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In the first round, there are 3 games that should be very interesting.

Saturday May 9th, Brown plays Johns Hopkins at noon.hopkins

Broooown! Rob…this one’s for you buddy.
One of the mild surprises of the selection was to see Brown as a #9 seed. The Bears are 12-3 on the season. This season they have losses to #10 Hofstra (in double OT), unranked Penn (by 1), and #4 Princeton. Their ranked wins came over #15 UMass, #18 Harvard, and #7 Cornell. That one last win over Cornell was enough to get an invite to the show.

Brown’s offense is lead by Andrew Feinberg (40Goals/16Assists), Kyle Hollingsworth (20/26), Thomas Muldoon (32/11), Reade Seligmann (12/20), and Brady Williams (17/14). Their EMO offense is struggling, converting on 39% of their chances. Brown’s difficulties continue at FO where they are winning 41%. Where Brown succeeds is their goalie and defense. Their man down unit is stopping opponents 74% of the time. Their goalie is 2008 Ivy Player of the year, Jordan Burke. His Goals against average is 7.74, and his save% is at 61.7%. These two reasons (defense and Burke) are how Brown beat Cornell. Cornell scored 0 of 4 attempts on EMO. That is 0. Burke had 18 saves and only 9 goals against.

Johns Hopkins ended up the season 9-4. The Jays lost to #4 Princeton, #1 Syracuse, #5 Virginia, and #6 North Carolina. They have ranked wins over #9 UMBC, #10 Hofstrra, #13 Maryland, #12 Navy, and #14 Loyola. Aftter a 3-4 start the team won out. Hopkins has been on a trend the past couple of years. Start off poor, then finish very strong. Statistically speaking this is directly correlated to the play of their goalie Mike Gvozden (MikeyG). This is not necessarily a bad thing. Ask any NHL player and if their goalie is hot during the playoffs then that is all that matters. The regular season is a distant memory. Gvozden on the year is saving 51.2% of the shots he faces letting in an average 9.5 Goals Against. The Hopkins defense did not give Gvozden too much help in the beginning of the year (slides looked slow), but have since stepped it up. The Man down unit is stopping opponents 63% of the time.

On offense, The Jays are led by Kyle Wharton (31/9), Chris Boland (23/16), Mike Kimmel (18/21), Brian Christopher (25/11), and Steven Boyle (19/15). On offense, their EMO is scoring on 47% of their chances.

While Brown has played well at times this year, the Hopkins machine is just too much to handle. I think Brown can put up a fight, but towards the later part of the game, Hopkins depth and multiple threats pull away. The Jays take this one by 4.

Sunday May 10th, Maryland plays Notre Dame at noon.notredamefightingirish

The once highly touted then highly booted Will Yeatman faces his old team …

Anyone find it ironic that the school with the stereotypical mascot of a fighting Irishman (and let’s be honest…what other stereotype goes with an angry Irishman…think Denis Leary), levied such a strict penalty on Yeatman?

Notre Dame is 15-0. No losses. Ranked wins over #14 Loyola, #16 Penn State, #6 UNC, #17 Bucknell, and #19 Villanova. Notre Dame parallels Syracuse in the fact that both schools USED to have good football programs that are now in the tank. Actually the similarities end there…but that doesn’t mean ND is overrated.

I have heard the statements from coaches and past players that Notre Dame is undefeated yet untested…that they need to beat some good teams (Does that infer UNC is not a good team). Everyone also blames ND for poor scheduling. To these naysayers, I say that it is not Notre Dame’s fault that they are not in a top league like the ACC that has to play each other (inflating their own SOS). Nor is it their fault that on open games, teams find little incentive to travel out to Indiana.

The Fighting Irish are led by Neal Hicks (25/17), Duncan Swezey (22/20), Ryan Hoff (32/3), Grant Krebs (28/9), and Peter Christman (14/18). They don’t seem to be missing Will Who. Notre Dame has a number of threats even though they don’t have the “flair factor”.

In goal, Scott Rodgers has posted an amazing 6.08 GAA, and 66.3%. Granted he hasn’t faced stiff competition, yet against UNC, which has some very sharp shooters, Rodgers posted one of his best games ever saving 16 of 23 shots (7.0 GAA/70%save).

I also will throw in the comment that since they have not had such a ragged schedule that late season injuries/fatigue does not plague the team as much as others.

Maryland is 9-6. They had losses to unranked Georgetown, #9 UMBC, #5 UVA, #12 Navy, #8 Johns Hopkins, and #6 UNC. They have ranked wins over #3 Duke, and #6 UNC.
Maryland had a tough schedule this year, yet I am surprised they did not do better. With the amount of offensive talent this team has, they just couldn’t put together the whole package day in and day out. Wether it was a Sophomore slump or the chemistry built last year was affected as there were some changes to the chemistry.

Their special teams units faired well as a whole, as their EMO worked 50% of the time, and Mandown 70% of the time. They also won 52% of their faceoffs. The special units of MD really is like the rest of the team. Not bad, but nothing jumps out and says greatness.

The points leaders are Grant Catalino (22/21), Ryan Young (19/16), Dan Groot (19/14), Will Yeatman (13/13), Travis Reed (16/7). In cage for the Terps should be Brian Phipps. While splitting time with Carter, Phipps just puts up a better performance. (Jason Carter 7.54 GAA, 49.1%. Brian Phipps 7.63 GAA 58%)

By seedings I am not picking the underdog…by traditionalists I am. I am picking Notre Dame to win by 3. I believe MD’s defense will be surprised by the abilities of a number of ND players. ND’s offense, while not overly impressive, will put up enough goals (especially since Rodgers will be standing on his head making big saves for the Irish)

Duke/Navy is my pick for game of the week.  They meet Saturday May 9th at 7:30pm.navy

Duke ended up 13-3. They lost to #18 Harvard, and #13 Maryland. Ranked wins over #17 Bucknell, #14 Loyola, #6 UNC (twice), and #5 UVA (twice). I have no idea how they lost to Harvard and MD but in the same breath were the only team to beat UVA.

Duke’s offense is lead by Tewaaraton finalist Ned Crotty (20/45). The Blue Devils also have Max Quinzani (39/9), Zach Howell (21/16), Justin Turri (15/10), and Brad Ross (18/6).
For special teams, they are 46% on EMO, 62% on man-down, and 55% on FO.

If I had to pick one weakness, it would be in goal. Not that Schroeder is bad, but Duke’s offense is that damn good. Schroeder has a 7.69 GAA, and save% of 50.8%

Navy. What can I say. I love their defense, their physical play, their hustle attitude.

Navy is 11-4 on the year. Losses to #6 UNC (by 1), #17 Bucknell (by 1), unranked Colgate (by 1), and #8 Hopkins. Ranked wins over #13 Maryland, and #17 Bucknell.
Being an LSM, I love defense, and am really excited to hopefully see them in Foxboro. The only game they let an opponent score more than 10 goals was their loss to Hopkins. Their opponents are averaging only 7.2 goals per game. Their Man down is insane. They stop opponents EMO 85% of the time. Hell, If I were Coach Meade, I’d let my defense play man-down the whole game…leave a middie at midfield for a quick outlet pass on a save/turnover. Why? Cause they can ……and their offense needs a little help. The Navy offense is only averaging 9.1 goals per game. Their EMO is only successful 44% of the time. And they only have 2 players with 30+ points on the year. The offense is led by Brendan Connors (21/10), Tim Paul (18/13), Andy Warner (13/14), Pat Moran (20/3), and Joe Lennon (13/9).

In goal for Navy should be Tommy Phelan who has a 7.69 GAA and a save% of 63.3%.
If I were Navy, I would not waste too much time focusing on Crotty. Even in Duke’s losses he put up at least 3 assists each game. They should focus on who he is passing to. Quinzani can and has been shut down before. Navy’s defense should be able to handle Max fairly easily.
I am going with the choke factor on this one. Usually you hear about players “not being able to finish”. Coach Danowski just can’t finish. Under Dano’s tutelage, Hofstra excelled at mediocrity. Even when they had a stacked team in 2006 they failed against UMass. More recently at Duke with much of their starpower intact, they couldn’t even get to the finals in 2008.

Navy with a major upset takes a close one by 1-2.

The Princess Bracket:

Every year I look to see who the NCAA has snubbed, who they have overrated, and who they have screwed. This year, as I was looking at the teams, I was reminded of the movie the Princess Bride.

I can picture the selection committee sitting around a stone table talking to each other:
“Virginia beat the most top 10 teams, but they lost to Duke twice, so we CLEARLY can not choose UVA”.
“Duke however has lost to two lowly teams, so we clearly can not choose Duke”.
“Cuse is rated #1 by the coaches, but lost to UVA and Princeton, so we clearly can not choose Cuse”.
Of course the reporters and pundits would have to interject with “Come on…you’re just stalling now aren’t you?”

To which the committee continues unfazed, “Notre Dame is undefeated, but only beat one top 10 team, so we clearly can not choose Notre Dame.”

Pressed for time, the committee tries to distract those trying to follow, “We pick……Oh look what’s that over there? (throws dart at names on a wall)……UVA!”

OK. So maybe the selection did not proceed exactly as I have explained, but it is plausible. No one team clearly dominated the field. Aside from Notre Dame and Navy being higher seeds, I don’t have a huge problem with this year’s field. Part of me thinks Cuse should be #1, but the top 4 could all be shuffled around depending on what team you like more. I can live with a #2 seed.

Overall, I think this is one of the less controversial tournaments as far as who got in, and even seeding. However, as is the case every year, too much emphasis is put on SOS. The calculations double dip the SOS, and as we all know double dipping is not an acceptable practice.

For those whiners out there:
Georgetown was not snubbed, as they couldn’t finish. Yes they have talent, but all that matters is the W.
Harvard was not snubbed. While they beat Duke, who else did they beat? No one.

Now…time for my whining:
My complaint with Notre Dame, is that while they did not have a strong SOS, they did beat 3 top 20 teams and were undefeated. This accomplishment is more deserving than a 7 seed. Especially since the only measuring stick is their win over UNC, and UNC is higher than them. Move ND up to 5 and UNC down to 7. If ND were in UNC’s spot, they might have a shot at making it to the Final Four. Personally I would love to see at least SOME variation in the final four. I don’t mind seeing 2 or 3 stalwarts every year, but seeing the same teams year in and year out does get a little tiresome.

Navy I think should be in Maryland’s spot. Navy has 4 wins over top 20s, and less losses than MD. Also Navy thoroughly beat MD by 6. MD has only 2 top 20 wins, more losses, including Navy. I think Navy’s seeding will screw them playing Duke in the 1st round. With their current spot, Navy COULD upset Duke, but would they have enough in the tank to then beat UNC again?

syrfans

Syracuse fans are hoping a #2 seed will help them get back to championship weekend in Boston.

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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.

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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

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