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This week there is a double header at M&T Stadium that is billed as a great day of lacrosse. However, Maryland vs. Duke, and Princeton vs. Hopkins just is not as exciting as it once was. A Maryland vs. Hopkins game would have been better.

Maryland plays Duke at 2:30 at M&T Stadium.

Maryland is 2-1. No wins over ranked teams, and 1 loss to #5 Georgetown.

Maryland’s scoring against Georgetown was a big surprise. Their attack which I think so highly of, did not produce (3goals). It was their midfield that showed up. Not only did their midfield unit score most of the goals, they also won 17 of 26 face offs. Maryland is still a team to be reckoned with.

Duke is 2-1. They beat #17 Colgate by just 1 goal, and lost to #14 Harvard. Duke is not waiting until the post season to choke. The Blue Devils just can’t seem to find a rhythm either on offense or defense. The once feared Duke scoring machine only got off 29 shots against Harvard. Their EMO is 2 for 7 on the whole year. Duke is relying too heavily on their midfield lines as their top three scorers are Ned Crotty (4G, 8A), Brad Ross (6G, 2A), and Steve Schoeffel (5G, 0A). Max Quinzani (4G, 1A) has not been able to do much without Greer or Danowski by his side.

On the other side of the field, goalie Rob Schroeder is letting in more than 50% of the shots he faces (24 Goals Against, 22 Saves).

Duke is also below 50% on face-offs.

The Blue Devils should fear the turtle. Maryland should be able to get their midfield and attack firing on Schroeder. Couple that with winning most of the face-offs, Duke will lose and fall into lacrosse mediocrity…Just like Hofstra used to be.

Princeton faces Johns Hopkins at 6:00pm at M&T Stadium.

This game should be better than the beating Duke will take.

Hopkins is 1-0 after a thorough thrashing of Siena last week. While this was expected, there were two key stats in the game that should be examined before this game. The 1st is that Hopkins EMO unit was blanked (0 for 3). The 2nd is that Hopkins was thoroughly beat on face-offs (7 of 18). The Jays need to shore these parts of their game up before facing Princeton. The main highlight was the play of Mike Gvozden and the defense. Yes, I was a hater in the first half of last year, as Gvozden looked like a black hole, but then he turned his season around and was saving everything that was thrown at him. It was nice to see the defense only let Siena take 26 shots on cage, and Gvozden start off with a 73% save percentage (3GA, 23SV).

Hopkins has enough depth that if Princeton can shut down leader Steve Boyle (4G, 2A), Kyle Wharton (3G, 0A), Brian Christopher (1G, 2A), or Mike Kimmel (1G, 1A) can step it up.

Princeton is 1-0 after beating Canisius 14-6.

Interesting to point out, at the half, Princeton was actually losing by 1 to Canisius. That changed in the 3rd quarter, as the Tigers unleashed a barrage of shots and netted 8 goals. Jack McBride led the way (4G, 1A), followed by Tommy Davis (3G, 0A), Chris McBride (2G, 0A), and Rob Engelke (2G, 0A). Key stats for this game were that of the 14 Princeton goals, only 5 were assisted. The Tigers had 6 chances on EMO and converted on half of them. Princeton only allowed 22 shots on goal.

While Princeton’s style of play should guarantee Hopkins doesn’t run away with it, Hopkins defense should smother the Tigers’ attack. This should be a low scoring game with Hopkins winning it on their defense/goalie and midfield scoring.

Syracuse vs. Virginia - Photo by Getty Images North America

Photo by Getty Images North America

The game of the week, if not year is UVA at Syracuse on Friday at 7pm.

This should be a great rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game. Both teams have similar styles of hard defense, and lots of firepower.

Syracuse is 2-0 with no wins against ranked teams.

Their offense is averaging 53 shots per game and 19.5 goals per game. Their main threats are Kenny Nims (6G, 8A), Steve Keogh (8G, 3A), Dan hardy (3G, 3A), Chris Daniello (5G, 0A), and Tim Desko (3G, 2A). Between Nims and Keogh they have picked up any slack left by Leveille’s graduation. The third attack spot has seen Daniello, Desko, and Niewieroski round out the 1-2 punch. The Midfield is led by Hardy, and transfer Kahoe, however Abbott needs to contribute more.

Their defense keeping opponents to 18 shots per game, 4.5 goals per game. Even though they lost Evan Brady and Kyle Guadagnolo, Sid “Vicious” Smith is back, bringing back the physical style of play. He is joined by Matt Tierney and John Lade at close D. In net for Syracuse is John Galloway who has started this season off with a 56% save percentage.

Where Syracuse really excels is their special teams. Their EMO is 8 of 9 (89%), and their man-down unit is a perfect 100% (0-10).

UVA is 4-0 with no wins over ranked teams. Their offense is averaging 53.5 shots per game and 13.25 goals per game. The top guns for UVA are Garrett Billings (14G, 8A), Steele Stanwick (7G, 6A), Brian Carroll (10G, 1A), and Danny Glading (2G, 8A).

Their defense is allowing 5.75 goals per game and 23.5 shots per game. Close D is led by Ken Clausen who plays a fun style of D to watch. His flashiness is complemented by the physical play of Matt Kelly. In between the pipes is Sophomore Adam Ghitelman, a solid goalie who has put up a 62% save percentage this season.

UVA’s special teams is a possible weakness. Their EMO is only 25% (3 for 12), and their man-down unit is 58% (5-12).

I think both attack units will witn the battles against their opponents’ defenses. Glading, and Bilings proved it in last year’s game, and their attack unit only got better with the addition of Steele Stanwick. For Syracuse, while Leveille put on a one-man show against Virginia’s D, I think both Nims and Keogh have stepped it up, and now Syracuse actually has more threats on attack than UVA can cover.

At midfield Syracuse’s defensive middies should be able to hold Carroll from having a huge game, although no one can stop him completely. The question will be can UVA stop Hardy. I think Hardy is one possible deciding factor. The other as stated before will be special teams. If UVA racks up penalties (averaging 3 per game), Syracuse can, and will take advantage. In a close 1 or at the max 2 goal game, Syracuse edges out UVA.

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Friday Night Army visits the Carrier Dome of Syracuse at 7:00pm. 
After winning the Championship last year, and the beat-down Syracuse handed to Providence last week, Army SHOULD be little more than 3rd gear for the Orange.   However, this gets my vote for 3rd game to watch this week as Army always seems to play Cuse very tight. 

Army Syracuse

Georgetown at Maryland Saturday at 1:00pm
Many think this is THE game to watch this week.  I say its #2 on my list. Maryland is 2-0 after easily beating both Presbyterian and Air Force.  This is Georgetown’s season opener. 

If you got sick of the term “by committee” while watching the NFL this year, don’t watch any Maryland games.  In my opinion, they have the best attack unit in the country.  Why?  The last season Yeatman played (freshman) he put up over 40 points.  Last year, (all freshmen) Catalino had over 40 points, Reed had over 30, and Young had just shy of 30 with 27.  Yeatman and Catalino have started both games; Reed and Young each got 1 start.  11 Maryland players have 2 or more goals, and no one has more than 3.  In fact another 7 players have 1 goal.  Maryland likes to shoot.  They have out shot opponents 121-50. 

FYI in case you forgot, there are 60 minutes per game…so Maryland has shot more shots than minutes they’ve played.  Want more committees, try goalie by committee.  We knew that coming into this season as Phipps and Carter split time fairly evenly last season.  This season time is right down the middle.  Statistically speaking Phipps has a slightly better track record with a save percentage of 61 for his career compared to Carter’s 58, and that doesn’t include this year’s stats yet (77% and 69% respectively). 

Georgetown has a very capable attack unit in Craig Dowd, who just keeps getting better, Ricky Mirabito who should be at 100% after suffering an injury in fall ball, and Maryland transfer Brett Weiss.  Georgetown’s advantage may lie in their midfield unit.  Andrew Branaccio has a cannon of a shot. Scott Kocis returns after an injury sidelined him last year. He showed promise as a freshman scoring 7 goals against good teams. 

The question mark for Georgetown will be their goalie situation.  In the preseason it looked like Jack Davis would get the nod, however none of the 4 goalies the Hoyas are carrying has more than a few minutes experience.

While all the preseason hype puts this as the game of the week, I don’t think it will be that close.  Most teams schedule an easy opponent the first week or so to wipe the rust off.  Georgetown might have bitten off more than they can chew for their season opener…especially with an inexperienced goalie in the pipes.  Maryland will pepper Davis with tons of shots…and from everywhere.  How he reacts will determine the outcome of the game.  If he can make some saves and keep his composure under fire, this could be a great match up.  If MD gets a few in early, I can see the floodgates opening in the second half.  MD by 6.

Georgetown Maryland

Navy visits UNC Friday night at 7:30:  This is my personal pick for game of the week.
UNC is 2-0 this season with an easy victory over Robert Morris (16-4) and a victory over Denver by an even wider margin of victory (20-7).   Navy is 2-0 as well.  They also have one easy win over VMI (13-5) and a hard win over Ohio State (8-6). 

UNC out shot Robert Morris but had trouble finding the net in their first week.  Coach Breschi focused on improving their shooting, and UNC responded by scoring on 20 of 40 shots against Denver for an unheard of scoring percentage.  This week UNC focused on special teams, clears and rides, and is looking for a scrappy tough game against Navy. 

As predicted, Petracca and Bitter are the two top guns on UNC, each with 8 Goals and 5 assists (13points).  Sean Burke is ready to break out as he has yet to tally a goal this season (4 assists).  On the defensive side of the field, UNC has caused 23 turnovers, and keeper Zimmerman has posted a 5.44 GAA but more importantly a save percentage of 64.3%.

Navy wins with their defense.  In two games, they have only had 24 shots on goal against them, only had 6 penalties, and 11 goals against.  Navy is also outstanding on special teams.  Their EMO is over 83% (5-6), and their man-down is a perfect 100% (0-5). 
Navy’s offense is spread around as 3 players all have 4 goals a piece (Paul, Conners, Nechanicky).  Navy’s weakness is between the boxes.  They have only won 46% of their face-offs. 

The key to this game will be Navy’s special teams, and UNC’s shooting.  If  UNC can get off to a fast start, its all over.  Navy can’t compete in a shootout.  If UNC does not get that early jump start, or shoots poorly, Navy’s special teams could prove to be the upset factor.  I am going with UNC on this one by 4.

Navy UNC

The 2009 season is finally getting underway.  After a long winter of over 10 feet of snow, it is time to get the boathouse jacket out, the grill cleaned off, and head out to watch some great lacrosse. 

This valentine’s weekend tell her you lover her with tickets to the UMBC/Delaware game.
It is my game of the week pick, and will be a great challenge to both teams right from the gate.

UMBC at Delaware
Saturday 1:00pm

UMBC is carrying a heavy load of expectation this year. The Retrievers had their best season ever last year posting a 12-4 record (undefeated in conference play), and falling just 1 goal short against UVA in the 1st round of the NCAA playoffs.

They look to continue their success this year and go even farther, as they returned 9 of 10 starters…that was until top defenseman Bobby Atwell went down with an ACL injury, and their top attackman Smith is rehabbing his knee.  Smith might not be as effective due to his injury, however, his supporting cast should be able to pick up any slack.  Linemates Matt Latham, and either Chris Jones scored 38 goals last year, and are joined by a very promising freshman in Rob Grimm.  UMBC’s first midfield looks solid with Wimer, Hopmann, and transfer Poillon who combined for 64 goals last season.  UMBC’s starting defense and goalie all return this year, looking stronger than before. 

The only weakness for UMBC is mental.  They have a habit of playing up or down to their opponents.  Last year, UMBC looked a bit overrated as they were blown out by Delaware (7-15), and Rutgers (4-13).  They also struggled against teams they should have easily handled in close wins over Yale (11-9), Binghamton (6-5 in OT), and Vermont (8-6).   On the flipside, they beat Maryland, OSU, Albany twice, and lost to Hopkins by 2 and UVA by 1. 

The Blue Hens of Delaware return 19 players from last years squad including standout attackman Curtis Dickson who posted 46 goals last season.  Dickson will need to lead an inexperienced unit that aside from his numbers, combined for 5 goals last season.  Delaware also has the ability to score from midfield with Martin Cahill and Beau Davis a duo that put up 52 points last year.  On Defense, the hens have a very strong close unit  with Pat Dowling and Tim Langmaid.  What hurts their defense is the loss of goalie Tommy Scherr.  Noah Fossner steps between the pipes this season.  In his first start last week against St. Josephs, he allowed only 2 goals on 11 shots.
It is this unknown of Fossner that is Delaware’s weakness this year.  If he can step in seamlessly to the vacancy between the pipes, Delaware looks to have a solid year.

This game should be an excellent match up with no blowout this year.  It is going to come down to UMBC’s defense.  Can they stop the Hens’ figure out how to stop Dickson and Cahill who single-handedly scored more than all of UMBC last year?

I think UMBC is a solid team this year, but I think Delaware still pulls out a marginal win 10-8.

Tell me what you think?  Who is going to win this game?  What is YOUR pick for the best game to watch?

Every Thursday night I will be posting previews of the best games to watch.  Stay tuned and follow me through the season.

Much like General Sherman’s march to the sea in the Civil War, the sport of lacrosse has come a long way on its mission of invading the South.

The growth of the sport has taken off in the last few years, mainly in the South and especially in the state of Florida.  The sport has grown by leaps and bounds to the point that the high school state championship program is comprised of more than 70 schools.

That growth has now continued its upward trend with the addition of women’s lacrosse at Jacksonville University and Florida, along with the first Division I men’s program in the state at JU.

I have to admit, what little I know of lacrosse is due to watching the men’s Final Four on television.  This may come off as blasphemy, but I have never seen a game live, with the extent of what my eyes have witnessed is 30 minutes of a women’s camp this summer.

So, here’s what I’ve heard about this lacrosse:

- It’s the fastest game on grass.  I can see this in what little I’ve seen.  It takes the precision of basketball plays, along with the physicality of football and the stamina of soccer.

- There’s a major difference between the men’s and women’s game.  That is very evident as well, which I like.  Unlike basketball and soccer where the game is the same, the difference between men’s and women’s game is evident.  The women’s game is finesse and teamwork, rewarding the teams that push the action and stay aggressive.  The men’s game is gritty, hard nosed and physical.   That’s from what little I’ve seen.

With some of the common perceptions about the sport being held true thus far, how is it going to be accepted in region where it is truly a foreign sport?

Before we look at lacrosse, I think it’s important to look at some other sports that have attempted to invade the South and take some of the luster off of King Football.

Soccer, while it is big in the little leagues, has never really taken off past that level.  Hockey, the hot sport of the 1990s when the NHL expanded deep into the South, has seen the luster taken away as several of the Southern teams have experienced problems.

What gives lacrosse a chance?

To me, the sport has one thing that soccer and hockey don’t provide – scoring.  The casual sports fan in the South is built with the short attention span – usually around 40 seconds (long enough for a football play), so lots of scoring is important.  On the men’s side, throw in the physicality and its going to be a hot ticket.  On the women’s side, the amount of movement and the rapid scoring opportunities give it a chance as well.

It’s an exciting time in the South to see this sport take root and begin its growth.  Welcome to the South lacrosse.  We hope you enjoy your stay.

JU logo

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 06/05/2008

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at this years 2008 Lacrosse all Americans and see how the numbers correlate to the team’s overall success. Not surprisingly the teams with the most all Americans in each division (Duke, LeMoyne, and Gettysburg) all had great seasons.  However, none of those teams won the championship.  Coincidentally the teams with the 2nd highest number of all Americans in each division won their respective championship - Syracuse, NY Tech, and Salisbury.  So sometimes it’s good to be #2.
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Originally posted on LaxSpot on 01/02/2008

I saw a breakdown of the schools feeding MLL rosters a while back; but I wanted to put up an updated breakdown. Of course this isn’t necessarily an indication of a programs overall strength because there’s obviously a lot of variables at play. Some great college players decide not to pursue a professional lacrosse career.

These numbers are based on the 10 MLL rosters on their websites as of 1/2/08. It’s possible that some of the players on those rosters won’t make the final squad. When a player attended multiple colleges, the most recent school was used.

It’s amazing how many players the top 5 schools put into the MLL. I’m surprised to see only 5 from G-town and 4 from Duke. I guess the alum are too busy making boat loads of money on Wall Street or wherever else. Dartmouth with 4 players surprised me; I need to stop sleeping on them I guess. Salisbury was the only non-D1 team to make the top 25.

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Originally posted on LaxSpot on 12/24/2007

So I was browsing Amazon today – Christmas Eve is not too late to be shopping for presents – and came across the Duke Lacrosse books for sale. I knew former Duke Lacrosse coach Mike Pressler had co-authored a book, but I hadn’t realized there were two others on the market. I’m glad to see it. I hope a lot of people are interested in hearing the true story now that the sexy headlines are no longer in the national media. However, I seriously doubt all those who were so dangerously eager and fast to accuse the team of wrongdoing will give any time or interest to understanding the whole story. They were hoping the truth to be something other than reality, and once that hope expired their interest did as well.

I do have to question the decision of two of the publishers to put the three accused player’s faces on the cover. Their pictures were already widely circulated, but it seems unnecessary. If these books truly are an attempt at justice than the photos seem to contradict that effort. But I guess that’s a naïve view. Covers have the sole purpose of selling books, and I’m sure the publishers know what their doing in that respect. It is interesting that the Pressler book didn’t take the same approach though.

These three books all seem to be getting good user reviews. I haven’t read any of them yet – mainly because I very rarely have time to read a book. But I am interested and plan on picking one up. Might as well be the Pressler book I guess. This man has been severely wronged so I hope this book puts some good money in his pocket.

Duke Lacrosse Books

Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (Hardcover)
by Stuart Taylor (Author), KC Johnson (Author)
Average rating – 4.5 stars

It’s Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered (Hardcover)
by Don Yaeger (Author), Mike Pressler (Author)
Average rating – 4.5 stars

A Rush to Injustice: How Power, Prejudice, Racism, and Political Correctness Overshadowed Truth and Justice in the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (Hardcover)
by Nader Baydoun (Author), R. Stephanie Good (Author)
Average rating – 4.0 stars

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