We’re going to start this week’s college lacrosse preview show with a quick review of the insane Seton Hill comeback that saw the Griffin’s down by 4 goals with just over 1:37 left in the game and they scored 4 unanswered goals in around 30 seconds to force overtime, and scored the game winner in OT.  For this weekends D1 lacrosse previews, we’ll talk about #4 Duke hitting the road to take on #1 Virginia in a Friday night ACC battle.  We’ll also talk about Rutgers vs Johns Hopkins, Denver vs Georgetown, Yale vs Penn, Notre Dame vs Syracuse and many more.

#4 Duke vs #1 Virginia

This game has all of the dope storylines you’d expect from a Friday night ACC tilt.  Twaaraton candidates Connor Shellenberger vs Brennan O’Neill.  The #1 ranked team in the country hosting the #4 ranked team in the country.  Both teams have only one loss and tons of roster depth at every position.

Matchups to watch though…

Connor Shellenberger vs Kenny Brower
A team’s best defender doesn’t always match up against a team’s best offensive threat.  I suspect that Brower will be all up in Shellenberger’s stuff on Friday night though.  Shelly did a solid job against Notre Dame of making sure that Chris Fake, a very physical defender, wasn’t able to body him up and stay on his hands.  He kept moving, kept his hands free and was able to put up 2 goals and 5 assists.  The game plan should be similar against Brower as he’s physical and likes to beat people up.  I do think Brower will fare better than Fake though, so I’m thinking Shellenberger will end up in the area of 4 to 6 points.

Brennan O’Neill vs Whoever Guards Him

I’m not sure who UVA will put on O’Neill.  Saustad?  Bower?  Virginia has one of the biggest and longest defenses in the country so they have a couple of guys they could put on O’Neill, all have decent size with Saustad being the biggest cat at 6’ 5”.  But in the end, it’s whoever does the best job guarding “big lefties” that will draw the assignment, and as stated above, that isn’t always your “best defender” that picks up this type of gig.  Luckily for the Cavs, they have at least two guys up to the task, maybe three.

Jake Naso vs Petey LaSalla

Naso is having the best year in the country so far in my opinion but LaSalla and company aren’t far behind.  Naso is ahead of LaSalla on winning percentage sitting at 65% to Petey’s 59%. LaSalla has 6 goals to Naso’s 4 goals and 2 assists, so they are square there.  There is no fronting on the fact that Naso is the hot guy at the moment, but you can never count Petey out so this should be a fun battle to watch.

Where I’m Optimistic For Virginia

The Cavs defense have proven they can handle all sorts of attackmen.  Big guys, fast guys, hobbits with insane quickness and agility (the Brothers Kavanaugh).  Duke has a bit of everything.  They have a big lefty bruiser in O’Neill (29g, 23a, 35% shooting) that can do it all.  They have a twitch fast attackman in Andrew McAdorey (22g, 17a, 35% shooting) that doesn’t have a lot going for himself in terms of height, but he’s strong and does a good job “getting to his spots”. Dyson Williams is the lefty finisher that is a difficult off-ball cover and can finish inside 10 yards better than almost everyone else in the country.  Doesn’t like a upside for UVA, but the reality is, if anyone can do a solid job covering all three of these Duke attackers, it’s Virginia.

Where I’m Optimistic For Duke

I think that on paper, Virginia has a bit more “quality in their on field depth” as compared to Duke.  However, I think there is a very good chance that Naso “slightly” outplays LaSalla at the dot in terms of “draws won”.  So long as LaSalla doesn’t put up more points than Naso, and Naso can win 55% of the draws, Duke will be in a good place.

Not only that, but Duke goaltender Will Helm has been slightly better in cage than Virginia’s Matthew Nunes.  Nunes has been playing a bit better lately, but Helm’s 54% looks better than Nunes 51%.  So long as that statline plays out on Friday night, another slight edge to D.

I think that if things favor the “odds” and Naso and Nunes slightly outplay their competition, this game is going to come down to the wire and will be decided by 2 goals or less.

If either LaSalla or Nunes turn on the statistical gods and greatly outplay their counterparts?  Could be a disaster for the Blue Devils.

Prediction:  Virginia (by 2 goals or less)

#9 Rutgers vs #7 Johns Hopkins

This should be a serious Big Ten battle and has more on the line than in previous years where everyone knew that they were playing for 2nd place.  That makes these big meetings between teams like Hopkins, Rutgers, Ohio State and Penn State have way more on the line this year.

Both Teams Are Getting Production From Unexpected Places

For Rutgers, if you told me that Dante Kulas would be their leading scorer after 9 games, I’d have literally said… who?  But alas, the kid has 23 goals, 8 assists and currently has 2 more points than the guy I was sure would be Rutgers leading scorer, Ross Scott.

For Hopkins, it’s less about “who” is doing the scoring, and more about how well they are playing compared to my expectations.  Jacob Angelus (9g, 28a) has done an incredible job quarterbacking the Jays offense.  Garrett Degnon (25g, 2a, 38% shooting) is shooting the ball as well as anyone so far this year.  Then you’ve got Russell Melendez (16g, 9a) who has been a very pleasant surprise to me and when he’s healthy he’s been excellent both at attack and at midfield.

Both Teams Have Capable Goalies, But Who’s Will Be Hotter?

Both Tim Marcille of Hopkins and Kyle Mullin of Rutgers are solid goalies.  Marcille has a 53% save percentage thus far and Mullin is sitting at 54%.  Both keepers had absolute stinkers in their last outings.  Marcille stopped just 25% of the shots he faced against Michigan (a win for Hopkins) and Mullin only stopped 39% against Ohio State (a win for Rutgers).  So they played terrible and their teams won.

That won’t work out this time around.  I think this game could very well come down to “who’s goalie plays better”.

Faceoffs Will Be Key For Hopkins

Tyler Dunn is solid, but the duo of Jonathan Dugenio and Joe Neuman has been better overall for Rutgers.  In a game that is more than likely going to come down to the wire, draws are going to be huge and Tyler Dunn is going to need to be disruptive enough to keep things reasonable.  If Hopkins loses more than 45%, the scales will start to tip heavily in favor of Rutgers because both teams are pretty evenly matched otherwise.

#3 Notre Dame vs Syracuse

I’m going to shoot you straight on this one.  I have a bad feeling about this game.  I think I’m justified considering how poorly Syracuse has played against Notre Dame over the last 5 years.

Let’s take a look…

  • SINCE 2015: Notre Dame 7 – Syracuse 2
  • 2022:  Notre Dame won twice, 22-6 and 18-11
  • 2021:  Notre Dame won twice, 18-11 and 22-8
  • 2020:  Didn’t play
  • 2019:  Notre Dame won, 13-10
  • 2018:  Syracuse won, 10-6
  • 2017:  Syracuse won, 11-10
  • 2016:  Notre Dame won, 17-7
  • 2015:  Notre Dame won, 13-12

Syracuse has played admirably so far this season.  They’ve won the games they should have won, and the lost the games they should have lost.  The Hopkins game is the outlier there.  I think that’s the only game that you could argue Cuse “could have, and maybe should have won”.  But the rest of them have played out as expected.

Notre Dame looks better on paper in every area except in cage.  Will Mark’s 61% between the pipes is better than Liam Entenmann’s 56%.  Mark is legitimately Syracuse’s only hope on Saturday against Notre Dame.  If he doesn’t put up 18 or more saves, there is almost a 100% chance that Syracuse loses.

The Notre Dame attack is a bad matchup for the Syracuse defense.  The Cuse defense has been decimated by injuries and they are very thin.  Pat Kavanaugh has been a Cuse killer and the Orange are without their best two cover guys.  Their 3rd defender is now their 1st defender and their asking their top LSM, Saam Olexo to cover teams #1 or #2 option in settled sets.

You can get away with that against teams like Hofstra, St. Bonnies and Hobart.  But this will be Syracuse’s toughest test since Landon Clary went down against Hopkins.  So the Cuse defense is about to get their first real taste of an offense that features “legit big boys”.  Fingers crossed Will Mark stands on his head keeps things reasonable early on.

Prediction:  Notre Dame (by 5 or more)

#16 Denver vs #15 Georgetown

A really big, Big East conference matchup for each of these teams.  Each teams conference opener, they both sit at 4-3 and there is a history of them hating each other.  If this wasn’t on FloTV, it would be a great watch, alas, I already joined the “refuse to subscribe to FloTV for a full year” camp, so I won’t be watching.

But if I did, the things I’d be watching closely would be…

Alec Stathakis vs James Reilly at the Faceoff Dot

This one is important because I fully expect Stathakis to get the better of Reilly.  The question is, by how much?  Stathakis is sitting at 65% and Reilly at just 53%.  Normally I’d say that’s about even because Reilly has traditionally put up points, but that hasn’t been the case this season.  So if Stathakis wins 65% of the draws in this game, I’d say that will put Denver right about even in terms of score with the Hoyas.  So Reilly’s goal should be to tie Stathakis up, force 50/50 groundball situations and maybe put up a point or two.  If he can do that, Denver should be in this game.

Who’s Goalie Will Suck Less?

Sorry to put the negative slant on this one, but Denver has had goalie problems for the last few seasons and Georgetown a team that is normally really solid in cage is now scrambling to find someone that can hang above 50%.  So the question in this one is “who will get the better day out of their goaltender”?

I think the advantage goes to the Hoyas in the end.  They are better both offensively and defensively.  It’s the Pio’s special teams that can turn this game on its head and lift Denver to a win.

Prediction:  Georgetown (by 2 to 4 goals)

#20 Yale vs #19 Penn

What’s happened to Yale?  They picked up a solid win over Nova, dropped a tough one to Penn State and then beat UMass and Denver.  At that stage things were looking pretty good at 3-1 and their national ranking reflected that.  Two weeks later, they are 3-3 and lost their last two games by a combined score of 43 to 20.  The loss to Cornell had me thinking, OK, maybe Cornell is just that good.  The even worse loss to Princeton has me thinking, oh shit, Yale may be in trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, things haven’t been much better for Penn.  The Quakers lost 2 of their first 3 games, and have gone 2-2 since.  They managed to beat Princeton by a goal in OT thanks to Sam Handley, but they too got their asses handed to them by Cornell, albeit not as badly as Yale (a 18-12 loss).

So how do I think these guys match up?

Defensively, Edge Penn

Penn has given up fewer goals thus far (11.8 goals per game) as compared to Yale (14.6 goals per game).  Penn’s goalie Emmet Carroll (54%) has been a bit more consistent than Yale’s keep, Jared Paquette (51%).  Penn is bigger and stronger on defense overall.

Offensively, Slight Edge Yale

Yale’s top 5 scorers only slightly edge out Penn’s top 5 scorers in terms of points scored, EXCEPT, Penn has played one more game.  So while Yale is giving up more points than Penn on average, their top guys are scoring more.  What I’m trying to say is that I think Yale has more offensive depth than Penn.  Sam Handley leads Penn averaging 3.71 points per game.  Both Matt Brandau and Chris Lyons average more coming in averaging 4.5 and 4.16 respectively.

I’m hoping we see Yale bounce back.  The wounded dog usually puts up a good fight, but what happens when BOTH TEAMS ARE WOUNDED DOGS?  I’m not entirely sure.

Prediction:  Penn (by a goal, Sam Handley scores the game winner and bumps Matt Brandau off of my top 5 Tewaaraton list and firmly plants himself on my list)

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