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.
The days are getting longer. The sideline snow drifts have left piles of pellets. Gladly we turn the page to March. There are eight weeks until Conference Championship week and twelve until Memorial Day Weekend. Find 15 minutes each day before and after practice to fine tune the nuances of your craft. Nobody ever got great within the confines of team practice. The extra time is your edge. Focus on hydration, recovery and sleep. Step away from distractions and stop sabotaging your body every weekend.
The Ivy League won the weekend. My teammate and ESPN comrade Paul Carcaterra summed it up beautifully.
“2020 there was a strong argument the Ivy had the best conference in lacrosse. After the conference didn’t play in 2021, I thought 2022 would have been a far cry from 2020. Boy was I wrong. They may not have the superstars like a Jeff Teat or Mike Sowers, but these teams are built to win. Credit the players, coaches, and families for the commitment to come back as good as ever! “
– Paul Carcaterra
Announcer Anish Shroff chimed in.
“Last year, filling out the poll after you got past 13 or 14 felt like a fruitless exercise in ranking mediocrity. With the Ivy back the top 20 feels like a real top 20 again.”
– Anish Shroff
Amen. I work with smart people.
Quint Kessenich’s Outside the Top 20
Quint Kessenich’s Top 20
20: Bucknell (5-0)
Bison are 5-0 with tallies over Mercer, Robert Morris, St Johns, Marist, and Binghamton. They get tested for real in the next three weeks with BU, Penn State and Loyola.
19: Brown (4-1)
Brown’s 22-10 win over Providence featured six points for Ryan Aughavin, a Max Seibald clone, who has a versatile skill-set. The Bears are fun to watch and their uniquely New England homer TV broadcasters are worth a listen.
Bears capitalized against a sloppy Nova defense in a 15-14 Tuesday win, holding on for dear life after building a giant lead. Devon McClane had nine points and Brian Antonelli was sharp-shooting with five goals. Meanwhile, the Wild Cats defense is cringeworthy.
#BrownState plays Stony Brook on Saturday.
18: Boston University (4-1)
BU doubled up Colgate 16-8 this weekend to improve to 4-0. Vince D’Alto, Timmy Ley and Jake Cates were the prime producers. BU has wins over Merrimack, Bryant, UMass, and Colgate.
BU and Bucknell have a date on Saturday.
17: Jacksonville (5-2)
A Sunday setback against Utah feels like a reset button moment for the Dolphins. The SoCon competition is stiff with High Point, Richmond and JU.
16: Johns Hopkins (3-3)
The Jays were in the deep end of the pool on Saturday, falling behind quickly to UVA in an ugly road loss. The NCAA playoffs remain an achievable goal. The Jays are 3-3 and play SU, Navy, and Delaware before entering conference play. Every game is critical on the road to .500. The next three are winnable. Shake it off. Regroup and refocus.
The game plan on February 27 against North Carolina was either poorly crafted or poorly executed. Or both. Against Virginia they were outmanned.
#WeWantMore welcomes former coach and legendary player Dave Pietramala and Syracuse back to Homewood Field on Sunday March 13 at 4pm (ESPNU). Carc and I will have the call in what should be a very emotionally charged contest between two programs breaking in new coaching regimes and trying to get back to their typical standard of excellence.
15: Yale (2-1)
The Bulldogs just don’t look right. They were sloppy in a Nova win, couldn’t decipher a Penn State zone defense, and nearly lost to UMass on Saturday.
“You Are Lucky Enough” prides themselves on their strength and conditioning program, but it seems as if they lack a certain quickness and agility. My eyes don’t deceive. Bigger isn’t always better. Pros don’t train for bulk. They train for speed.
Yale travels to Denver on Sunday March 13.
14: Syracuse (2-3)
#HHH hit a wall in the fourth quarter against Army, struggling to finish the marathon as a 13-12 lead dissolved into a 17-13 loss. Back-to-back seasons have seen Army celebrate in the Carrier Dome. SU isn’t deep. Were they tired? Sloppy turnovers set the table for the Cadet victory. Owen Seebold was a major bright spot. Jakob Phaup did a terrific job winning face-offs. Appears that SU has two capable goalies in Bobby Gavin and Harrison Thompson.
Zone offense needs work, SU spun their wheels against the Army zone, couldn’t generate easy inside looks and took some savable shots from the perimeter which swung the confidence meter in Army’s favor. Syracuse had just three assisted goals. Defensive turnovers, poor clearing, simple errors, are caused by lack of communication, fatigue and focus. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. Compounding mistakes spun this game out of control.
Syracuse saw their 6-3 lead diminish quickly into a 6-6 tie against Hobart on Sunday afternoon. The Kraus-Simmons Trophy on the line for the 107th time. Penalties hurt the Orange. Tucker Dordevic had four goals in the first half. He and Brendan Curry would combine for ten goals. Jakob Phaup gave SU a significant possession advantage in a Dome 18-16 win that was far from a defensive clinic.
Orange visit Charm City on Sunday at 4pm (ESPNU) to play Hopkins in a big game for both programs that need to be .500 for NCAA inclusion. Paul Carcaterra and I have the call from historic Homewood Field.
13: Michigan (7-0)
Wolverines got six points apiece from Michael Boehm and Josh Zwada in a 12-10 Tuesday win over Marquette. Unbeaten and ready for bigger and better challenges, the Wolverines dispatched Delaware on Saturday to remain unblemished.
The maize and blue play Harvard this week.
12: North Carolina (5-1)
Carolina outscored Denver 17-16 behind the usual eight points from Chris Gray. He’s been a one man wrecking crew. Lance Tillman is getting more opportunities, Nicky Solomon has found his shooting stroke, and Henry Schertzinger is athletic and dangerous. The defense has issues but has maintained a 5-1 record with wins over Richmond, Brown, Hopkins, and Denver. The new look Heels have managed to win while breaking in a new close defense and midfield.
The Thursday night thriller’s are back. The Tar Heels play on the ACCNetwork on Thursday, March 10, at 8pm against Virginia.
11: Ohio State (4-1)
The scarlet and gray are sharing the rock and their extra man is on fire. I don’t love their defense and they’ve been too reliant on FOGO Justin Inancio to tilt the possession margin. Cornell defeated OSU 14-11 with the Big Red attack doing most of the damage. Meanwhile, the key playmakers had quiet outings. At 4-1 there is still non-conference work to do with Notre Dame, Dartmouth, and Denver on the horizon. Nothing will come easy in the Big Ten.
OSU plays midwestern rival Notre Dame this week.
10: Army (5-1)
Tied with Syracuse 13-13 on Wednesday in the Dome, the Orange experienced a power outage as Army marched to a 17-13 win, their second consecutive victory in the series. Cadets won the fourth quarter 5-0 while capitalizing on a myriad of SU errors. Army employed a zone defense that stymied the Orange. The switch to zone was a brilliant maneuver by the Army sideline generals and proved to be the strategic edge. Bobby Abshire, Brendan Nichtern, along with pole goals by Deacon Donaldson and Joey Stilings spearheaded the onslaught. Black Knights took 50 shots, a healthy total considering they only won 11 of the 33 draws.
This team competes like an Army lacrosse team should. Relentless effort. Full speed ahead. I love everything about them. I sense magic here. This senior ladened roster is well equipped for Patriot League favoritism and more. Imagine Army running onto Rentschler Field, in front of a capacity crowd, all on their feet, with American flags waving. Dream big Army, and go to work. #PumpItUp.
Lafayette is next.
9: Duke (7-2)
The Blue Devils played 8 games in a span of 26 days and their final mid-week contest of 2022 was on Tuesday at High Point. This game featured some monster hits and plenty of emotion. High Point needs to enhance their stadium lights and turf, which appeared both murky and greasy. Panther Asher Nolting put on a show for the ESPN+ viewers. Nakeie Montgomery stirs the drink for #GoDuke. He’s been the king of the right-handed wing, dodging to pay dirt, exploding underneath or banging the ball through point behind. That scheme is now a staple of the half-field offense. #15 has continued to add elements to his arsenal. As a sophomore his passing took a gigantic step forward. As a junior his defense ramped up. Now as a graduate his dodging game is humming. He’s an example of continual player development.
Devils got eight points from Sean Lulley who’s production broke open a 10-10 game into a 17-12 Duke lead. Cam Badour was back in the mix. FOGO Jake Naso went 69% in the high scoring affair. The 18-14 final was achieved with zero points from Brennan O’Neil, a first career outing with no points.
12 different players contributed to the box score in a win over Richmond on Saturday. Mike Adler made 20 saves. Joe Robertson was back in the mix.
The Blue Devils are in Baltimore this week at Loyola.
8: Cornell (4-0)
Hobart dominated the first quarter on Schoellkopf Field on Tuesday leading 2-0. The Big Red weathered that mid-week storm thanks to goaltender Chayse Ierlan. Not sure what was said at half-time down 5-4. Those words mattered with an energy level noticeably ramped. Cornell rolled to a 15-7 lead looking like a playoff team. The Statesmen kept battling for the 15-12 final.
I like midfielder Hugh Kelleher and lefty attacker CJ Kirst. Kirst is a future pro, better than his older brother. Billy Coyle scored four times against the fish throwers. When the offense moves without the ball, they get looks. John Piatelli, while not flashy, runs the show as an extension of the coaching staff. The defense makes good decisions and is well positioned, they don’t beat themselves. FOGO Angelo Petrakis was 61%.
CJ Kirst, Billy Coyle, and John Piatelli were once again the heroes in a Saturday win over Ohio State. FOGO Angelo Petrakis and goalie Chayse Ierlan are a specialist combo that few can match. This team has balance and the Hard Hat mentality.
Big Red tangles with Penn State this weekend for the Tambo Trophy.
7: Notre Dame (1-2)
The Irish have a serious dilemma at the faceoff dot. Their loss to Maryland at home was a tad sloppy, and frantic in pacing.
Rudy won the first four draws then struggled. The Kavanagh brothers are a handful in riding and hustle plays around the crease as they take an NHL attitude onto the field.
“Play Like A Champion” and Brutus play catch on Saturday in a bounce back game for both squads.
6: Georgetown (4-1)
Hoyas typically tight defense did fine in Georgetown’s loss to Princeton. The Tigers only scored 10 goals and one came late as the defense was chasing at the bell. Two Princeton goals were on EMO, and three were scored in transition. Only four came in half field sets. The primary issues for Georgetown were turnovers at an ugly 22, and lousy shot selection.
Hoyas manhandled the Mount on Tuesday behind a stellar defensive performance from Brendan Voelker and first career goals from Brandon Meaux, Nate Gentile and Aidan Carroll.
GTown play the Spiders this week.
5: Princeton (3-1)
The Tigers have ample speed and quickness from the midfield and should score goals in 2022. The team’s loss to Maryland was merely a pre-Ivy lesson. Last weekend’s win over Georgetown stamps this team as one to watch, one with potential in the league and beyond. Alex Slusher had five goals and the Tigers weren’t discouraged by a poor day facing off. They forced the Hoyas into 22 turnovers. Goalie Erik Peters stood toe-to-toe with shooters and registered 16 stops.
Tigers look to tame Rutgers this weekend. Big game alert.
4: Penn (3-1)
A scare from Penn State was pushed aside by Dylan Gergar and Sam Handley. The Quakers have been through an early season gauntlet much like Maryland, Loyola, Georgetown, and Hopkins. Goalie Patrick Burkinshaw made 14 saves.
Quakers and Villanova play on Saturday.
3: Rutgers (6-0)
Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom. The Jersey Boys flirted with disaster at Stony Brook before going on a monster run and squeaking by 17-16. Ross Scott, Shane Knobloch and Mitch Bartolo had five points apiece. Faceoffs and saves were sold separately.
Princeton and Rutgers battle for the New Jersey crown on Saturday.
2: Virginia (5-0)
The Wahoos trucked Hopkins and own the Doyle Smith Trophy and it won’t be making the trip to Charm City any time soon. This result could easily have been more lopsided. Connor Shellenberger had eight points. Petey LsSalla won 9 of the first 10 draws before getting some rest. UVA subbed liberally.
The Cavaliers play at UNC on Thursday March 10, at 8pm on the ACCNetwork. Anish Shroff and I have the call from site. Why does it seem that UVA leads the nation in ground balls per game every year?
1: Maryland (5-0)
Be the Best got four points from Kyle Long as they won in South Bend. Luke Weirman won 75% of the Faceoffs and SSDM Roman Puglise found the net again. It wasn’t as sharp an effort as we’ve seen from the Terp offense. Peaking in February has no merits.
Maryland stadium DJ is hype. Kyle Long also played well against Princeton. The Terps possess situational awareness with a transition offense that’s textbook in terms of spacing and passing to capitalize on odd-man rushes. The passing patterns create feet-set slam dunks from mid-range.
Terps turn their attention to Albany on Saturday.