Blogs and Commentary

posted 04.30.2012 at 10.30 a.m. by Corey McLaughlin

Working Off The Weekend: Five Things to Know

1. On the Irish

Since losing at home to Penn State way back on February 26, Notre Dame has won 10 straight games. And the Irish have climbed the national rankings as the dominoes have fallen around them over the last two months. The coaches’ poll voting was close this week with undefeated UMass earning 118 votes to take first place. Notre Dame had 116.

We know the Irish’s reputation: Great defense, balanced offense.

But just how great has that defense performed this season? Some numbers:

69 goals against, or 5.75 goals per game.
The mark is on pace to break the program-record for 6.19 goals against from the 2009 season (The Irish might not want to remember, however, that they lost to Maryland, 7-3, in the first round of NCAA tournament that year).

The Irish have held five opponents to five goals or less.

John Kemp’s save percentage. Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan made a Tewaaraton Award argument for the junior goalie after Saturday’s 8-6 win against Syracuse.

"He's the best goalie in the country. He may be the best player in the country," Corrigan said. "I keep hearing all these people talk about all these offensive guys for the Tewaaraton and I'm wondering why John's not part of that conversation.”

Kemp, one of 25 Tewaaraton Award nominees, also has a 7.50 goals against average. He’s faced 371 shots in 12 games, an average of 30.9 per game. Critics may say he’s helped by Notre Dame defensive system -- and of course he is, that’s why it works -- but Kemp has actually seen more shots than some other top MD1 goalies:

Tim McCormack, UMass: .627%, 6.55 GAA, 28.9 shots per game in 13 games.
Tyler Fiorito, Princeton: .615%, 6.65 GAA, 29.4 shots per game in 12 games.
Matt Poillon, Lehigh: .595%, 6.54 GAA, 27.5 shots per game in 16 games.
Austin Kaut, Penn State: .595%, 7.57 GAA, 31.3 shots per game in 14 games.
Rob Fortunato, Virginia: .576%, 8.50 GAA, 31.6 shots per game in 16 games.
Niko Amato, Maryland: .570%, 6.96 GAA, 28.2 shots per game in 13 games 

2. The Second Season

We’re at that point of the year where teams can feel as it they have the proverbial clean slate, for better or worse. Take the Denver and Loyola men for example.

Denver earned a much-needed win against Duke on Friday night and now hosts the four-team ECAC tournament on Wednesday and Friday. Winning the conference postseason would give the Pioneers an automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA tournament. Reaching the final would help their May Madness chances, but not guarantee a spot. Nevertheless, the Pioneers have to feel as if they have new lease on life in the final week of the season.

For Loyola, is its reputation still able to stand on what it accomplished through February and March and the first three weeks of April, before Saturday’s loss to Johns Hopkins? Or, do the Greyhounds need to prove themselves all over again upto and including the first round of the NCAA tournament? I lean to the latter. That is, after all, why the season doesn’t end today and there’s the postseason to play. It just so happens Loyola and Denver play in the ECAC semifinals on Wednesday.

3. Conference Champions Crowned

Patriot League: Lehigh

MPSF: Oregon
CAA: Towson
MAAC: Canisius 
Atlantic 10: UMass
Patriot: Navy
NEC: Monmouth

Twelve more conference champs will be decided by Selection Sunday:

America East, Big East, CAA, ECAC, Ivy, MAAC, NEC; WD1: ALC, America East, Big East, Ivy, NLC.

4. F&M Women Cancel Season

The story we’ve been following for about two weeks out of Lancaster, Pa., took a sharp turn on Friday when the members of the Franklin & Marshall women’s lacrosse team decided they would not play the rest of its season.

On April 17, F&M announced it has suspended several players and fired coach Lauren Paul as a result of an investigation into what the university said was a hazing incident involving members of the team during the 2010-11 academic year. However, Paul and F&M’s two assistant coaches contend that they had no knowledge or involvement in the incident in question, which occurred in March of 2011, but also say it did not constitute hazing. A lawyer for Paul said the school recently offered the 11 suspended players a chance to return to the team, but they all declined. Those offers, according to a statement from Pennsylvania-based employment attorney John A. Gallagher provided to Lacrosse Magazine on Friday, “demonstrates to Ms. Paul and I that, in fact, as we believed all along, no hazing took place and that she was fired in advance of the completion of the investigation of the school into this matter."

The coaches say the school levied its discipline while the investigation was still ongoing and that it only finished it early last week, after which the players were invited back to the team.

So, Paul and assistant coaches Caitlin Powderly and Lidia Sanza are all considering legal action while the players have decided to not go forward with any more games, evidently frustrated enough that they do not want to play. The Diplomats’ originally scheduled game Saturday against Washington College in the Centennial Conference semifinal round was recorded as a no contest.

5. John Grant’s New Record

You don’t see John Grant in many lacrosse equipment or apparel commercials, but you sure do see him scoring a lot of points on the field or floor. The veteran pro Canadian broke the National Lacrosse League’s single-season points mark on Saturday in the Colorado Mammoth’s season finale against Minnesota. Grant totaled six points to finish the season with 116, breaking the record of 115 set by John Tavares in 2001. Grant also led the NLL in goals this season with 50. Second place? Buffalo’s ageless John Tavares with 41. He never seems far from a record book.

The NLL semifinals are this weekend. The schedule:

East: Philadelphia at Rochester, 7:30pm

East: Buffalo at Toronto, 7 p.m.
West: Minnesota at Colorado, 7:30 p.m.
West: Edmonton at Calgary, 9 p.m.

Among those to send congratulatory messages Grant’s way was his new Major League Lacrosse coach, Dave Cottle of the Chesapeake Bayhawks. Cottle said he wished he had Grant with him as the Bayhawks opened their season Saturday, but was proud of the accomplishment nonetheless.

The MLL began its new 14-game season with three games Saturday. The results:

Boston 15, Rochester 3 (lowest single-game output in league history)
Denver 21, Charlotte 12
Chesapeake 13, Long Island 11