Welcome to the newest LAS feature for the NCAA Men’s Division I Lacrosse season, The Takeoff! Look no further for your source of This will be a weekly spot for the LAS crew to look ahead at the games coming up this weekend and weigh in on trends, teams, players or whatever else they feel like. The only rule of The Takeoff is each person has to give something trending up, and something trending down. The group may change slightly week to week, but we think you’ll like to see what each person is excited for (or dreading) for this weekend’s games.
This week, Ryder Cochrane and Scott Ratliff are both back for more. Scott and Ryder deserve some kudos for their prediction of the Notre Dame loss to Richmond. This week we also have Scott’s co-founder of the Give & Go Foundation, Adam Ghitelman, and LAS Digital Editor Matt Anderson joining the Takeoff. Now, on to The Takeoff’s takes!
Stocks Going Up
HOT: Top 20 matchups. We’ve been blessed with so many top 20 matchups already, and it just keeps rolling. Just look at Cornell for example. Their next four games? Albany, Towson, Penn State, Yale. Every single one of those games should be a blast (maybe excluding the Dane Train, which has failed to leave the station so far). Maryland’s next five? Notre Dame, Albany, Villanova, UNC, and Penn State. We’re about to learn so much more about these teams, and I (and my newly purchased ESPN+ access) am HERE for it. For teams like Maryland and Cornell especially, who haven’t really faced May-level competition yet, this should be the stretch that shows us who’s for real and who isn’t. For this week, I’m saying Maryland takes down Notre Dame (let’s say, 13-8) and Cornell wins a shootout vs Albany (19-14).
Syracuse. I will admit I was really down on the Orange after their season opening loss to Colgate. Since then, I have been really impressed by how hard this group is playing. To me it seems they could hear all the doubters loud and clear and they appear to be on a mission to return the Orange to Championship Weekend glory. Led by a big day from senior Nate Solomon, Orange > Hoos.
Hobart. In their loss to Cornell, I came away impressed. Are they crisp? No. Especially the between the lines, they could be very sloppy with the ball. But they also were causing turnovers, creating shots, and playing high-tempo. They even picked off a Jeff Teat feed through the middle. That’s, like, illegal, or something. But with their propensity to put up serious goals (#1 scoring offense in the country) and make surprise plays, they may not be national title contenders, but they are going to ruin a season or two.
I’ll keep this simple and to the point. It’s a buyer’s market on:
Maryland’s Aerial Attack & New #1 Jared Bernhardt
Penn State’s Big/Little & 2-Man Games for Grant Ament
Duke’s Depth of Athleticism & Coaching
Kevin Unterstein & UNC’s Toughness
The Future Faceoff: A Puck Drop
Tyler Canto. While this may be the trendy choice right now, it is certainly well-deserved. Tyler Canto has been nothing short of fantastic these last few weeks as he has helped Towson to a 4-0 record, taking down then-No. 7 Johns Hopkins, then-No. 16 Georgetown and No. 1 Loyola. And, oh yeah, he has done all of this while posting a .629 save percentage, a 8.25 GAA average, and having played every minute of each game so far. While there are certainly many goalies deserving of this spot right now, like Delaware’s Matt Deluca and Penn State’s Colby Kneese, Canto’s potential play-of-the-year save has pushed him to the top in my mind. With Towson heading into a tough stretch against some of the blue bloods of college lacrosse such as Cornell, Duke and Denver, Canto is going to need to continue to be a major part of the defense to help Towson get the results they want.
Stocks Going Down
Princeton. The Tigers have had some generational talent in recent years (Schreiber, Currier, Sowers) but have not been able to put all of the pieces together to create a Championship Weekend quality team. I am afraid it’s going to be the same story this year as a rejuvenated Hopkins team stays on the comeback trail to squeaking out an NCAA tournament birth. Hop by 2.
Bad Crease Dive Rules. I was and still am a supporter of the crease dive. What I’m not a supporter of is the terrible implementation of this rule. It’s probably worth a full article (gee, where could I do that?), but how this was rolled out is a case study in poor communication. Coaches and refs still didn’t know how this should be called and therefore players don’t know, and everyone is making it up on the fly. Because of that, there’s going to be a bad injury this season. Players (goalies, defenders, and offensive players) are all being reckless with this right now. Until then: dive away from the goalie, don’t check your guy in the goalie, and if you are a goalie: stay safe and make smart plays.
Adam: Pass. Keeping it all positive this week.
Virginia. As much as I love the ‘Hoos, they have had a rough start to this year. A 17-9 shellacking at the hands of Loyola, two narrow wins over Lehigh and Princeton by less than four goals combined and a 14-13 loss to High Point has put the Virginia Cavaliers on the hot seat in my mind. Hey, hot takes are just part of the territory on The Takeoff. Yes, High Point has been having a great season, and normally wins over Lehigh and Princeton are nothing to sneeze at, but Lehigh is having a down year themselves, while in my opinion it’s too early to tell with Princeton. Am I completely giving up on Virginia? No. But, they need to start figuring some thing out if they are going to be a tournament contender by May.
Cupcake schedules. The losses above them have greatly benefited Ohio State, which has climbed into the top ten of the polls despite their best win being over…Bucknell? Seriously, this team doesn’t have a top 20 win yet, and won’t even have a shot at one until halfway through March, when they take on Denver. Denver and Notre Dame basically make up the entirety of decent out-of-conference matchups for the Buckeyes, a year after going 8-7 and missing the playoffs. This *could* be a top ten team, but they shouldn’t be getting ranked this highly until they’ve proved something, especially when teams below them had the gall to book top ten opponents early in the year. Not to mention they’re not exactly crushing the competition so far. They’ve won so far by 3, 7, 4, and 3 respectively. Karmically speaking (and also just in terms of which team will be more experienced by then), the Pios are going to smack the Buckeyes in two weeks in the ‘Shoe.