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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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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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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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