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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: February 21, 2022

Quint Kessenich being the latest contributor to the Lacrosse All Stars’ team means that he will be releasing his weekly Top 20 rankings every Monday. Quint Kessenich covers lacrosse for the ESPN networks and hosts the Quintessential Podcast on Lacrosse All Stars.

Twitter: @QKessenich
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Ohio State exposed North Carolina’s shortcomings. Playoff teams from 2021 – Lehigh, Denver, Drexel, Loyola, Syracuse, Monmouth, and UNC all came up short. 2021 success holds little credence now. It’s a new year.

ESPN Plus showed 57 lacrosse games over the weekend, an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring men’s, women’s and NLL action. I was watching three high level games simultaneously on Saturday at noon. $6.99 a month for ESPN Plus is the greatest deal ever for the lacrosse fan.

The Ivy is back. The Patriot League had a Saturday to forget. The Big Ten has taken a step forward. SoCon swagger is real. It’s been earned. Jacksonville, High Point and Richmond have shown no fear or hesitation in scheduling ACC heavyweights.

The new schoolers have reaped the benefits of improvement, confidence, exposure and have bagged an occasional victory, taking enemy sod home, and celebrating wild in the locker room. These are moments that last a lifetime for the players. Who has a moment this week?

Quint KeSSENICH’S Outside the Top 20

Bucknell and Michigan are 3-0. Princeton and Brown are on the cusp of Top 20 recognition. Stony Brook is 2-0. UMBC topped Drexel. There are dozens of Top 20 lurkers to be vetted. 

QUINT KESSENICH’S TOP 20: February 21


20: Boston U 

Winter lacrosse is unpredictable and unforgiving. A sudden snow squall enveloped Nickerson Field creating whiteout conditions. The Terriers seized the moment, plowing their way to a 13-8 win over Bryant.

Jake Cates scored four goals in the second half. Goalie Matt Garber held the Bulldogs scoreless for the final 18:51 of the game. BU gave up two empty net goals during their ten man ride. This was BU’s ninth all-time win over a ranked opponent.

BU hosts UMass this weekend. 

19: Hobart 

High scoring Hobart took down Lehigh 14-13. Ryan Archer gave the Statesmen a 14-10 lead with 6:02 to play and they held off a late rush from the Mountaineers. The teams combined for 92 shots. Face-offs were split 14 apiece. Goalie Kevin Holtby turned away a pair of shots in the final 12 seconds.

This was Hobart’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2016. Hobart meets Colgate this week.

18: Delaware

The Tweetie birds (3-0) held off a pesky St Joe’s squad on Tuesday. A controversial goal mouth call provided the Tuesday turmoil. They travel to Durham, NC to play Duke on Tuesday.

17: Loyola

The Hounds didn’t capitalize on a 10-8 lead, falling 11-10 in the Battle of North Charles Street. Cold and windy conditions greeted the 3,298 fans at Homewood Field. Loyola made 4 saves and Hopkins shot 11 of 30.

Loyola couldn’t capitalize on 25 JHU turnovers. Joey Kamish was a bright spot with four goals. Midfield production is in short supply right now. The Hound’s schedule is the toughest in the nation with Rutgers, the third straight B10 opponent on the horizon.

16: North Carolina

20-8 defeat at home against Ohio State is a reset moment for expectations in Chapel Hill. When your midfield unit can’t get anything going (1G,1A), it’s going to be impossible to beat a quality opponent. Chris Gray offered the only ray of sunshine, he had seven points and was involved with every Carolina goal except one.

No time to pout. Brown comes to town on Wednesday at 1pm (ACCN). It’s a televised matinee for those who want to watch on their phones in the office. The Heels also meet JHU on Sunday at 2pm.

15: Syracuse

#HHH shot location was sub-par to begin against Maryland. The defense was organized and seemed slow to slide to Terp dodgers, which was smart. Tucker Dordevic and Brendan Curry carried the lunch pail, but the question becomes who else is elite?

I can’t remember an offense that was so dependent on two singular components. Dordevic has a wicked change of direction and is a two-handed threat. He was tremendous. Curry has straight line speed to draw slides. His shooting accuracy will be critical. The rest of the offense just feeds off those two. Lucas Quinn did just that with a hat trick in the first 30 minutes. The defense did a great job in the third quarter. Goalie Bobby Gavin caught fire.

Down 9-8 entering the final stanza, the Orange couldn’t handle Maryland’s relentless pressure. SU played really hard. They fought. They never gave up. That’s encouraging for their fans and a positive sign for the new regime.

SU is at UVA on Saturday (noon ACCN). 

14: Denver

In times of deep despair, may the value of wall ball uphold you. The Pioneer’s stood toe-to-toe with Duke for 20 minutes and then collapsed under the pressure of a Duke goal scoring avalanche. JJ Sillstrop chipped in six points while Johnny Maarrocco added four points. DU struggled on ground balls trailing Duke 36-19.

DU faces Jacksonville this week in a critical contest for both programs and follow that up with a game against Canisius.

13: Army

The Black Knights had no answers for Rutgers. The Patriot League took a massive non-conference hit this weekend. The Cadets grapple with Siena mid-week and NJIT on Saturday. 

12: Ohio State

If you listened to the Quintessential Lacrosse Podcast last week, I built a case for the Scarlet and Gray ahead of their game in Chapel Hill. But even the most bullish Buckeye fans had to be impressed with the 20-8 road win over North Carolina.

They exploded in the third quarter turning a 6-5 led into 14-7 gap after 45 minutes. Ten different players scored the first ten OSU goals. Attackman Jack Myers was outstanding (2G,7A) spraying the ball up top after successful wing dodges put the UNC defense in motion. Colby Smith, who didn’t play in 2021, has a right-handed bazooka. Ari Allen and James Gurr, two freshmen from Atlanta, both scored. Justin Inancio was dominant winning 18 of 26 draws. Goalie Caton Johnson, a UNC transfer, made a triumphant return to Dorrance Field.

The effort plays were non-stop. Coach Nick Myers and his staff of Travis Crane and Rick Lewis had the team ready to clear against the swarming UNC ride. Go easy on the Buckeye Donuts as Harvard is next in Naples, Florida.

11: Duke

Coaching legends John Danowski and Bill Tierney witnessed a high scoring first quarter at sunny Koskinen Stadium. It was back and forth action with defense sold separately.

Dyson Williams made an impact with three goals in the first 25 minutes. Duke turned it up a notch late in the second quarter, displaying a killer instinct and the eye of the tiger. A 7-6 lead became a 13-6 margin. Nakieie Montgomery sparked the run. The defense played more fundamental. They won 19-10 as Brennan O’Neil accumulated six points. 

#GoDuke hosts Delaware on Tuesday at 3pm (ACCNX) and challenge Penn on Saturday.

10: JAcksonville

The Dolphins handled Mercer on Tuesday 21-12 in a quick turnaround game following an epic win in Durham.  Former Jumbo Max Waldbaum contributed six points as did Jackson Intrieri and Jacob Greiner. A win over Marquette on Saturday finished off a fruitful week.

The eclectic roster is represented by 19 states and Canada. Coach John Galloway has utilized the transfer portal to perfection. ‘Duval Mission’ owns a win over Duke which has to be respected in the rankings and a loss to Johns Hopkins which is gaining value. 

9: Johns Hopkins

The Blue Jays took their broken wings into the ring with Loyola and somehow survived a 25 turnover effort to secure the programs 1,000th victory. The 11-10 win was clutch and showed grit in the face of frequent mistakes including timeout management, five shot clock violations, eight failed clears, 25 turnovers, and many assorted miscues. JHU shot 11 of 30. Loyola shot 10 of 44.

Goalie Josh Kilson made 14 saves in the best outing of his career. Defender Owen McManus scored a juice goal. LSM Scott Smith was the man of the match. Jackson Raposo and Ryan Evans provided production from the bench. Joey Epstein had five points.

Survive and advance. #WeWantMore plays at UNC on Sunday at 2pm.

8: Cornell

Congratulations to coach Connor Buczek on his first career win, a 16-8 home victory over Albany in Ithaca. A 7 goal first quarter set the tone. Sophomore CJ Kirst had seven points. Midfielder Aiden Blake scored four times.

#HardHat21 faces Lehigh in coal country on Saturday.

7: Yale

The Bulldogs debuted against Villanova on Saturday. This game had more meaning. Every game this year will have more meaning. Wind and light snow flurries didn’t put a damper on the palpable excitement of playing a game for the first time in over 1,000 days.

Yale looks big and strong, capable of winning the one-on-one matchup in a phone booth. Their strength and conditioning program is evident to the eye.

Down 8-7 at half, they won the third quarter 9-1, and the game 17-14. Freshman Leo Johnson, a highly recruited lefty, started and opened the scoring for Yale and had three goals. Thomas Bragg is dangerous isolating down a hash. Matt Brandau is the go-to guy and scored five times. Goalie Jared Paquette got the nod. Yale was outshot, had six failed clears, and was emotionally charged committing 9 penalties which resulted in 5 Nova goals. Settle down.

“You Are Lucky Enough” meets Penn State this week.

6: Penn

The Quakers have a strong team but made too many first-game mistakes in a loss to Georgetown. Sam Handley started at attack. For this matchup against GT’s Will Bowen, I would have strongly preferred him at midfield. We will see how that develops.

Overall, I thought Penn was more impressive in defeat than Yale was in victory. I like Penn shorties James Shipley and Piper Bond. Dylan Gergar got his looks and finished with four goals. Emmett Carroll started in goal and played well. Penn only put 19 shots on goal and could never get over the hump. 

The Blue Devils are up next. It was the Dukes. They’re back in Philadelphia next week at noon. 

5: Rutgers

Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom. Jersey boys solidified their status as a top eight team with a solid 13-10 win over Army. Ronan Jacoby scored six times. Lefty UNC transfer Brian Cameron added three goals, and Shane Knobloch who is now a sophomore had a hat trick. Jacoby is a transfer from D3 Wesleyan where he was a captain and scored 150 goals. He’s an NLL draft pick and another key portal pickup for coach Brian Brecht. Once again evidence that the top players in D3 are D1 ready.

Saturday the NASCAR Knights (4-0) are at Loyola.

4: Notre Dame

The Irish debuted a new bagpiper before a 24-2 demolition of Detroit Mercy. Ross Burgmaster, aka Burger Meister, proudly marched his teammates out of the Loftus locker room. Social media was abuzz listening to Scotland the Brave. The Meister Burger, if my ears are correct, is the brightest bellowing prospect in South Bend since Regis McDermott, a former defender held in high esteem and known as the Pavarotti of the pipes.

Burgmaster, a sophomore from Auburn, NY, would appear to be a major upgrade from Will Young era, and more in line with the standard left by musicians Ryan Mix, Colt Power, Eddie Glazener, and the originator, a true icon Sean Meehan. I love this time honored tradition.

Rudy plays GT this week. Coach Kevin Corrigan’s website headshot is bold.

3: GEorgetown

The Hoyas and Penn engaged in a slower tempo’d first half at sun splashed Frankin Field. GT defense is suffocating. Stopper Owen McElroy was terrific and timely between the pipes. The 9-6 Hoya goal proved critical, as a rebound off an McElroy save became a GT transition goal by Zach Geddes, a two-goal swing. McElroy offers maximum security. Will Bowen can win his matchup any day of the week. James Reilly is a run-stopping FOGO. The offense is diverse.

Coach Kevin Warne, a diehard Jets fan and Hofstra alum, is true to his roots. He’s a John Danowski and John Tillman protégé who has been framing the Hoya foundation for a run to Championship weekend. The Irish are next in what will be the game of the week.

2: Virginia

The Wahoos surged in the second half defeating Towson. The Tigers started hot, hitting their shots as UVA spun its wheel with bad shot execution. The transition game, ignited by the ride, became the catalyst. Connor Shellenberger, Payton Cormier, and Jack Simmons got things going in the second half. Simmons had four bangers.

Coach Lars Tiffany enjoys chopping wood during the off-season and reading thought provoking books to catch his breath.

Syracuse is in Charlottesville on Saturday (noon ACCN) with Chris Cotter, Paul Carcaterra and I on-site in the frigid outdoor booth. Bring the pep band. I hope to get a haircut from Carc and watch UVA practice on Friday.

1: Maryland

The Terps emboldened by the Dome festivities and crowd of 8,000 on Sunday, spurted out to a 5-0 lead. Indoor games have a frantic feel and Dome magic in combination with sloppy middle-of-the-field turnovers and too much Tucker Dordevic allowed SU to climb back into the game at halftime.

Logan Wisnauksas found the net for times. This contest was defined by hard hits and vicious ground ball pileups. Ice baths mandatory after such a physical game. Be the Best led 9-8 entering the fourth, and their depth of offensive weapons were too much for Cuse extending it to a 12-8 lead. John Tillman now 4-0 all-time against SU as a head coach.

Lets see how Princeton matches up with Maryland.

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