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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: March 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.

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Quint Kessenich’s Notes on the Week

St Joe’s (6-2) – The NEC AQ appears to be a wide open race amongst teams like St Joe’s, Hobart, Bryant and LIU. 

UMass (4-3) – Don’t sleep on the Minutemen. They’ve played a sneaky strong schedule with losses to ranked Army (14-13), BU and Yale (13-12). Coach Greg Cannella knows how to peak his team for conference play. The CAA appears to be a three team race between Delaware, UMass and Drexel. 

Richmond (4-3) Spiders owning losses to UNC, Duke and Georgetown is nothing to be ashamed about. Richmond held serve over UMBC on Sunday afternoon. SoCon three-way battle between Richmond, High Point and Jacksonville should be epic. 

Loyola (3-4) – After an 0-4 start, the Hounds have won 3 straight over Lafayette, Duke and Bucknell.

Denver defeated OSU Sunday and look to use that win as momentum for the Big East. The Pios have played a super tough schedule.

Stony Brook is 5-3 having lost three of their last four to good teams – Rutgers, Brown and Syracuse.

Hopkins is now 8-14 for second year coach Peter Milliman and in danger of being below .500 on the campaign. Inventing new ways to lose on a weekly basis – whether it be face-offs, turnovers, clearing or this week zone offense, the Jays seem to be stuck in quicksand in 2022. Aggressive scheduling of two games in one weekend has been proven to be foolish. Jays open up the B10 slate next week. 

Quint Kessenich’s Top 20

20) Lehigh (4-2)

Lehigh got a huge road win over Army to kick-start their Patriot League slate. Every team develops at their own pace. Some click immediately while others take a month or two. The never ending race to improve is a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly assignment. Lehigh has a strong defensive structure and rarely push the pace. Georgetown is next.

19) Delaware 6-2

A Sunday night stand alone game on LSN was tough on the eyes. The Hens built a 2-0 lead while owning possessions but shot selection wasn’t precise. A rebound goal made it 3-0 after one quarter while playing zone defense. Freshman goalie Paul Reidy made 5 saves in the first quarter.

Why would anybody play zone against this Hopkins offense? Seriously. JHU can’t run by you. Skill is their forte. But it worked. Mike Robinson scored a spinning goal to end the third quarter as Delaware tried to gift wrap the game by committing fouls. Hopkins returned the gift. Robinson was a man amongst boys, the MVP of this game with five goals. Hens kept fighting through self-inflicted wounds to dispatch JHU for the first time in program history. While they may lack dodgers on offense, they don’t lack skill and heart.

They found their prime goal scorer and battled for every inch of Delaware Stadium. 12-10 final elevates the Tweetie Birds into the Top 20.

18) High Point (4-4)

The kings of social media lost to UNC 14-12 on a sunny Sunday in front of a robust crowd. Schools should consider playing more games on Sunday. Those games are more likely to draw fans and having Monday as an ‘off day’ for the student-athlete is academically valuable.

The Panthers played well for the first 35 minutes and in the last 5 minutes of the game. There was a ten minute UNC run that provided a safe margin for the Heels. Too often High Point is their own worst enemy. The extra man needs work. Hunter Vines lit the torch early in the game and goalie Parker Green is talented.

Asher Nolting (2 points) did not have a gigantic day – he has never been held without a point. High Point was trailing late by a handful and used timeouts to coach up some scenarios. They pulled within two at the buzzer and I like the way they kept playing regardless of clock and score. That situational coaching by Jon Torpey and execution will pay dividends in the SoCon.

This is a good team that has played a serious schedule. Don’t judge them by their record – losses are to Maryland, Virginia, Duke and UNC. Panthers face Detroit Mercy on Saturday.

17) Brown (5-2)

#BrownState fell to Harvard in their Ivy opener. Qualifying for the Ivy tournament or the AQ isn’t going to be easy. 

The New England rivalry game with UMass will be played on Saturday.

16) Army (6-2) 

#PumpItUp dropped a home conference game to rival Lehigh. 

The Black Knights tussle with Loyola on Saturday in an another important Patriot League game.

15) Notre Dame (2-3)

Rudy got back to their winning ways against Michigan on Saturday while wearing white jerseys with green numbers and trim. The 12-7 victory was earned by a 5-0 run in the second quarter. Chris Kavanagh scored three times and brother Pat had four assists. Wolverines won the majority of the face-offs but had seven failed clears. Notre Dame has cleared the ball well and the Kavanaghs ride like banshees. If you’re not going to win face-offs, quit complaining and find a way to steal some possessions back. Goalie Liam Entenmann made 19 saves holding UM to 16% shooting.

The Irish visit Klockner Stadium on Saturday at 1pm (ACCN) with Chris Cotter, Paul Carcaterra, and myself on the call. 

14) Duke (8-3)

Duke surged in the second half behind a stellar outing from Brennan O’Neil to defeat Towson 14-7. The sophomore finished with 9 points, as the Devils outscored the Tigers 12-3 after trailing 4-2 at the break.

Duke shot 2 of 19 in the first 30 minutes. Eleven games into the season and I don’t think we’ve seen 60 minutes of excellence yet from this talented roster. I’m not convinced the offense is where it needs to be, even after 11 games. Perhaps the scoring outburst against the Tigers will be a catalyst going forward. Run with that momentum.

Jake Naso won 17 of 22 draws. With victories over RoMo, Vermont, Manhattan, Denver, Delaware, High Point, Towson and Richmond, this squad is still hunting a top 10 RPI foe. The schedule is exclusively ACC the rest of the way.

The Devils are in the Dome on Saturday at noon on ESPNU with Jay Alter and Matt Ward on the call.

13) Harvard (4-1)

The Crimson defeated Michigan 14-9 last week and followed it up with a 12-11 win over Brown. 

On Tuesday, BU is in Cambridge. Harvard faces a much improved Dartmouth team this weekend. 

12) Yale (3-2)

“You Are Lucky Enough” fell to Cornell 13-12 on Saturday. The fourth quarter featured a 7-1 run by the Bulldogs that came up short. Perhaps that’ll be a catalyst going forward. They took 51 shots, won the majority of the draws but gave up two critical man-down goals. Chris Lyons scored three times. Leo Johnson and Brian Tevlin scored two apiece. Yale still has BU, Albany and Quinnipiac out of conference so they’ll need to pick up quality wins in the Ivy to be a player on Selection Sunday.

The Bulldogs square off with Princeton on Saturday at 3:30pm.

11) Jacksonville (7-2)

Dolphins banked wins over Duke and Denver in February. JU handled Umass-Lowell 22-8 on Saturday as the usual suspects (Jack Dolan, Jacob Greiner, Max Waldbuam and Jackson Intrieri) thrived. They are shooting around 37%. Turnovers are a main worry.

JU welcomes St John’s to town on Saturday. Bring sunscreen.

10) Boston U (6-0)

Boston University remains undefeated with their stout defense after a 16-10 win over Holy Cross. Midfielder Christian Quadrino scored four times. They’ve beaten Merrimack, Bryant, UMass, Colgate, Bucknell, and Holy Cross. It’s a resume that feels deserving of a ranking somewhere between #8 and #15 – its that subjective.

Terriers cross the Charles River to play Harvard in a gigantic Tuesday skirmish for the cradle of liberty bragging rights. Tuesday is for the hunter. Saturday they play Lafayette.

9) North Carolina (6-2)

UNC made their first road trip of the season to High Point on Sunday and got a 14-12 win on the backs of Chris Gray and goalie Colin Krieg. Where would the Heels be without those two? Probably not in the Top 20. Gray continues to sparkle and Krieg has stood on his head this season while under constant pressure. The numbers may not show it, but Krieg (15 saves) has been playing extremely well considering the UNC defensive woes.

Cole Herbert shot the ball well and freshman Antonio DeMarco, post spring break, has found his groove. Midfield is the most difficult transition from high school to college. For a ten minute portion of the second half, this Carolina team was playing Top 10 quality lacrosse and then they regressed into the abyss by the end, getting sloppy late while winning by a safe margin. Heels are still a work in progress and making incremental improvements across the board.

Heels play Bellarmine on Saturday at 3pm on the ACC Network with Mike Monaco and and Sheehan Stanwick-Burch on the call.

8) Ohio State (5-2)

Ohio State dropped a Sunday matinee at home to Denver 14-12. OSU is a good team, not a great team. They’ve been inconsistent and overly dependent on FOGO Justin Inancio and their extra man unit. Buckeyes aren’t making defensive stops and saves at an elite level at times. 

Outside of Maryland, the Big Ten experienced a losing weekend – Michigan lost, Penn State lost, Ohio State lost, Hopkins lost to Navy and Delaware in perhaps the worst weekend in program history, while Rutgers dined on cupcakes.

Tuesday is for the hunter. Dartmouth comes to town at 7pm. Be careful here. Brutus is at Rutgers on Sunday March 27 at noon on ESPNU with Drew Carter and Ryan Boyle on the call.

7) Rutgers (8-1)

Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom. The Scarlet Knights dominated Lafayette on Tuesday and Hofstra on Saturday. Their anemic non-conference schedule will ultimately cripple their RPI and NCAA playoff resume. That’s why their next game against Ohio State on Sunday March 27 in New Jersey looms large, both in the Big Ten and beyond. RU aka transfer U, doesn’t have wiggle room.

6) Penn (3-2)

Quakers got seven goals from Cam Rubin, 11 points from Sam Handley, and five points from Dylan Gergar in a 21-20 loss at Princeton. Stops and saves were in short supply but to their credit, the Quakers made a valiant comeback to make this a game in the final quarter.

Penn is 3-2 with wins over Duke, Penn State, and Villanova with losses to Georgetown and Princeton. I’m a little concerned about their depth as the season matures. They now turn their attention to Cornell. 

5) Cornell (6-0)

The Big Red took down Yale 13-12 on Saturday, surviving a late run by the Eli’s. Up 12-5 early in the fourth quarter, they desperately held on. Big games aren’t played between snow plowed piles of snow. Face-off wins were sold separately, so Chayse Ierlan’s 18 saves were essential.  CJ Kirst scored four times. Cornell only got one goal and two points total from non-starters. They don’t look deep on tape and on paper. This must be remedied before late April. Lack of depth is a ticking time bomb.

Big Red wins over Ohio State and Lehigh should stand the test of time. Penn is next. 

4) Georgetown (6-1)

The Swamp Dogs steam rolled Utah 16-6. The Utes can be a little tricky to prepare for, with their unique style and nuanced scheme. UNC grad transfer Alex Trippi had five points and is becoming a prime threat. Dylan Watson had four goals. Graham “King Kong” Bundy chipped in a hat trick. LSM Alex Mazzone scored a goal and was active off the ground while causing turnovers. Brick wall Owen McElroy made 12 saves (71%).  

Hoyas caravan to coal country to tangle with FOGO Mike Sisselberger and Lehigh next weekend.

3) Princeton (6-1)

A 21-20 victory over Penn was March madness. Watching highlights of this team on tape you could see how scary they’d be with the ball – and they generate high percentage looks at a clip of around 38% shooting.

They have dangerous individual parts on offense and a wicked motion scheme. Chris Brown’s goal in the only possession of overtime was the game winner. He finished with six goals. The Sherrod Field bleachers were rocking. Games like this create fans. Alex Slusher and Alex Verdaro both had hat tricks. The defense is too heavily reliant on the goalie. The teams combined for 94 shots and 99 ground balls. The Tigers got eight goals from non-starters – that was huge. The score was tied at 15, 16 17, 19 and 20.

Wins over Penn, Georgetown and Rutgers stamp PU as a major at-large player. Princeton hits the road to Yale this Saturday where they’ll have to buckle their chin straps. This’ll be a quickness versus power matchup.

2) Virginia (6-1)

The Cavs were humbled in DC by Maryland and now must go back to work in order to bridge the gap. Defender Cade Saustad returned to the lineup. UVA had no answers at the face-off dot and on 50/50 grounders. Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore produced while the middies were quiet. Wahoo defense was exposed on and off the ball. Cole Kastner was a bright spot. UVA had a hard time putting together goal scoring runs. Down 12-6 at halftime, they ultimately cut the margin, then Maryland finished them off with their depth.

Virginia entertains Notre Dame in Charlottesville on Saturday (ACCN) at 1pm. The Irish will bring the bag pipes and lets hope the UVA pep band makes a cameo. 

1) Maryland (7-0)

10,800 fans and a television audience had their eyes on the ‘game of the year’ between “Be the Best” and Virginia. The anticipation was crushed by reality. Maryland is in a galaxy of their own right now.

The 23-12 win was a tour de force. The thrashing began with the opening face-off and quickly became a jaw-dropping blowout. A healthy Keegan Khan scored four times. He’d been quiet in the Terps last three wins. Jonathan Donville, Owen Murphy, and Logan Wisnauskas each recorded hat tricks. That’s ten goals from transfers. Anthony DeMaio had six points. Goalie Logan McNaney made four quality stops in the first five minutes while his teammates canned every opportunity.

Luke Weirman was the difference maker, as his repeated face-off wins titled the possession margin towards the turtles. Ajax Zappitello is emerging as an excellent number two defender with unit mate Brett Maker. Roman Puglise continues to showcase his ability to be a monster at both ends. Matt Rahill made two great plays to break the ten man ride and covered Payton Cormier well in the slot. Bubba Fairman is proving to be an elite two-way player who has a legit chance to get drafted in the PLL.

Maryland had more than 50 possessions. The passing and cutting on offense is a thing of beauty, all six parts in constant motion for coordinator Bob Benson. They shoot nearly 40%. 

Terps bus north to Happy Valley on Sunday at 7pm on BTN with Joe Beninati and Mark Dixon on the call.

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