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Quint Kessenich
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Quint Kessenich’s Top 20: May 2, 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.

Twitter: @QKessenich
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Championship week is here. This is the defining moment for over 40 teams who are fighting for a league championship and trip to the NCAA tournament. 

  • Vermont hosts the America East tourney and will have to deal with Binghamton and Albany. Don Zimmerman and Mike Corey will televise the final on Saturday at noon on ESPNU from Burlington.
  • The A-Sun looks like it’ll come down to Utah, RoMo, Air Force and Bellarmine. Former Michigan coach John Paul will work the television feed (ESPN+) as an analyst from Milton Frank Stadium in Huntsville, Alabama. The A-Sun will be adding more programs soon. 
  • Georgetown hosts the Big East tourney with Villanova, Providence and Denver looking to bid steal.
  • BTN provides coverage of the Big Ten semis and finals from College Park on Thursday and Saturday next week with Joe Beninati and Mark Dixon on the mic. 
  • The CAA feels like a crap shoot that’ll be played at Drexel between the Dragons and Delaware in one semi, with Towson and UMass in the other.
  • The Ivy tournament semis and finals will be televised on Friday night May 6 and Sunday May 8 at noon on ESPNU. Brown plays Penn and Cornell challenges Yale.
  • The MAAC is never predictable. St Bonaventure and Marist feel most likely to advance. Manhattan and an improved Siena program round out the filed.
  • St Joseph’s and Bryant are on collision course in the NEC.
  • BU hosts the Patriot League tourney which should provide intrigue. CBS Sports Network will carry the coverage with Dave Ryan and Evan Washburn enjoying Boston. Army earned a bye into the semis. Loyola will host Bucknell on Tuesday and Navy travels to Lehigh in the league quarters. 
  • High point is hosting the SoCon tourney and will play Richmond in the semifinal. Jacksonville is the top seed and tangles with VMI. 
  • The NCAA tournament Women’s and Men’s Selection Show airs this Sunday night at 8pm on ESPNU, live from the ESPN studios in Bristol, CT. The NCAA mens bracket welcomes ten automatic qualifiers, champs from ten leagues and then 8 at-large teams who have the most polished resumes. 

Quint Kessenich’s Top 20

20) Denver (9-5)

2,969 Pioneer fans enjoyed a 16-8 victory over Marquette on Friday night in crammed Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. Jack Hannah contributed five points. Alex Simmons had a hat trick. A 10-1 run tells the tale. The Denver offense is midfield generated with a top down schematic approach.  

Georgetown will host the Big East tournament. Denver plays Villanova on Thursday at Cooper Field. Win and advance. Lose and go home.

19) Saint Joseph’s (12-3)

St Joe’s played a nearly perfect game for 45 minutes on Tuesday night at Penn, up 10-5 only to see the Quakers rally for a 13-12 overtime win. I watched this entire game and I was extremely impressed with attackman Levi Anderson, a slick lefty, and Matt Bohmer, a play making righty. Goalie Robbie Seeley, since being put into the lineup is now 7-1 on the year and played an awesome first 45 minutes. The ten-man ride had bite. The Hawks scrapped and made energy plays. When the clock struck 8:30pm, the game flipped on its axis. Penn closed out the game on an 8-3 run.

Hit the rest button and get ready for the NEC tournament. If St joe’s can win the AQ, mark my words, they will be a nightmare of a draw for somebody in round one. They are much better than you’d guess and have the parts, coaching, and attitude to pull off a round one upset. Other than the finish, I was very impressed with what I watched. 

The Hawks handled Merrimack and now host the NEC tournament.

18) Richmond (9-4)

The Spiders road to the NCAA tournament and SoCon title will be challenging. First they must defeat High Point for the second time this year, in enemy soil. Then it’s likely they’ll play Jacksonville in the SoCon finals on one days rest. 

17) North Carolina (8-6)

Heels led 7-6 at half only to see Duke score 8 unanswered goals in the third quarter. A 19-11 final saw Chris Gray surpass Lyle Thompson as the all-time D1 points leader. UNC couldn’t win a Faceoff in the deciding quarter, their ride had no bite, and Duke eventually figured out the shut off scheme that Carolina employed on Brennan O’Neill. North Carolina’s season is over. They are unlikely to receive an at-large bid. 

The Tar Heels hold wins over Brown, Denver, Hopkins and Richmond which could increase or decrease in value between now and May 8. Their RPI has plummeted to #17.

16) Boston University (10-4)

The Terriers host the Patriot League tournament even after a 15-14 loss at home on Friday to Army. The Patriot League is similar to the Ivy League in that the separation of talent level within the top five teams isn’t very wide. The Terrier defense is based on movement, sliding and creating chaos. They had no answers for Army quarterback Brendan Nichtern who diced them up for ten points. If they play again, you can guarantee that Nichtern will garner more attention.

Boston is fun to watch on offense, a bit undersized, but they make up it for with crisp skills, player movement, and aggressive passing to the crease and backside. They aren’t overly reliant on any one player. Louis Perfetto had seven points. All four of the Terriers’ losses this season have been to ranked opponents. BU will play the lowest remaining seed on Thursday at 4pm (CBS Sports Network) with the Army semifinal at 7pm. Dave Ryan and Evan Washburn will be in Boston covering the games. 

Patriot League Seeding

Boston University: 1

Army: 2

Lehigh: 3

Loyola: 4

Navy: 5

Bucknell: 6

15) Army (11-3) 

On Friday night I watched the Black Knights defeat BU 15-14 at Nickerson Field on the ESPN app. This was a spirited and action packed game, typical of the Patriot League. Army’s win gets them a bye into the league tournament as the No.2 seed, that’ll be hosted by BU next weekend.

Brendan Nichtern had eight assists and Army kept the offensive pressure on throughout. Nichtern lets the game come to him, never forcing the action and capitalizing on his scoring opportunities as they arise. He had 10 points. I think the obvious Tewaaraton front runners are Logan Wisnauskas (MD), Chris Gray (UNC), and Connor Shellenberger (UVA) with Nichtern, Matt Brandau (Yale), Will Bowen (GT), and Brennan O’Neil (Duke) in the next tier. I don’t have a vote. Unlike my lawn, this trophy takes care of itself. It’s annually a team success based award.

A 7-1 run, midway through the game, swung the pendulum towards the Black Knights of the Hudson. FOGO Will Coletti iced the game late with a goal off a critical draw. Paul Johnson and Jacob Morin both had hat tricks. Morin has a scary left handed bazooka. 

I spoke with CBS analyst Evan Washburn about the Patriot League on my podcast last week. 

14) Harvard (8-4)

The Crimson are vying for the final at-large spot after falling in overtime at Yale. The 17-16 final was an amazing game to watch. Harvard won’t be playing in the Ivy tournament. This young team has come a long way fast. Their RPI will be strong as a member of the dominant Ivy league. They’ve defeated Brown, BU, and Princeton. They have losses to Ohio State, Cornell, and Yale. I’ve got the feeling that they are sitting firmly on the bubble.

13) Jacksonville (13-2)

The Dolphins had the week off. The Duval Mission Podcast comes highly recommended for Dolphin fans, opponents, and recruits. Jacksonville plays VMI on Thursday night at 5pm in the SoCon semifinals. Richmond and High Point square off in the other semifinal. Jacksonville has never won the SoCon.

12) Penn (8-4)

Penn defeated Albany 19-11 and caught a break when Yale topped Harvard in overtime, meaning that Penn is the fourth seed in the Ivy tournament next week in Rhode Island. The win over the Dane Train was triggered by Dylan Gergar, Ben Bedard, Jack Schultz, and freshman Ben Smith. 

The Quakers were fortunate to defeat St Joe’s on Tuesday night after trailing 10-5 after 45 minutes. They’ve now played in eight games decided by two or less goals. Penn opened the game shooting 5 of 33 and closed it nailing 7 of 15 shots n the fourth quarter. Shot selection and placement was sub par. Middie Gabe Furey was the driving force behind the comeback, playing with confidence and getting to good spots with his frame. Freshman Ben Smith, a right handed sniper from Boys’ Latin, had a career game and made too many clutch shots from mid-range to be sitting on the pines. James Shipley buried the game winner in OT.

I watched this game from drizzly start to rainy finish. The lights at Ace Adams Field weren’t spectacular, although I’ve got no complaints about a Tuesday treat like this. LSM BJ Ferrare was very active off the wings of face-offs with his elite speed. Draw man Jamie Zusi did quite well winning 14 of 29 against Tewaraaton Top 25 FOGO Zach Cole. 3 FOGO’s on the Top 25 list is ridiculous.

Anyway, Penn is very big and athletic from the midfield. Sam Handley, Furey, and Shipley are a handful. The Quakers are a top down generated offense, they don’t initiate with their attack much and the ball doesn’t go behind the goal enough. The attack capitalizes on midfield iso’s. Penn struggled to clear against the Hawk’s ten-man ride and threw the ball away too many times. Defensively, their shorties are stout. Three or four times in this contest they left their close defenders on an island and got torched for iso goals. Felt like they were slow to slide. Goalie Patrick Burkinshaw is a proven commodity and never buckled in the face of pressure on Tuesday, but why do I hold my breath every outlet pass he tries to toss with that ungodly deep pocket and hook? Backed into a corner, Penn responded dominating the fourth quarter. This is the type of late season win that often becomes a spark. 

The Quakers hold wins over Duke, St. Joe’s, Cornell, and Harvard with losses to Brown, Yale, Princeton, and Georgetown. Without a doubt they will be in the field of 18 come Selection Sunday on May 8. 

11) Ohio State (10-4)

The Buckeyes handed their rival Michigan their eighth consecutive loss of the 2022 season after a promising 7-0 start. A 16-10 final in favor of OSU was accomplished on the strong play of Jackson Reid, Colby Smith, Jack Myers, and Johnny Wiseman.  Ohio State has won four of their last five. They play Rutgers in the Big Ten semifinals on Thursday at Maryland. They lost to Rutgers on March 27 in Jersey 18-7 in their worst outing of the season. The style differential in this matchup is striking. Ohio State is holding critical head-to-head wins over Harvard, North Carolina, and Notre Dame.

10) Rutgers (12-2)

The Scarlet Knights resume deserves a second glance. They have wins over Ohio State and against a sub .500 Johns Hopkins squad. They’ve beaten Army who’s a borderline RPI Top 20 team. They were blown out by Princeton. Recent one-goal wins over Michigan and Penn State didn’t exactly ace the eyeball test. To their credit, they are 4-0 in one goal games.

The media poll says that Rutgers is the third ranked team in the country? Based on what? They have a strong team, no doubt. They have pocketed wins over LIU, Marist, St John’s, Loyola, Stony Brook, Lafayette, and Hofstra. It’s kind of light if you ask me. Adding another win in the Big Ten tournament would go a long way to cementing a top seed. 

Their #26 SOS is the lowest of any team getting at large consideration. The system penalizes Jacksonville for playing VMI, Mercer, and Hampton in league play, yet Rutgers schedules Hofstra, Marist, LIU, Lafayette, St John’s, and Stony Brook out of league and doesn’t pay a price? I don’t get it. 

The jersey boys have a rematch with Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals in College Park on Thursday May 5. They didn’t slide to OSU in their regular season runaway win and they scored a ton of transition goals after easy stops by Colin Kirst. Announcers Joe Beninati and Mark Dixon provide the entertainment on BTN.

9) Princeton (9-4) 

The Tigers got bumped out of the Ivy League tournament with a 18-15 home loss to Cornell. Their defense was sub-par throughout. The Big Red led by 8 goals before a furious comeback nearly flipped this game upside down. Princeton could not catch up to a feisty Cornell squad. Freshman Coulter Mackesy scored five times, as did Sam English. Alex Vardaro has a laser from range.  

With wins over Georgetown, Rutgers, Penn, and Brown, the Tigers resume is rock solid for an at-large spot, but the way their defense has played lately is major cause for concern. Cornell jumped all over them. Princeton has given up 19 to Harvard a week ago and 18 to Cornell on Saturday. Early in the season they were too reliant on goalie Erik Peters who was making nearly 20 saves per week.

The Ivy League owns a monopoly on the RPI after posting 39-10 out-of-conference record. Princeton and four other Ivy teams are likely to host first round games on May 14 and 15.

8) Cornell (11-3)

Cornell got their oil change and pounced on Princeton up 11-5 in the first half, as their offense tore through the Tigers. The first quarter was a thing of beauty. Playing for a share of Ivy League regular season title during a week that witnessed memories and tributes for former Big Red icon and coach Richie Moran, Cornell dug deep wearing tee shirts that had a Moran quote, “It’s great to be here”.

Their 8 goal lead evaporated as they appeared to hit a wall in the second half. They summoned a second wind and closed out the game, refusing to be denied. Defender Gavin Adler was the man of the match, causing turnovers and scooping up every grounder within reach. The Big Red were scrappy yet disciplined. John Piatelli, Michael Long, and CJ Kirst continue to deliver monster production. Billy Coyle stepped up with 3 goals and Cornell got added juice from Alex Holmes, Hugh Kelleher, Matt Licciardi and Spencer Wiirtheim.

This game was nonstop action – high level offense on display. The Ivy League has been a high scoring conference in 2022. National offensive ranks and defense category listed below, prior to play on Saturday.

Princeton: O-5/D-51

Yale: O-7/D-31

Brown: O-21/D-32

Harvard: O-25/D-30

Cornell: O-28/D-32

Penn: O-33/D-36

Dartmouth: O-60/D-48

7) Duke (11-5)

The Blue Devils turned a 7-5 deficit into an 14-7 lead on Sunday night to keep their post season hopes alive. They play Notre Dame on Saturday on ESPN2 in what looks like a play-in game. 

Duke is hitting its stride. Jake Naso dominated possession in the third quarter.  Nakeie Montgomery was the party starter and triggered the run. Brennan ONeill, Joe Robertson, Kenny Brower, Tyler Carpenter, and Andrew McAdorey all were on point. Duke cleared better. They defended the ball and supported well, after a shaky off-ball beginning. 

Duke travels to South Bend on May 7 (ESPN2). Chris Cotter and Matt Ward have the call. This matchup may be a play-in game for the NCAA tournament.

6) Notre Dame (7-4)

Pat Kavanagh was Herculean in the Dome, spearheading the 18-11 Irish victory on Sunday at Syracuse. He has 37 points in 4 games against SU. Feeding, dodging, shooting from all different angles, Kavanagh put on a show. Notre Dame took care of business behind Eric Dobson, Mo Mirer, Will Angrick, Chris Kavanagh, Reilly Gray, and Jake Taylor. They are sharing the ball, passing and working for high quality shots. Everybody eats. Liam Entenmann has ramped his game up During the second half of the season, making 22 stops in the Dome. 

Syracuse lost ten games in 2022 for the first time in program history. They finished on a six game slide. I expect considerable roster turnover before 2023. Tip of the cap and thank you to seniors Brendan Curry and Brett Kennedy. Best of luck in the PLL Draft (Tuesday May 10, 8pm ESPNU).

Rudy hosts Duke on Saturday on ESPN2 with Chris Cotter and Matt Ward on the call. The ACC has placed three teams in the NCAA tournament every year since 1979. That’s not happening this year. Winner take all in a de facto NCAA tournament round of 32 game. People want playoff expansion, here you go. 

Chris Cotter and Matt Ward will be in Indiana with the call.

5) Brown (10-4)

Brown State held serve against Dartmouth 15-6 and will host the Ivy League tournament from Providence, starting on Friday May 6 at 6pm on ESPNU. They’ve won five straight. They pulled away in the third quarter behind Ryan Aughavin, Trevor Glavin, and Devon McClane. Matt Gunty won 16 of 23 face-offs and coach Mike Daly got 11 points from non-starters. 

The Bears were impressive on Tuesday night in the rain, capturing the Ocean State Cup with a convincing 16-9 win over rival Bryant. Eleven different Bears scored and goalie Connor Theriault made 19 saves. He’s on fire and this team is one of the hottest in the nation. Brown took 50 shots. They play fast and free, not afraid to make mistakes. They jumped up 5-0 and won the third quarter 6-1. They play a ton of different players and are surging with consecutive wins over Penn, Yale, Cornell, and Bryant. Their success in the Ivy League after a lopsided loss to North Carolina in February and three straight setbacks to Harvard, UMass, and Princeton in late March and early April is noteworthy.

Anish Shroff, Paul Carcaterra and I will be in covering the Ivy League tournament on Friday night at 6:00pm and 8:30pm on ESPNU and the final on Sunday May 8 at noon. Brown plays Penn and Cornell faces Yale.

4) Yale (9-3)

Eli’s youth movement has been on full display since the early season. They got a goal from freshman Leo Johnson with 1:56 to go, tying the game at 16-16. Thomas Bragg nailed the net from 15 yards in overtime on the extra-man for the win. Bragg has a wicked outside shot and must be covered from distance. The old yardage marker of 12 yards on EMD doesn’t equate in the modern game where shooters can eclipse 100 mph with their feet set from 14 or 15 yards.

The defensive structure has to read and react to these threats and press out to impact the release, or stay in your shell at 12 yards and turn and rake. First year Chris Lyons scored five times. Matt Brandau finished with six points. Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight games. They lost to Cornell 13-12 on March 19 in Ithaca. They get a rematch on Friday in Providence in the Ivy semifinals. 

3) Virginia (11-3)

The Cavaliers handled Lafayette 20-10 on Thursday night as seniors Regan Quinn, Paul Rodriguez, and goalie Miles Thompson took center stage. UVA starts its seniors on senior night. Thompson played 52:48 minutes in the snow cone making 13 saves while allowing 7 goals against. He was seeing the ball well. Rodriguez, a senior from California, found the net and Quinn, a veteran from Chaminade, had a career night with 4 goals. Fifth-year Matt Moore set the Virginia career points record surpassing Steele Stanwick with an 8 point evening. 

Lafayette under coach Pat Myers is clearly trending in the right direction. The wins will catch up in 2023 as this program builds with a youthful foundation. I was impressed with Peter Lehman, Charlie Cunniffe, and John Mathes on offense with help from defenders Cade Kilbride and Sean Rushton. Big lefty goalie Gabe Cummins was terrific in the first 20 minutes of this game. 

Like 2021, the Wahoos have an extended break prior to the NCAA playoffs. They won’t play a game for 17 days. Coach Lars Tiffany will create a calendar similar to a plan former UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall’s utilized for bowl prep. The schedule worked in 2021. The Cavaliers are expected to play a first round home game on May 14 or 15.

2) Georgetown (13-1)

On Friday night the Hoyas put a bow on their regular season with a 13-7 victory at Villanova in front of 1,351 fans. A 5-1 second quarter and five goals from Dylan Watson provided the cushion. Georgetown specialists goalie Owen McElroy and FOGO James Reilly are both clocking in at 63%. Watson has 61 points and Graham Bundy Jr. has 57 points. Transfer Alex Trippi also tallies up nicely with 45 points. The Hoyas top ten are elite, as is their rope unit. The second midfield hasn’t done much. 

The Swamp Dogs host the Big East tournament on Thursday with Villanova facing Denver at 5:30pm and Georgetown playing Marquette at 8:30pm at Cooper Field. The action can be seen on CBS Sports Network. The finals are slated for Saturday May 7 at 4:30pm on CBSSN. Bid stealers invade the nations capital.

1) Maryland (12-0)

Maryland enjoyed a bye week. The Terps, who are now -120 in Vegas odds to win the NCAA title, play Hopkins on Thursday night, May 5, in College Park. Maryland demolished JHU on April 23 at Homewood 22-7. This game will be closer. BTN provides the coverage with Joe Beninati and Mark Dixon. 

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