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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: February 28, 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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Quint Kessenich’s Outside the Top 20

Bucknell is 4-0 holding victories over Mercer, RoMo, St John’s and Marist.

Michigan is 5-0 with wins over Bellarmine, Detroit, Holy Cross, Canisius, and Cleveland State. I’m sorry. I refuse to endorse or reward this scheduling. 

Denver, Stony Brook and St Joe’s are waiting in the wings.

Quint Kessenich’s Top 20

20: Loyola

The Hounds have been haunted by razor-thin losses amidst a schedule that’s the toughest in the nation. A one-goal loss to Rutgers 14-13 on Saturday was an improved effort, although Loyola only got one point from its bench. Aidan Olmsted finished with seven points and Adam Poitras scored four times. He’s become Loyola’s primary midfield threat, a dangerous lefty from the wing who likes to zig zag and get underneath the defense. Even in defeat, progress was made.

Loyola hosts Towson on Wednesday night at 5pm.

19: Boston U 

BU is hot, 3-0 after a 16-7 shellacking of UMass. They won every quarter and forced 22 turnovers. Nine different players scored. Timmy Ley bagged seven points. Vince D’Alto is off to a fast start. Terriers are at Colgate next.

18: Hobart

The fish throwers contest against Colgate was postponed. They face Cornell on Tuesday at 5pm in Ithaca and then Syracuse over the weekend.

17: Syracuse 

#HHH fell behind UVA 8-1. They found some juice in the middle portion of this game but came up short 20-11 in front of a large crowd at Klockner. The effort isn’t the issue. Tucker Dordevic, Griffin Cook, Mikey Berkman, Brendan Curry, and defender Brett Kennedy were the bright spots.

The good news is that SU took 51 shots. Giving up second chance UVA goals hurt. Clearing and defensive ground balls must be addressed. If SU plans on making the NCAA tournament, they’ll need a .500 record. This week is giant as they play a senior-ladened Army squad on Wednesday (ACC Network) and Hobart next weekend.

16: Delaware 

Tweetie birds offense looked okay on Tuesday afternoon in a 19-14 loss at Duke. JP Ward jumped off the screen. Defensively, the Hens couldn’t match up and were forced to sit in a zone. Senior defender Owen Grant, a lefty from Ontario, appeared to be the type of player who could represent Canada down the road in the World Championships or Olympics. I was impressed. Delaware didn’t back down and this effort speaks highly of their potential in the CAA. 

This trend continued in a emphatic 17-6 win over Monmouth in which they led 11-1 at half. Mike Robinson, Kyle Kivinski, Clay Miller, Tye Kurtz, and Ward all had strong outings. Defenseman Owen Grant scored a goal. Delaware is at Michigan on Saturday in a sneaky big game. 

15: Johns Hopkins

The Jays were in a giving mood on Sunday in Chapel Hill, committing six turnovers in the third quarter as a 6-5 game spiraled into a 14-6 Carolina lead. Giveaways, mistakes in the middle of the field, and the lack of dodging threats led to the road setback. Joey Epstein played a strong game from the right-handed wing. Defense had no solutions for Chris Gray. Achieving a .500 record won’t be automatic at 3-2.

#WeWantMore plays Virginia this weekend. 

14: Princeton 

The Tigers came up short against Maryland, falling 15-10. What they lack in an X attackman they make up for with depth and some dangerous midfield threats. The roster is the deepest in PU history with 50. Erik Peters made a career high 19 saves. Sam English scored four times. Tigers shot the ball well going 10 for 23 but lost the ground ball battle by a 2-1 margin. They travel to the swamp to play Georgetown this Saturday.

13: North Carolina

Jacob Kelly (8 points), Cole Herbert and Chris Gray starred on offense in a Wednesday 14-11 matinee victory over Brown. Herbert found success from the slot on extra man. The difference makers in this bounce-back were the specialists. Zac Tucci won 75% of the face-offs and goalie Colin Krieg was seeing the rock and finished with 17 stops. 

Rain and cold weather on Sunday didn’t damper a solid win by the Heels over Hopkins. They broke open a 5-5 contest, surging to stretch the lead to 14-6 before winning 15-10. Chris Gray was everywhere, well worth the price of admission, and finished with seven goals. UNC defense appeared more organized. The ride and pressure between the restraining lines was too much for Hopkins.

12: Yale

The Bulldogs were sloppy in a week one win over Villanova and didn’t take a step forward on Saturday, falling to Penn State 10-6 while shooting a paltry 6 of 35. Throw in five failed clears and 16 turnovers and you have the recipe for an upset. Will Cabrera scored three times. Midfield production was in short supply.

“You Are Lucky Enough” welcomes UMass to New Haven this weekend. 

11: Army 

Midweek madness hasn’t been kind to Army in the past. They don’t operate at maximum efficiency when thrown out of their routine. The Black Knights trailed Siena in the third quarter before going on an eight-goal run while securing a 20-10 win. Brendan Nichtern tallied ten points. Goalie Wyatt Schuyler made 16 saves, not a great sign for the Army defense. 

Cadets handled NJIT 18-4, in a dominant team effort that preps them for Syracuse on Wednesday at 4:30pm (ACC Network). Chris Cotter and Paul Carcaterra will have the call for this mid-week game.

10: Ohio State

The scarlet and gray offense took care of business on Saturday in Naples, Florida with a 17-12 win over Harvard. A 7-1 third quarter, similar to the same game flow in their Carolina win, proved to be the differential. Justin Inancio (20-29) is crushing foes at the face-off dot. Jack Myers had another monster game with 11 points. Jackson Reid, not to be confused with Reid Jackson of Rutgers and Team USA fame, scored four goals.

The Big Red and Buckeyes square off on Saturday in Ithaca.

9: Duke

Levittown, Long Island was the host as the Devils dropped a white-knuckler to Penn 14-13 in OT. Duke stepped out 12-9 after the game was tied at 5-5 only to see the Quakers score 5 of the last six goals. Duke shrunk its bench playing just 22 men, a dramatic personnel shift from early games.

Nakeie Montgomery scored four times and added two assists. He’s a perfect fit for the Premier Lacrosse League and if you want to see Nakeie play this summer in person check out plltickets.com. The talent is ample. The coaching staff is elite. If this team figures it out, they are a title contender. Playing a more consistent brand of defense comes first. Finding the eye of the tiger and and a killer instinct to finish games appears to be an issue. 

#GoDuke plays March 1 at High Point, a rare ACC trip to SoCon territory.

 

8: Jacksonville 

Dolphins continue to be more than a one-hit wonder, taking down the best of the west, Denver on Saturday. They’ve proved that their win over Duke wasn’t a fluke. Jax controlled the action. If you watched the game, and even their loss at Johns Hopkins in week one, you realized that the Dolphins are legit. The 11-9 victory at DU featured excellence from Jacob Greiner, Jeremy Winston, Colin Hinton, and goalie Luke Millican.

A quick turnaround on Sunday at altitude against Air Force was no easy task. Greiner was back at it. Jackson Intrieri was spraying the ball accurately to teammates and the big man, Max Waldbaum rambled to the slot. Goalie Luke Millican scored a goal, a true rarity. A goalie goal when attacking a ten-man ride, he dodged a rider, raced up near midfield and launched a 53 yard strike. The 15-9 final insures a celebratory plane ride back to the River City. Jacksonville is the big story of February. 

7: Cornell

Cornell escaped from coal country with a workmanlike 9-5 win over Lehigh that showcased their defense (Ian Jacobs, Gavin Adler and Dom Doria) and goalie Chayse Ierlan. The net minder made 15 stops while Aiden Blake and CJ Kirst bagged a pair of goals. Big Red play Hobart on Tuesday at 5pm (ESPN+) then host Ohio State on Saturday in a critical non-conference week.

6: Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s schedule and late start contributed to their lack of seasoning in a home loss to Georgetown, a game that saw the Irish control the major statistical categories except the two that may matter most. Saves and face-offs. The FOGO situation is a serious predicament that will need to be solved. Mo Mirer found the net four times and triggered the comeback. Eric Dobson and Chris Kavanagh both scored twice.

Rudy has a strong team, a contender in the ACC and beyond. They’re athletic, talented, hunt ground balls and share the rock on offense. The Golden Domers are a major protagonist on the road to Rentschler. Maryland comes to town this week (ACC Network).

5: Rutgers

Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom. Jersey boys just win. The game was delayed 75 minutes as the Scarlet Knights left their black jerseys in Jersey. The uniforms made the trip down I95 and eventually the Scarlet Knights suited up and defeated Loyola 13-12.

Equipment managers don’t get enough love. Here’s to all those men and women who take care of the laundry, the gear, the sticks and the footwear who’s vital work the players depend upon. Hoorah for the equipment managers. Thank them for their work. 

RU is 5-0, pseudo kings of the Patriot League with victories over Loyola and Army. They trailed 11-8 in the third quarter outscoring Loyola 5-1 over the final 20 minutes of action. All they do is win. Ross Scott scored four times and Shane Knobloch chipped in a hat trick. It was Rutgers first program win at Loyola. A bus ride with jerseys to Stony Brook is next.

4: Penn

The jaunt to Long Island was fruitful and saw Penn rally to defeat Duke in front of 3,000 frigid fans. James Shipley a talented defensive midfielder and the brother of Clemson running back Will, scored three times. He tied the score at 12-12 with :02 on the clock. Dylan Gergar found the net six times. Patrick Burkinshaw started in goal for Penn. Coach Mike Murphy has always scheduled heavyweights and the RPI benefits are huge in May. A flight to Charlotte, NC to face Penn State offers the opportunity to get away from the cold gray weather and slush filled potholes in Philly.

3: Georgetown

Sandy the bus driver took the slow road back to Midway, never topping 55 mph while allowing the Swamp Dogs to bask in a mid-western victory parade. Few teams come out of South Bend unscathed. The 16-11 win featured a shot gun start, and emphatic finish.

In between the Irish dictated the flow. GT built an 11-2 lead mid-way into the second quarter only to see Rudy rally to within one goal at 11-10. Georgetown’s Connor Morin, the Notre Dame transfer playing with uncommon focus and determination, scored goals 14-11 and 15-11 to ultimately deflate his former team.

Declan McDermott finished with five points. Swamp dogs got goals from defender Will Bowen and shorty Zach Geddes. The 16-11 win featured a 21 for 29 performance from FOGO James Reilly. He scooped up 14 grounders in the process. I worry about GT over reliance on one FOGO, they’ll need to find a back-up option to curtail typical wear and tear of the position.

The MVP was Owen McElroy, emboldened by the bagpipes, making 24 saves. He locked the door and threw away the key. It was his third difference-maker game of the year. He’s on fire. Specialists won the day. Georgetown is encrypted with two factor authentication.

Are they the best team in the country? Maybe. Swamp dogs undoubtedly own the top resume in the nation with wins over Hopkins, Penn and Notre Dame. So I’m not going to argue if pollsters give them some love at No.1. They welcome the Mount to the swamp on Tuesday and have a quick turnaround against a dangerous Princeton squad on Saturday. 

2: Virginia

Wahoos ambushed the Orange spurting out than 8-1 lead behind Connor Shellenberger, Griffin Schutz, and Payton Cormier. Freshman goalie Matt Nunes was sharp. Petey LaSalla battled at the face-off dot. Grayson Sallade and Noah Chizmar both were stout, scooped up loose balls, and triggered transition. Evan Zinn dashed from end-to-end.

SU made a run in the middle of the game, but UVA answered and pulled away showcasing one of the fastest rosters I’ve seen. The offense is a major matchup nightmare. How do opponents handle Shellenberger, Matt Moore, Schutz, Xander Dickson, Cormier, etc? The chess pieces are endless.

Klockner was alive with energy with a packed house of loyal fans who love to stomp on the metal bleachers and rise to their feet during transition build up. They dig the up-tempo style and our broadcast crew, dealing with a breezy cold outdoor position with no sun, were energized by the enthusiasm and support in the air. It was a great atmosphere and terrific to call this game in person.

The Cavs are not in mid-season form yet, which is scary. They are dealing with injuries to Jeff Conner and Ben Wayer. The defense was often too reliant on Nunes. We didn’t see many multiple pass goals in settled offensive sets. The National Champs in 2019 and 2021 are on the slow build to Hartford. Johns Hopkins is next. 

1: Maryland

“Be the Best” is in mid-season form. They rebounded from a physically taxing Sunday matinee in the Dome, defeating Princeton 15-10. Luke Wierman scored twice and defenses who hold the point man on off face-off fast breaks may have to reconsider the strategy. Roman Puglise found the net in transition, again. The Terps are terrific in the transitional moments of a lacrosse game, seamlessly continuing to play at a fast tempo during restarts and change of possessions.

Maryland passing is without peer. Opponents have been slow to slide without any success. Holding wins over High Point, Loyola, Syracuse, and Princeton, there hasn’t been a moment to take a deep breath. This is a squad that loves the process.

Saturday should be lit, as they travel to South Bend and play their old friend Notre Dame at 2pm on (ACC Network).

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