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.
Confidence is earned. Every time you shake hands with your opponent, you look him in the eye knowing you worked harder than him. Show up in the big moments as no moment is too big. Have the discipline to be playmaker within the scheme, with guts to play on the edge, taking chances, expecting to be successful. You’re surrounded by people who have your back. So go for it.
Only four teams in D1 remain unblemished. Maryland, Virginia, Cornell and BU. There are just four winless teams. There are 12 teams with a single loss.
Quint Kessenich’s Notes on the Week
-Bad defensive slides are an epidemic. Doubling to a ball carriers eyes when he’s not a threat to score, especially without a second slide ready, is a poor defensive tactic.
-I’ve never seen so many goalies playing on a high arc.
-Shooters have never been more lethal from distance with their feet set. It’s the primary job for a defense to challenge and impact shooters at the release point.
-Face-offs are being officiated differently in nearly every game I watch. This continues to be a massive hinderance to the sport.
-The goal mouth rules, as written, incentivize pushing by the defender, to steer the ball carrier into the crease and goalmouth area. This rule makes no sense.
-Nobody wants to play unranked Denver, Penn State, or Loyola.
-League play kicks in now with Stony Brook and UMBC appearing to be the best of the America East.
-Delaware and Drexel are likely to spar for CAA supremacy.
-St Bonaventure is the favorite in the wide open MAAC.
20: Notre Dame (1-3)
How far down the rankings do you drop the Irish with three straight losses to highly ranked Georgetown, Maryland, and Ohio State? The Irish have one lone win against Detroit Mercy. Rudy isn’t playing like a champion.
Five penalties morphed into five Ohio State goals. A 14-11 final in favor of OSU was accomplished via a six goal run that turned a two goal deficit into a four goal cushion.
Notre Dame battles Michigan on the ACC Network on Saturday at noon. The rapper poet Anish Shroff and righty Paul Carcaterra on the call.
19: Drexel (4-2)
The Dragons have won four straight after an ugly start. They’ve defeated Albany, LIU, St Joe’s, and Marquette. I feel like they are improving week over week.
Let’s see what happens against Villanova next.
18: High Point (4-3)
The kings of social media have to be recognized for facing a brutal schedule. At 4-3 they’ve beaten Colgate, Navy, Bellarmine, and Robert Morris. Losses include Maryland, Virginia, and Duke will provide lessons once the SoCon schedule warms up.
They gave the Cavaliers their stiffest test of 2022 and stood toe-to-toe with Duke. Asher Nolting is a one-man wrecking crew, a rare combination of power and vision. This team has more layers on offense than just Nolting. The ultimate question for them going forward will be the defense. I love watching this team play.
The Panthers host UNC on Sunday.
17: Duke (7-3)
When you add up the talent on Duke’s roster and see the results, the math doesn’t equate. Something is not right here. The latest baffling result was on Sunday in Baltimore. Duke fell behind Loyola 10-2 at half and their comeback fell short. Brennan O’Neil scored four times. The first line of midfield had zero goals and seven turnovers. The normal personnel on the second midfield line, if there is such a thing right now at Duke, provided zero shots.
For the second consecutive year, the Blue Devils offense is impossible to predict. The endless personnel shifts are difficult to track. Jadon Kerry, Cameron Mule, Reed Landin, and Griffin Catlett all chipped in goals. Not exactly household names.
It is now soul searching time for this program that’s now lost to Jacksonville, Penn, and Loyola. Duke plays Towson next.
16: Harvard (3-1)
Harvard defeated Michigan 14-9 to stamp themselves as Top 20 ready. One lone loss to Ohio State is not looking so bad after all. Austin Madronic, freshman Sam King, freshman Miles Botkiss, Nick Loring, and freshman Owen Gaffney are the primary offensive contributors. Coach Gerry Byrne is building a winner in Cambridge.
Harvard plays Brown next.
15: Brown (5-1)
#BrownState defeated Stony Brook on Saturday 10-7. Devon McLane scored five goals and Darian Cook chipped in five points. Goalie Connor Theriault made 18 stops (72%). A 6-1 third quarter was the difference. This was a grind it out win where the defense refused to budge. Stony Brook won more face-offs and took more shots.
Usually Brown rings up big scoring totals, so a defensive win of this nature is impressive. I caught parts of this game, audio only, while driving to Long Island. The play-by-play announcer for Brown is incredibly detailed and knowledgeable, a fun listen.
The Bears only loss is to UNC. They wrestle with Harvard on Saturday at 1pm (ESPN+).
14: Boston U (5-0)
BU has wins over Merrimack, Bryant, UMass, Colgate, and Bucknell. They defeated the Bison 12-7 behind a 17-7 face-off advantage and 12 saves from Matt Garber. BU is a Top 5 scoring defense, force a ton of turnovers, and are strong in the ground ball department. Defenders Will Carson, Patrick Morrison, and Dane DeGoler have held tight. FOGO Conor Calderone is a battler.
BU embarks to Worcester to take on Holy Cross on Saturday at 1pm (ESPN+).
13: Jacksonville (6-2)
Dolphins banked wins over Duke and Denver in February. They thrashed Bellarmine on Friday 16-2. JU travels to Umass-Lowell next week.
12: Johns Hopkins (4-3)
#WeWantMore needed a win on Sunday and got a stellar performance from goalie Josh Kirson, surviving Syracuse 10-7 in perhaps a low-point in series history. Two teams who’ve combined to win 20 of the 50 NCAA championships showed us just how far they’ve fallen from the pinnacle.
JHU committed 20 plus turnovers, cleared the ball like a bantam rec team, and benefitted from the Orange hitting the pipes eight times. Eight times. Never seen anything like that. The “Pipe Game” joins the “Shoe Game” and the “Bon Jovi Game” and the “Zone Defense Game” in series lore. The positives were Blue Jay goalie Kirson as well as midfielders Jacob Angelus and Johnathan Peshko. Attackman Joey Epstein inspired the offense and Owen McManus held down the defense. FOGO Matt Narewski practiced last week and is closer to a return.
The Jays now own wins over Loyola, Towson, Jacksonville, and SU. Syracuse is now 2-4, on life support, without an AQ to bail them out and in need of a .500 record.
JHU faces Navy on Friday night at 7pm (ESPNU).
11: Yale (3-1)
The Bulldogs took down Denver on Sunday 16-13 as Matt Brandau scored eight points. Freshman lefty Leo Johnson found the net three times. Goalie Jared Paquette finished with 15 saves. Yale fought through an 11 for 31 face-off disadvantage to claim the road win.
“You Are Lucky Enough” turn their attention to the Ivy League, starting with Cornell.
10: North Carolina (5-2)
Last week’s ACC Network Thursday Night Thriller featured a frenetic initial pace. The action was intense, hard hitting, fast-paced, and highly skilled. The Heels clearly showed improvement as they hosted Virginia, running hip-to-hip with the Cavs with the first 30 minutes, up 10-9. The second half was all Virginia. UNC was limited to just one goal for a 15-11 UVA victory. It was two unique 30 minute games.
Goalie Collin Krieg did his part turning away 18 shots. Midfielder Cole Herbert was active in the first half and had three points. Chris Gray finished with four points. Midfield production was barren after halftime. Shorty Connor Maher and LSM Matt Wright were both exceptional.
Spring break is an opportunity for UNC to develop their No.1 rated freshman class, to get some healthy bodies back on defense (Evan Egan), and to tweak some schemes with the hope of producing more midfield punch.
UNC plays at High Point on Sunday March 20 at noon.
9: Army (6-1)
#PumpItUp defeated Lafayette 18-12 on Friday night as Brendan Nichtern and Reese Burek both had five assists. FOGO Will Coletti won 69% which is key.
Lehigh visits Michie Stadium on Saturday.
8: Rutgers (6-1)
I didn’t hear much bada bing, bada bang, bada boom from RU television announcer Rick Mercurio on Friday night. Mercurio, the former HOF coach at Sachem HS on Long Island does fantastic work with the broadcasts. He rates high on the fun factor scale and is a walking encyclopedia of Scarlet Knights lacrosse.
Great to see the jersey boys pay tribute to Tom Hayes wearing his name on their scarlet uniforms. The battle for the New Jersey belt was played in front of a raucous crowd at Princeton that were treated to rapid-fire goals early. RU left their defense in Piscataway, down 11-7 at halftime. RU shutout the Tigers in the third quarter but the six-on-six offense generated weak perimeter shots. Half-field sets were stagnant. The EMO minimally invasive. I didn’t see much NASCAR on Friday night.
RU has 15 transfers on their roster, new faces every spring. Player movement and NIL are part of college sports. Get used to it. Between a senior lead defense with playmakers like Shane Knobloch and behemoth Mitch Bartolo, Rutgers is in the hunt for a return trip to the NCAA tournament. The Knights Non-conference schedule came up soft in 2022.
RU hosts Lafayette on Tuesday at 1pm and play Hofstra on Saturday, both afterthoughts on their at-large resume. Two games that offer very little upside and significant risk prior to Big Ten action.
7: Ohio State (5-1)
Ohio State took down Notre Dame in front of 103,029 empty seats in the Horseshoe. Thank goodness the Buckeyes are building a new small-sized lacrosse game facility. Going 5 for 5 on extra man gave OSU the edge for a 14-11 win over Notre Dame. Jack Myers continues to roll, he had seven points. Jackson Reid, as skillful as it gets, chipped in six points. Buckeyes got zero points from its bench. This win has selection Sunday ramifications. The Big Ten is now 5-2 in head-to-head matchups with the ACC in 2022.
Brutus turns their attention to Denver on Sunday March 20 in Columbus.
6: Cornell (5-0)
The Big Red scored survive defeating Penn State 16-15 inside Holuba Hall in Happy Valley. It’s never easy playing indoors at the Thunderdome. John Piatelli, CJ Kirst, and Michael Long are one of the top attack units in the country. Cornell has wins over Albany, Lehigh, Hobart, Ohio State, and Penn State.
An Ivy tussle with Yale is on the menu next. Non-conference games with Colgate, Syracuse, and Army are still on the schedule.
5: Georgetown (5-1)
The Swamp Dogs bounced back with a win over Richmond as defender Gibson Smith was all over the field making plays. LSM Alex Mazzone was impactful off the wings of face-offs and Graham Bundy Jr., aka King Kong Bundy ripped holes in the net. The Hoyas banked wins over Hopkins, Richmond, the Mount, Notre Dame, and Penn with a lone loss against Princeton. Georgetown faces Utah this weekend in the swamp.
4: Princeton (4-1)
The Tigers welcomed Rutgers to campus on Friday night to avoid the horrendous weather. Both programs competed for the Meistrell Cup, named after Hall of Famer Harland (Tots) Meistrell, who helped restart the lacrosse teams at both schools in the 1920’s. Princeton had disbanded its team in 1894 before its resumption in 1920, while Rutgers discontinued its program in 1889, before its 1920 revival. Thank you Tots.
Princeton led 5-4 after one quarter before delivering a 6-1 run prior to halftime for an 11-7 advantage, one they would never relinquish. They’ve been shooting nearly 40% on the season, a stat that illustrates the effectiveness of their motion offense. Alex Slusher (4G, 2A), playing attack in 2022, is an elite player.
A low scoring third quarter defined by sharp stops from goalie Erik Peters and a much more stout defense that kept Rutger’s shooters on the perimeter. Peters made 21 saves, he’s super quick with no rebounds needed, is putting together a marvelous season. Coulter Mackesy (4G ,2A) and Chris Brown (3G, 1A) scored critical goals winning their matches at the point of contact.
Princeton is legit, they look fast and have a variety of offensive weapons, a high percentage half-court scheme, and a well spaced defense that denies interior looks. Wins over Georgetown and Rutgers stamp Princeton as a major player.
Tigers and Quakers this week will entertain.
3: Penn (3-1)
The Quakers eeked past Villanova on Sunday with a late game goal by Dylan Gergar. He found the twine as the point man on a fast break, with half a second remaining for the walk off win. Heart-stopping finishes are commonplace for this Penn team with one-goal wins over Duke, Penn State, and Villanova.
Princeton and Penn faceoff this week in a huge game.
2: Virginia (6-0)
The Cavaliers took North Carolina’s best punch in the first half on Thursday night. Trailing 10-9 after an insanely fast-paced first half, they held UNC to one goal in the final 30 minutes, pulling away 15-11 to remain unbeaten.
Connor Shellenberger (4G, 3A) and Matt Moore (3G, 2A) were the heroes. Few teams have two defenders who can mark both dodgers. They both put on a show. “Shelly” is just a sophomore. Moore is likely to get picked No.2 in the PLL draft; if you want to watch him play this summer go to PLLTickets.com. Cole Kastner did terrific work on the ten-man ride and in settled sets. Freshman goalie Matt Nunes shrugged off a slow start and shut the door. Xander Dickson, Payton Cormier, and Will Cory continue to contribute. Jeff Conner was back in the lineup but defenders Ben Wayer and Cade Saustad did not play. UVA is a bit top-heavy in their scoring.
The intensity of this game will prepare them well for Maryland. The roster spent Friday in Charlotte, on a professional networking day, chaperoned by alum Chase Munro.
Last week, Wahoos passing to the weak side and slot area perked up against an overzealous Hopkins sliding defense. The ball reversal was impressive. The weapons are not in short supply and chemistry is building. Matchup superiority is an offensive commodity.
The Cavaliers and Terps play on Saturday at Audi Field on BTN. I expect UVA to be slow to slide to Maryland dodgers. Their ten-man ride is a bear to clear against. All signs are pointing to Maryland and Virginia being many steps ahead of the rest of the nation.
1: Maryland (6-0)
Last week, the “Be the best” offense wasn’t as spectacular against ND as they had been. The second midfield line stepped up. Kyle Long was terrific in the third quarter while Jack Koras and Jack Brennan provided punch.
With impending weather issues, Terp leadership called multiple audibles on Saturday shifting the game time and location. They plastered Albany 24-6 in the Plank Dome, leading 11-0 after the first quarter. Daniel Kelly, goalie Drew Morris, and and defender Jack McDonald shined.
Testudo turns its attention to a No.1 versus No.2 battle with Virginia on March 19 at Audi Field in Washington, DC. Like Ali and Frazier, this rivalry has become the defining point and top of the mountain for D1 men’s lacrosse. The game will be carried by BTN with a television booth of Joe Beninati and Mark Dixon on the call.