College lacrosse will have a new #1 on Monday as #3 Virginia upended Notre Dame’s hopes of holding the top spot beyond this weekend by defeating the Irish on the road, 15-10. Connor Shellenberger tore up Notre Dame for 2 goals and 5 assists and teammate Xander Dickson chipped in 6 goals and a dish as well.  Maryland probably hang somewhere between #2 and #3  thanks to a win over #10 Penn State.

We’ll also dive into #8 Johns Hopkins win over conference rival Michigan, #4 Duke handled Saint Joseph’s on the road thanks to a solid days from Brennan O’Neill and Jake Naso, #16 Georgetown snagged their 4th consecutive win this season against Lehigh, Syracuse took down Hobart in the Dome and we’ll talk about a lot more beyond.

#3 Virginia – 15
#1 Notre Dame – 10

The battle between #1 Notre Dame and #3 Virginia started well for Notre Dame as Chris Kavanaugh struck first giving the Irish a 1-0 lead just 2 minutes and 50 seconds into the game on a dish from brother Pat.  A filthy low to high right snipe from about 11 yards or so out with an insane release. He received the pass, loaded up and unleashed hell all in a single motion.

The celebration was short lived as UVA rattled off the next 5 goals of the game and held a 5-1 lead by the end of the 1st quarter.  That run started with Connor Shellenberger losing Chris Fake at X with a quick change of direction for a nearly uncontested goal as he got just an inch or two above GLE.

That run ended with Xander Dickson burning an easy quick stick after Shellenberger found him on the backside pipe.  Cavs were feeling good at this point, wheeling and dealing on both ends of the field.

Notre Dame did go on a bit of a run of their own getting back to within 2 goals before the end of the half, and scoring the first 2 goals of the 3rd quarter to knot things up at 7’s.  This time it was Pat Kavanaugh letting one rip from distance on a dish from Eric Dobson.

But alas, it was Virginia’s day as the Cavs answered with another haymaker of a run scoring the games next 4 goals in under 5 minutes.  Peter Garno picked up the first goal of that run, unassisted and Xander Dickson capped the run on yet another feed from Connor Shellenberger and UVA rolled from there.

A Huge factor in this game was how Shellenberger and Dickson tore up the Notre Dame defense.  Fake seemed to be the primary guy guarding Shellenberger and I saw Chris Conlin on Dickson and between Shellenberger keeping Fake off his body so his hands were free to feed and Dickson totally flummoxing Conlin and the Irish defense off ball.  It was a shit show.

UVA scored quite a few “easy off ball goals” that are anything but easy to pull off, but the way Dickson and Cormier got open for dunks, the film session today for Notre Dame isn’t going to be fun.

Virginia’s defense held Notre Dame to their lowest scoring output of the season and caused 10 turnovers in that process, many of them in the riding game.  Matthew Nunes factored heavily in that success making 14 saves (58.3%).  Quentin Matsui and Mitchell Whalen combined for 5 caused turnovers as the UVA defense was aggressive all day and made it very difficult for Notre Dame to settle into any rhythm.

Key for Virginia was the size and range of their defenders. Cade Saustad (standing 6’5”) did an incredible job of staying on Pat Kavanaugh’s hands. Even when it appeared Kavanaugh had a step, Saustad was able to recover. This held true across the board for Virginia.  The pestered Notre Dame all over the field in a way no one else has so far this season.  Virginia’s defense played like the old Louisville basketball teams that put a premium on “getting your hands and feet on the ball while on defense”.  Make everything difficult.  UVA’s sticks were in every passing lane, they played superb help defense where necessary and did a great job covering the backside not giving guys like Eric Dobson room to get open and relieve dodgers with his cannon.

Even when the Irish were able to get shots off, Nunes was there to save the day.  He’s played well against Notre Dame over their last couple of meetings.

For me, UVA will get the #1 vote when I turn my poll in later today.  Notre Dame will get my #2 and Maryland my #3.  UVA proved that Maryland is a matchup problem for them, and we saw that Virginia is equally as bad of a matchup problem for Notre Dame.

#10 Penn State – 10
#2 Maryland – 13

Penn State held up well over the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but it was the slight edge Maryland picked up in the 1st and 4th that decided this game and gave the Terps a 13-10 win at home.

Penn State took a 3-2 lead with 2:07 left in the 1st quarter off a Traynor to Traynor goal, Matt feeding brother Jack.

Maryland would answer in a big way with a 6 goal run, first goal by Eric Spanos, unassisted and capped by Eric Kolar on a dish from Daniel Maltz that proved that it doesn’t matter who Maryland has on offense.  They can run their offense with long poles and defensive midfielders on the field and still score a goal in a settled set.

Player of the game for Maryland as is the case quite often, Luke Wierman.  On a day that the Terps freshman netminder looked average (he looked anything but average in the Terps win over Virginia), Luke Wierman made sure that Maryland won the possession battle in a close game.

When Maryland was down 3-2 in the 1st quarter, it was Wierman that won the games next 3 faceoffs and each of those possessions resulted in a Maryland goal. After a rougher than average 3rd quarter that allowed Penn State to get back in it, Wierman again went on a tear winning 3 of 4 draws in the 4th quarter and those extra possessions helped Maryland keep their lead and in turn pick up the W.

Those extra possessions are hugely important for the Terps as their offense isn’t nearly as efficient as it was a season ago.  Maryland had 15 turnovers to Penn State’s 11 but that was about the only state that Penn State won as the Terps outshot, out groundballed and outfinished their Big Ten rival en route to the 3-goal win.

Another thing that has proven interesting for this Maryland team is that they are living by this “positionless, sharing is caring” kind of offensive scheme that is allowing them to have a great deal of success this year despite losing almost all of their leading scorers from a season ago.  It doesn’t matter who they roll out on the field.  Guys like Jack Koras, Eric Kolar, Owen Murphy and Braden Erksa are all taking turns getting shit done on offense.  It’s impressive as hell.

#8 Johns Hopkins – 15
Michigan – 11

Michigan came to play on Saturday night against Hopkins but all of their hard work got undone by a solid Hopkins 4th quarter.

Michigan took a 9-8 lead with 6:50 left in the 3rd off a Jake Bonomi snipe that beat whichever Hopkins keeper was in at that point (Marcille and Caracciolo split time) stick side high, but via perfect placement in the corner and with some heat on it.  Beautiful shot.

But Brendan Grimes would both start and finish a 4 goal Hopkins run, scoring his first of the run unassisted, nice dodge across the top of the field, and his second was an outside snipe that made its way through traffic to the back of the net off a Russell Melendez feed.  That made the score 12-9 and Hopkins would roll from there.

The Jay’s had a rough day at the faceoff dot losing that battle 19-11.  But they picked up 7 more gbs than Michigan, forced Michigan into 20 turnovers including just 12 of 19 clearing and those extra possessions were enough to allow Hop to get control of the game over the final 3rd of the contest.

Scoring was ver lopsided for Hopkins with Melendez going for 4 goals and 3 assists, Garrett Degnon put up 5 goals and Brendan Grimes scored 4 and dished 1.  Penn State had a very hard time with those 3 guys as was evidenced by their output.

Credit the Hopkins defense for forcing two of Michigan’s top 3 scorers into 3 turnovers each (Zawada & Cohen).

#4 Duke – 12
Saint Joseph’s – 9

Saint Joseph’s did an admirable job not getting roasted by a hot Duke offense in this one, but Duke still controlled the game throughout and the outcome wasn’t really in question.

Brennan O’Neill paced all scorers with 3 goals and 3 helpers (2 & 3 in the first half) and teammate Andrew McAdorey put up 2 goals and a dish in the win. 

Jake Naso was his typical self, winning 15 of 24 at the dot and scoring a goal.  Naso is 8th in the country in faceoff win percentage (.656) but he also has 4 goals and 2 assists on the year with 87 gbs and only 9 turnovers.  He’s having a top-3 year at the moment in my opinion playing on the biggest stage.

EVEN BETTER, he played against Zach Cole on Saturday who is 5th in the nation with a .696 winning percentage at the dot.  Cole is widely considered one of the best 3 in the nation in terms of “winning draws against solid competition”, but guys like Naso and Wierman provide utility beyond winning draws which makes me dig their game a ton.

Wilson Stephenson forced 3 turnovers and picked up 6 gbs for the Blue Devils.  Kenny Brower, Jack Gray and Tyler Carpenter all forced 2 each.  So not only did Duke win the possession battle at the dot, but they also took the ball away from Levi Anderson, Tucker Brown and company quite a bit.

Carter Page put up 6 goals for Saint Joseph’s, their offense doing all it could to keep them in it, especially after Duke ran a way for a bit.  But it wasn’t enough.  Duke’s offense is too good, especially when your all american faceoff guy is losing to the other guy and their defense is good enough to make sure certain guys don’t eat as was evidenced by no one else on the Hawks squad putting up more than 2 points.

Lehigh – 15
#16 Georgetown – 17

Lehigh was able to give the Hoyas some issues in the first half, but by the time Georgetown settled down and got their shit together, they were able to gain control in the 3rd quarter and hold off a late game rally by Lehigh in the 4th to secure themselves a 17-15 victory.

Tucker Dordevic had the hot hand scoring 6 goals on the day off 13 shots. He was consistent with the pace of his scoring, 3 goals in the first half, 3 goals in the second.

The Hoya’s man up offense was 3 of 4 while their man down unit held Lehigh to 1 of 3.

The Georgetown defense poked and prodded Lehigh into 25 turnovers on the day and they only cleared the ball successfully on 15 of 21 attempts.  That’s not good enough in a close game. Dylan Hess forced 3 caused turnovers, picked up a gb and had a goal.  4 Hoyas forced 2 turnovers including Wallace Halpert, James Donaldson, Will Tominovich and Jacob Kelly.  Total team effort on defense.

After starting 0-3 with losses to Hopkins, Penn and Notre Dame, Georgetown has now won 4 straight with wins over Princeton, Richmond, High Point and Lehigh.  They face Denver next at home and that game is badly needed by both teams to boost their tournament resume because neither looks like a lock to win their conferences automatic bid.

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