WD1 Notes: Hopkins, Penn State Battle for Rebound Win
Hopkins Hosts No. 9 Penn State
Wednesday, March 2 at 4 p.m. on Homewood Field, Baltimore, Md.
In its final year as an independent before joining the Big Ten, Hopkins is off to a 3-1 start with wins over Marquette, American and Rutgers and its lone loss to then-unranked Loyola, which bumped back into the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine rankings at No. 20 despite being 1-3.
The Greyhounds slightly edged out the Blue Jays with the double overtime win, but Hopkins did have the advantage in some key areas. The Jays outshot Loyola 24-22, won the ground ball battle 15-9 and had fewer turnovers (17-13). Loyola had more saves (10-4) and won the draw battle 10-9. Interestingly, the two teams' meeting last season was also decided in overtime.
"It is always an exciting and down-to-the-wire game with Loyola," said Hopkins coach Janine Tucker. "We gave ourselves many chances to put the game away and we failed to convert those opportunities we worked so hard to create. We must be more patient and disciplined when finishing our shots. Their goalie was excellent and stepped up when she had to."
Hopkins dropped out of the Nike/LM Top 20 with the loss and will be looking for a key Top 20 win against No. 9 Penn State (2-1) this afternoon. The Nittany Lions are also coming off a close loss, 16-13 to Virginia. Entering the season ranked No. 6 and No. 13, respectively, both Penn State and Hopkins were expected to do well in 2016. Whichever team wins will be garnering its first significant win, which is even more crucial for Hopkins without a conference tournament to fall back on as an independent hoping to reach the NCAAs in May.
"Every game is important for us," said Tucker. "Independent or not, we always want to put away the one-goal games. Every game we play is tough and our opponents will always bring their best game. That is something that fuels us and we learn from every win and every loss. The key is to make those little improvements after each game and stay the course."
Hopkins is currently led by senior midfielder Dene' DiMartino with a team-high 23 draw controls. She is second on the team in points behind junior Haley Schweizer, who has 14 from 12 goals and two assists. Sophomore Emily Kenul is close behind that duo with 10 points, while senior attacker Jenna Reifler has a team-best six assists. Defensively, juniors Nevi Fernandez and Maddie Bodden (plus Kenul) have six caused turnovers each. Goalie Caroline Federico currently has a .491 save percentage.
After losing its top two attackers in Maggie McCormick and Tatum Coffey, which made up about 30 percent of their points, Penn State still has its next five best attackers, including junior Steph Lazo, who finished only two goals and four points shy of Coffey last year. Leading the Nittany Lions just three games into the 2016 season is senior midfielder Madison Cyr with a team-high 12 points, followed by sophomore Katie O'Donnell with 10. Freshman Madison Carter has seven goals, senior Jenna Mosketti has five and Lazo has four. Carter and Mosketti take charge in the midfield with 13 and 11 draw controls, respectively, while junior Abby Smucker leads the defense with five caused turnovers. Plus, don't forget about starting goalie Emi Smith, the 2015 Big Ten Goalie of the Year. The senior has a .429 save percentage.
"We can't let our loss to Loyola get in the way of the job we have to do to beat Penn State," said Tucker. "They are an excellent team. We have to take the lessons learned and convert them into positive plays against PSU. Our team is very close and challenges bring us even closer. The girls are anxious to get back after it against a very talented Nittany Lion team."
Elon sophomore Shelby Scanlin scored the game winner against Duke with just six seconds remaining in regulation. (Elon Athletics)
Elon Surprises All
Elon, which finished fifth of seven CAA teams in just its second season in 2015, is currently 4-1, with its lone loss coming at the hands of Vanderbilt on Sunday. But the one win that had everyone caught by surprise was its upset over then-No. 15 Duke, a 2015 final four contender. With the program's first win over a ranked opponent, Elon received votes in the national polls this week.
"The public's surprise to that win is completely valid," said Elon coach Josh Hexter. "Our program has not been in the spotlight at all, which is just fine with us, so to see a third-year program beat a team like Duke is certainly a shock to most people. I am just so proud of the team for having the courage to play a full 60 minutes and finish it by playing loose and having fun. "
With just six seconds left in the game, sophomore attacker/midfielder Shelby Scanlin scored a man-up goal to lift Elon over the Blue Devils. Junior attacker Sloane Kessler assisted the game winner. While Duke outshot Elon 20-18 and won the ground ball battle 15-10, Blue Devils junior midfielder Stuart Humphrey received a yellow card at the 1:47 mark to give the Phoenix the advantage in the final minute. The two teams played evenly on the draw (7-7) and had the same amount of saves (7) and turnovers (8).
"I believe the key to why we played so well against Duke is that we just had fun and were truly grateful to get out there and compete against a great team," said Hexter. "The culture in how we practice every day is such that our girls are now competing in the moment, rather than thinking about the potential outcome. This attitude has become our way and is translating into games. To get a victory over an incredibly well coached and talented team like Duke was a very proud moment for our team."
While the Phoenix followed up their upset victory over Duke with a loss at Vanderbilt, Hexter said they will use it as a learning experience. After being down five against the Commodores with 6:40 remaining, they scored four straight goals to come within one with 1:02 on the clock.
"We were coming off the big win over Duke followed immediately by an eight-hour drive to Nashville the following day," he said. "We controlled the first half, but became complacent early in the second half and the game got away from us a little bit. I was very proud of the character our girls showed in the way they came back. ... I think that shows a lot of courage and belief in each other to be able to do that."
On Sunday, following Syracuse's 16-12 win over Northwestern, senior Kayla Treanor was averaging a Division I-best 13 draw controls per game. She had 14 against the Wildcats and 13 against Florida in the Orange's 11-10 loss on Tuesday. (ESPN3)
If you've been following Syracuse this season, then you've surely seen that two-time Tewaaraton finalist Kayla Treanor has added a dominant draw game to her already impressive offensive prowess. She is now classified as an attacker/midfielder on the Orange roster.
As of Sunday, Feb. 28, she led Division I women's lacrosse with 13 draw controls per game and had 13 draw controls in Syracuse's 11-10 loss to Florida on Tuesday. Louisville's Kaylin Morissette is second with 10.60 per game and USC's Michaela Michael is close behind at third with 9.50 per game.
There's no doubt that many lacrosse fans have been comparing the top two players in the women's game since they were freshman – Treanor and Maryland midfielder Taylor Cummings, the latter who was tied for 59th in Division I for draw controls. The duo has taken similar strides in their playing careers, and this year, they are appearing to make an even more similar case for the 2016 Tewaaraton Trophy.
Historically, 10 of 15 Tewaaraton winners were midfielders, with Cummings winning the past two years. Before the season, Orange coach Gary Gait recognized that fact and has subsequently determined Treanor as the best successor to specialist Kailah Kempney.
"Two different positions are being compared to each other consistently with who's better and that's the reality of it," Gait said. "[The selection committee] determines what's most valuable and I guess they say midfielders are more valuable than attackers or defenders. If it's 10 of 15 [Tewaaraton winners as midfielders], that's what I would read into the stat."
Notre Dame freshman goalie Sam Giacolone currently sits third in Division I national stats for her goals against average of 4.62 in the Irish's 5-0 start to the season. (Matt Cashore)
In other note-worthy stats, goalies have been making a name for themselves in an age where more shots are taken and save percentages tend to be lower.
After the Seawolves' first game of the season, Stony Brook freshman Anna Tesoriero jumped to the top of Division I with 3.17 goals-against average (GAA) behind a historically strong defense. (Also of note, Tesoriero is first in saves percentage with 0.750 and Seawolves attacker Kylie Ohlmiller currently leads with a Division I-best seven points after their season opener against Bryant.)
USC goalie Gussie Johns is second behind Tesoriero with a 4.00 GAA and Notre Dame's Samantha Giacolone is third with a 4.62 GAA.
It's important to note that while the season is still young, Notre Dame is currently 5-0, while USC and Stony Brook have only played twice and once, respectively. That's makes a more valid argument for Giacolone that she could remain be at the top of the charts for the long haul as the NCAA tournament approaches come May.
Against Boston College, Giacolone finished with 13 saves for the Irish, while the Boston College offense, which had scored 37 goals in its first two games of the season, could only convert four of 23 shots.
"The reality is that as Sam continues to settle in, we're giving her the saves we want her to make," said Irish coach Christine Halfpenny following Notre Dame's 14-4 victory over the Eagles. "She's making most of the saves she should make, she's making a couple of that next category and today, she had a couple of those momentum one-on-none saves in the second half, and that's all you can ask of your goalie. She did a great job of handling the ball and making decisions in the clear, so I'm really excited about that."
Another freshman standout in goal was Maryland's Megan Taylor. She took the reins as the clear starter for the Terps in their 8-7 win over North Carolina in a rematch of the 2015 championship game. Taylor tallied eight saves.
Yet, one more goalie performance can't go unnoticed. The play of Mary Sean Wilcox in the Gators' upset of No. 2 Syracuse Tuesday afternoon sent Florida home with its first win all-time in the Carrier Dome. She recorded nine saves compared to Orange keeper Allie Murray's two. As the second half got underway, Wilcox led with a 6-0 advantage on saves over Murray.
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