March 18, 2011

Ten to Watch: Variety the Spice of Picks


Last Week
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Overall 42-8 39-11
36-14 35-15 34-16 33-17


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.

The Editor hopped Gandhi for second place last week with a 9-1 showing, while B-Logue continued his ascent from the cellar with an 8-2 week to overtake Loch-Down for fifth place

This week represents variety, with key games in MCLA, Division III men's and Division II women's lacrosse, plus the usual Division I barnburners.

Follow the weekend's action here at

MCLA: No. 4 BYU (8-0) at No. 1 Michigan (5-0) - Friday 7 p.m.

There is a line forming in Ann Arbor in hopes of unseating the three-time champions. No. 2 Arizona State, No. 3 Colorado State and No. 9 UC Santa Barbara are all flying in to pay a visit in the next month, but the Cougars are the first ones up on Friday. BYU has played just as strong a schedule to this point as the Wolverines and the Cougars have found their offense after a wobbly year in 2010. Ranked teams have made UM work so far, with Oregon taking the Wolverines to double overtime and Chapman staying within three. Can BYU put a chink the champs armor in their own barn?

WD1: No. 15 Princeton (3-2) at No. 8 Virginia (4-3) - Saturday 12 p.m.

The series between these two women's lacrosse stalwart programs stands at 14-14. Frankly, both teams could use a win from this game, which is the first of a coed-double header in Charlottesville. (The Cavalier men will play Ohio State after the conclusion of the women's game.) No. 8 Virginia is 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the ACC. The Cavaliers lack a signature win and, while Princeton is below them in the polls, it would be their first victory over a ranked team. No. 15 Princeton is in a similar boat -- 3-2 overall, but no wins against ranked teams, and two of the three wins were squeakers against cupcake opponents.

MD3: No. 4 Cortland (4-0) at No. 2 Stevenson (7-0) – Saturday, 1 p.m.

North vs. South. Unbending defense vs. Unstoppable offense. A coach with rings vs. one who desperately wants one. There will be contrasts all over the field when these two Division III heavyweights tangle. The Red Dragons come down from New York with a 2.50 goals against average and a shutout against an NCAA tournament team from last year. The Mustangs have played three teams ranked in the Top 10 and the closest any of them was able to stay was seven goals. The 10-goal barrier will likely be the line of demarcation. If the teams are below it, advantage Cortland; above, and it flips to Stevenson.

Saturday's result aside, commend Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene for the schedule he has put together. This eight-day stretch -- No. 9 Roanoke, No. 4 Cortland and No. 1 Tufts next Wednesday -- would make most coaches shudder. When I talked to Cantabene at the beginning of the season he said excitedly, "There can't be many more schedules out there tougher than ours!" There aren't, and he didn't seem to care that he could conceivably get buried in all three contests. He just loved having the best teams on his schedule. Needless to say, if Cantabene and Stevenson win all three, it's time to be very afraid.

WD1: No. 11 Syracuse (2-3) at No. 10 Florida (7-1) - Saturday 1 p.m.

The first-ever meeting between these two programs will take place in Gainesville. Syracuse is midway through a six-game road series, and while the Orange got a win versus Towson 11-5 on Tuesday, it is still a young team struggling to find its identity, particularly on attack. Meanwhile Florida, a program only in its second year of existence, seems to be maturing beautifully. Minus an OT loss to UNC, the Gators have outscored opponents 128-52 in six games.


While Liz Hogan is the best goalie that Florida has ever faced, I think this is an easy win for the Gators, who are not only winning games, but dominating them. Incidentally, both Florida and Notre Dame go deep in my men's basketball "wacky bracket," which I picked based on which schools sponsored lacrosse and which didn't. My final four: Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Florida, with Syracuse winning it all. Hey, they are worse ways to pick 'em!

WD1: No. 9 James Madison (6-0) at No. 6 Loyola (5-0) - Saturday 1 p.m.

Were the Greyhounds looking ahead on Wednesday? Loyola struggled mightily before rallying with four straight goals in the final five minutes to win 14-13 at Delaware on Wednesday to set up this weekend's undefeated showdown. Senior Grace Gavin and freshman Marlee Paton have been carrying the offensive load for the Greyhounds, but former Navy transfer Meg Decker stepped up big with a season-best four-goal, two-assist game against the Blue Hens. They'll need that extra firepower against a very solid JMU team that held Princeton to five goals in a 10-5 win on Wednesday. JMU also got off to a 6-0 start last year...before losing to Loyola 12-8. The Dukes be plenty motivated to not let that happen again this year.

MD1: No. 12 Cornell (3-2) at No. 16 Yale (4-0) - Saturday 1 p.m.

Yale has followed up last year's 10-win season with a 4-0 start, and has the nation's top-ranked offense and second-best defense. But things get considerably tougher this weekend. The Bulldogs have yet to face a nationally-ranked team this year, and two of the wins came against Mercer (a first-year program) and Presbyterian (a program that is ending after this season). Now they face Cornell, a team they haven't beaten since 1999. The Big Red are 3-2, but coming off of an impressive 11-9 loss to Virginia. Cornell junior Rob Pannell is off to a red-hot start with 28 points in five games and senior Max Feely is coming off of a game in which he shut out Virginia's Steele Stanwick.

MD1: Harvard (4-1) at Brown (2-2) - Saturday 1 p.m.

Brown begins the Ivy League season with the league's leading scorer through non-conference play. It's Andrew Feinberg, who has scored 13 goals in the Bears' first four games. Harvard counters with its two talented attackman, Dean Gibbons (12g, 7a) and Jeff Cohen (13g, 2a). The Crimson rallied from a 4-1 second quarter deficit to beat Holy Cross, 10-4, on Tuesday and in their previous two games scored a combined 37 goals in wins over Georgetown and Bellarmine. Brown has beaten St. Joseph's and Quinnipiac and lost to UMass and Hartford. It's the Ivy League opener for both sides.

WD1: No. 17 Albany (5-0) at No. 19 Massachusetts (6-0) - Saturday 3 p.m.

Ten days ago, when the Albany men's lacrosse team upset UMass (before then upsetting Ohio State), Great Danes women's lacrosse coach John Battaglino received word as a guest on Lacrosse Magazine's podcast with Sheehan Stanwick Burch. He said he was friends with men's coach Scott Marr and that the two programs are close. Now, Battaglino has a chance to earn the same bonafides for his team against the same school. The Great Danes are 5-0 and ranked 19th nationally despite season-ending injuries to Mel Rorie and Tara Akstull leaving them perilously thin. "Right now, and I'm not kidding, I have three subs," Battaglino said.  He added that he hopes Albany "can be a top-15 team perenially. That's the goal, not the peaks and valleys."


At the start of the season, who would have thought that this game would hold such intrigue? Both schools are led by new coaches and have been impressive. UMass is especially interesting to me. I was following along with live stats in its season opener with Holy Cross and UMass almost let it slip away before coming back to win in overtime. It looked like the loss of coach Alexis Venechanos to Ohio State was going to set them back, but Angela McMahon, who came from UConn, righted the ship quickly. Four of UMass' wins have come on the road, including impressive wins over Boston U and New Hampshire.


MD1: No. 9 Johns Hopkins (5-1) at No. 1 Syracuse (5-0) - Saturday 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

The rivalry between the two winningest men's college programs renews in the Carrier Dome, where Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala was in attendance Tuesday night to scout and watch the Orange play upstart Albany in a game won by Syracuse, 18-13. The Blue Jays and Syracuse have met 49 times and Hopkins leads the all-time series 26-21-1, but hasn't beaten the Orange since 2007. A win here would be huge for Hopkins, which has struggled against ranked teams in recent years. Another storyline involves Syracuse attackman Tom Palasek, who transferred from Hopkins in the offseason. Palasek has seen occasional time on Syracuse's first attack, and during those times, JoJo Marasco bumps up to midfield and starting midfielder Jeremy Thompson takes a breather.

Is it just me, or is Hopkins flying a bit under the radar (if that's possible for the most storied program in college history that owns 9 NCAA titles and over 900 wins)? Maybe we all lowered our expectations after the rocky 2010 campaign, but the Blue Jays appear to be reinvigorated. We'll find out a lot more about the youngsters (eight freshmen and sophomore starters) in the next three games, starting with this prime time match-up in the Dome.


I did a double-take when I saw the Blue Jays' 5-1 mark, but I'm not sure why. They're right where they have been in recent years, starting at least 4-1 for the third consecutive campaign — moderate feasts on lesser opponents that have precipitated a now-predictable midseason swoon against a tougher slate. Hop is actually 3-2 at the Dome under Petro, and a win here would obviously be huge for his program. But I think Desko has him out-personneled in this one. No 'Cuse basketball on TV Saturday, so expect another good showing from lacrosse's most ardent fan base.

WD2: No. 4 Lock Haven (4-0) at No. 2 C.W. Post (2-0) - Sunday 12 p.m.

Both teams have displayed explosive offenses while dominating overmatched opponents thus far. Lock Haven, defending PSAC champion, moved to 4-0 with a 23-7 victory over Shippensburg on Thursday. Senior Allison Berger and junior Kayleigh Johnson (18 points each) pace a deep and talented roster that is averaging nearly 20 goals per game. C.W. Post has scored 40 goals through its first two contests, and has apparently found another scoring weapon in freshman Jackie Sileo, who has seven goals and eight assists through her first two collegiate games. This game could mirror last year's match-up between the teams, which Lock Haven won 11-10 in two overtimes.

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