Nick Fraterrigo is an unsung hero on this team. He fought back from a lower body injury last year and is a crucial part of the Junkyard Dogs penalty killing unit. Coach John Odierna subs in five players to kill penalties. 

Joey Spallina is averaging 3.4 assists per game. SU has an off weekend before the ACC tournament in Charlotte on May 3 and 5.  Anish Shroff and Matt Ward will be in the Queen City for all the ACC television action. Charlotte North and Drew Carter will be handling halftime and between game segments. 

5) Virginia

Wahoos (10-3) have to make some defensive identity decisions after consecutive losses at Duke and Syracuse, giving up 36 goals in the process. Their man-to-man scheme is getting fleeced by elite opponents. Are they going to press out and play a more risky and aggressive man scheme while sliding and trying to double-team  ball carriers to play faster?  Or will we see a zone defense, which can mask their lack of short stick defensive of midfielders and utilize the enormous length and reach of UVA personnel? UVA defense must be changed or be fixed if this team expects to advance to Philadelphia. 

The offense revolves around the attack. Connor Shellenberger had a monster game in the Dome (9 points) while line mates McCabe Millon and Payton Cormier added five apiece. Lack of Midfield scoring depth is a major storyline in Charlottesville. 

Cavs quality wins are underwhelming from a resume standpoint. They now include Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan and Harvard. Three of those four lost on Saturday and the Cavalier RPI fell to #6.  

Two-game losing streak collides with Notre Dame at Klockner Stadium, a huge opportunity on Saturday at 2pm (ESPNU). There is a chance that UVA loses four straight leading into the NCAA tournament. 

6) Penn State

(9-3) “We Are” sits at #9 in the RPI after a convincing 15-9 win over Rutgers on Friday night. The bricklayers opened the third quarter with two unanswered goals from Kyle Lehman and TJ Malone to take a commanding 10-5 lead with 11:05 left in the third quarter.  Malone and Matt Traynor scored four goals. This was the ninth game this season the Nittany Lions have held an opponent to under 10 goals. Malone averages 5.6 points per game. 

The Nittany Lions start their postseason in the B10 quarterfinals against Rutgers at home on April 27. 

7) Denver

Pios (10-2) suffocated Providence 7-4 as goalie Malcolm Kleban stopped 10 of 14 shots on goal. DU improved to 16-0 all-time against the Friars. Denver won 11 of the 14 Faceoffs but had 21 turnovers a week following the win over Georgetown. 

DU has now had four straight games of holding opponents to 8 goals or less, their longest streak since 2018. 

As an Integral part of a top-10 scoring defense, Casey Wilson has filled the lead SSDM role formerly held by PLL All-Star Danny Logan. Last summer Wilson played for Team Canada in the World Games while still in college. Wilson is an elite 2-way midfielder, who impacts the game in all 110 yards. 

Pioneers holding wins over Cornell, Georgetown and Hopkins. Marquette comes to town to finish the Big East regular season on Friday night at 7pm local. 

8) Cornell

A 15-8 front running win over Harvard on Senior Day puts the Big Red in the Ivy League driver’s seat. Cornell is (7-0) in Ithaca. Freshman Willem Firth and lefty CJ Kirst led the Big Red with five points. Cornell’s defense held its opponent to fewer than 10 goals for only the third time this season. Progress. Goalie Wyatt Knust made 16 saves. Defender Jayson Singer blanketed Harvard’s Sam King, and held the Ivy League’s second-highest point scorer to his worst outing of the season (two points).

CJ Kirst averages 3.6 goals per game. 

“Hardhat 21” is at Dartmouth to wrap up their regular season. The game in Hanover, NH starts at 4pm on ESPN+. A win locks up the home field for the Ivy Tournament on May 3 and 5. Cornell is putting it all together, improving in April as teams like Virginia and Maryland wilt. 

9) Maryland

At (8-4), the Terps played stingy defense limiting Hopkins to seven goals in a loss on Saturday in Baltimore. Their on-ball coverage and positioning was military-like with discipline and structure. When they slid, and it wasn’t often, the recoveries were smooth. They gave up two goals when matchups got changed and they didn’t support their SSDM.  You can’t expect to play better defense than this. Holding Hopkins to 7 goals was a Herculean task. If you’re a young defender or defensive coach, be sure to watch this game on ESPN+ and keep an eye on team defensive concepts, because it was a master class from both JHU and MD. 

So, now for the bad news. The Terp offense lost this game. They were anemic. The lack of dodgers and playmakers is hard to believe. They play tentatively, tight and look indecisive. Maryland defeated JHU 22-7 in 2022 ruining their Senior Day. They’ve gone from 22 goals to 5 in two years. Maryland played pre-shot clock stall ball. The tactics do not align with an advantage at the face-off dot and in the goal. The more face-offs the better. The more shots the better. Yet they pull back and try to shrink the game, while trimming their margin for error. 

A scoreless fourth quarter highlighted the offensive ineptitude. Maryland could not muster a shot until the 5:56 mark. They were held without a goal for the final 23:51. Of their five goals scored, two were EMO, two were transition and one was in a settled half field set. Turnovers were on sale, as if Maryland was playing offense with greasers. 

Terps have a bye weekend prior to a B10 semifinal with either Penn State or Rutgers. Their cumulative efficiency is #32 in the nation. They should have open auditions for offensive midfielders, consider playing more speed, ball carriers who can dodge and create an edge. 

10) Georgetown

The Hoyas (9-3) outscored St John’s 7-1 in the first and second quarter to blow this game open 14-2 at halftime on their way to a 20-6 tally. 38 members of the roster got playing time including four goalies – Anderson Moore, Michael Scharfenberger, Todd Kennedy and Luke Schlank. 

The Swamp Dogs unsung hero this spring has been veteran defender Seamus Foley. With little experience outside of some penalty kill work, Foley has started every game after the Loyola loss and the defense has shown improvement from that moment on. Foley is a cerebral defender and excellent communicator that has gelled the unit. 

Hoyas travel to Villanova on Friday night at 7pm. 

11) Yale

Matt Brandau and the Bulldogs (11-2) have won seven straight games, the latest a 17-10 victory over Albany. The right-handed attacker has 94 points in 13 games while shooting 38%. The Boys’ Latin alum has 353 career points – just one away from tying former Cornell player Rob Pannell for the Ivy League record.

FOGO Machado Rodriguez did not play against the Great Danes. 

Yale’s RPI is #10 right now, which would be NCAA tournament worthy without massive bid stealing. 

Princeton is at Yale on Saturday at noon (ESPN+). 

12) Army

Coach Joe Alberici played 50 guys in a 19-11 Friday win over Bucknell. FOGO Will Colletti did not play. His replacement Robert Simone went 16-27 at the dot. Reese Burek scored five times and Jackson Eicher added four goals. The Black Knights led 11-4 at half. 

Army and Loyola play on Friday April 26 7pm in Baltimore at Ridley (CBS Sports Network). 

13) Richmond

Road win up at UMass 14-12 is the fourth consecutive win for the Spiders (9-4). Using a 7-1 third quarter run fueled by Aidan O’Neil and Dalton Young, Richmond flipped a 7-5 deficit into an 11-7 lead. This game was even on paper. 

Spiders four losses are to quality teams – Maryland, Virginia, Duke and Georgetown. Their cumulative efficiency is a wicked #3 in the country. Goalie Zach Vigue leads the nation in goals against average at 8.0. 

The Spiders have participated in five NCAA tournaments including 2022 and 2023. They dance with St Joseph’s as a regular season A10 finale in Robbins Stadium (ESPN+). 

14) Princeton

Tigers (8-4) played their best game of the 2024 season, a 15-10 win over Penn. They put it all together. 

Here’s what’s happening in the Ivy League according to Princeton SID Jerry Price. 

Cornell, Penn and Yale are definitely in the Ivy League Tournament. 

If Princeton beats Yale, PU is in. 

If Princeton loses to Yale and Harvard beats Brown, Princeton gets in. 

If PU loses to Yale and Brown beats Harvard, Brown gets in. 

Harvard and Dartmouth are out. 

Cornell is the No. 1 seed and host with a win over Dartmouth… if Princeton beats Yale the Tigers are the No. 2 seed … If Princeton falls to Yale and Harvard beats Brown, PU is the No. 4 seed … Brown can only be the four seed if it gets in. 

Yale beat Penn, so Yale has the tiebreaker over them head-to-head … if it’s a three-way tie at 4-2, then PU would have the second seed because the Tigers beat Penn and would have to beat Yale in this scenario … 

Cornell beat Yale, so Cornell has the tiebreaker there if they’re both 5-1. 

The Tigers visit Yale on Saturday in a pivotal game. 

15) Penn

A 15-10 loss to Princeton featured an 0-11 combined shooting performance from Cam Rubin and Ben Smith. The Quakers (8-5) are off this week and await their Ivy tournament semifinal opponent. With a cumulative efficiency of #41 there is work to be done. Right now, they are on the outer side of the NCAA tournament bubble in need of wins. RPI #12 with head-to-head losses to Georgetown and Princeton projects to a precarious future. 

16) Delaware

The Blue Hens are (8-3) won their fifth straight game 13-6 over Drexel on Saturday. Mike Robinson scored a team-leading four goals. JP Ward contributed seven points for the second straight game with three goals and four assists. Blue Hens cumulative efficiency is #4 in D1. Goalie Kevin Ellington leading D1 with a .602 save rate. 

Towson and Delaware drop the gloves on Friday night at 7pm in round one. 

What is the separation between eventual AQ’s from the CAA and A10 compared to their likely first round NCAA opponents from the B10, Ivy or ACC? This is where the intrigue sits. This is where May Madness gets its name. 

17) Towson

The Tigers are (10-3) with six straight wins. Towson (6-0 CAA) allowed just one goal to Monmouth in the opening 54 minutes, outshooting the Hawks 51-23. 

With 10 victories, Towson earns its first double digit win season since 2019, under coach Shawn Nadelen. 

Tigers try to tame Delaware on Friday night at 7pm in the First State. 

18) Saint Joseph’s

With nine straight wins (9-3 overall), the Hawks are surging at the right time. 20 different Hawks recorded a point, 16 Hawks scoring a goal in the dominant display over the Bonnies. The 24-3 shellacking of Saint Bonaventure on Senior Day sets up a league showdown at Richmond on Saturday. Hawks lone NCAA tournament appearance was in 2022.  

19) Michigan

The Wolverines (7-6) will attempt to recapture B10 postseason magic on Saturday when they host Ohio State in the B10 quarterfinals. The winner will advance to a semifinal matchup with Johns Hopkins. Michigan defeated the Buckeyes 13-12 on Saturday night in Columbus in a very entertaining game. Isaac Aronson and Ryan Cohen scored three goals apiece. Michigan committed seven fourth quarter turnovers and held on for their lives after building a 13-7 lead. This team has talent, they don’t always play a winning brand of lacrosse. 

20) Colgate

Coach Matt Karweck was my guest on the Quintessential Podcast last Tuesday. The Raiders have gone from 2-9 to the top of the Patriot League in a transformational season in Hamilton, NY. Coach spoke about their playing style of “fast and fearless” during the chat. 

The field for the Patriot League tournament is set with Army, Colgate, BU, Lehigh, Loyola and Navy. We require one more week of action to determine the seeds. Top 2 teams earn a quarterfinal bye, which is huge because of the same week format. 

12 additional teams received votes in last week’s IL media poll. I’ve never seen that type of support and log jam – that’s representation from 32 of the 76 programs in D1. It’s never been more difficult to win a lacrosse game. It’s merely inches between teams ranked #13 and #32. 

PLL Draft coming up on May 7. I’ve been talking to PLL coaches about their process. What’s worth sharing? 1) What type of person am I drafting? What type of person am I inviting into my locker room, my family? What’s their hunger level? Are they willing to commit to the winning lifestyle? Do they match with our culture? 2) Getting in person eyes on PLL prospects, currently seniors, is the most valuable tool an evaluator has. Our eyesight in person is always more in tune than from tape. 3) Don’t forget about great players from bad teams. And try to avoid good players from great teams. This is the most commonly made mistake in college recruiting. 4) Value positional versatility for A/M and LSM/D is added equity with streamlined PLL dress rosters.  

The MAAC tournament is set. 

Saturday, April 27 (Opening Round)

No. 5 Siena at No. 4 Marist

No. 6 Quinnipiac at No. 3 Manhattan

Thursday, May 2 (Semifinals)
TBD at No. 1 Sacred Heart
TBD at No. 2 LIU

Saturday, May 4 (Championship)
11 a.m. on ESPNU

NCAA Tournament

9 Automatic qualifiers 

8 at-large selections 

The two lowest-ranked AQ’s will meet in a play-in game on Wednesday May 8. The rankings will be determined by the committee and not specifically by the RPI.

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