March 10, 2011

Coyne v. Censer: It's All in the Family

by Joel Censer and Jac Coyne  | | Twitter

Out of some bizarre Centennial allegiance to Gettysburg, or perhaps because he's turning into a closet "North" guy, Censer chose the Bullet-Cortland game in Massapequa. Not surprisingly, both Coyne and Joel hooked on to the Red Dragon express.

© Greg Wall

Last Monday night, I drove to my parents' house for an ole-fashioned Censer family dinner (which, for the uninformed, means scuttling off to the closest Vietnamese restaurant).

Whether my mom and dad are lauding me for some generic preseason Division III women's writeup or asking me how I played in a club lax game, I feel like whatever I do generally makes the "old roomies" proud.

So it was a little unsettling when my mom took a break from the chicken curry to ask why Coyne had "crushed" me last week.

Instead of trying to defend picking an anemic Washington College offense or a Geneseo team that obviously wasn't ready for 60 minutes of full-field against Nazareth, I deflected the question and asked for more plum sauce.

But Mom, a former Hopkins grad, knows her stuff. And frankly, I'd be disappointed too if I had a kid losing some pick 'em to a guy in Wisconsin who has trouble telling a faceoff from a facelift.

So when Jac emailed me Sunday, saying it was my turn to select the games, I saw it as a chance for redemption. Sure, I could've done a geographically advantageous cherry-pick, taking Jac on the kind of Southern roadswing he hasn't seen since "Deliverance." But I decided that if there's going to real redemption in this story, it's going to come the hard way (think Andy Dufresne climbing through an underground prison tunnel).

So I've tossed Jac a Vineyard Vine-styled bone: two NESCAC games and a North-South throwdown on the Island.

COYNE: The Censer nuclear family sounds like quite a slice of Americana. I'm sure the networks are working up a treatment for a possible sitcom as we speak, with Fred Savage penciled in to play Joel. Honestly, I'm glad this competition is providing some quality bonding time for the Censer Clan. The Ma and Pa can be glad, because Joel still clings to a one-game (8-7 to 7-8) advantage after week three.

Since my parents live in Boston and I'm currently a 7-iron away from the Mississippi River, our interactions are rarely about space-filling pick 'em contests. Mostly because I've lied and told them I have a real job. That, and my folks wouldn't know a lacrosse ball from a lawn ball. But that's a story for another day.

Onto the games...

Wesleyan (2-0) at No. 18 Bowdoin (0-0) –  Saturday 1 p.m.

COYNE: Can Bowdoin win without the services of All-American midfielder Kit Smith? The Polar Bears certainly aren't a one-player team, but Smith is a difference-maker, especially with his big shot against Wesleyan's zone defense. Since the Bowdoin ice hockey team, of which Smith is a starting defenseman, won the NESCAC title and its first-round NCAA tournament game on Wednesday, Tom McCabe will be without a huge piece of his puzzle.

Fortunately for the Polar Bears, the Cardinals have never had a lot of success in Brunswick, even when they had some of their best teams. This year's Wesleyan team doesn't appear to have the kind of firepower of teams past, but it will be dangerous enough with Teddy Citrin up front and Grant Covington in net. It won't be enough, however, as Bowdoin will grind this one out, 8-6.

CENSER: Jac's right. There's no Glenn Adams (or even Russell Follansbee for that matter) on this year's Wes team. And it's certainly a hellacious drive from Middletown to Brunswick.

But with Wes having two games under its belt, mixing in a fair amount of man-to-man with the patented zone and Covington doing his best Charlie Congleton impression, I do think Bowdoin (without Smith's services) could struggle to score some goals. 8-5, Cardinals.

No. 16 Gettysburg (3-2) vs. No. 4 Cortland (3-0) – Saturday 1 p.m.

COYNE: I guess Censer had to pick this game because of the tradition, but this contest won't live up to its pedigree. Gettysburg will undoubtedly finish strong, and will certainly be a contender in the wide-open Centennial, but there is just not enough offensive firepower. Meanwhile, Cortland is looking like a historically good defensive team. The Red Dragons will give up more than it's current 2.33 goals per game average, but not by much. Cortland, 11-4.

CENSER: Had the opportunity to watch Gettysburg on ESPN3 (which by the way is awesome for our game) and have to say I was generally unimpressed with the Bullets. Sure, most G-burg teams' strength starts on the defensive end. But they've still always had guys (Chase Stewart, Freehill, Harriman, TO, McGrath, etc.) who can consistently draw slides. Not to mention there's no Chris Renzi clone at the faceoff square.

Like Jac, I think Gettysburg still has something to say about the rest of its season. But not yet. And certainly not against against Deluca and Co.

13-5, Upstate.

No. 5 Roanoke (4-0) at No. 13 Dickinson (4-0) – Saturday 2 p.m.

COYNE: This is the game of the weekend for me. Last year, Dickinson put itself on the map with a stunning, 7-6 victory at Roanoke on the same exact date. The victory started the Red Devils on a journey that resulted in a 15-3 record and a trip to the NCAA second round. Dave Webster's troops are off to 3-0 start -- the only Centennial team that does not have a blemish -- and have the opportunity to host the fifth-ranked Maroons.

As Bill Pilat puts his players on the bus, he won't have to give too many fiery speeches. Roanoke should be ready and I think that, along with a distinct advantage on faceoffs, will be the difference. The game will be close, just has it has been the last two seasons, but it will be the Maroons who are still undefeated when it ends.

CENSER: If Jac really believes Roanoke has a large advantage on faceoffs, it'd be wise to consider Dickinson draw specialists Chip Murray and Parker Waldron. (I can't make these names up.) Not to mention Brandan Palladino, arguably Division III's best long-stick midfielder (two goals and an assist already).

In many ways, I'm tempted to pick the Red Devils. Dickinson has a history of playing Roanoke close, and the Maroons' penchant for an undisciplined up-and-down transition plays well into Dickinson's slick hands.

But last time I bet against Roanoke, I was served with a 20-7 St. Mary's foot-stomping. With all the Red Devil injuries on offense, I'm just not ready to pick against Keating, Tuma and the rest of the Maroon offensive juggernaut. 14-11 'Noke.

Coyne's Pick

No. 12 Denison (2-0) at No. 8 Haverford (4-1) – Saturday 1 p.m.

COYNE: Denison is a tempting team to take, especially after it hung 10 goals on Washington and Lee in their last game -- something that Salisbury couldn't even accomplish against the Generals. The loss of Brady Burton had the potential to stifle the Big Red offense, but Michael Caravana is having success riding senior attackmen Emmett Jones and Kyle Brown.

However, there's a 6-foot-4, 265-pound reason I will not take Denison in this contest. I'm starting to believe Joe Banno could be the best goaltender in the country, especially after his clutch, 19-save performance against Cabrini. Granted, he has some solid players running in front of him, which always makes life easier. Making Banno's performance even more impressive is the Squirrels' offense has been atrocious. Four games in, and Haverford is still looking to crack double digits. It won't this week, either, but the Squirrels march on, 8-7.

CENSER: First regarding Banno, co-sign.

As for Haverford's offense, I think it will improve. They're looking for initiators and when roles become a little better defined expect Hjelm, Gregory, Monaghan, Cohen, Valliant, etc., to start breaking double digits.

Against Denison, getting out to a quick start will be imperative for the Fords. Because as talented as the Big Red are and as much as I think Mike Caravana is a great coach, you can't put teams through the slow-it-down grinder if you're playing from behind. Black Squirrels, 10-6.

Censer's Pick

Williams (0-0) at Colby (0-0) – 1 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: Look at that. At his first opportunity, Joel tries to play the "alma mater" card on me. I suppose it's only fair after how many times I've pitted the Squirrels against Censer's better instincts (this week included). What he probably doesn't understand is I have absolutely zero allegiance to Colby. I'll cut the White Mules loose in a heartbeat if it benefits me -- whether it's in this competition or otherwise.

Alas, if Joel wanted to hop on the Williams bandwagon, this is his lucky week. I'm going to take the boys from Waterville to beat the Ephs. Playing at home is a big advantage for the White Mules. That, combined with the faceoff domination of Craig Bunker, will be enough for the hosts to open the Justin Domingos era with a victory. Colby, 9-6.

CENSER: I mean, I'm sure Jac doesn't have much allegiance to his school's squad. Why would he? The Colby laxers probably stole his girlfriend and used his school newspaper op-eds for backup TP.

As much I'd love to show solidarity with those guys for messing with Coyne, I'm going with Williams. Colby faceoff extraordinaire Craig Bunker (at home no less) will probably be mitigated by Williams' Corey Jacobs. If the Ephs can find a replacement in net for Stephen Vrla, they have enough returning offense to maybe get a little bit of that darkhorse NESCAC mojo thing going. Williams, 10-8.

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