March 17, 2011

Coyne v. Censer: Taking a Southern Tour

by Jac Coyne and Joel Censer | | Twitter

No. 2 Stevenson will entertain No. 4 Cortland this weekend and the game is included in the southern-tinged competition this week. Not surprisingly, Coyne is taking the bruisers from Upstate New York while Censer is sticking with the high-scoring southern troupe.
© Kevin P. Tucker

Wait. What's that noise. It's just barely audible there in the background. Hear it?

Oh, now I know what it is.


That's right, we're heading into the South this week, boys and girls, so strap on your overalls and let's get to feudin'! Four of the five contests will take place below the Mason-Dixon line, and the fifth (Gettysburg) is close enough to satisfy government auditors. We've even got a pair of North teams scrapping it out in Orlando to complete the meme.

Okay, so the banjos thing is a little tired. I'll save that for the Birmingham Southern-Millsaps slugfest next year. But as I went through the list of games this week, these were the ones that stood out. You can bet there will be a northerly competition in the offing shortly, although you'll never see a southern team meander much past Long Island.

That would just be "unfair," I do declare.

Speaking of unfair, after another push last week, Joel clings to one-game lead -- he is 11-9, and I have resurfaced at the .500 level (10-10) after my Week Two disaster. Censer has to be kicking himself after picking Roanoke over a beloved Centennial comrade only to watch Dave Webster and the Devils shove it down his throat.

That's one game that got away. Will it hurt Joel in May?

CENSER: Sure it'll hurt. And shame on me for getting blinded by Roanoke's gaudy numbers against inferior opponents, and forgetting the fact that the Maroons were platooning goalies and giving up double-digit goals to grind-it-out teams like Franklin and Marshall and Ursinus.

But like a college kid looking to cure a Mardi Gras-induced hangover, Southern remedies are usually a good place to start to try and forget a couple spring break mistakes.

Instead of having to peruse NESCAC team websites to figure out if "Thad" or "Birch" can really drill a 10-yard shot on the run or fit into some gimmick zone defense, it'll be nice to put my focus on, you know, the important things.

Onto the games...

No. 4 Cortland (4-0) at No. 2 Stevenson (7-0) – 1 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: This may cause some gasps out there, especially from the pollsters who somehow have the Red Dragons ranked fourth and maybe even some of my NESCAC brethren, but Cortland is the best team in the country at this point. The Red Dragons have the best defense, they have an above-average offense, and they have a toughness rarely seen in Division III -- and certainly not found in the creamy south.

Stevenson is excellent, and almost a picture in negative of the Dragons. The Mustangs have the best offense in the country and an above-average defense. Yet they lack that grittiness that will be so critical in what will be a one-goal game. Will this be a great game? Absolutely. It will undoubtedly live up to the hype. When it's over, however, it will be Steve Beville and Cortland enjoying the five-hour drive back upstate. Dragons, 11-10.

CENSER: Jac's right. The Red Dragons are upstate tough. Certainly, they won't be intimidated by the Mustangs (despite a midseason video glorifying a bunch of pushes in the back).

But last time I bet against Stevenson, I was served with an 11-4 stompdance up at Haverford. While I'm not totally sold on their midfield, the Mustangs are scoring plenty of goals. Not to mention netminder Ian Bolland (69 percent!) and defenders Evan Douglass and Kyle Menendez are giving the 'Stangs their best backline of the Cantabene era.

The game will be close (goalie Mike Kaminski and the rest of the Dragon defense will ensure that), and you can bet on Cortland scrapping and going body-for-body for all 60 minutes. But the Red Dragons haven't seen an animal like this since D.J. Hessler was carving them up in May. Stevenson, 13-11.

No. 6 Haverford (5-1) at No. 18 Gettysburg (4-3) – 1 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: Do I have the stones to pick Gettysburg? That's really the question here. I know Joel will regale us with stories about the time the Black Squirrels were getting blown out by the Bullets and he had "a sick over-the-head check" that led to a goal cutting the final deficit down to 11 goals. And then he'll gleefully pick Haverford in this contest. It's the right pick, but this might be a chance to gain a game if I think Gettysburg is rounding into form.

Let's see: we know the Bullets can't score right now, but they have been going against some pretty good defenses. Haverford really can't score, either, and has a good backline of its own. Alas, this is a big brother-little brother game, and all things being equal, the big brother always wins. So I'm going with Hank Janczyk finding a little home field magic and Danno Lynch connecting on two of his 15 shots. Bullets, 5-4 in overtime.

CENSER: Jac, let's get something clear here. I'd never throw an over the head check against those well-trained Gettysburg attackmen. It was a wrap-check (the kid still thought he had the rock!).

As I currently sift through Excel files at my job, you better believe that's my computer background. A sort of half-pathetic reminder of dreams come and gone.

Regarding the game, it's no secret Gettysburg's struggling a bit (although Wednesday's win over Cabrini helps). But this is the Centennial, and the Bullets are still smarting from last May.

Gettysburg's got history, home field advantage and little bit of mid-week momentum on its side. Haverford's got the horses and an offense that's beginning to find its rhythm. I'll take the horses. 8-6, Fords.

No. 9 Roanoke (4-2) at No. 10 Lynchburg (4-3) – 7 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: Yes, suh, now we've got one of the two Southern fried games of the weekend. We're back in the ODAC, my old stomping grounds, for a classic. Actually, that might be romanticizing this duel a bit too much, as the Maroons have a 31-6 all-time record against the Hornets, including an 8-1 mark since '05. I believe that qualifies as "ownership" in sports parlance.

I don't know if it's the oppressively hot weather here in Wisconsin (supposed to be 43 today!) or my brain has become addled by all of these southern locales, but I'm going with the upset. Despite Wednesday setbacks for both teams, the Hornets have (slightly) more momentum right now, so I'm going with Steve Koudelka's bunch in a slow-down affair. Lynchburg, 9-8.

CENSER: I like Lynchburg this year. They don't have an explosive offense, but when the Hornets get saves and some extra possessions they can grind out wins. And 'Noke, with its green defense and back-to-back losses, seems (if we're really going with this Southern motif) "a-ripe for the pickin.'"

But this is the kind of game where Roanoke's do-it-all middie Justin Tuma can take over from the faceoff stripe (if he can ignore those brutal 'Burg fans). If that happens (and I think it will), there's no stopping that Maroon transition machine. Roanoke rumbles 16-13.

Coyne's Pick

Western New England (2-2) vs. St. Lawrence (0-2) - 6 p.m., Saturday (at Orlando)

COYNE: Wait, who picked this game? Yikes. This tilt features a pair of teams who will play on a wing and an AQ prayer this spring, and I'm really not sure why I picked it. Oh, right, the southern thing because it's spring break.

I won't bore you with the breakdown, but I'll ride the Liberty wave. SLU by deuce, 9-7.

CENSER: This game is a far cry from 2008, when the Larries and the Golden Bears were battling it out in the second round of the NCAA tournament. There's going to be no Will Mckees, Chris Bodys, Jon Hayes, Kevin Russells, or Brody Savoies in Orlando.

But I agree with Jac. St. Lawrence, with attackman Caldwell Rohrbach leading the way, should be decent this spring. A team that, at its best, could provide a little resistance for RPI in the Liberty, or at its worst, will duke it out with Clarkson and Skidmore for a chance to get smoked. They'll win this one though. 9-7, Saints.

Censer's Pick

Washington and Lee (3-4) at Hampden-Sydney (4-1) – 1 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: I wrote a story on Hampden-Sydney during the fall and made a reference to Farmville, Va., which is more or less where HSC located. Well, I received an email notifying me that the school was actually in Hampden-Sydney, Va., and to cease and desist with the Farmville references. Give me a break. The post office gives a college its own zip code to streamline mail delivery and all of sudden it's the nexus of the universe?

Fortunately for the Tigers, this game could be played in Green Bay and HSC would still pick up the victory over Washington and Lee. The Generals will make Sydney work because of the rivalry, and because of W&L's potential to grind this game down to a crawl. Micah Keller will pot enough goals to push the Tigers through. So to recap, I like Hampden-Sydney, in Farmville, in a relatively close contest, 6-3.

CENSER: I'll say this. There won't be too many Obama stickers in the parking lot for this grinder. Nothing screams trickle-down economics and privatized social security like those good 'ole fashioned ODAC seersuckers.

Yet "hope" and "change" might as well be slogans for the Generals, who need their young guys on the offensive end to come around sooner rather than later. Especially against a Tigers team that seems to have reclaimed some of its early-century mojo.

As a wide-eyed, NPR-listening Haverford liberal, I'll bite on hope. W and L, 9-8.

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