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OK, so it doesn’t have the same ring that March Madness does. However, could a May Madness style promotion up the ante for lacrosse?

Upping the ante is exactly what has worked for basketball. Since the NCAA D1 basketball bracket gambling started, the gambling has grown, so has the following of the tournament. It is simple to fill out, simple scoring, and is socially acceptable. Everyone does it from CEOs to High School kids; soccer moms…even the President of the United States, Barack Obama shared his bracket picks this year.

Just so we are clear before I go any further. The NC$$ stance on gambling is that it is not OK. They even produced a multi-media campaign against it. Funny how I saw multiple Budweiser and pizza commercials while watching the games, yet I don’t recall any NCAA commercials telling the viewers gambling is bad…mmm-kay.

I guess when they are making over $500 Million per year, they take the Bud Selig approach with steroids.

This year, I say lets do it for lacrosse. Get a company like Dick’s or Gatorade to hold a free bracketology for lacrosse (that way no one is gambling per se). Dish out gift cards for the winners. It would need to be a non-lacrosse company. I mean we want not only lacrosse fans, but new blood entering for a chance at some free swag. By entering, they would at least have to do a little research about our sport, and be exposed to it. As we all know, once you see your first game of lacrosse, you get hooked.

Who knows. You may even see a contest here.

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Army vs. Navy (M&T Bank Stadium (MD)) (11:30 am)

This week’s Game of the week is the yearly Army/Navy game.

Army is 5-6 with no ranked wins. Key losses were to #3 Cornell by 1, #5 Hofstra by 1, #15 Colgate by 1, and #19 Bucknell by 2.
Navy is 8-3 with wins over #19 Georgetown and #12 Maryland. Key losses to North Carolina by 1, Bucknell by 1, and Colgate by 1.

Army’s EMO is a struggling this year only converting on 28% of their opportunities, while their man-down unit is only stopping their opponents 47% of the time. Army is only 46% on FO.  Jason Peyer leads the way with 38 points (26G, 12A), followed by Jeremy Boltus (20,16), Kevin LoRusso (13,6), Brooks Korvin (12,6), and Rob McCallion (9,9). After that the #6 scorer is only at 9 total points.
In net, Tom Palesky has put up a nice 63% save percent and an 8.28GAA.

Navy’s EMO is not struggling as much as Army’s converting 44% of the time. Their man-down defense is lights out one of the best in the nation if not THE best. Their opponents are only converting 13% of the time. Navy’s defense also shines in the fact they have forced 105 opponent turnovers, and are winning the ground ball war by an average of 10 more per game.  Navy’s FO unit is winning 49% of the time. Tim Paul is the points leader for Navy with 30 (17, 13). He is followed by Brendan Connors (15,6), Andy Warner (11,7), Pat Moran (13,3), and Bruce Nechanicky (10,3).

In goal it should be Tommy Phelan. This kid is on one hell of a hot streak right now. In 2 starts, he is 2-0, 6.0 GAA, and 72% save%. That is playing the full 120 minutes. That is playing against both Georgetown and Maryland. The potent MD offense was held to 4 goals against Navy.

Army/Navy is always a good match up. Even though Navy has dominated the W column over the years, Army always hangs tough and plays them close. I think Army has two real good stars with Peyer and Boltus. I think they could give Navy’s D a challenge. I have to give the W to Navy in this one, just because of the way Phelan is playing.

These two teams play lacrosse in the spirit the game was meant to be played. It is an all out war on the field. Yet after the game, there is a bond of brotherhood. With this game it is not only between fellow lacrosse players, but between fellow servicemen.

St. Marys College Vs. Denison University 2009

What a week we had last week.  The #1 team in the land was shot down by the Gettysburg Bullets 11-10 bringing Stevenson to the #1 spot this week.  Stevenson halted Wesley by 1 to pull to the top of the polls.

Tufts keeps on rolling as they defeated NESCAC foe Wesleyan 12-10.  And the new talk of the town is Haverford.  On top in the Centennial Conference after a win over a strong Washington College team.  They lost a real close one against Tufts who is currently ranked #5. With a real strong strength of schedule, the Fords have proven that they’re a team to reckon with.

This week offers some great conference battles that will only rival tournament time.

-Game of the Week-
CAC
#1 Stevenson @ #4 Salisbury
Stevenson may have a short reign over D3 as they play at Salisbury under the lights on Saturday night. On the other hand Salisbury is riding a 105 game winning streak in the CAC…the question is, will Stevenson snap that streak?

NESCAC
#7 Middlebury @ #13 Bowdoin
There’s not much to say about this game except that this rivalry goes back and has flourished over the past decade.  The NESCAC runs deep in the polls with 4 teams in the top 15.

Centennial
#15 Washington College @ #9 Gettysburg 1:00
With Haverford on top, this game is for a home conference playoff game.  Neither team wants to see the other away from their house.  WAC is coming off a loss to Haverford and the Bullets are riding high from last weeks upset.  There will be no love between these two squads.

Commonwealth Coast Clash
#12 Endicott @ #10 Western New England
I’d say that these programs are just sliding throught the schedule unnoticed.  But make sure that you take notice as both will be in the NCAA’s and both will be making it known come May.

SUNY Showdown
#6 Cortland State @ #19 Geneseo State - Wed 4/8
You gotta love the SUNYAC rivalries.  It is a conference full of talented teams.  Heck if you through in the Bing and Albany the SUNY system is total powerhouse in lax.

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This week’s games of the week are a perfect trifecta from the Meadowlands.  While all the teams participating are Final Four caliber teams, hopefully this is not a prequel to a future Final Four site.  While it is the home of my beloved Giants, and near NYC…it is also in dirty Jersey.  More on the NCAA’s movement of FF locations in a later blog.

For the record the best game is the first game, with the last game being the least interesting out of the three.  So if you can get to the Meadowlands this weekend do so…and early.

Virginia vs. UNC

The first game of the day pits Virginia against UNC at noon.

UVA is still undefeated at 11-0 with wins over #2Syracuse, #3Cornell, #11Hopkins, and #8Maryland.

UVA in their last 2 games have only won by 1 goal in each.  In their most recent, it was the longest game EVER going into 7 overtimes.  Everything about this team looks polished, especially Ghitelman making 22 saves in that 7OT thriller.  22 saves and only 9 goals against.  Their offense is superb and Ghitelman continues to stand on his head in cage.  There really is not much of a weak spot on this team, except EMO (32%).  Maybe they’ll be tired still for UNC?

UNC is 8-3 with wins over #19Denver, #17Navy, #15Colgate, #11Hopkins and losses to Notre Dame, Duke, and Maryland.  UNC statistically should have more wins.  They just fell short against some tough competition.  They are dominating on FO and GBs.  Their EMO is struggling at 35%, but their ManDown defense is playing well holding opponents to only 34%.

UNC should come out and play UVA physically for two reasons.  On the off-chance there is still some tightness/soreness from the 7OT game, and since UNC Man-down is good and UVA EMO is struggling, don’t be afraid to get some laundry on the field.  Other than that UNC needs to win those FO and GBs, and try to keep the ball out of the sticks of Virginia’s offense both Middies and Attack.  While my heart wants UNC to win, I think Ghitelman is too hot right now.  If he wasn’t playing at the level he is now, I could see UNC possibly with the upset.  Virginia by 4.

Princeton vs. Syracuse
The second game of the night is Princeton vs Syracuse at 2:30pm.

Princeton is 7-1 with wins over #11Hopkins, #6UMBC, and #18Albany. Their lone loss was to Hofstra. 

Princeton’s offense has been just as good as their defense.  Princeton is averaging 12.25 goals per game.  In their only loss to Hofstra, Princeton could only find the net 7 times and that was their downfall.  Princeton has 2 flaws.  Their special teams (EMO is less than 40%, and Man Down is less than 50%), and Faceoffs (52%).  Faceoffs is another factor in their loss as they only won 8 of 27.

Syracuse is 7-1 as well with wins over #11Hopkins, and #15Loyola.  Their lone loss was to Virginia.  Syracuse the past few games has had a habit of starting off slow and then exploding in the 2nd or 3rd or 4th quarters.  In the last 3 games they have not scored more than 3 in the first quarter and have progressively started their spurt later in the game.  Their offense is a formidable weapon, and while their defense is solid, they seem to lack the physical presence they had last year.  The Orange need to win FaceOffs, as they have struggled at times this year.  If Syracuse can get up early and not have to play catch up against Princeton, the Orange win.  Princeton could upset Syracuse if they can jump to an early lead and then slow the game down.  I am being a homer and going with the Cuse on this one.  While their slow starts scare me against a team like Princeton, once the scoring train gets rolling, there’s no stopping it.

Hofstra vs. Delaware
Finally to round out the day, Hofstra takes on Delaware at 5:00pm

Hofstra’s defense and goalie have gelled since mini-Gvozden was thrown into the fire against his big brother and the rest of the Hopkins Blue Jays.  Since then mini-G and the rest of the Dutch D have held opponents to under 8 goals per game.  Not on average, but no one has scored more than 8 on them since the loss.Delaware is 3-7 with no ranked wins, and too many losses to list.  3 of their 7 losses were by 1 goal.  If not for 3 goals, they could be a ranked team. This is Delaware’s downfall. Their offense has not put up more than 10G in a month.

This is an easy pick for me.  The Dutchmen playing in their own backyard with their D and G playing very well, and Delaware’s O stalling out to a fizzle is a no brainer.

St. Mary’s College Vs. Dickinson 2009 - Division 3 Men’s Action

There were some big games this past week and they surely delivered. I wasn’t too surprised of the outcomes of these last week.  It seems that everything went as planned just like my NCAA Bracket…which I’m tied for 1st place!

In last week’s game of the week, Ithaca defeated Cortland 11-8.  These two squads will meet again sometime in May.  Middlebury made their trip to DC a success by defeating the surprising Generals of W&L 12-10.

Western New England got the best of Nazareth in a 10-9 burner.  That is a big win for WNE who cracked the Top 10 this week in the USILA polls.  And to round out the week, Stevenson continued its winning ways over Lynchburg in a 12-10 victory.

This week doesn’t offer that much in high quality match ups.  They’re all waiting until the weather gets warmer all over D3land. Or everyone’s Waiting for next week’s match up of #1 Salisbury and #2 Stevenson.

Game of the Week
NESCAC Scrap - #12 Wesleyan @ #9 Tufts
The Jumbos have steadily climbed up the polls and Wesleyan brings an extremely stingy defense.

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Fightin’ for Home
#14 Haverford @ #8 Washington College
This could very well decide home field for the Centennial tournament.

Preseason Match up of the Year
#16 Gettysburg @ #1 Salisbury
This is first time in a long time that both teams weren’t in the top 5 while facing each other.  It should still be great to attend as Salisbury has their Lax Alumni weekend with a golf tournament on Friday and the honoring of the 1999 National Champions at halftime on Saturday!  I’m so there!!

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Spring is here!  And now I’m confused.

Gettysburg lost to Haverford, who then lost to Tufts while the Bullets beat Cabrini.  All the while, St. Lawrence lost to Bowdoin then turns around to take down Nazareth.  Middlebury was taken down by a tough Wesleyan squad and Endicott took down Stevens Tech.  The rest of the top squads kept rolling.

What I’m getting at is that it’s anyone’s game this year.

Here are the barn burners for the week ahead.

The Game of the Week
“The Biggest Little Game”:  #5 Ithaca @ #2 Cortland State - 3/20
During my college road trip days, I took a visit to Ithaca for the Cortland v Ithaca football game or “The Biggest Little Game In America” as described by Sports Illustrated.  So this is a big time rivalry game.  I also made a trip to Cortland for a “Block Party”.  That was just an insane day!!

#4 Roanoke @ #8 Cabrini - 3/20
Cabrini is coming off a loss to the lowly Gettysburg Bullets but can rebound real fast if they can take down the high scoring Noke offense.

#15 Western New England @ #12 Nazareth - 3/20
I don’t know what to think of either squad.  Just last week, Naz lost to St Lawrence and Western New England lost to Bowdoin who beat St. Lawrence.  Either way, one of these teams will help things round out the north.

“The 2001 - Natty Champ Game” - #7 Washington And Lee @ #10 Middlebury - TUE 3/24
In 2001, W&L was by far the best D3 team in the South and probably the country. They failed to win the ODAC title which kept them out of the NCAA tournament!  Middlebury went on to win its second consecutive championship, this time over Gettysburg right off the Old Dirty Jersey Turnpike at Rutgers.

This season W&L is surprising everyone.  They’ll try to let the rest of D3 know that they’re back next Tuesday.

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This weekend there are two games that should be exciting to watch.  UNC/MD and UVA/Hopkins.

Saturday March 21 2:00pm  UNC at Maryland

UNC is 7-2 with a win over #15 Navy, and losses to NotreDame and Duke
Maryland is 5-2 with a win over #8 Duke, and losses to Georgetown and UMBC.

UNC’s scoring leaders are Billy Bitter (17G,14A), Bart Wagner (20,8), and Gavin Petracca (14,12).
Goalie Grant Zimmerman has a solid save percentage of 57%.

In both losses, UNC faced hot goalies. Duke stopped 10 of 18 shots, and NotreDame stopped 16 of 23 shots).  Also in both losses, UNC totaled 0 goals and 11 shots in two games during the third quarter.  Over all 9 games, the 3rd quarter has been the worst statistically speaking for the Heels.  Coach Breschi better make sure no players are twittering during halftime.  Maybe replace their Gatorade bottles with Red Bull or something to get rid of their third quarter lulls.

The attack unit of Maryland has all three top spots on the scoring list.  Catalino has 16G, 14A, Yeatman 8G, 10A, and Ryan Young rounds it out with 12G, 5A. Both goalies have a save percentage above 53%.

The Maryland midfield needs to step it up.  In their first loss to Georgetown, while the whole team had turnover issues, the middies (and goalie) did the most damage.  A few of these TOs happened at key points giving the momentum (if not goal) to Georgetown.  In MDs second loss to UMBC, not 1 goal was scored by a midfielder.  4 great attackman can’t win every game themselves.

I think UNC’s defense and goalie have what it takes to hold the attack unit of MD to under 6 goals.  The deciding factors will be if MD’s midfielders show up, and if they can seize the momentum when UNC comes out flat in the 3rd quarter (they will).  I am going with UNC only by a couple.

Saturday March 21 8:00pm Virginia at Johns Hopkins

Virginia is 9-0 with wins over #2 Syracuse and #3Cornell.
Hopkins is 3-2 with wins over #7 UMBC and #6Hofstra, and losses to Princeton and Syracuse.

I have been accused of being a Hop Hater.  Not true.  After this game I believe they could run the table.  They are a good team.  Just not championship caliber this year…and they won’t win this one either. Haha.

FYI…Yes, I tend to hate on players or teams that the rest of the media hoists on a pedestal.  For example, when Mikey P was at Cuse I rooted against the Orange.  Last year I picked on Gvozden until he started playing better (even Hop fans have to admit he started last year SLOW).   I digress…back to the game at hand…

Hopkins scoring is led by Kyle Wharton (13G, 6A), Steve Boyle (11,5), and Mike Kimmel (9,6).  Hopkins has a lot of contributors on offense but no one really stands out as THE go to guy (nothing like the freak of nature Rabil…I admit I like his skills). Gvozden’s save percentage is at 52% and looked better against Syracuse last week than he did against Hofstra.  Hopefully he is shaking off his slow start again and heating up for the rest of the season.

Matt Dolente was a bright spot at the Face Off X going 15 of 24.  Most of these wins came later in the game as Syracuse dominated everything in the first half.  Hopkins got off to a very slow start not even shooting 10 shots on goal in the first half.  They will need to come out firing or they will be buried by a similar offensive machine in UVA.

UVA scoring is led by Garrett Billings (22,10), Steele Stanwick (18,11), and Danny Gladding (12,15).
UVA has the complete team at every position.  Their offense always gets praised, but their defense is making a name for themselves this year.

Adam Ghitelman is always solid in net (60% save%), and leads a unit that held Towson to 2 goals…both of which came when UVA was man-down.  Even strength, they held a shutout.  Clausen, Kelly, Nizolek, and LSM Timms can all strip the ball away from the most gifted players.

I have to go with UVA by about 4 in this one.  Their defense is on a hot streak, and their offense just keeps on rolling.  Hop will get a moral victory.  I think the whole team will play better, and can win outright…after they lose to UVA.

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