April 29, 2011

Ten to Watch: Showdown in the Dome

by LaxMagazine.com

Last Week
7-3 5-5 6-4 5-5 7-3 5-5 6-4
Overall 81-29 78-32
74-36 72-38 68-42 60-50


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.

After Ohanian pulled to within a game of Corey, the "Rook" got serious again and pulled out to a three-game lead. Can anyone overtake him?

The Notre Dame-Syracuse showdown in the Carrier Dome highlights another great weekend of action.

Follow the weekend's action here at laxmagazine.com.

MD1: Patriot League Tournament (in Lewisburg, Pa.)

Semifinal 1: No. 2 seed Colgate vs. No. 3 seed Army - Friday 5 p.m.
Semifinal 2: No. 1 seed Bucknell vs. No. 4 seed Lehigh - Friday 7:45 p.m.
Championship Game: Sunday 3:00 p.m.

Bucknell is hosting the event after securing the number one seed with its 12-7 win at number two seed Colgate last weekend. The Bison enter Friday’s semifinal match-up against fourth-seeded Lehigh with a six-game winning streak that includes a come-from-behind 12-11 win over the Mountain Hawks. Bucknell rallied from a four-goal deficit in the final eight minutes to win that game. In the other semifinal, defending champion and number three seed Army will try to exact some payback for its 13-11 loss to the Raiders earlier this month. Colgate’s only title came in 2008. All three tournament games will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.

WD1: Patriot League Championship (in Hamilton, N.Y.)

Championship Game: No. 3 seed Navy at No. 1 seed Colgate - Saturday 3 p.m.

Colgate survived an upset bid from American, beating the Eagles 15-14 in double overtime to advance to the Patriot League final. That sets up a rematch with Navy, which downed Lehigh 10-8, for the PL title.  Navy is the defending champ and beat Colgate 14-11 on April 9, but the Mids will have to contend with a potent Colgate offense that is averaging 14.2 goals per game and has scored 48 goals in its last three games. Navy’s goalies have a combined 43.7 save percentage this year. The final will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network.

MD1: Delaware at No. 19 Massachusetts - Friday 7 p.m.

Look for an electric atmosphere at Garber Field tonight. UMass is hosting its first game under the lights there since 2004, but Delaware has more to play for after turning in a dud against Penn State last week. If the Blue Hens win, and Hofstra beats Penn State this weekend, then Delaware will wrap up the CAA’s No. 1 seed. UMass has its own wounds to lick, after getting drilled 14-5 by Hofstra last week in the ESPNU Warrior Classic.  The Minutemen are guaranteed a spot in the CAA tournament, but it’s very likely they’ll be on the road throughout the tourney.

WD1: No. 4 Duke at No. 10 Penn - Friday 7 p.m.

After a humiliating 18-7 loss to archrival North Carolina in the ACC tournament, No. 4 Duke has extra motivation to beat Penn and enter the NCAA tournament on a good note. Led by Emma Hamm (41g), the Blue Devils have been putting up 14.69 gpg and should be easily able to outpace the Quakers (9.00 gpg). Penn’s defense has always been of note under head coach Karin Brower Corbett, but this year it’s not as impenetrable as it sometimes has been (7.92.) The Quakers will need a big day from goalie Emily Leitner (.453 sv%). This is the first time these two teams have meet in the regular season since 2003. They crossed paths in both the 2008 and 2009 NCAA tournaments, with both being one-goal victories for Penn.

MD1: No. 15 Yale at Harvard - Saturday 1 p.m.

Both teams are in position to clinch the number three seed for next week’s Ivy Tournament and a match-up against #2 seed Penn. Yale would likely slip to the fourth seed with a loss, while Harvard would probably need help to hang on for the number four seed if it losses. With a five-game winning streak heading into this contest, Yale also has a chance to win six straight for the first time in 19 seasons. Harvard has won five of the last seven meetings between the teams, and is coming off a 9-8 win at Princeton last week. Four of the Crimson’s last five games have been decided by one goal.

WD1: No. 20 Johns Hopkins at No. 19 Ohio State - Saturday 1 p.m.

The Buckeyes host this key American Lacrosse Conference game that will go a long way toward determining seeds for next weekend’s league tournament in Nashville, Tenn. Ohio State failed to do last week what Johns Hopkins had done the week prior: upset Northwestern. But not by much, given the game was in Evanston. Both of these teams have struggled with consistency, so picking a winner here is a toss-up. The Buckeyes have a draw control edge over the foes of almost five per game, and their transitioning those possessions to a balanced offense. Four players have surpassed the 20-goal mark, let by Alayna Markwordt (43g, 21a). Perhaps predictably, the Blue Jays followed their landmark win over the Wildcats with a deflating 10-7 loss to Penn State, but at least they continue to play solid defense. Hopkins’ 8.87 goals allowed per game ranks a respectable 13th in the nation and is a full goal better than the Buckeyes. Keep an eye on the Jays’ Taylor sisters, so to speak. Freshman middies Taylor D’Amore and Sarah Taylor have combined for 52 points. Hopkins has a 6-3 lead in the series but is just 1-3 in Columbus.

WD1: No. 13 Penn State at No. 15 Princeton - Saturday 1 p.m.

Penn State (9-6) and Princeton (8-6) have a lot of similarities this time of year – both teams have some significant out-of-conference wins, but are facing tough paths to the AQ in their respective conferences. A nice OOC victory late in the season would help to punch their postseason ticket. The two squads are fairly balanced offensively, but the Nittany Lions have a defensive edge, holding opponents to just 8.87 gpg. Goalie Dana Cahill had an outstanding outing in Penn State’s last game, 11 saves in a 10-7 win at Johns Hopkins.

MD1: No. 13 Penn at No. 11 Virginia - Saturday 3 p.m.

Probably only a matter of time before these two academic stalwarts renewed acquaintances on the lacrosse field following Mike Murphy’s hire at Penn in 2009. Murphy was an assistant coach for Dom Starsia at Brown and at Virginia, the latter hosting the first matchup in this series (and just fifth all time) since 1998. The Cavaliers received their share of preseason love but are now struggling to finish on a high note a rocky regular season that has included its share of personnel issues. Ultimately there may be some addition by subtraction for the Wahoos. Not that they will end the regular season short of talent — ACC Player of the Year Steele Stanwick (23g, 21a) and Chris Bocklet (31-game goal streak) have provided plenty of firepower. It’s a defense — or relative lack thereof — that has plagued Virginia, which ranks 45th in the nation by yielding 10.38 goals per game. And it’s Penn freshman Brian Feeney that’s the bigger name in this matchup. The Ivy League Rookie of the Week made nine saves and allowed just four goals in a 9-4 win over Dartmouth, securing the Quakers’ best league finish (4-2) since 1989. His 7.28 GAA ranks seventh in the nation.

MD1: No. 1 Notre Dame at No. 4 Syracuse - Saturday 7 p.m.

Pretty simple; this Big East matchup is the men’s Division I game of the week. The winner could either keep the nation’s top national ranking, if it’s Notre Dame, or reclaim that title, if it’s Syracuse. No matter who it is, the winner has a great chance to be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. This is Syracuse’s toughest test since suffering its first defeat of the season April 12 at home against Cornell. The Orange have bullied around Providence, Hobart and Rutgers in the meantime. Syracuse’s top close defenseman, John Lade, who missed most of the Cornell loss with a left ankle injury, has since returned to the starting lineup, and bolstered an already stingy defense led by Joel White and goaltender John Galloway. But one of the main questions entering this matchup is, will Syracuse’s sometimes maligned offense produce against Notre Dame’s defense, which has a nation’s best 5.90 goals-against average? Tim Desko, an offensive playmaker, is out for the game because of infection in his injured right knee, his father and coach John Desko said this week. That’s one less weapon that Orange will have, but they still have enough in ‘Mr. Clutch’ Stephen Keogh, JoJo Marasco and Tom Palasek, who will likely see more time with Desko out. Notre Dame counters with Zach Brenneman and David Earl, who will look to create offense from the midfield.

MD1: No. 20 Penn State at No. 8 Hofstra - Saturday 7 p.m.

This regular season finale for both teams has a few implications, for the CAA tournament, and for Penn State and Hofstra’s NCAA postseason hopes. Hofstra, Penn State and Delaware, with 4-1 records in league, are in a three-way tie for first place in the CAA and the top seed in the conference postseason tournament. What’s important is before this game Saturday, Delaware plays UMass Friday. If the Blue Hens lose, the winner between the Nittany Lions and Pride will be the No. 1 seed for the conference postseason and have home field advantage throughout. If Delaware wins, Hofstra has no chance of winning the conference since they lost to Delaware in the regular season. But Penn State would still have a shot because it beat Delaware, 13-3, last Saturday. Home-field in the CAA tournament could be a valuable advantage because it looks like the CAA will be a one-bid league for the NCAAs. At the very least, whoever loses here hurts their chances for an at-large berth should they be unable to win the conference tournament and get the automatic qualifying berth that comes with it. Hofstra has a 12-1 record, but has won mainly against a weak schedule, although the Pride is coming off an impressive 14-5 win over UMass a week ago. Penn State hasn’t had any real great wins so far.

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