Grow the Game®

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp

Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: March 18th, 2024

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

Quint Kessenich’s Top 20 presented by Spire

1) Army

Army – America’s team building an entourage, topped Lehigh 18-12 behind 54 shots to maintain their spot atop the polls. They are 7-0 for the first time in 66 years. Gunnar Fellows had five points. FOGO Will Colletti was 22 of 33 against Lehigh, and sets the tone at nearly 65%.

Team building and talent collection are different. Black Knights are at Boston University on Friday at 6 o’clock. Patriot league race behind the Black Knights appears fuzzy – Navy upset Hopkins, Lafayette is improving, BU defeated Loyola and Colgate is dangerous.

2) Notre Dame

Irish fanatics and team wore green in a blowout win against Michigan. Coach Kevin Corrigan was notably in blue. This was a tour-de-force. Goalie Liam Entenmann was a brick wall, making pipe-to-pipe reaction saves. The Kavanaghs and Jake Taylor put on a show. When you slide to ND, Taylor becomes a major menace. The stampede of midfield contribution is unique. The passing expertise was next level. Freshman defender Shawn Lyght gets better each week. Freshman Jordan Faison continues to dazzle. Everybody is starring in their role. Irish have the country’s best second midfield line with Will Angrick, Jalen Seymour, Bryce Walker and Reilly Gray. They have a third line in development stages.

ND and Duke lead the country in shooting percentage. Pretty Boy ACC went (5-0) on Saturday., the last significant weekend with an abundance of out of conference games. Odd to see the Golden Domers take next weekend off. Both Notre Dame and Syracuse still have Cornell on their schedules. Army plays at UNC later this spring. So there isn’t very much cross-pollination left.

3) Duke

Coach John Danowski subbed liberally on Wednesday night in a 21-6 romp over Providence. AJ Delgado (1,3), Liam McLane (2,0), Charlie O’Connor (2 CT) and goalie Will Helm (4 saves 0 GA) performed well in relief. Astonishingly, Duke played six goalies. Patrick Jameison, Brodie Taweel, Griffen Rakower; William Helm, Evan Barr and Mac Fotiades. Never seen that.

Duke made a defensive statement holding Richmond to three goals in a 12-3 win on Saturday. They shut out the Spiders in the first and third quarters. Patrick Jameison made 12 stops. The defense held RU scoreless for spans of 17:53 and a season-best 31:56 while only allowing 30 shots.

Notre Dame and Duke are 1/2 in combined efficiency.

Blue Devils are in the Dome on Wednesday night at 7 o’clock ACCNX and then host Denver on Sunday.

4) Virginia

Cavaliers disposed of Maryland 14-10 fortified by six points from Griffin Schutz. They had too many weapons for the Terps, winning in this heated series after three consecutive setbacks.

Schutz drew the pole and soon realized that Maryland wasn’t sliding. Connor Shellenberger (2,1) ran the show. UVA was patient and poised and understood the challenge that the Terp style presents. McCabe Millon shot it with authority. Payton Cormier is averaging four goals per game. LSM Ben Wayer is one of the top ground ball players in the nation. The penalty kill unit and all-even defense were strong at Maryland. Second slides had tighter timing as the lengthy group protected the crease area with renewed focus. Early offense and ten-man ride are well crafted schemes that make UVA an outlier.

Listening to Lars Tiffany in the post game, you got the sense that Maryland was in their head, and getting over this hurdle was a big step for his men. They finally found peace.

Albany visits Virginia on Tuesday at 4pm and Drexel steps onto Klockner on Saturday.

5) Penn State

That’s six straight wins for PSU. 13-7 victory over Marquette aided by a 6-0 initial surge. Will Peden had a hat trick. Opponents clearing at just 77%. Penn State and Ohio State play on Sunday at 2:30 on BTN.

6) Maryland

After winning three straight in the series, Virginia took down Maryland 14-10 in College Park with 7,825 fans enjoying the rivalry. It was a lousy weekend for the B10 with Hopkins, Maryland and Michigan losing. And a rough afternoon for TV viewers who suffered vertigo forced to watch from the sixth-floor rooftop security camera. Imagine trying to convince a sports fan who doesn’t know lacrosse, to sit and watch.

“Be the Best” is 5-2 with overtime wins over Brown, Richmond and Syracuse. Two losses to Notre Dame and Virginia are quality. Reliance on their specialists at FOGO and goalie only goes so far. Nothing comes easy on offense and depth of midfield scoring limits their ceiling. Braden Erksa and Eric Spanos can win matchups but who else? I don’t see any threatening outside shooters. Opponents are 7 for 10 on the power play. Maryland doesn’t ride (.924) and commits more turnovers than their opponents. They are #38 in combined efficiency and I think their defensive midfield group must be refined.

B10 had a lost weekend as Hopkins, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio State were all losers.

It’s all league play now and the B10 feels contentious. Terrapins are on spring break this week and begin Big Ten play at Michigan on Saturday March 23 (2:30) on BTN with Joe Beninati and Mark Dixon on the mic.

7) Syracuse

Otto finished up spring break with a 14-6 win over Delaware as Owen Hiltz scored six times. Joey Spallina had four assists. D-Man Saam Alexo had two points and goalie Will Mark, who seems to prefer road games, made 17 saves. His counter part Blue Hen Kenny Ellington made an incredible diving save on an open net during a Syracuse man-up flurry and had 20 saves.

Wednesday night promises to be electric in the dome as Duke comes to Central New York. Then #HHH are at Hobart on Saturday, keep your head on a swivel for flying fish.

8) Yale

(4-1) after another high scoring affair, a 17-15 win at home over Harvard. Matt Brandau had 8 assists, spraying the ball with stylish simplicity. Bulldogs led 8-3 after 15 minutes and 13-6 at half. They took 20 shots in the first quarter and were plus 13 facing off on the day with Machado Rodriguez. He gives coach Andy Shay the keys to the car in the Ivy League and can mask their poor defense (#51 scoring defense). In a possession based model it’s even worse. Johnny Keib and Carson Kuhl applied the heat to Harvard and worked well off Brandau’s eyes.

Yale sits atop the RPI which bodes well in May but also highlights the weakness in the metric. Under inspection they have wins over Nova, Colgate, Denver and Harvard – none from the ACC or B10, not exactly a gauntlet. All decent teams with records that mask their liabilities for the time being. Yale lost to Penn State. They are #28 in cumulative efficiency, making their placement puzzling. They have non-league games remaining with Lemoyne, BU, Albany and Hofstra.

Bulldogs and the Big Red will be entertaining, this edition should feature fireworks as neither squad enjoys playing defense. Yale face-off wins will be the ultimate difference maker.

9) Denver

Pios (6-1) pick up a vital win on Sunday 9-6 over Ohio State as FOGO Alec Stathakis and goalie Malcolm Kleban both went 68%. It’s the best start out west since 2016.

Pioneers play in Durham on Sunday. Low ground ball numbers a ticking time bomb for DU.

10) Cornell

Coach Connor Buczek started freshman goalie Matthew Tully a lefty from Foxborough, Mass on Sunday at Princeton a week following a torching in Happy Valley.

“Hard Hat 21” led 4-2 after 15 minutes on Sunday on ESPNU. Their settled sets are lethal with strong personnel and unselfishness pumping in their blood. When they win face-offs lookout. Lead swelled to 8-2 as Hugh Kelleher buried three right handed step down looks.

Next thing you know Cornell was down 12-8 in the third. Shell shocked. SSDM position is a major issue. CJ Kirst stopped the bleeding, 12-9 with 9:00 to go in the third. 4-0 run by Cornell ties it at 12-12. Ryan Goldstein had a breakout game dodging three times against shorties. Tied out of a timeout, Cornell switched it up and played zone defense confusing the Tigers into a sloppy turnover high in the zone. D-man Matt Dooley carried into the zone and found the upper offside corner for the win with :01.9 to play. Dooley on St Patrick’s Day.

Big Red a paltry 1-9 on the emo in two losses. Look for this group to perk up. Yale roadtrips to Ithaca on Saturday. Regular season Ivy Champ will host the league tournament on May 3 & 5.

11) Johns Hopkins

Game time on Friday night was delayed as Navy got in a bus accident in Annapolis. Their replacement bus began smoking and eventually caught fire on I97. A third and fourth bus was able to safely transport the 62 man Navy roster to Homewood Field. The Mids danced back to Naptown when it was over.

Hopkins leapt out to a 6-1 lead with 3:05 to play in the first quarter. What transpired next was unforeseeable. The Jays offense would not score until the 10:24 mark of the third quarter. By then Navy tied the score up at 6-6 and ultimately grabbed a 9-7 lead. Hopkins had twin scoreless streaks of 21:00 minutes and 17:00 minutes. A power outage of epic proportions.

Hopkins tied it with 2:46 to play 9-9 before Max Hewitt won the game for Navy in overtime, sending the fleet off their feet. For the first time since 1969, Navy won back-to-back trips to Baltimore.

Jays offense was dreadful after their deluge led to a 6-1 advantage. They shot 1/14 in the second and third quarters combined. They drew 0 penalties. That’s revealing proof that the Jays weren’t pressing the middle with conviction. The Mids were slow to slide and Hopkins didn’t seem to understand the assignment required scoring unassisted goals, too often dodging in vain. Garrett Degnon scored in his 38th consecutive game, and was a lone bright spot. Russell Melendez and Dylan Bauer flipped spots attack to midfield, with the adjustment providing no spark.

“We Want More” enjoys spring break this week to figure it out. When it’s all mixed up, better break it down. JHU is at Rutgers on Sunday at 4:30 PM on BTN. Hopkins has struggled at Rutgers historically. Pete Medhurst and Mark Dixon will be calling the action from Piscataway. The Scarlet nights are a different animal at home. Bada bing.

12) Georgetown

TJ Haley quietly having a stellar season in the assist department. Swamp Dogs fresh off a siesta, host Dartmouth on Tuesday at 3pm and then travel to Richmond on Saturday where they will get a stern test.

13) Penn

Quakers clamped down on Brown 11-6. Feels like Penn has the best defense in a league defined by explosive offenses. Quakers look to blanket Dartmouth on Saturday.

14) Princeton

Sunday games draw well. Robust crowd in New Jersey witnessed a Cornell offensive explosion. Tigers defense was seeing Red and late to the party, Cornell passing and step down shots resulted in a 8-2 deficit. Midfielder Chad Palumbo cut the margin to 8-4. A lefty wrister from Coulter Mackesy made it 8-5. Tucker Wade right handed sweep across the middle 8-6 and then left handed 8-7. Nate Kabiri tied it 8-8 before half. Palumbo iso made it 9-8 and a FoGO goal 10-8. The lead would blossom to 12-8. Clearing issues led to a Cornell four goal run tying the score at 12-12 at the end of three.

Wade makes it 13-12. Sean Cameron ricochets one off the pipe and in. 14-12. 14-14 tie with :33 to play. Tigers ball. Cornell shifted to a zone defense. Tigers turn it over and give up a game winner in transition with under 2 seconds to play. Tough loss in a crazy game.

Tigers travel to Harvard next. Expect fireworks.

15) Harvard

Crimson (6-1) were engulfed by a title wave, falling behind immediately and losing at Yale 17-15. The final score was a bit misleading. They couldn’t win a face-off and struggled to slow down Yale’s ball movement. Sam King was a lone bright spot. Midfielder Matthews DeGennaro averaging over six ground balls per game.

Plug in the tape, this team cares. They play a high-energy style with emotion and passion. You’ve got to respect the buy in. Let’s see if they flinch at the first taste of their own blood. Princeton and Harvard Square off on Saturday.

16) Richmond

Spiders had no bite in a 12-3 loss to Duke. They host Georgetown next. Richmond’s scoring defense and the playmaking of Dalton Young give them a real shot to win.

17) Michigan

Wolverines got peppered by Notre Dame on Saturday. A 3-3 deadlock ballooned to a 14-3 deficit and this game spun away from Big Blue. Bo Lockwood was back in the fold. Justin Tiernan played well in the slot. They have parts to work with in Christian Rhonda, Mikey Boehm and Ryan Cohen. Wolverine defense still struggling with picks and slide rules.

Time to hit the reset button. Maize and blue tangle with Maryland on Saturday on BTN.

18) North Carolina

Heels were favored by 16 1/2 goals over Wagner and won 18-4 in a mid-week match.

Owen Duffy and Dom Pietramala combined for 30 shots in a win over Stony Brook earning head coach Joe Breschi his 250th career victory.

Carolina’s schedule (SOS #36) won’t callous this team for the ACC, where they’ll be underdogs as the temperature rises. Although, there is opportunity here. An engagement with Army remains on the docket. High Point and North Carolina is typically a spirited game.

19) Rutgers

Scarlet Knights defeated UMass by one goal 10-9 behind a hat trick from Shane Knobloch. Goalie Cardin Stoller stood tall in defiance with 19 saves as he and UMass stopper Matt Knote stunned shooters. Knights six wins are over UMass, Loyola, Lehigh, Stony Brook, Hofstra and Detroit.

20) Quinnipiac

(6-0) with wins over St John’s, Brown, Bryant, Merrimack, Wagner and Canisius.

NCAA quarterfinals are at Hofstra and Towson on May 18 and 19. Championship weekend returns to Philadelphia in 2024.

On the radar:

  • Colgate (6-3)
  • BU (5-2)
  • Towson (5-3)
  • LIU (5-1)
  • Ohio State (5-4)
  • Navy (4-3)

Lindenwood, Detroit Mercy, Brown, UMass-Lowell, Hampton and Mount St Mary’s have yet to win a game.

Spend less time on your phone and more time with your teammates.

Dr Nick Z, UMich lacrosse analyst, is Q’s guest this week as they break down the Harvard at Michigan game and discuss the Wolverines. Quint scans through the Top 20.

About Spire

SPIRE’S world class High School and Post Grad lacrosse program are ideal for serious lacrosse players looking for an intense training environment to prepare for the next level of competition. The academies sere college-bound high school student athletes, as well as high school graduates looking to train & compete for an additional year while seeking the best possible college scholarship opportunities.  The High School Academy features a blended learning environment of college preparatory academies, along with unique personal development and career preparation features.  PG students can earn college credit by taking two core classes per semester at Kent State – Ashtabula or online