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I knew it was a leap picking Navy last week, but that was just embarrassing. Hopefully this week goes a little smoother. I think I got caught up too much in the numbers last week.

This week it is the NCAA’s version of Steel Cage Grudge Matches, as 3 of the 4 contests see rivals face each other for a second time this year. Planned? Hmmmm.

Syracuse faces Maryland Saturday 12:00 at Hofstra’s Shuart StadiumNCAA Johns Hopkins Syracuse Mens Lacrosse

Cuse by 3. There…said it. Got it out of the way. Syracuse just has too many weapons on offense. Cody Jamieson showed up big netting 3 goals and 1 assist last week against Siena…and by that I am referring to his points and not his middle.

If the emergence of Cody isn’t enough the Orange also have Kenny Nims (64pts), Steve Keogh (50), Dan Hardy (35), Pat Perritt (23), Chris Daniello (20), and more. Their offense has been held to less than 10 goals in only 2 games. Once in a weird showdown with Georgetown, and once against a typical tough Princeton defense.

On defense the Orange have Sid Smith, Matt Tierney, John Lade, Joel White (LSM), and John Galloway in goal. The defense if anything is where Syracuse needs to step it up. While statistically they only let in 7.4 goals per game, I can tell you they are still not the force they were last year. I am not saying they are bad…just not the well oiled machine that was their defense last year.
Maryland was only able to put up 7 goals against Notre Dame last week. They will need to score more than that to stay in the game against Syracuse. Surprisingly the amazing lineup of Maryland attack was held to 0 goals against the Irish. They took 8 shots (only 4 made it on goal).

Maryland has not put up more than 10 goals against any teams in the top 20 except for 1 game and that was against Duke.
Maryland’s defense won them their upset over Notre Dame. The Irish only had 3 goals. Goalie Phipps had 9 saves with 3 goals against for a save percentage of 75%.

While Yeatman is a big physical attackman, I think his presence has actually hurt the chemistry of Maryland’s attack unit. Think Jeremy Shockey of the Giants. Sure he was gifted…yet they won out the playoffs, and SuperBowl while he sat out and didn’t even go to the games.

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Cornell takes on Princeton in a rematch at 3:00pm in Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. john_glynn

Cornell won the first match 10-7. I think this game’s results will be exactly the same. Cornell by 3.
After the loss, Princeton has gon on to win its next three games albeit against Dartmouth, Brown, and UMass. Each of those three games they have let in 7 goals. In each of those three games, Princeton has only let in 1 goal in the first have, but 6 in the second half. Fairly consistent loss of focus in the 2nd half.

Cornell is kind of like Syracuse. They focus more on offense, and outscoring their opponent rather than on defense and holding an opponent from scoring.

Against Princeton previously they were able to jump out to an early 3-0 lead in part due to their sheer dominance at the face off X.

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Down at the Naval Acadamy, UVA takes on Johns Hopkins at noon.danny_glading

This is another rematch game from earlier in the season. UVA took that one 16-15. UVA will win this one by about 3. It won’t be a blowout, but Hopkins has not looked dominant especially of late.

I won’t beat a dead horse, but a National Championship team needs a goalie saving more than 51% shots, and letting in less than 9.6 goals. The Jays don’t have that. What they do have is a fiery coach that seemingly wills them to keep winning. In the past 4 games, Hopkins has gone into OT and won against Towson, Loyola, and Brown.

If I am Virginia, and this game goes to OT, I am faceguarding Brian Christopher who has gotten the game winner in each of those OT games.

Virginia has put up 10+ goals in every game except for one wretched 5 goal performance against Duke. Their average is 12.7 goals per game. Their starting attack has over 90 goals alone. On defense, Ken Clausen leads the close D unit, and Adam Ghitelman has put up decent numbers in net (55%Save, 8.1 GAA)

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Duke plays UNC in the late game (3pm) at Navycrotty

This will actually be the third meeting between Duke and UNC this year. Duke has won the other two meetings. I believe they win this one as well. Duke by 1

I don’t understand Duke. They lose to Cornell, Maryland, and Harvard, but beat UVA twice. In the second game against UVA they hold Virginia to 5 goals. 3 games later they switch focus and score 14 against one of if not THE best defense in the country. The answer to both lopsided wins was possession. When an opposing team only has 15 shots on goal, there is a good chance you’ll win. Duke also shot very well and accurately to start. Once that crack shows in a goalie’s confidence, Duke seized on it, and neither goalie was able to save much. Tommy Phelan for Navy ended up with 14 Goals Against and only 5 saves. Ghitelman fared a little better with 14 Goals against and 9 saves.

UNC needs Bitter to step up against Duke. In their first game he only had 1 Assist (0 Goals). In their 2nd game, he did better with 2G/3A. If he can play like he did against UMBC with 8 Goals and 1 Assist, UNC might be able to pull off an upset.
UNC was a team many people thought had a chance to be #1 this year

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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.

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If the season continues like it has the first couple of weeks, we are in for a wild ride. Upsets and let downs have appeared in most big games so far. This week will hopefully shake the lacrosse world back into alignment.

Friday March 6, 8:00pm: Princeton at UMBC
UMBC is 3-1 with no wins over ranked teams and one loss to Hopkins.
Princeton is 2-0 with a win over #10 Hopkins.

UMBC has been putting up a lot of points this year averaging 13.8 goals per game. The Retrievers are led by Peet Poillon (8,10), Kyle Wimmer (11,4), and Alex Hopmann (11,1). Wimmer has stood out not only putting up 15 points, but also winning 6 of 9 face offs and scooping up the most 19GBs. If only the rest of the team had as much effort as Wimmer. The Retrievers are picking up less GBs and winning a lot less face offs than their opponents (36%).

Princeton is enjoying a year with not only their signature stingy defense but also an offense putting up 14 goals per game. As one would expect, the Tigers’ defense and clock management have been superb. Opponents are averaging 25 shots per game…that’s not on goal, but overall. Only 17 shots per game are getting through to the goalie.

On the hustle aspect, Princeton has picked up 20 more GBs (10 per game) than their opponents. Their face off abilities are just slightly over the 52% mark. One other interesting fact about their discipline…they have successfully cleared the ball 32 of 34 times.
On offense, opponents don’t know who to cover, as Princeton has 7 players with 3 or more points. Jack McBride leads the way with (8,1) followed by Tommy Davis (3,2) and Rich Sgalardi (1,4). On the flip side, both goalies are putting up great numbers. Ashra has 6GA and save percent of 63%, and Fiorito has 7.3GA and a save percent of 58%.

While UMBC plays opponents tight, and has made great progress in recent years, I have never seen a Retriever beat a Tiger in a fight. Princeton is too well oiled of a machine of discipline, time management, and now add in scoring this year. Princeton will take this one. I’m going out on a limb and saying the Tigers score 14…again.

Saturday March 7, Noon: Hofstra at Johns Hopkins
The Flying Dutchmen (aka Pride) of Hofstra will travel into Blue Jay territory. This is a rivalry that has heated up in recent years. Hofstra has actually won in 2006 & 2008. Hopkins won in 2007. Two of the three games(07/08) were 1 goal games.

Before I get into the breakdown of the teams, I’ll tell you neither of these goalkeepers has impressed me so far.

My favorite whipping boy from last year, Mike Gvozden has gone back to his sieve like self. Maybe he just doesn’t get good until 5 or 6 games into the season. Either that or the second half of last year was a fluke. I’ll concede that he didn’t get much help last week against Princeton, as Princeton took advantage of early disillusioned slides.

For the Dutchmen, we have Danny Orlando. Sure he’s got a suave name, but can he stop shots? The jury is deliberating. Every season he gets worse. Freshman year he had 7.2Goals Against and 56.3 save%. Soph year slid to 8.6GA and 49.1%. So far this year he has 9.4GA and 41.2%.

If Hofstra wants to beat Hopkins and improve to 3-0, they need more input besides Jay Card. Forget his 7Goals and 3Assists, he has been the saviour scoring both game winning goals in their two 1 goal wins. Card’s fellow attackman, Kevin Ford has taken more shots than a spaghetti western, but is having trouble raking in goals (24shots/3G). At midfield Anthony Muscarella is drawing opponents top defenders after a stellar year last year. While his production is down, it is freeing up Mike Colleluori to make things happen at midfield putting up 4G and 7A. Hofstra’s defence has faired well causing turnovers, limiting penalties, and limiting opponents shots. They just need to get Danny O’s head back into the game.

For Hopkins, they need to win at the face off X. If Powers can continue the success he had against UMBC (17 of 24), Hopkins should be able to win this one. The Blue Jays also need to keep their penalties in check. 19 penalties so far is not helping a goalie that is struggling as opponents are converting on 43% of their EMO chances. Continuing with their defense, if they can nullify Card, and let Ford keep firing blanks, Gvozden might…just might…start to build himself back to last year.

I think this game goes to the Blue Jays. Why? I think Hofstra’s offense right now is too 1 dimensional and their goalie is 0 dimensional.

Saturday March 7, Noon: Syracuse at Georgetown
Syracuse is 2-1 with their only loss to #1 Virginia.
Georgetown is 1-1 with a win over #8Maryland and a loss to unranked St. Johns.

No…that is not a typo.

Last week was a mirror image for these two teams. Both teams are coming off losses. One goal losses that each team really could have won. Both Georgetown and Syracuse played sloppy and made unforced errors early. Both also were trailing early and made nice comebacks that just fell short. Georgetown looked very good against Maryland, and quite honestly not too bad against St. Johns. When a goalie stops 15 of 24 shots on goal (63%) as Gavin Buckley did for St Johns, any team could lose. Their sub-par hustle performance didn’t help as they lost the GB war, and turned the ball over more. Georgetown’s attack is a smooth confident unit with Mirabito (8,1), Shuler (3,1), and Dowd (2,5). But don’t be fooled as they have a one two punch at midfield with Kocis (3,2), and Brancaccio (3,1). Even their goalie Jack Davis is doing well with a save percentage of over 51%.

Syracuse as usual is a scoring machine averaging 17goals per game. What they need to improve on before facing the Hoyas turning the ball over. Against UVA, many passes were errant. Syracuse defense also needs to stand up against confident attack units. In the games I saw last year, the Cuse defense let bodies fly and made attack units think twice about moving in for a close shot. Against Virginia, it looked as though they were timid. Many of the early goals against Syracuse were not their goalie’s fault but bad slides or miscommunication letting the shooter in on the doorstep.

If Georgetown can pull of the upset here, we might see them in Boston. If I erase what happened last week I would say they have a chance at pulling off the upset. Unfortunately we can’t ignore that loss to St. Johns. I think the Orange is pissed. Not so much about losing to UVA by a goal, but the way in which they played. I can see them coming out and being more physical on D like they need to be against a deceivingly good attack. Syracuse by a couple.

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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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