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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: March 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.

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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20

20) Richmond (5-3)

The Spiders have wins over Marist, Towson, St Bonaventure, UMBC, and Hampton with losses to ranked North Carolina, Duke, and Georgetown. They share the ball on offense and will challenge High Point and Jacksonville for the SoCon crown.

Next in line: St Joe’s, Notre Dame, Brown, Denver, Villanova, Bucknell, Delaware, Lehigh, and Loyola.

19) UMass (5-3)

The Minutemen stomped on Brown, 10-7, winning the second half 6-2. Kevin Tobin found the net four times. Gabriel Procyk added a hat trick. Brown shot a paltry 7 of 46 with UMASS goalie Matt Knote making 14 saves. 

Garber’s Gorillas have losses to ranked BU, Army, and Yale. Lax Sports Network will televise their April 2 game against Delaware from Garber Field at 1pm.  

18) High Point (5-4)

The Kings of social media have Towson to fend off for internet supremacy. Panthers are #20 in the RPI. They sharpened their claws with an 18-8 win over Detroit Mercy on Saturday. Asher Nolting had 11 points and continues to climb up the all-time points list.

Big game alert in the SoCon as High Point travels to Jacksonville on Saturday at noon. Bring sunscreen and eye black. 

17) Duke (8-4)

The Blue Devils may be the nations biggest underachievers. With an RPI of #16 and no quality wins, the results don’t equate to the talent level on their roster. They have wins over High Point, Richmond, Delaware, and Denver. A slow start once again plagued the Devils. They trailed Loyola 10-2, Towson 4-2, and fell behind SU 7-1. You can’t win against decent teams when you give them a head start. Duke had 3 assists, an indictment of their offensive flow. Their scoring defense is ranked outside of the Top 25. Opponents are generating boatloads of scoring chances. If Duke doesn’t start winning now, the summer will arrive early in Durham. 

Duke is in Chapel Hill on Saturday at 2pm. Anish Shroff and I have the call on the ACCNetwork. Perhaps the nature of this rivalry game will inspire Duke. These ACC games now have added importance because their is no league tournament and no automatic qualifier.

16) Syracuse (4-4)

Syracuse swagger is back. Tucker Dordevic’s between the legs goal led ESPN’s Sportscenter Top 10 plays on Saturday night. The Oregon native was the man of the match, finishing with five goals. This was by far, the best 60 minutes SU has shown this season. They outshot Duke 61-33. They won the clearing, ground balls, face-offs, extra man, and turnover categories. Defender Brett Kennedy continues to catch my eye. He’s a PLL player for sure. The shorties of Carter Rice, Brett Barlow, and Brandon Aviles have taken a step forward. FOGO Jakob Phaup won some key draws in the fourth quarter as Duke was trying to make a run. The loyal 4,728 fans in Syracuse soaked up the success.

The Orange are 4-4 with a low RPI at #21 meaning there is still much work to do, and the schedule provides coach Gary Gait the opportunity to climb the ranks. Matteo Corsi scored twice and Tyler Cordes dished out two assists. The cupboard isn’t deep at SU and they’ll need role players to continue to show up.

They are at ND on Saturday at 2pm on ESPNU with Chris Cotter and Paul Carcaterra. 

15) Johns Hopkins (5-5)

JHU added Michigan to its list of wins that now includes Jacksonville, Syracuse, Towson, and Loyola. Coach Peter Milliman started a new lineup with Jacob Angelus, Ian Krampf, and Garrett Degnon on attack. Connor DeSimone ran midfield.  Feels as if Hopkins is highly unpredictable and displays volatile performance levels – you never know what you’re going to get one week to the next.

The homecoming crowd of 3,713 soaked up the suds and crab cakes before watching their Jays scorch the Wolverines defense. Most of the alums went to JHU before Michigan had a lacrosse team. Angelus finished with seven points showcasing his sudden change of direction from behind the cage. Why’d it take so long to figure this out? Degnon needs to be on the field at all times. His lefty release is heavy, stealthy, and he chipped in six points – and is averaging four points per game when at attack. Dylan Bauer got significant time and added three points as well. Hopkins only had 14 turnovers which had their fans dancing on Charles Street.  

Sunday they play Rutgers at 7pm on BTN.

14) Boston U (7-1)

I watched Tuesday night as Harvard entertained BU in front of a robust crowd in Cambridge. Lucky are we to live in an era with so much lacrosse on the ESPN App. This Beanpot rivalry delivered. The Terriers played chase all night, closing to a 7-7 tie before seeing Harvard go on a 3 goal run and ultimately a 13-10 final. The BU defense is legit with Will Carson, Patrick Morrison, and Dane DeGoler. I love their goalie Matt Garber, he’s quite good. This defense has solid structure and personnel. They don’t give up cheap goals.

On offense, BU lacks a stud dodger but makes up for it with excellent interior passing, patience, and some guts. They move well without the ball and work late into the shot clock for high percentage looks. The Terriers ride hard. Timmy Ley has a knack for getting open in the slot. Vince D’Alto scored three times. Christian Quadrino gave Harvard fits with his quickness and twitch. BU struggled on face-offs, I did not like their wing play, too often running to pre-determined spots instead of playing the ball instinctually as it pops out of the tie-up. 

They bounced back on a short week to dismantle Lafayette 21-11. Vince D’Alto, a junior from Kings Park LI, had seven goals and seven assists. D’Alto was an outstanding HS football player on Long Island. When was the last time you saw that? FOGO Conor Calderone matched a single game NCAA record with 32 face-off wins in 34 attempts.

My gut feeling is that BU will give Lehigh, Army, and Loyola everything they can handle in the Patriot League. Navy (6-3), coming off a Holy Cross victory and their first win at Hopkins since Woodstock, is at Nickerson Field on Saturday (ESPN+) at noon as part of Lax-A-Pooloza with the women’s team playing at 4pm.

13) Army (7-2)

The Black Knights defeated Loyola on Saturday 14-12 behind a 7-4 fourth quarter spurt. Brendan Nichtern had five points in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Nichtern now has 23 goals and 35 assists and is battling UVA’s Connor Shellenberger and UNC’s Chris Gray for most points per game.

Army’s RPI is shockingly low at #28 and it already seems as if the Patriot League will be a one bid conference. Here’s why – BU is #12, Loyola is #24, Bucknell is #26, and Lehigh is #29.  Army squares off with Bucknell on Saturday. 

12) Jacksonville (8-2)

The Dolphins banked wins over Duke and Denver in February. A 25-4 victory over St John’s was accomplished behind an 8-1 first quarter lead. It was 17-2 at half and 20-2 after three quarters. Max Waldbaum and Ethan LaMond produced five goal showings.

Conference play starts with a clean slate. Dolphins tangle with High Point on Saturday at noon at Rock Stadium (ESPN+). 

11) North Carolina (7-2)

For three quarters the Heels mailed it in against Bellarmine, finally turning up the volume late for a victory. Chalk it up to competitive immaturity. Chris Gray bailed them out. UNC hosts Duke on Saturday at 2pm (ACCNetwork) Anish and I will be at Dorrance Field for this rivalry game. 

10) Ohio State (6-3)

After dropping a Sunday matinee at home to Denver 14-12, OSU bounced back with a win over Dartmouth on Tuesday, shrugging off a slow start while turning a 6-6 halftime tie into a 12-7 win. That’s the same game flow as their 20-8 win at UNC. Jackson Reid, a future pro in both leagues and one of the most skilled players in D1 lacrosse, had six points. Colby Smith added a hat trick. Goalie Skyler Wahlund, now the starter, made 12 saves. OSU got just one point from its bench.  

The Buckeyes 3-0 lead dissolved into a blowout loss on Sunday at Rutgers. Playing two games in one week isn’t easy. Ask Hopkins. I’m not sure there were any bright spots for Ohio State. They didn’t defend well. They got exploited in transition after poor shot selection and their amazing extra man unit looked choppy. On to the next one. Own it. Work to fix it. And hit the rest button. 

Bucks host Penn State on April Fools Day at 5pm on ESPNU. 

9) Harvard (6-1)

The Crimson owns ranked ranked wins over BU, Brown, and Michigan. Harvard is buzzing. The 13-10 win over BU on Tuesday night featured a diversified offense led by a pair of freshman Sam King and Austin Madronic. This squad is young and gets minutes from a handful of talented first years – Miles Botkiss, Ray Dearth, and Owen Gaffney. You can clearly see coach Gerry Byrne’s impact. The Byrne method has defenders with sticks on the gloves in textbook breakdown posture. Slides have meaning, proper vectors and purpose. Recoveries are choreographed. The Crimson competed for the full 60, never flinched when BU made runs at their leads. Harvard has bought into playing a winning brand of lacrosse. Let’s see how far that takes them in the Ivy League. 

I watched this contest on Tuesday night from opening whistle to dog pile. It’s a pleasure to be able to view so many quality games on the ESPN App and then up on my big screen using AirPlay. Couple of production notes – the announcing was excellent. They were very well prepared, accurate, insightful and entertaining. However, knowing the crease/goal mouth rule is a prerequisite. It also helps when the refs know the rule – which was butchered when the goal scorer clearly landed inside the inner ice cream cone after being pushed from the rear. I appreciate the aggressive and innovative drone cam, just not seeing video that justifies its usage yet. Keep experimenting and pushing the envelope. The camera one, main game coverage camera, needs to be tightened and zoomed in. Ants marching won’t work. If i can’t read players jersey numbers, it’s too wide. I shouldn’t be seeing traffic flow on Storrow Drive or the Mass Pike. Camera two and replay sequences were outstanding.

Where were the crowd shots? The place was rocking. The clock and score bug in the upper left hand portion of the screen is miniscule.  I know I’m going blind, and this reinforced that reality – viewers need to be able to clearly read the clock and score bug. Very fixable. I’m thankful for more lacrosse on TV, and enjoyed this show which overall was strong, and also hoping everyone associated with television productions across the land will continue to raise the bar, invest and innovate to grow the viewing audience. 

Harvard handled Dartmouth after a shortened week on Saturday 19-10 picking up their fifth straight win. They fought past a slow start behind the play of freshman Sam King, who had nine points. Crimson host Colgate on Saturday in Cambridge at 1pm on (ESPN+).

8) Yale (4-2)

“You Are Lucky Enough” turned the corner with a 14-12 much needed home win over Princeton in front of 1,434 fans. This will be a launching point for the Eli’s as the spring portion of the schedule unfolds. Matt Brandau scored five times and added three assists. Chris Lyons had a hat trick. Coach Andy Shay is getting more production from more players than he did a month ago. Goalie Jared Maquette made 19 stops in the best game of his career. 

Penn is at Yale on Saturday. The top seed in the Ivy gets to host the league tournament on Friday May 6 and Sunday May 8. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs later that evening.

7) Cornell (6-1)

The Big Red dropped a league game to Penn this weekend and appear to be leaking oil with injuries and a lack of reinforcements. Big games are played with leaves on the trees. Snow bank wins mean very little in May. They tried to play catch up against the Quakers and came up short. Maryland is now the only undefeated team in men’s D1 lacrosse. John Piatelli scored four times and CJ Kirst finished with five points. Gavin Adler, a senior defender from Hewlett, Long Island, continues to flash and play his way into the discussion for top defender honors. Adler, Virginia’s Cole Kastner, and Georgetown’s Will Bowen would be my tip trio right now. 

Cornell faces Colgate on Tuesday night and are at Dartmouth on Saturday. Big Red still have future dates with top caliber squads Harvard, Syracuse, Army, Brown, and Princeton. Time to get healthy and find a second wind.

6) Rutgers (9-1)

Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom. The Scarlet Knights started slow on Sunday trailing OSU 3-0 early before unleashing their best brand of ball. With the wind whipping hot dog wrappers onto the SHI Stadium carpet, they demolished the Buckeyes the rest of the way to claim a 18-7 win in front of a sizable and energetic crowd. NASCAR was in full effect off of Colin Kirst saves and rainbow outlets. The defense didn’t create offense for OSU, was slow to slide, and OSU dodgers failed to find pay dirt. Rutgers stayed out of the penalty box and repeatedly diced their opponent in transition. The half-court patterns generated high percentage looks. Ross Scott had seven points. Mitch Bartolo shot well. The depth of scoring was overwhelming.  Bottle this. 

RU hosts JHU on Sunday at 7pm on BTN, a chance to shine again in front of a national audience. Pete Medhurst and Mark Dixon have the call. 

5) Penn (4-2)

Quakers are #5 in the RPI and end up at the same ranking here. A strong first half propelled Penn past Cornell 15-11 this week. They fought off a late rally by the Big Red and are now 1-1 in the Ivy. Penn took 52 shots. Jamie Zusi won 21 of his 29 draws. The Quakers were clicking on the extra man, canning their first three power plays. Sam Handley had six points. Cam Rubin scored three times. Dylan Gergar sprayed four assists. Goalie Patrick Burkinshaw made 15 saves. 

The Quakers visit Yale this weekend.

4) Princeton (5-2)

Exhaling after the 21-20 victory over Penn last Saturday with a loss at desperate Yale, was about as predictable as it gets. I don’t love Princeton’s defense. They are overly reliant on their goalie and have been given up dozens of quality shots per game. An 11-11 tie, became a 14-12 Yale victory. The teams combined for over 100 shots. The Tigers 23 turnovers hurt. Alex Vardaro had six points as Princeton continues to generate explosive offensive totals showcasing a deep use of weapons. Since the inception of the shot clock, offensive teams have held the upper hand which bodes well for the Tigers. 

Princeton, who currently sits at #1 in the RPI, is at Brown this week. Another example of how truly flawed the RPI is, especially when sample size is so miniscule. The Ivy League is 27-6 out of conference in 2022 and that shows in the strong RPI ratings of Ivy schools.

3) Georgetown (7-1)

Goalie Michael Scharfenberger subbed for an injured Owen McElroy as the Swamp Dogs topped Lehigh in coal country. Feeder TJ Haley was the hero, dodging to the rack for himself which is a good sign moving forward. Southpaw Dylan Watson was stinging corners and scored the back-breaker to make it 13-11 against the Mountain Hawk zone defense. The face-off battle was intense between GT’s James Reilly and Lehigh’s Mike Sisselberger. These are two FOGO’s with a future after college. 

If Georgetown is lucky enough to face Princeton again, they’ll win by three goals. Hoyas are at Big East rival, Denver, this Saturday.

2) Virginia (7-1)

Freshman Griffin Schutz and Matt Nunes starred in a 12-8 win over Notre Dame at a windy Klockner Stadium. The place was packed. The pep band showed up and entertained. The game was never close. Nunes was spectacular, bouncing back from last weeks shelling at Audi Field. He’s the most exciting goalie prospect I’ve seen in years. Watching practice on Friday, I was taken by his work ethic, and willingness to rep extra shots after practice. When you do the work, you get paid. It was everything you want to see in a young player, regardless of talent level.

Virginia’s Friday routine is much like football coach Chip Kelly’s philosophy of a “fast Friday”. It’s not a walk-thru, but more geared to getting a sweat going while working on fundamentals and individual skills. With a game plan fully installed, this itinerary is ideal. UVA defense was much more buttoned up and forced the Irish into weak angled shots while on the move. ND opened the game shooting 1 for 19 and found themselves down 6-1. Connor Shellenberger is shooting nearly 60%, I haven’t seen him miss. Xander Dickson continues to dazzle with his off ball movement and game sense. 

Notre Dame drops to 2-4, out of my Top 20 and are in serious need of a lifeline. Their assists per game and shooting percentage, minus the 24 goal outburst against Detroit, are dreadful. They shot 17% against the Wahoos, and until garbage time when they scored the last three goals of the game, that stat was closer to 10%. 

The Cavs loss to Maryland on March 19 will focus UVA on enhancing their face-off wing play, on-ball defensive approaches, slide packages, midfield scoring, and transition defense. A March wake-up call is beneficial. Having a worthy adversary is the best thing about sports. Wahoos wrestle with a sneaky good Richmond squad this Saturday.

1) Maryland (8-0)

A stand alone late television game on Sunday night is a stroke of genius by the BTN. 28 degrees with wind at face-off greeted the Terps at Panzer Stadium. Coming off the win over UVA, a letdown would have been no surprise. After 7 first quarter turnovers, Maryland blew open a 5-3 game into a 11-3 halftime margin and 18-3 lead after 45 minutes. The majority of the damage initiated from behind the goal. Keegan Khan, Kyle Long and FOGO Luke Wieiman ignited the rally. Game over. 

Maryland, the lone D1 men’s unbeaten team, is much better in 2022 than they were in 2021 when they came up one goal short in the NCAA final. The defense is more experienced and deeper at the SSDM spot. The midfield units have punch and a variety of options, and the influx of impact transfers more than offset the loss of Tewaaraton winner Jared Bernhardt. The transition offense is lethal. Coach John Tillman has this team focused and having fun. Maryland sets the pace.

Fear the turtle is at Michigan on April 2 at noon. The B10 is is 6-3 against the ACC in 2022 with MD accounting for three of those wins (ND, SU, UVA). B10 is (4-5) against the Ivy League.

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