February 18, 2011

Ten to Watch: Splitsville in Staff Pick 'Em

Each Friday, your crack laxperts here at Lacrosse Magazine Online will try to handicap the upcoming weekend for the top 10 college games across all divisions.

Defending 10-2-W champ Jac Coyne picked up where he left off with a perfect Week 1.

Unanymity was a tough sell this week, with dissension on half the games, including the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse championship game rematch between Duke and Notre Dame. Follow the action here at laxmagazine.com.

Last Week 10-0 9-1 9-1 9-1 8-2 7-3 7-3
Overall 10-0 9-1 9-1 9-1 8-2 7-3 7-3

WD1: No. 7 Virginia at No. 12 Loyola – Saturday 12 p.m.

Loyola defeated Virginia last year, 15-11, and looked primed for an NCAA tournament run before stumbling down the stretch and in the Big East playoffs. Grace Gavin is the Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. On the other side, Julie Gardner, Ainsley Baker, Charlie Finnigan and Josie Owen are the core four for the Cavaliers. "What's really going to be interesting for me is how they are going to replace Brittany Kalkstein and her control of the draw," CBS College Sports analyst and Lacrosse Magazine columnist Sheehan Stanwick Burch said during LM's podcast this week. "You could match her up at center and she was going to come up with those possessions. That's the thing about draw specialists. It's a major skill that you need to find somebody to replace her, and that's very tough to do."

Julie Myers must tread the line between honoring Yeardley Love (UVA announced this week it will retire her number) and moving on. "Obviously, we have some pain and some history in our hearts," she told me at Champion Challenge, "but we have a whole new team and a new season ahead of us that we really want to make a mark in." This game is as good a place as any to start.

Coyne: Virginia
Ohanian: Virginia
Lochary: Virginia
McLaughlin: Loyola
DaSilva: Loyola
Logue: Virginia
Krome: Virginia

MD1: Fairfield at Lafayette – Saturday 1 p.m.

Two borderline top-20 teams meet in an important non-conference contest. Lafayette lost Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Steve Serling, who took his grad year to Hofstra, but remains nonetheless potent on attack. Senior Tom Perini (32g, 6a) is a big part of that. He has started every game for the Leopards since freshman year, while Stefan Bauer (15g, 30a) is a two-year starter on attack and a preseason All-American. Fairfield returns just about everybody except goalie Joseph Marra -- a tough loss, but junior Charlie Cipriano is no slouch. He was a starter and at times the ECAC's top rookie in 2009 before losing the position to Marra last year.

Lafayette was one of the feel-good stories of 2010. A good guy and a good coach, Terry Mangan, won at a level rarely seen at Lafayette. Now comes the bigger challenge - can the Leopards build off that success? Fairfield is a mirror-like team also looking to take the next step after putting together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in over a decade. This one will go down to the wire, and Fairfield has a little more experience in goal.

Coyne: Lafayette
Ohanian: Lafayette
Lochary: Lafayette
McLaughlin: Fairfield
DaSilva: Fairfield
Logue: Fairfield
Krome: Fairfield

MD3: No. 4 Stevenson at No. 6 Haverford – Saturday 1 p.m.

If you judged these two teams by comparative scores, they were pretty darn close at the end of last year. Haverford lost at Salisbury, 12-11 in overtime in the quarterfinals and Stevenson lost at Salisbury, 14-13 in overtime in the semis. And they both lost strong contributors from last year's team. Two-time attackman of the year Steve Kazimer and stand-out goalie Geoff Hebert have graduated from the Mustangs team while the Black Squirrels have lost much of their defense, including Grant Firestone. With their different strengths - Stevenson on attack and defense, Haverford in the midfield and in goal - this will be a tempo game, with the Mustangs looking to push while the Squirrels will attempt to keep a methodical pace.

We'll likely find out Friday if Stevenson's All-American attackman Richie Ford received his eligibility waiver from the NCAA, but the Mustangs will beat Haverford even without him. It's not that the Black Squirrels are a bad team. They're just not ready for this caliber of an opponent. They never are this early. Under Mike Murphy and, now, Colin Bathory, Haverford has always managed to peak late, which, as it showed last year, is how you want to do it.

Coyne: Stevenson
Ohanian: Stevenson
Lochary: Haverford
McLaughlin: Stevenson
DaSilva: Stevenson
Logue: Stevenson
Krome: Stevenson

MD1: Navy (1-0) at No. 14 Loyola – Saturday 2 p.m.

Loyola begins its first full season at the Ridley Athletic Complex by once again welcoming Navy for the Greyhounds' season opener. Last year Loyola won 8-7 in overtime. There's a new cast of characters on both sides, but midfielder John Schiavone (.599 FO%, 6.43 GB) returns for Loyola and is the glue of a team set on winning the ECAC and contending nationally. Navy (1-0) won its 10th straight season opener last weekend against VMI, 14-8. Freshman Sam Jones scored five goals, the most in a single game by a Navy player since 2006. Jones led a rookie class that accounted for 12 points on eight goals and four assists in the win. This is a good, early season non-conference matchup for both sides.

Coyne: Loyola
Ohanian: Loyola
Lochary: Loyola
McLaughlin: Loyola
DaSilva: Loyola
Logue: Loyola
Krome: Loyola

WD1: No. 2 Northwestern at No. 10 Notre Dame (0-1) – Saturday 5 p.m.

The Wildcats begin a new era — one in which they do not have the burden of extending a national championship streak — with a familiar foe in the Fighting Irish. Northwestern has won 10 straight in the series after losing its first two games against Notre Dame, and many of those wins have been lopsided. The Wildcats also begin the post-Katrina Dowd and post-Danielle Spencer era, but junior All-American Shannon Smith (69g, 33a) returns and is an early Tewaaraton Trophy favorite. But she can't do it alone, and which Wildcats step up to help her will help establish the identity of this year's team. Notre Dame senior Shaylyn Blaney would love nothing more than to lead her team to a final-four berth in her hometown of Stony Brook, N.Y., but for the Irish to get anywhere close, they'll need to play with more consistency than they displayed in a season-opening split with Cal (W 20-6) and No. 13 Stanford (L 13-12). Sophomore Jenny Granger wanted to take a step up this season and thus far has with eight points in two games. Notre Dame has consistently behind a step behind Northwestern, but perhaps the indoor setting of the Loftus Sports Center will provide a change.

Coyne: Northwestern
Ohanian: Northwestern
Lochary: Northwestern
McLaughlin: Northwestern
DaSilva: Northwestern
Logue: Northwestern
Krome: Northwestern

MD1: No. 18 Drexel at No. 1 Virginia – Saturday 5 p.m.

This marks the 10th straight season that Virginia is playing Drexel in its season opener. The Cavs are 9-1 against the Dragons in that stretch, including an 11-8 win in Philadelphia last year. With nine of its top 10 scorers back among 28 returning letterwinners, Virginia features a balanced and deep team offensively. Drexel's junior goalie Mark Manos, a third team All-American last year, is capable of keeping the Dragons close, as evidenced by his 17-save effort vs. UVA in 2010. Coach Brian Voelker's team is no pushover, with four top 10 victories last year, including an early-season upset of Notre Dame.

Coyne: Virginia
Ohanian: Virginia
Lochary: Virginia
McLaughlin: Virginia
DaSilva: Virginia
Logue: Virginia
Krome: Virginia

WD1: No. 16 Penn State at No. 1 Maryland (2-0) – Sunday 12 p.m.

Any college coaches that got excited by Maryland's sluggish performance against Team USA at the Champion Challenge in January aren't so excited anymore. Maryland is off to a 2-0 start and completely dominated Delaware on Wednesday, leading 12-1 just 23 minutes into the contest. Not exactly an easy debut for Penn State's new coach, Missy Doherty. The Nittany Lions have a bunch back from last year's 10-win team, but Doherty isn't the only one making a debut. Junior goalie Dana Cahill's first career start comes against one of the nation's most feared offenses.

It's been quite a change of scenery for first-year Nittany Lions coach Missy Doherty. A year ago, she opened the season by leading Towson against unranked UMBC. This week, she leads her cubs into the proverbial lion's den against the nation's top-ranked team and defending national champs. Don't think she's not up to the challenge. The former Terrapin had her Tigers up 8-4 on Maryland last year before the Terps rallied for a 12-10 win.

Coyne: Maryland
Ohanian: Maryland
Lochary: Maryland
McLaughlin: Maryland
DaSilva: Maryland
Logue: Maryland
Krome: Maryland

MD1: No. 13 Denver at No. 2 Syracuse – Sunday 1 p.m.

There are a few storylines to look at here, but a glaring difference between these two involves goaltending. Syracuse starts preseason All-American and two-time national champion John Galloway and the Orange have one of its strongest defenses in recent memory. On the other end, Denver freshman Jamie Faus will make his first career start — at the Carrier Dome no less — behind a Pioneers' defense still learning to live without Dillon Roy. On offense, Denver coach Bill Tierney is confident. "We can score goals," he said of the unit led by Alex Demopoulos (36g, 24a in 2010) and Mark Matthews (38g, 11a). But they face a strong challenge against the likes of John Lade and Joel White. The Orange enters the regular season having won scrimmages against Maryland, Le Moyne and Canisus, and having lost to Hofstra. Syracuse beat Denver, 15-9, in the opener last season.

Coyne: Syracuse
Ohanian: Syracuse
Lochary: Syracuse
McLaughlin: Syracuse
DaSilva: Syracuse
Logue: Syracuse
Krome: Syracuse

MD1: No. 5 Duke (1-0) vs. No. 7 Notre Dame – Sunday 3 p.m. in Jacksonville, Fla. (ESPN)

Duke rocked Siena, a team picked to win the MAAC championship that boasted the nation's fifth-ranked defense last year , to the tune of 20-6 in its season opener. The Blue Devils' supposed lack of firepower must have been lost on Zach Howell, who made a statement with his seven-goal performance. Notre Dame's defense, however, is a different beast. The Irish are four-deep at close defense, and all four are All-American caliber players. Goalie John Kemp is ready to make people forget about Scott Rodgers. And, oh yeah, it's a rematch of the NCAA championship game and the main event at EverBank Field, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, on the flagship ESPN.

On paper, Notre Dame overmatches Duke. The Irish have five MLL draft picks (Duke has two, none before the fifth round) and Notre Dame is loaded on defense with Andrew Irving, Kevin Ridgway, Sam Barnes and Jake Brems, and in the midfield with Zach Brenneman and David Earl. I just hope the score is higher than 6-5, and I think it will be in Notre Dame's favor.

Coyne: Duke
Ohanian: Notre Dame
Lochary: Notre Dame
McLaughlin: Notre Dame
DaSilva: Notre Dame
Logue: Duke
Krome: Notre Dame

WD1: No. 5 Syracuse (1-0) at No. 13 Stanford (1-0) - Sunday 1 p.m. Pacific

Syracuse survived a scare from Colgate on Thursday to win its season opener, 19-14. Star goalie Liz Hogan was out, of course, serving a one-game suspension due to a red card she received for decking Maryland's Sarah Mollison in last year's NCAA semifinals. Stanford has already slayed one Big East Goliath, Notre Dame. A win here would vault the Cardinal into the top 10 and give them two, presumably huge non-conference wins. The game pits U.S. teamers Lauren Schmidt (Stanford) and Michelle Tumolo (Syracuse) against each other.

Coyne: Syracuse
Ohanian: Stanford
Lochary: Stanford
McLaughlin: Syracuse
DaSilva: Stanford
Logue: Syracuse
Krome: Syracuse

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