This college lacrosse weekend preview show is going to quickly become a recap show with all of the killer games being played between Sundays and Tuesdays. In this episode I’m going to recap the Duke vs Syracuse tilt at the Dome on Sunday as well as Tuesday’s contest featuring Virginia playing Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field in Baltimore. I’ll also recap a bunch of games that will be popping off this weekend including Loyola vs Duke, Denver vs Yale, Penn State vs Cornell, Brown vs North Carolina, Princeton vs Rutgers, Ohio State vs Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins vs Syracuse and many more.

#6 Duke – 14 (OT)
#20 Syracuse – 13

The Sunday evening ACC matchup held up against Saturday’s Notre Dame and Maryland game that needed 3OT’s to get to the winner.

Syracuse held a lead through most of the game leading into the 3rd quarter when Duke went on a 6 goal run that flipped a 10-7 Syracuse lead into a 12-10 Duke lead.

After Joey Spallina got his first goal of the game getting the Orange back to within a goal, Dyson Williams answered back once again putting Duke up by 2.

Things got interesting when Cole Kirst scored his 4th goal of the game, a straight up bull dodge to the middle of the field that allowed him to get his hands free and put one past Helm.

Syracuse would have a man up opportunity under a minute later that would only require 4 seconds to result in a Finn Thomson quick stick goal on the doorstep dished by Owen Hiltz.

All of that resulted in overtime where Will Mark was forced to continue standing on his head. Mark made a couple of saves in overtime allowing Syracuse a chance at winning, but a questionable shot out of the Orange resulted in Duke getting another possession and freshman Charles Balsamo busted a speed dodge down the right alley and beat Mark high for the win.

Huge for Duke in the win was Jake Naso.  As expected, he destroyed “the player formerly known as RichiUSA”, who will now be known as “Syracuse’s fogo”.  Naso went 21 of 30 at the dot with 12 groundballs.  Winning faceoffs is going to prove a problem for Syracuse.

Luckily, Will Mark has been a monster for the orange and has erased some of the misery they are experiencing by sucking at the dot.  Mark made 22 saves on the day and without his effort, Syracuse would have gotten thrashed.

Yes, Duke hit a million pipes in this game and I credit Mark for getting in teams heads.  He’s only had one down game thus far against North Carolina.  He was 72.2% against Vermont.  66.7% against UAlbany.  75% against Holy Cross.  54.5% against Maryland.  47.2% against UNC and 61.1% on Sunday against Duke.  He has a .596 save percentage thus far.  Thank god because Syracuse’s fogo has only won 41.2% of the draws this season.

For Duke:  Brennan O’Neill (4g, 2a), Charles Balsamo & Tommy Schelling (2g, 1a), Garret Leadmon & Dyson Williams (2g), Jake Naso (21 of 30 faceoffs, 12gbs), Will Helm (11 saves vs 13 goals against)

For Syracuse:  Cole Kirst (4g, 1a), Jackson Birtwistle (3g), Owen Hiltz & Joey Spallina (1g, 2a), Alex Simmons (2g, 1a), Will Mark (22 saves vs 14 goals against)

And now for the weekend previews…

#6 Loyola vs #5 Duke

In this matchup we’ll see Duke’s offense do battle with one of the best defensive units so far this season in Loyola.

Loyola’s defense is anchored by Matt Huges (D, 10 caused turnovers, 21 gbs) and Diego Roman (LSM, 7 caused turnovers, 8 gbs).  Cam Wyers is the big cat on that side of the ball but teams aren’t stupid enough to regularly test him so he is coming in with a more modest 6 caused turnovers.

Duke’s defense isn’t a crew you can ignore. Kenny Brower is a lock down level defender, Wilson Stephenson has shown he can be physical and guard top guys and they have a guy in Tyler Carpenter at LSM who can guard both midfielders and attackmen as well as get up and down the field in transition.

Duke’s offense has scored 14 goals in each of their last 3 outings.  They’ve won those 3 games by 4 goals all in and needed overtime twice (Denver and Syracuse).

Brennan O’Neill has been on an absolute war path.  His stat line is gross.  Thus far he’s put up the following in each of Duke’s first 6 games… 7 points vs Bellarmine, 4 points vs High Point, 5 goals vs Jacksonville (their only loss), 7 points vs Denver (including the game tying and game winning goal), 5 points vs Penn and 6 points vs Syracuse.  He has 19 goals and 15 assists on the season for 34 points and a 36% shooting percentage.

This may sound crazy, but after hyping up O’Neill, the x-factor for Duke continues to be Jake Naso at the faceoff dot.  He’s sitting at 64% thus far this season with over 100 wins already and 60 gbs. He also has 2 goals and 2 assists off 6 shots.  His only down game was a 50% outing against Alec Stathakis and Denver.  He’s been above 61% in every other game and has been at or above 70% three times this season.

Loyola holds the edge in terms of goaltenders.  Will Helm has been solid sitting at 54% thus far, but Luke Staudt has been a killer for Loyola stopping 63% of the shots he’s faced.  Staudt has been at or above 57% in every outing so far this year.  He made 19 saves (73%) in Loyola’s season opening win over the Terps.

I think this game comes down to the faceoff dot and Luke Staudt.  Naso is going to “get his”. But Staudt can equalize that possession discrepancy.  So long as he does that it comes down to a battle between the Duke offense against the Loyola defense and despite the Greyhounds impressive skill and depth, Duke is the best offensive team they’ve faced so far this season and it will be a very difficult outing.

Prediction:  Duke (by 3 to 5 goals)

#19 Denver vs #11 Yale

Denver is riding high off a 1 goal win over North Carolina on the road while Yale was able to put the big hurt on UMass, also on the road.

Alec Stathakis is going to be a big deciding factor in how this game goes. He’s one of the more capable faceoff guys in the country.  Denver has issues defensively and in cage so he will need to play like his typical self and win somewhere in the area of 63 to 70 percent of the draws he takes (and he’ll take all of them).

For Yale it will be all about letting “the kids” do their thing.  It’s been great to see teams get high quality production out of their underclassmen and few teams have the young talent that Yale does.

Sophomore Chris Lyons is currently tied with grizzled veteran Matt Brandau with 18 points.  Lyons is a true goal hawk with every one of his points being goals, no dishes.  Brandau is the 50/50 threat with 9 goals and 9 assists.

Between those two and guys like sophomores Leo Johnson (5g, 5a), Carson Kuhl (3g, 5a) and Brad Sharp (2g, 3a), Yale is leaning heavily on some young studs for offensive production and thus far they’ve delivered.

Yale has the edge in cage as jared Paquette has been solid with a .600 save percentage so far.  Denver has had issues with both keepers thus far, the veteran Jack Thompson has been shaky and Malcolm Kleban has been a bit better than Thompson in the games he’s seen action with a 51% save percentage thus far.

In the end, I think Yale will be more physical and capable on both sides of the field and despite the fact Stathakis will probably win the bulk of the draws, Yale will be able to pull out a W in the end.

Prediction:  Yale (by 2 to 4 goals)

#8 Penn State vs #3 Cornell

After losing to Villanova and dropping to 1-1 on the season, I was wondering if Penn State was going to be down again this season.  Since that loss they’ve rattled off 3 straight wins against Stony Brook, Yale and Penn.

The Nittany Lions are playing some very good lacrosse at the moment thanks to TJ Malone (14g, 7a) and Matt Traynor (14g, 5a).  Chris Jordan and Jack Traynor have each put up 16 points as well, so their depth in scoring has been solid.

At the faceoff dot both Chase Mullins and Hudson Bohn are winning 54% of their draws and goalie Jack Fracyon has been decent as well, also posting a 54% stat line for his save percentage.

Penn State isn’t doing any one thing incredibly well, but they have done everything fairly well and that has paid off netting them 4 wins thus far, two of them against very good lacrosse teams.

For Cornell, their wins aren’t quite as impressive other than last weekends 16-13 win over Ohio State.  They handled Hobart and Lehigh, but played UAlbany tight in their opening contest.

Important for the Big Red, they’ve been playing cleaner and cleaner as the season has wore on.  They didn’t look great offensively against Albany, but followed that up with a very good game against Lehigh holding them to just 5 goals.

My question for Cornell was what would their defense look like against a top offense like Ohio State and the answer was… very good.

I give the edge to the Cornell offense over the Penn State defense, mostly because CJ Kirst is going to give everyone he faces problems all season. The goalie battle is pretty much deadlocked and Penn State has a slight edge at the dot.

That means this should be pretty competitive game.

Prediction:  Cornell (by 3 to 5 goals)

Richmond vs #20 Georgetown

Georgetown finally got things rolling offensively last weekend picking up a hugely important road win over Princeton last weekend.

The Hoyas have had issues getting their entire offense involved in a game and against the Tigers on Saturday they finally got over that issue.

Brian Minicus (the Colgate transfer) put up 3 goals and 2 assists, Jacob Kelly (the UNC transfer) put up a goal and 2 dishes, Tucker Dordevic (Syracuse transfer) and Declan McDermott each put up 3 goals and I think getting McDermott involved was crazy important. McDermott was a key player for the Hoyas a season ago and he was scoreless in the Hoyas first two games.  He has put up 3 points in their last two games so that is a very good sign.  Georgetown may finally be finding some swag offensively.

The Hoyas are fine defensively.  Their offensive struggles have lead to them giving up a few more goals in each game than I’m sure they’d want, but they were able to hold Princeton to 10 goals on Saturday and only gave up 9 to Penn in their loss.  If they can figure out things on O, everything on D will work itself out.

In cage, Richmond is having a rough go with Zach Vigue sitting at 45%.  Georgetown was starting Danny Hincks (the Dartmouth transfer) but after going 51% over their first 3 games (all losses), they went with Michael Scharfenberger on Saturday against Princeton and he made 18 saves vs 12 goals against (60%).  So I suspect we’ll see him start again vs Richmond.

I think the Hoyas keep rolling and pick up another W and improve to 2-3.

Prediction:  Georgetown (by 5 to 7 goals)

#14 Princeton vs #7 Rutgers

Princeton will be looking to rebound against in-state rival Rutgers on the road on Saturday after losing two straight to Maryland and Georgetown.  I’ll say it one more time and I won’t shit on Princeton any longer, their early season rankings were the product of their success a season ago and they haven’t delivered since.  They struggled in a win over Manhattan before losing to Maryland by a margin and Georgetown by 3 goals.

Princeton has struggled partly because some of their offensive weapons have struggled.  Alex Slusher was their second leading scorer a season ago and he only has 3 goals and 9 assists in 4 games so far this season.  Sam English (1g, 8a) and Jake Stevens (6g, 1a) will also need to get a bit more involved.  Coulter Mackesy has been very good so far, their leading scorer with 15g, 3a, but that wasn’t expected at this stage and they’ll need some of these other guys to pick it up a bit.

For Rutgers, Ross Scott (19g, 7a) has been getting a lot of help on offense from Brian Cameron (17g, 7a), Dante Kulas (16g, 5a) and beyond.

I think Rutgers can only go as far as transfer goaltender Kyle Mullin (Harvard) can carry them.  He struggled in the Scarlet Knights loss to Army and didn’t look great last weekend against Utah.  When he’s good, he’s very good as exemplified in his 73% outing in a win over Loyola.  Rutgers will need him to be his best self on Saturday against a hungry and desperate Princeton squad.

Prediction:  Rutgers (by 1 to 3 goals)

#9 Ohio State vs #2 Notre Dame

I expect this game to be another really good matchup and test for Notre Dame.  Ohio State’s defense is built similar to Maryland’s.  They have Bobby Van Buren (3 caused turnovers, 9 gbs) and Marcus Hudgins (6 caused turnovers, 7 gbs) anchoring their defense and Skylar Wahlund has been serviceable in cage against some pretty stiff competition.

Despite the star power on defense, Ohio State wasn’t able to contain CJ Kirst last weekend (4g, 1a) and that Cornell offense was playing without Long.

I think the Notre Dame offense will have spurts of trouble mixed with spurts of playing like fucking animals in this one and while I believe that the Buckeyes can hang tough and keep things interesting, the Irish offense is more than likely too much and their defense isn’t too bad either.

Liam Entenmann is the better goalie between the two that will take the field and Notre Dame has guys like Chris Conlin, Chris Fake and Brian Tevlin running around on defense and Tevlin has been this seasons most versatile player getting time on offense, defense and running with a long pole on man down.

I think we’ll see a good fight, but by the end the Irish will wear the Buckeyes out and pick up the home win.

Prediction:  Notre Dame (by 2 to 4 goals)

#10 Johns Hopkins vs Syracuse

You know I’ll be on the edge of my couch (if I don’t end up going up) and killing beers and screaming at the TV during this one.

Syracuse is coming off a heartbreaker against Duke and they need a quality “non conference” win badly.  Their wins over Vermont and UAlbany just aren’t going to cut it.  They proved they can hang with anyone on Sunday after getting merked at the dot while riding on the shoulders of goaltender Will Mark.  But how will they hold up against a Hopkins squad that has been through the ringer and came back on the other side sitting at 4-3.

For Hopkins, they hold quality wins over #12 Jacksonville, #20 Georgetown and #13 Saint Joseph’s.  Their only losses are to #6 Loyola and #15 North Carolina.  So Hopkins is in fact back and they are playing good lacrosse and getting healthy at the right time.

This should be a very good matchup and I expect a solid game unless something goes off the rails for one of these teams.  I have a feeling if it goes off the rails for anyone it will be Syracuse as you have to wonder how many games Will Mark can keep Cuse in it.  He’s bound to have a bad game and it’s almost guaranteed that if that game comes against a ranked foe, Cuse will likely get waxed as they lose draws and give up a lot of shots as a result.

So for this one, let’s go group by group….

Offense:  Edge to Syracuse only because they have been forced to be as efficient as any team in the nation.  They aren’t getting a lot of possessions overall but when they do, they have been scoring goals.  Hopkins has shown flashes of being a good offensive team, they’ve just struggled with injuries. Angelus has been great (5g, 17a) but the rest of this squad has been inconsistent whereas Syracuse is getting more balanced scoring.

Defense:  Edge to Hopkins, the Syracuse defense hasn’t been bad considering and they do a good job of being physical and contesting shots, but Hopkins has some quality midfielders and I have a feeling they are going to expose the Syracuse defensive midfield.  Syracuse’s long poles have help up well, but the dmids have struggled and get beat all over the field.  CAVEAT, they played much better against Duke, so if we see an outing like that again from the Orange SSDM’s, this could be a defensive wash.

Goalies:  Easy, edge to Syracuse and Will Mark, however he’s bound to have a down game at some point and Tim Marcille was back in the lineup for Hopkins against Utah.  I still like Mark as we have to assume he’ll be great again (until he isn’t), but Marcille is also very good.

Faceoffs & Special Teams:  Edge Hopkins, both Dunn and Callahan have been far better than Johnny Richusa for Syracuse.

So you can see, this one looks to be a pretty fair matchup by the end.

Prediction:  Syracuse (by 1 goal)


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