#1 Maryland VS. Play-In Winner, Sunday @ 2:30 pm (ESPNU)
Maryland’s resume is rock solid. They’ve played six games against top-10 teams and ten games against top-20 teams and finished 8-2 in those contests. No team is more battle-tested and no team is as dangerous as Maryland. They earned this #1 seed and they earned their match-up, facing the winner of the play in game. Bryant’s claim to fame is a win over Yale, and a win over Hobart in the NEC championship game. Monmouth’s best win is against un-ranked Villanova and beyond that, they haven’t played anyone else in the tournament field…
Maryland by 7 goals or more.
#2 Syracuse VS. Yale, Sunday @ 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
Like Maryland, Syracuse has survived a schedule that included seven top-20 foes seeing a 5-2 record in those jaunts and going 4-1 against top-10 teams, every game won or lost by a single goal. Sadly for “Cardiac Cuse”, Yale is a tough, tough draw. They played Maryland to the end in a one-goal loss, on the road. They hung with Albany for a full game, losing by a goal, on the road. And they also lost to UMass (not so good). But they beat St. John’s 23-7, where even Cuse only topped the Red Storm 9-8, but that was the norm for the Orange. Moral of the story, this is a brutal match-up and the Orange are going to need Ben Williams at his best all day in order to pull this one out…
Syracuse by …….. wait for it………wait for it…….. 1 goal in a game that is sure to have all Cuse fans shitting their pants multiple times before it reaches its end.
#3 Ohio State VS. Loyola, Sunday @ 5 pm (ESPNU)
After beating Denver, Ohio State dropped games to Notre Dame and Penn State, both ugly. Then they went 3-2 against ranked teams down the stretch with two wins over Hopkins and a win over Maryland. But they face a Loyola team that has faced some of the best in the country and owners of two wins over Army in the month of April, both by convincing margins. They have a couple of bad losses, but when playing well, Loyola is a team to worry over. But on Sunday…
Ohio State by 2 goals.
#4 Notre Dame VS. Marquette, Sunday @ Noon (ESPNU)
Notre Dame is another team that has made it through battle after battle. They’ve gone 5-5 against ranked teams. Marquette on the other hand is 2-4 against ranked teams, with a wins over Air Force and Denver. After starting out the season 5-2, Marquette has gone 3-5 over their final eight games. I don’t like how they match up against ND, so I think we’ll see them hang early, but in the end….
Notre Dame by 4 goals. I see ND going up early, and holding off a couple of second half Marquette runs.
#5 Denver VS. Air Force, Saturday @ 5 pm (ESPNU)
Denver only dropped three games all season, all at the hands of ranked foes. But the three goal loss to Marquette, after an eight goal win less than a week prior has me wondering where Denver is at. They have some convincing wins over Air Force (by 8), Duke (by 5) and Marquette (by 8), all three are ranked teams. But on the flip side, losses to ranked UNC (by 4), Ohio State (by 9) and recently Marquette (by 3) shows they are vulnerable depending on the day, and the match-up. With all of that said, one of those teams they matched up well against was Air Force, owning them in an 8-goal win. So…
Denver by 4 goals. Air Force will be better prepared, but won’t equal Marquette’s total reversal of fortune. Denver goes up early, maybe by as much as seven goals, and will hold Air Force at bay enough to squeak out a four goal win.
#6 Johns Hopkins VS. Duke, Saturday @ 2:30 pm (ESPNU)
This game has potential written all over it. Potentially one of the best first-round matchups. But I also see a bit of potential for one of these two teams to beat up on the other. I’d lean towards Duke as being the hotter team, but they tend to have a harder time with traditionally tough, physical teams. Hopkins has whooped a couple of ranked teams and they’ve been whooped by a couple of ranked teams. I think this will be a game of runs, with Duke making the final run…
Duke in OT. I don’t even know what else to say about this one because no one knows what’s going to happen.
#7 Penn State VS. Towson, Saturday @ Noon
Towson comes in looking tough on paper. They own a 13-8 win over Hopkins (one of those days Hopkins didn’t come ready to play), and own three close losses against fellow tournament teams Loyola, Ohio State and Denver. A win over Hofstra however is their only additional claim to fame, and they have a bad loss to Fairfield mixed in. I criticized Penn State hard all season for not playing anyone, but that changed as they played their final five out of 6 games against tournament teams and went 3-3 down that stretch. Penn State may have played a weak schedule early, but they won out through that stretch. They beat everyone they should have beat, including some good wins over Ohio State, Rutgers and Michigan, and they lost twice to Maryland, and once to Hopkins. Nothing to be ashamed of…
Penn State by 3 goals. I predict a quick Towson start, but Penn State will pound away at them, shore up on the defensive side of the ball and prevail as they grind through the game.
#8 Albany VS. North Carolina, Saturday @ 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
This is another game that could get crazy. Albany hosting the reigning champ in a nationally televised night game. Word is it’s already near sold out, possibly already sold out by the time I write this. But damn. To draw the Heels is brutal. No team is as hot coming in as North Carolina. Nothing lights the fire under a teams ass like do or die games, and UNC handled their business against two of the toughest teams in college lacrosse to win the ACC tournament with Wins over Syracuse and Notre Dame. Albany does not have the same resume. While their only two losses have come at the hands of Syracuse and Maryland, both by a goal, they haven’t played nearly as tough of a schedule as UNC. Wins over Yale, Harvard and Binghamton (by 12 goals in the AE finals) look good, it’s still tough to know where Albany is at. One thing is certain, this is the best Albany team we’ve ever seen in the tournament. Their defense is far better than in previous appearances, they win face-offs, and they score goals. However UNC is playing lax like an injured dog. Like a really big injured dog…
North Carolina by 2 goals. I figure both team will enjoy leads of two or three goals, but UNC will enjoy a late run, and put Albany away.
I’ve become obsessed with the two-man game in the sport of lacrosse and I stumbled upon a video below from the 2014 NCAA Championship game where Duke ran a mix of 1-3-2, 3-1-2 and 2-3-1 sets all working out three “pairs”. My obsession became complete, and that started this post, which will grow over time as I add in more and more useful information. So here goes…
What Is The Two-Man Game?
On-ball picks started this trend many moons ago. Hopkins was one of the first ones I remember really running hard with picking for the ball carrier over and over again on ever possession, although I know many others employed this strategy long before.
Slowly but surely math one out. In a 6v6 set, if someone wins their 1v1 matchup, you’re left with a 5v4 situation. If you win a 2v2 matchup, you often end up with a 4v3 numbers advantage once the ball carrier draws the hot defender. So more and more teams started working a lot more 2v2 matchups into their schemes. What’s not to like? You can even go big/little and dodge an attacker or mid with a pole guarding them off a pick set by a player with a short-stick defender trying to get the switch allowing a second dodge with a better match up.
One of the best demonstrations of a basic two-man game you’ll ever see by Ryan Boyle…
Enter The “Pairs” Set
As mentioned above, I stumbled upon the video below of Duke running their “pairs” set in the 2014 National Championship game. The idea is, you break your six offensive players up into three “pairs”. The paired up players work almost exclusively together picking, dodging, slipping and attempting to draw a slide. One pair attacks from out top down to GLE on the right, the other on the left with the 3rd pair operating between X and GLE. So we are breaking the field up into three sections, and allowing each pair to operate almost exclusively within that area.
What I love most about a set like this is it lends itself well to players of any level. You can teach this concept to youth kids with great success, summer travel teams where you have limited time to teach offensive schemes, all the way up to elite D1 colleges as you’ll see below with Duke.
Duke Owning the “Pairs” Philosophy
This video below is a great demonstration of how to execute a true “pairs” set, allowing each group to attack the field over and over from the areas they are most comfortable and effective.
They are great to run for summer and travel teams. You have limited practice time for summer, fall and winter travel teams, and pairing players up, and allowing them to work on their “2-man game” as the travel season plays out is both simple and effective. There are a never ending supply of drills that can be used in practice to constantly work and on and improve the 2-man game, so as the summer wears on, sometimes into fall, the kids slowly but surely begin to perfect the scheme, and suddenly the 2-man game looks like a 6-man game.
Drills in practice that you can do to work the two-man game….
Two-Man/Pairs Shooting Drill
Great drill to practice the mechanics of the pick, slip and bail. I actually like going from this drill right into quick one-v-one’s and then right into two-v-two’s and continue putting to practice the things they work on with this shooting drill.
Next up, you work in 2v2 drills, attacking from the same areas shown in the video above and just like Duke does in the first video. The key here is everyone rotates around and attacks from all angles, left, right and from X (diagram or video coming).
One of the main goals of the two-man game is to get the defenders to slip up and get a step for either yourself or your partner. This sometimes results in quick goals. However, when the slide comes from elsewhere, the two-man game becomes a three-man game. So out of your 6-on-6 set, have each pair practice dodging and working their area until they draw a slide and then immediately pass the ball on to one of the other two pairs, either through an adjacent pass, or preferably through reversing the ball back to your partner that just slipped under so he can pass the ball on to the weak side (diagram or video coming).
An amazing game from start to finish, with Albany giving the Cuse faithful a bit of a scare, but true to form, Cuse found their stride in the 3rd quarter, and never looked back.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – After trailing 6-2 at the half, the No. 8 seed Syracuse men’s lacrosse team dominated the second half of its NCAA Tournament first round game at the Carrier Dome on Sunday night, outscoring Albany 9-3 to advance to the quarterfinals by a final tally of 11-9. The Orange advance to face No. 1 seed Maryland in the quarterfinals on Saturday in a noon start in Providence, Rhode Island. The Terps advanced with a 13-6 win over Quinnipiac.
Maryland proved it was deserving of the #1 seed (not that anyone doubted that), but they’ve got to be scratching their heads wondering how the #1 seed ends up playing the ACC Tourney Winner and #4 team in the country, Syracuse in the second round of the tournament. The committee screwed the pooch on the seedings this year putting Cuse at #8 which is now a negative for both programs.
The No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse team defeated Quinnipiac, 13-6, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium.
Bucknell rode an eight-goal effort from their first midfield line and a record day from freshman faceoff specialist Jarett Witzal to a 15-10 victory over visiting Mount St Mary’s on Friday evening.
Witzal was the key in the victory winning an astounding 21 of 27 draws which helped Bucknell dominate possession. Had Witzal not totally schooled his opponents, this game would have gone down to the wire as The Mount out-shot the Bison over the first three periods despite the huge possession disparity.
Both Bucknell and Mount St Mary’s have thus far posted winning records, and have looked decent at times. Both are jockeying for position in their conference tourney’s and both are currently sitting in or near the last spot, meaning each really needed this win in the event non-conference tie breakers came into play for tourney seeding. #AdvantageBucknell
Bucknell will host Lafayette in a near must-win conference match-up on 4/15 and Mount St Mary’s will take UMBC at home on 4/12.
Hopkins handled their business and downed Ohio State 13-12 at home on Saturday. Hopkins dropped two of their last four games (without head coach and legend Dave Pietramala on the sideline due to an infection in his back), losing to Virginia and Rutgers, and needed this conference win badly. Pietramala was back on the sidelines Saturday for the first time in more than a month, picking up his 175th win as boss for the Jays.
Ohio State on the other hand seems to be holding the title for best team with a losing record, dropping their last three games by a combined three goals. Granted all three games were against ranked opponents, losing to #1 ND and #14 Penn State and now #16 Johns Hopkins by a goal in each contest.
Hopkins controlled for most of the game, their lead hanging at around 2 or 3 goals for a good portion of the contest. But the Buckeye’s used a big save by goalie Tom Carey to go on a run and get back to within a goal of the Jay’s.
Hopkins took a 13-12 lead going into the final quarter. It took ten minutes for a ball to find the back of the net in the fourth, with Bluejay John Crawley scoring on an man-up goal with 4:03 remaining and it turned out to be the “eventual” game-winner. Ohio State would put one more on the board with 94 seconds to play, but the Buckeye’s couldn’t force overtime, turning the ball over with ten seconds to play.
Johns Hopkins will visit Penn State in an important conference matchup on 4/17 and Ohio State will host hated rival Michigan on 4/16.
It would have been a great night for a game under the lights if not for the wind as #10 Syracuse rolled into Geneva to take on Hobart for the 102nd time, the third-longest rivalry in college lacrosse.
Jordan Evans (4 goals) and company were tested early in the second half seeing Hobart fire off three-straight goals bringing them to within a goal of the Orange off a goal by Bryan Hancock.
Hobart won the ensuing faceoff down one, with a chance to get even for the first time and Evan Molloy decided to close the gates on Hobart, making an amazing kick save, deflecting the ball off his left leg on the would-be game-tying goal. Syracuse wasted their next possession, allowing Hobart another chance to tie, and Molloy made another great save.
Sergio Salcido (2g, 3a) took advantage of Molloy suddenly becoming a wall and scored at the 6:49 mark in the third, ending the nearly 14-minute drought. From there Cuse took the fight out of the dog scoring five more goals to finish the contest, bringing the Kraus-Simmons Trophy home with the 13-6 win.
Molloy finished the game with seven saves, four of them coming in that key third-quarter stand allowing the Orange to separate for good.
Dylan Donahue, who had been unusually quiet the game prior against Notre Dame, got back in the mix with two goals and a helper and Nick Mariano matched Donahue’s output with a 2 and 1 outing as well.
WHAT WE KNOW – CUSE OFFENSE GOES DRY AT TIMES…
Cuse is still prone to going quiet for spurts on the offensive side of the ball. It’s hard to pinpoint why. I think it’s a live and die by the sword kind of thing. Salcido and Mariano are explosive at times thanks to their skill and aggressive styles of play, but with that, they are prone to taking a few bad shots that often result in easy clears or fast break opportunities for the opposing team.
Turnovers have also been an issue at times and certainly played a huge roll in their three-game losing streak. Turnovers hurt them a little bit today as well.
WHAT WE KNOW – BEN WILLIAMS CLOSED THE DOOR…
Teams have started to figure Ben Williams out, and it’s been apparent at times this season as we’ve seen him lose some key face-offs down the stretch. Tonight, after losing three of five during the third quarter that saw Hobart draw close, he won four of five in the fourth quarter and effectively buried Hobart’s chances at getting any closer.
I think this has less to do with teams “figuring Williams out” and more to do with them realizing that their best chance is to not let him win the draw alone, something he did amazingly well last season and through the start of this season.
Teams are attacking him, and waiting for the Orange wing players to step up. At times they have, and that will have to continue if we want to advance past the quarter-finals in the NCAA’s this spring.
WHAT WE KNOW – ATTACKING THE CUSE DEFENSE LIKE YOUR LIFE IS ON THE LINE WINS YOU POINTS
Cuse held a lead against Hopkins, they blew it. They held a lead against Duke, they blew it. Notre Dame played like they were five goals down the entire game, and ended up winning 17-7 at the dome.
Tonight, Hobart goes down 5-0, gets back to 5-2, goes down 7-2, gets back to 7-6. They got back in it because they got a bit more aggressive and at that point had nothing to lose.
It seems that aggressive, almost reckless offensive play is a strategy more teams should explore.
WHAT WE KNOW – ENTER EVAN MOLLOY
With all of that said, Warren Hill played simply terrible in his last 3 outings. He’s have moments of looking good, maybe even great, and would come out in the second half and give up goal after goal. GRANTED, not all were his fault, but a goalie at this caliber has to stop the ball from going in the net, and Hill just wasn’t doing that at key moments in games.
Molloy did tonight what Hill has failed to do in the last three games. He stopped two shots when it counted most. Both shots were fairly uncontested and were pretty great plays on the ball. He did so in his first career start. So it’s fair for us to be optimistic here.
WHAT WE KNOW – SPENCER SCHMITT GOT BEAT … A LOT
I wouldn’t pick on this kid, especially given his limited minutes, except his time has come in some close games, and he seems to be getting beat all over the field. If I’m noticing it from my couch, other teams are noticing it while reviewing tape and trying to find the chinks in Cuse’s defensive armor.