There is plenty of exciting action in the NCAA coming up this weekend with four games airing live on TV. (Note: All rankings are based on Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. Players in bold are Cannons draftees.)
The action kicks off on Friday night at 7:30 as #3 Johns Hopkins hosts Albany on ESPN U. Hopkins is looking to continue its momentum after upsetting Virginia and UNC. The Blue Jays are led by a pair of sophomores in goalie Pierce Bassett, whose .634 save percentage is third in the nation, and attackman Zach Palmer, who leads the team with 27 points. Hopkins is playing well right now but they had a major hiccup earlier this year, losing to 2-5 Princeton. A win on Friday would be huge for Hopkins before they take on Maryland next weekend.
Albany has been the definition of inconsistency this year. The Great Danes have had a very tough schedule and have had some big wins against ranked teams, such as UMass and Delaware, but they’ve also lost to sub .500 teams in Marist and Drexel. If Albany plays there A game on Friday they could have a chance to take down Hopkins. Junior attackman Joe Resetarits leads the Great Danes with 19 goals and 29 points.
Perhaps the most important game of the weekend gets started at noon on Saturday as #9 Virginia plays host to #8 North Carolina. UVA came into the season with high expectations, but the Cavaliers have lost their last two games, on the road at Hopkins and home to Maryland. The Cavaliers offense is still the best in the nation, averaging 13.4 goals per game, but it’s the defense that has struggled lately, allowing at least 11 goals in the last three games. Junior attackman Steele Stanwick, who leads UVA with 40 points, is seventh in the country at four points per game and will be important in Saturday’s game. One big question is whether suspended star middie
Shamel Bratton will return to bolster the UVA midfield.
UNC’s offense will look to take advantage of the Cavalier’s shaky defense as the Tar Heels have a quartet of talented attackmen in senior Billy Bitter, junior Thomas Wood, sophomore Marcus Holman and freshman Nicky Galasso. Galasso leads the way with 37 points on the year while the other three have at least 22 points. Bitter, the fourth pick in January’s draft, has struggled early this year but scored four goals last Sunday against Hopkins and will look to continue his hot streak. If the Virginia defense doesn’t step up, Saturday could end with a the third straight loss for the Cavaliers.
Also at noon on Saturday is a matchup of two high powered offenses as #10 Denver and #4 Duke face off at the state of the art Bethpage High School Lacrosse Stadium in Nassau County, Long Island. Denver is tied for second in Division I in scoring at 13.11 goals per game while the Blue Devils sit just behind them in fourth with 12.73 gpg.
The Duke offense is led by two attackmen in senior
Zach Howell, seventh in the nation with 2.64 goals per game, and freshman Jordan Wolf, second on the team with 32 points. The Blue Devils feature great depth on the offensive end with eight players with double digit points this season.
Denver is led by a duo of junior attackmen who are both in the top ten in scoring in Division I. Mark Matthews is fourth at 4.44 points per game while Alex Demopoulos is just behind him in sixth with 4.11 ppg. The Pioneers also have eight players with double digit points this year.
Whichever duo has more success on Saturday is likely to lead their team to victory.
Saturday’s second televised game features #1 Syracuse as they take on Princeton at 4 pm on ESPN U. The Orange have been unstoppable this year thanks to a core of seniors who have been getting the job done. ‘Cuse’s defense led by seniors LSM Joel White, defenseman
John Lade and goalie John Galloway has been solid through out the season. Attackmen JoJo Marasco and Steven Keogh lead the Orange offense with 22 points each.
Princeton, on the other hand, has struggled mightily this year, winning only two games. However, one of those wins came against Johns Hopkins, so the Tigers have shown they can stand toe to toe with top competition. The Tigers are led on offense by freshman middie Tom Schreiber and on defense by junior goalie Tyler Fiorito. If the Tigers bring their best stuff, this could make for a very interesting contest.
The action concludes Sunday at noon as #2 Notre Dame hosts Georgetown on ESPN U. The Fighting Irish have been on a tear all season after falling to Duke in the national title game last year. Sophomore goalie John Kemp and his .619 save percentage, fourth in Division I, lead the nation’s best defense at 6.14 goals against. The Irish offense is led by junior attackman Sean Rogers with 17 points.
The story for Georgetown is sophomore attackman Davey Emala. After seeing limited action for the Hoyas last year, Emala has burst onto the scene this season to lead Division I by averaging three goals per game. Georgetown have played well against the top teams this year, including a 9-8 overtime loss to #1 Syracuse, and could be a tough test for the Irish. However, if Notre Dame’s stout defense can hold Emala in check, it could be a long day for the Hoyas.
Make sure to check back on Monday for a recap of all the weekend’s action.