There are a few Friday night games I’ll talk about first with Syracuse being one of the teams that will play two games this weekend (ala Navy last weekend).
UAlbany @ Syracuse
Last Meeting: 2022, UAlbany won 14-12 at home
This Albany matchup is a tough one to read for Syracuse this year, especially after the Orange played Vermont so close this weekend.
On one hand, Vegas has Syracuse as a -6.5 favorite. That surprised me when I saw it. After seeing the Vermont game, I figure this is probably somewhere in the area of a 4 to 6 goal game.
Albany brings back Graydon Hogg, last season’s leading scorer (26g, 12a). They lost their sniper Corey Yunker, but get back three guys that all put up 20+ points a year ago in Jack Pucci, Amos Whitcomb and Camden Hay.
They stunk in cage last year and lost a couple of starters on the defensive side of the field. I’ve heard their goalie situation has improved although I don’t know who’s going to be starting. That should play well into Syracuse having an improved offensive flow.
I can’t imagine we’ll see Spallina have another stretch where he misses 14 of 15 all season long. The Syracuse
Meaning, I think you’ll see a more effective Syracuse offense on Friday against the Danes. Mix that with the fact Albany beat Syracuse a year ago and this could go the way Vegas is predicting and Cuse could in fact get a win with some wings.
The Syracuse midfield put up 8 points to the Syracuse attacks 4 points. I predict the attack unit will be clicking in their second contest and if both units play well together, a 6 to 8 goal win will be likely.
If Syracuse continues to struggle to find offensive rhythm, Albany could make a game of this and bring it right down to the wire.
PREDICTION: Syracuse (by 4 to 6 goals)
Mercer @ #19 North Carolina
Last Meeting: 2021, UNC won 16-8 at home
Mercer got beat up by Bucknell on Saturday and I would wager that UNC is probably a better team overall than the Bison.
That means things will probably get ugly for Mercer on Friday against the Heels. I’m thinking we’ll be looking at an 8+ goal spread by the half and a 12+ goal spread by the games end. I don’t think UNC will beat their pants off in the same way that Bucknell did in terms of the final score. Not because they can’t, but because maybe they won’t.
Should be a first contest for UNC at home, stretch their legs and get this new offense some reps before having to face Johns Hopkins the following Tuesday.
PREDICTION: North Carolina (by 13 to 16 goals)
Next up, we’ll dive into Saturday’s games and I’ll do these in order of ranking, highest to lowest, and will then just rip through the rest quickly at the end.
Michigan @ #1 Virginia
Of all the years for Michigan to listen to me and beef up their schedule, they chose this one. I love their roster. I am a big fan of Josh Zawada (43g, 34a) and Michael Boehm (33g, 30a). But they bring back every guy that started offensively a year ago. Ryan Cohen (53p), Jake Bonomi (30p), Aidan Mulholland (25p) and Isaac Aronson (19p), all back. They get Andrew Darby back on defense with a bunch of other starters. Keeper Shane Carr is also back, he stopped the ball at a 53.6 percent clip a year ago. So lots to be excited about for Michigan supporters.
I’ve been chirping Michigan for years because they play a stinker of a schedule, and this year was the year they decided to change that.
Their out of conference schedule includes #1 Virginia, #5 Notre Dame, #12 Delaware, #13 Harvard. In conference they’ll face #2 Maryland, #9 Rutgers and #11 Ohio State.
That means 7 of their 12 opponents are ranked in the preseason poll. That’s a huge improvement compared to previous seasons.
I’ve talked about Virginia a ton already so I’ll save you on that front. Virginia is going to win this game, and I don’t think it will be all that close. We could see a “slow roll to a solid margin”, but I think we’re looking at a 7+ goal win or so for UVA.
PREDICTION: Virginia (by 7-9 goals)
#2 Maryland @ Loyola
Last Meeting: 2022, Maryland won 20-8 at home
Loyola lost their top two scorers in Olmstead and Lindley and they also lost LSM Ryan McNulty and keeper Sam Shafer. On the positive side, they bring back SSDM Payton Rezanka and close defender Matt Hughes to anchor a fairly veteran laden defense.
Maryland waxed Loyola a season ago and there is a very good chance the Terps rinse and repeat. I don’t think it will be 20-8 butt whooping like last year, but 18-8 doesn’t seem out of the question.
Offensively Loyola is going to be leaning heavily on some guys that haven’t had to “be the guy” yet and they don’t have anyone at the faceoff dot that has any chance against Wierman. Wierman didn’t play his best game against Richmond so I figure he’ll be out for blood against Loyola on Saturday.
PREDICTION: Maryland (by 8-10 goals)
#3 Georgetown @ Johns Hopkins
Last Meeting: 2022, Georgetown won 16-8 at home
Hopkins impressed on Saturday night against Jacksonville. The Jay’s used a 3rd quarter run to separate and take Jax down 12-7. Jacksonville was playing without Max Waldbaum, but I’m not sure the score would have flipped in a manner that would have seen Jax come out on top.
Yes, Hopkins looked better on defense and in cage than they have in years. The problem… Georgetown is a completely different animal.
Every offensive starter Georgetown will put on the field probably scored at least 35 points a season ago. I say “probably” because I’m not 100% sure who all six offensive starters will be, but you can bet that guys like Graham Bundy Jr. (70p), Tucker Dordevic (59p), TJ Haley (41p), Declan McDermott (37p), Nick,y Solomon (37p), Dylan Hess (37p) and Jacob Kelly (35p) will all factor heavily in testing every nook and cranny of the Hopkins defense.
Logan Callahan and Tyler Dunn split the draws for Hop on Saturday and combined to win 15 of 23. They’ll have their hands more than a bit full with James Reilly who won 60.5% of his draws a season ago for the Hoyas.
So despite Johns Hopkins success in their opening weekend, I’m thinking that Gtown is going to get the better of their fellow nerds. It may not be an absolute massacre, but I can’t imagine the outcome in the game will be in doubt by the end of the 3rd quarter.
PREDICTION: Georgetown (by 7 to 9 goals)
#8 Duke @ #18 Jacksonville
Last Meeting: 2022, Jacksonville won 14-12 on the road
Jacksonville played a solid three quarters against Hopkins on Saturday and it cost them. That is the second season in a row they’ve opened with a loss to the Blue Jays. Now JU will be hoping to continue last season’s trend by handing Duke a loss in their second contest of the season.
Jax dropped the Blue Devils by two goals in 2022 after losing to Hopkins. If I’m being honest, Jacksonville had a sort of Cinderella season that will be hard to repeat. I think they’ll “win the games they are supposed to win” and they will probably lose a few more non-conference games to foes they took care of a season ago.
Case in point, Duke is going to beat Jacksonville in Florida on Saturday. I don’t necessarily think they’ll beat them by a lot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
Things that don’t look great for Jacksonville… They got beat up at the faceoff dot winning only 8 of 23 draws. Jake Naso of Duke played poorly against Nathan Kapp in last seasons matchup splitting draws 50/50. Faceoff guys love revenge arcs. It’s in their blood.
I expect Naso to murder Kapp this weekend and the result will be some room for error by the 4th quarter for Duke, leading to a comfortable win.
PREDICTION: Duke (by 6 to 8 goals)
Stony Brook @ #9 Rutgers
Last Meeting: 2022, Rutgers won 17-16 on the road
This was a solid game a year ago. Both teams lost some guys, but I think that will be felt a little bit more by Stony Brook than it will be by Rutgers. I think that Stony Brook will be a solid mid-level team and more often than not they finish above .500.
But Rutgers is a different animal these days. They have done a great job attracting talent, developing that talent, and then stealing talent where needed from the transfer portal and this season is no different.
Against Marist on Saturday Ross Scott, their leading scorer from a season ago, only scored 3 goals in the 20-8 romp. The fact that Dante Kulas, a sophomore, was their leading scorer with 5 goals and 3 helpers is a great sign for the Rutgers offense. The fact that transfer keeper Kyle Mullin stopped 59% of his shots was another good sign.
I’m not thinking Rutgers is going to trounce Stony Brook because like I said, the Seawolves should be a tough draw. But I also don’t think we’ll see a repeat of last season with a 1 goal game.
PREDICTION: Rutgers (by 4 to 6 goals)
Cleveland State @ #11 Ohio State
Last Meeting: 2022, Ohio State won 17-9 at home
This game isn’t going to go well for Cleveland State. The Buckeyes won this contest by 8 goals a season ago and I think they’ll likely hit 10 goals or more in this one.
Jack Myers was an animal on Saturday ripping up Air Force for 4 goals and 5 assists. Cleveland State can’t handle that smoke.
PREDICTION: Ohio State (by 9 to 11 goals)
#12 Delaware @ Lafayette
Lafayette got beat up by Penn State on Saturday and I think Delaware is a better team all around than Penn State. I don’t think Lafayette is going to be able to hang, and Delaware is going to be hyped up after sitting at home over the weekend watching their first opponent play (and get trounced) by Penn State.
Delaware is going to be very excited to get out and play someone other than themselves, and they are going to have some film to review making them the slightly better prepared of the two teams (not to mention they have superior talent).
Outcome will be 18+ goals from the Delaware offense and more than likely fewer goals overall out of Lafayette than they put up against PSU.
PREDICTION: Delaware (by 10 to 12 goals)
#14 Boston U @ Vermont
Last Meeting: 2019, Boston U won 12-4 at home
After Vermont and Syracuse played to a close finish over the weekend, I’m more than curious to see how this game plays out for two reasons. One, I want to see if my hyping up of Boston U. this preseason was warranted (making me look smart) and… Two, because I’m always wanting to use other contests to try and get an early season read on the Orange, if this ends up being a closer game than I expect, that will make me feel better about Syracuse’s prospects (although this will greatly hinge on what Syracuse does with Albany on Friday).
If Vermont is truly the team to beat in the America East (as I predicted they would be), this game should be pretty close, within 1 to 3 goals by the end, probably in favor of Boston U.
But preseason predictions mean exactly nothing once the games start getting played. Vermont just played Syracuse tough in the Dome and they get to open at home against a team they are probably thinking they have a shot against.
Syracuse’s attack struggled against Vermont as the three of them have never played a game together. That helped Vermont a great deal.
D’Alto, Ley and Perfetto have been starting together for Boston U. since 2020 and this trio of attackmen that will take the field against Vermont is one of the best and most experienced groups in college lacrosse. There is no picking your poison. All three of them are killers.
PREDICTION: Boston U. (by 3 to 5 goals)
Sacred Heart @ #15 Saint Joseph’s
Last Meeting: 2022, Saint Joseph’s won 14-7 at home
The high scoring quartet consisting of Levi Anderson (64p), Matt Bohmer (62p), Carter Page (56p) and Tucker Brown (54p) are back and ready to take the field against Sacred Heart on Saturday.
Hawks keeper Robbie Seeley is back in cage after winning the NEC Tournament MVP a year ago and they also return a wealth of starters to stand tall in front of him.
Moral of the story, this should be a very good and veteran lead group that Saint Joseph’s puts on the field this season.
Sacred Heart should actually be a better team in 2023 than they were in 2022 finishing the season 3-10 and 1-6 in conference.
They bring back all of their top leading scorers including Morgan O’Reilly (39p), but despite the wealth of players returning, they are still young and overall less talented than a team like Saint Joe’s.
Vegas actually has Saint Joseph’s at as the favorite at -9.5. I’m thinking that’s probably right on the mark. They beat them 14-7 at home last year, so I’m thinking 10 goals is a bit too steep.
PREDICTION: Saint Joseph’s (by 7 to 9 goals)
Air Force @ #17 Denver
Last Meeting: 2022, Denver won 13-9 at home
Denver had an impressive showing and got scoring from all over their roster against Utah last weekend. JJ Sillstrop (2g, 1a) and Noah Manning (1g, 2a) paced the Pio’s offensively, Alex Stathakis won 13 of 20 draws at the faceoff dot and goaltender Jack Thompson stopped 9 of the 13 shots he faced. The entire Denver team showed up on Saturday.
I ate a big turd sandwich as it was my “upset pick” for the weekend and Denver came out and more than handled their business.
I have no reason to believe they’ll do anything different against Air Force who struggled to get things going against a very good Ohio State team.
PREDICTION: Denver (by 2 to 4 goals)
Army @ UMass
Last Meeting: 2022, Army won 14-13 at home
This should be an excellent game as both of these teams were right on the cusp of being ranked in the preseason media poll. 2022’s meeting was a one goal game and in 2020 Army trounced them. 2019 was another close game and back in 2018 Army beat them up.
In this case, I think UMass has more “known quantities” coming back, but Army is one of the best teams in the land at replacing talent without falling too far off pace.
I admittedly don’t know too much about either team outside of they have both been tough over the handful of years. Army has only had one losing record since 2014. UMass has been better than average over the last handful of years with just one slip up on their resume.
There is a part of me that thinks this “could be UMass’s year” and they could get the one or two goal win over Army, but alas, I won’t bet against Army or Navy until they force me to.
PREDICTION: Army (by 2 to 4 goals)
There are just two games on Sunday this weekend…
Holy Cross @ Syracuse
Last Meeting: 2022, Syracuse won 28-5 at home
This is going to be a massacre. I don’t think it will be of the 28-5 variety from a season ago, a game that got every Syracuse fan really excited about the season leading up to having our hearts torn out by the time they had lost to Albany on the road.
PREDICTION: Syracuse (by 13 to 15 goals)
Penn State @ Villanova
Last Meeting: 2022, Villanova won 13-12 on the road
This is a 50/50 game in my opinion. I know Vegas has Penn State favored slightly, but Villanova loves playing the spoiler, especially early in the season.
Nova gets back matt Campbell, one of the best midfielders in the land but they lose their 2nd, 3rd and 4th leading scorers, all of them were graduate students in 2022, Luke Keating, Brett Baskin and JP Basile. But I like what the Wildcats bring back on defense, just losing a couple of key guys but bringing back numerous starters including goalie Will Vitton who posted a .510 save percentage a season ago.
Faceoffs will be a key in this contest. I assume Justin Coppala will be taking draws for Nova (he won 58.5% a year ago) and Penn State’s Hudson Bohn. Bohn won nearly 70% against Lafayette last weekend, but that is Lafayette.
PREDICTION: Penn State (by 1 to 3 goals)
LAST WEEKS PREDICTIONS
- Syracuse (W)
- Ohio State (W)
- Rutgers (W)
- Maryland (W)
- Navy (W)
- Duke (W)
- Bucknell (W)
- Marquette (W)
- Detroit Mercy (L)
- Jacksonville (L)
- Utah (L)