What a weekend of high quality college lacrosse. We had some close games, no absolute blowouts and the stage is set for Memorial Day Weekend which for lacrosse fans has become one of the most holy holiday weekends of the year.  We’re going to talk about Virginia’s win over Georgetown, Duke’s win over Michigan, Penn State’s win over Army as well as Notre Dame’s win over Johns Hopkins. But we’ll also dive into the DII and DIII semifinal games played this weekend that saw Mercyhurst upset Lemoyne and Lenoir-Rhyne take out Limestone. In DIII action I watched Tufts take down RIT and Salisbury defeat Christopher Newport.

Georgetown – 14
Virginia – 17

By far the better of the two games played on Saturday, Georgetown was good, but just not good enough as Virginia both flexed on and checked the Hoyas throughout.

The story of this game early was Connor Shellenberger.  Technically he was the story through the entire game, but he scored the first goal of the game just 7 seconds in, Petey, pinched, popped and partied his way into a fast break and hit Shellenberger on the point for an easy quick strike.

Petey won the ensuing faceoff, once again forward, hit Shellenberger on the point and Shelly busted a hitch to the inside and scored low.  Virginia was up 2-0 just 16 seconds into the game.

The Hoyas would score 2 of the next 3 goals and get back to within 3-2, a nice split dodge from the top middle down the left, let it go sidearm and Nunes was screened by a couple of guys.

I think the most important sequence of this game hit with about 11:45 left in the game, Dickson had his man hung up, Pete ran underneath him and Rielly went after Dickson with a moronic check, lost his stick, Dickson hit Petey who slipped upfield and he busted a roll-dodge on a long pole and buried it. Beautiful goal by LaSalla.

He won the next faceoff, at this point Petey was having a game, a goal, an assist and a handful of faceoffs won.

Shellenberger scored his third goal of the game with 10:55 left in the first quarter, another catch on the right wing, quick hitch to get clear of his defender who overpersued and another easy score with his hands free.  This made it 5-2 Virginia just 4 minutes and 5 seconds into the game.

As was the case with Delaware and Georgetown a year ago when Delaware got out ahead of the Hoyas early and that quick start proved the difference maker, history repeated itself here.

From here, Georgetown proved they deserved the stage. Brian Minicus scored tied the game up at 10’s with 12:25 to play in the third. He rolled on Cole Kastner at X, got maybe half a step, but wrapped it around him as he got above GLE, a beautiful goal.

Shellenberger caught a shorty matchup on the wing, zig zagged his hands free and stuck it lefty to take the lead back.  Georgetown’s first tie of the game lasted 7 seconds at 0-0.  Their second tie of the game lasted 51 seconds.

Nicky Solomon scorched one past Matthew Nunes’ right temple knotting things back up at 11’s. At first I thought Nunes may have wanted that one back, but the reply shows it was just smoke that Nunes didn’t have proper time to react to.

Virginia didn’t want the Hoyas to get too full of themselves so 53 seconds later, Thomas McConvey got a step on his man dodging from the left wing down towards GLE, Shellenberger faded his man, received the outlet from McConvey and hit a cutting Payton Cormier for an easy dunk with 8:54 left in the 3rd.

That was the last time the Hoyas would threaten the Cavs.  Shellenberger would go on to find Peter Garno for a strike that made it 15-11 UVA.  After Dordevic got one back for Gtown to make it 15-12, Shellenberger would score a goal, and then dish to Dickson giving UVA a 17-12 advantage.  Every time the Hoyas did anything remotely good, Shellenberger and the Cavs were there to crush their spirits and their dreams.

In the end, James Reilly didn’t have that rough of an outing in terms of winning draws.  Reilly finished the game winning 16 of 32 and Petey won 17 of 34.  Both were at 50%.  The difference was Petey generated offense both directly and indirectly.  UVA’s first two goals were technically assisted by LaSalla despite the fact he was only credited with an assist on the first goal. Shellenberger’s hitch to the inside negated an assist.

His heads up play on Shellenberger’s 6th goal of the game saved that play, Petey picked up the GB with pressure on his back and he flipped the ball BTB to Noah Chizmar who initiated the break and hit Shellenberger on the point.  That was an absolute back-breaker for Georgetown.

Shellenberger was aggressive and it payed off in spades as he finished the game with 6 goals and 4 assists off 8 shots with a gb.  A huge statline that he couldn’t have equalled without the help he got from his teammates.  Shellenberger when healthy is as good as anyone in the country, but UVA shared the ball well and many of Shellenberger’s points were situations created by others winning matchups. I just want to be clear that while #1 had himself a monster game, the entire UVA team should be getting credit as their play as a team made life way easier for Shellenberger who was more than up to the challenge now that he has no hitch in his giddyup.

The long pole trio of cole Kastner (4 caused turnovers, 3gbs), Case Saustad (2 caused turnovers, 3gbs) and Scott Bower (2 caused turnovers, 2gbs) made life difficult for the Hoyas. They are long, strong and down to beat people up.

Nunes was on and off on the day, but ended up stopping 50% of the shots he faced, 14 saves vs 14 goals against.

Bottom line, Virginia was the better team, but Georegtown has nothing to be ashamed of. They did battle and this loss was more about how damn good this Virginia team can be when everyone is healthy.

I called this one, I said Virginia by 1 to 3 goals.  The Hoyas lost me my 2-game parlay for Saturday by scoring that goal late to get to within 3.  It made my prediction here right, but it lost me a bet as I had UVA covering at -3.5.

Michigan – 8
Duke – 15

By the end of this game, we realized that the guys left playing in this tournament that are Tewaaraton finalists are really good at playing lacrosse.

I said that I didn’t think Darby was going to have a whole lot of fun guarding O’Neill on Saturday and that proved true.  O’Neill scored the first goal of the game on a very physical inside roll on the left side of the field around GLE, O’Neill bullied Darby a bit and was able to drop it around Hunter Taylor.

He scored less than a minute later, a clear attempt for Michigan went south, O’neill picked the ball up off the deck, busted his ass upfield and buried it high to low giving Duke a 2-0 lead.

Bryce Clay tied the score up 2 each with 2:41 left in the first quarter, a man up goal dished by Josh Zawada, Clay lost his man on the crease just enough to get his hands free and busted out the twister.

Just like the prior game, a 3-goal run from Duke put this game out of reach in terms of the macro environment and it was Duke’s three killers that played the role of market makers.

Duke defensive midfielder Aiden Maguire stripped Jackson and busted upfield, hit O’Neill on the point who banged the ball down to Williams for the low angle finish about 7 or 8 yards off crease.  3-2 duke.

O’Neill would dodge from the top left corner into the middle of the field, got a step or two, ran through a limp dicked attempt to double-team him and scored another high to low, on the run, nailing the bottom right region of the net.  4-2 Duke.

Andrew McAdorey dodged down the left alley, got underneath his man at GLE and dove to the front of the cage while burying. 5-2 Duke.

Josh Zawada would get one back, cutting from the mid to low crease on a man up play with 8:23 left in the second quarter. 5-3 Duke.

Brennan O’Neill scored off a quick dodge with 4:06 left in the half, a quick dodge down the right alley and scored it right handed on the run. 6-3 Duke.

Jake Naso’s wings won the ensuing faceoff for Duke, the ball ended up in Will Frisoli’s stick, he hit McAdorey on the point and McAdorey stepped down and wrapped one around the approaching Michigan defender, perfect screen, scored low and right. 7-3 Duke.

That’s how this game went all day.  Duke got a lead, Michigan would score a goal and pray for some balls to bounce their way, and said balls never did.

O’Neill finished the game with 6 goals and a dish, a caused turnover and 3 groundballs.  Andrew McAdorey and Dyson Williams both put up hatricks.

As a team, Duke took 36 shots and scored 15 goals.  They put 25 of those shots on cage. Hunter Taylor, Michigan’s young goalie that just earned himself the starting spot after a few very good games in the Big Ten tournament, he had his hands full.  He stopped just 8 shots and gave up 15 goals, but I applaud the Michigan coaching staff for not benching him.  It wouldn’t have mattered who was in cage on Saturday.  Brennan O’Neill was a man among boys and the Michigan defense was on its heels much of the day.

Kenny Brower forced 4 turnovers and picked up 3 groundballs for the Blue Devils.  Tyler Carpenter forced 2 turnovers and picked up 5 gbs.

Jake Naso did just enough at the faceoff dot for Duke winning 14 of 27 against the duo of Justin Wietfeld and Nick Rowlett.  Rowlett only won 1 of 7, and Wietfeldt ended up getting the bulk of the draws as he had the hotter hand winning 12 of 20.  But Naso won the day overall.

Duke played physical on defense, they had 6 penalties and Michigan went 3 of 6 on the extra man.  Coach D. will want to make sure they don’t commit 6 penalties next weekend as the teams left will be far less forgiving.

Will Helm was excellent in cage, 14 saves vs 8 goals against through 57 minutes of play.  I have to credit both him and the Duke defense for quieting a hot Michigan offense. The poles beat on their attack and Helm defended their six admirably.

Another game I’m going to say I nailed.  I predicted 4 to 6 goals, but I was admittedly trying to be nice and not anger the very excited Michigan fanbase.

Penn State – 10
Army – 9

This game had an odd feel.  Army jumped out to a 2-0 lead after Gunnar Fellows and Jacob Morin each scored, both unassisted.

But Penn State would take over for a while scoring the games next 6 goals and 9 out of the next 11 goals overall.  By the end of that run the Nittany Lions held a 8-3 lead. TJ Malone scored 4 goals over that stretch including the first goal of the run as well as the last two goals of the run.

Army recovered and scored 4 of the next 5 goals capped by a goal that saw Jacob Morin put some absolute smoke past Fracyon, 9-7 Penn State.

Kevin Winkoff, the Binghamton transfer has come up big in some key moments for Penn State this season and he did so again with 7:38 left in the game, an absolutely filthy rip, on the run from the corner down into the middle of the field.  This kid shoots on the run as well as anyone in the country and was a huge get for Tambroni.  That made it 10-7.

Army would fight back and get back to within a goal after Finn McCullough scored up the right side from X, used his body to get his hands free and put it high and right past Fracyon.

Penn State’s defense would come up huge down the stretch.  They would force a shot clock violation on Army with 2:11 left in the game. Army couldn’t hit the cage over the course of that possession, but credit Penn State for getting on shooters hands on every look they gave up.

Army would end up man up with about 40 seconds left in the game and failed to get a shot off until just after the buzzer sounded. It was a terrible man up possession, they had no flow, Penn State forced them to take more time than it should have to get the ball around to the right wing and Morin stumbled by the end of the play into the scrum and late shot that was a no go.

Jack Fracyon was a huge factor in this win for Penn State.  His 11 saves were huge, especially after he had given up 2 early goals to Army and only made 2 saves in the first quarter. He had 7 saves in the second half as Army scrambled to get back into the game. His effort can’t be played up enough.

 I bet the Penn State coaching staff isn’t too mad at Chase Mullins for going 9 of 23 at the dot against Will Coletti.  Coletti did win the battle, 14 of 23 overall, with a goal as a kick in the nuts, but Mullins did just enough to keep things reasonable. Penn State’s defense did the rest. They played well.  They didn’t take the ball away or do anything flashy.  But they got on the hands of Army shooters, they scrapped for loose balls and so on.

Johns Hopkins – 9
Notre Dame – 12

This game was solid through most of it, although I always had a feeling that Notre Dame was eventually going to get ahead by enough that it wouldn’t scare them by the end.

Russell Melendenz dodged through X, up around the right and buried it stick side low on Liam Entenmann making it 4-up just a minute into the second quarter.

Notre Dame would go on a 3-goal run started by Chris Kvanagh, he got lost out top as Jack Simmons was dodging up the left side from X. Simmons hit him with time for Kavanagh to step down into it and he scorched it past Tim Marcille stickside high. 5-4 Notre Dame.

After Notre Dame forced a turnover on a Hopkins clear, Eric Dobson dodged into the middle of the field and ripped one stickside high on Marcille.  6-4 Notre Dame.

Pat Kavanagh would dodge up the right side from X and after a quick spin to add a little flash, he’d hit Simmons on the crease, Simmons put it low and right, completely out of Marcille’s reach and the score was now 7-4 Notre Dame.

Hopkins would get two goals back, Collison would score the Jay’s 6th goal of the game, a dodge up the left side, well covered, he just shot and scored anyway and the score was 7-6 in favor of the Irish.

But a 4-goal run out of Notre Dame would spell doom for Hopkins.  Jake Taylor made it 6-8 Irish on a quick-stick from the high crease and Jalen Seymour would make it 11-6 Notre Dame after a nice dodge into the middle of the field, a lefty snipe on the run.

Hopkins would never sniff victory again.

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