I missed Wednesday/Thursday’s show because I’m a pansy and I was sick, but I watched a ton of lacrosse over the last 5 days and I can say that I don’t recall a conference tournament season as odd as this one. The A10 Semifinals saw Saint Joseph’s (the 1-seed) get humbled in a loss. The America East Semifinals saw Vermont (the 1-seed) get bounced..The Big Ten Tournament Semifinals, the top two seeds got bounced. Michigan took down Penn State and Maryland toppled Hopkins. The Ivy League Semifinals, same crap, the top two seeds, Cornell and Penn, both lost.
If you were a team on the bubble, these games played on Thursday and Friday were your worst nightmare. For almost ever bubble team, they needed one of the favorites of the B1G and Ivy tournaments to win in order to have a shot at an at large. What they got instead was the bubble teams they were competing against for that bid won very important games and improved their resumes, bumping tournament favorites to the at large pool.
#14 Michigan – 14
#7 Maryland – 5
Michigan had already defeated Maryland by a margin earlier in the season, and I expected Maryland to come out ready to play against the Wolverines. Not so much.
Bryce Clay, Michael Boehm and Josh Zawada made sure the Terps defense knew who the big swinging dicks were. Clay put up a first-half hatrick, scoring his first two less than two minutes apart as the first quarter approached its close.
The first came with 3:53 left, Zawada found Clay sneaking up the left side, hit him and Clay wrapped one around his defender and put one into the top right corner off the deck. Very nice shot. That broke a 2-2 tie.
The second came just under a minute and a half later, Zawada was carrying the ball at X and found him alone cutting from mid to low crease. Easy finish for Clay, and that made it 4-2 Michigan.
Michigan extended their lead to 6-3, but Maryland got one back and that’s when Michael Boehm took over. His first of Michigan’s 4 goal run (his second of the game) came with 9:54 left, another Zawada feed, he hit Boehm out top with tons of room to step down and bury it bottom right on Brian Ruppel.
His third goal of the game, second of the run came just 4 seconds later off the ensuing faceoff. Justin Wietfeld won it forward on Luke Wierman, booked it up field and hit Boehm on the low left wing and Boehm put it home. That made it 8-4 Michigan.
Boehm wasn’t done, and Josh Zawada continued being Michigan’s best “sharer” as he found Boehm on the back side of the defense as he was dodging down the left side of the field. 10-4 Michigan and that was all she wrote.
Huge factor, Maryland played terrible defense off ball. Not a single Zawada assist I mentioned was a scenario where he had beaten his man on a dodge. He was often dodging, but his helpers to Clay and Boehm were all the result of their defenders getting lost on the field. Once Michigan abused them a couple of times on the crease, the Maryland defense started crashing a bit lower in back side help situations trying to protect the middle of the field, and Michigan simply started picking them apart from the outside. I presume missing Ajax Zappitello didn’t help matters at all on this front.
Credit Justin Wietfeldt and Nick Rowlett for winning 11 of 21 draws against veritable killer Luke Wierman. They’ve been surprisingly good all year and dominated Wierman in their first meeting. Wierman did a bit better in this one winning 10 of 20, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Taylor Hunter was incredible in cage for the Wolverines stopping 14 shots to just 5 goals against. The Michigan defense didn’t do anything insane on defense. They played well, didn’t get abused in 1v1 matchups and Taylor did the rest. He’s split time quite a bit this year with Shane Carr, but I’m assuming he may have won himself another full game after this performance.
#9 Denver – 5
#8 Georgetown – 14
The Big East Championship went down exactly as Georgetown wrote it up. The Hoyas jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Denver had a chance to realize the game had even started.
Nicky Solomon, the UNC transfer, went off scoring the game’s first three goals, including 3 of the games first 4 goals. The first two were easy finishes off the crease where Denver defenders simply lost track of him enough for him to get his hands free thanks to some timely feeds from Jacob Kelly and Brian Minicus. His third in a row was a step down off a dish from Graham Bundy Jr.
Solomon didn’t stop there, he went on to score 6 goals on the day, his final strike came with 10:40 left in the third quarter, another dish to the crease, this time he facedodged his way to an easier shot and that made the score 12-2, Gtown.
Like Maryland, Denver played like absolute shit on defense. Yes, the Pio’s have gotten no help from their goaltenders all season, but this was a total breakdown on defense.
Alec Stathakis did all he could for Denver, winning 14 of 21 at the dot. Stathakis has had an incredible year and is a huge reason Denver is in the hunt for an at large bid despite this loss.
Danny Hincks looked great in cage for Denver, his effort helped the Hoyas counter Stathakis’s dominance at the dot, stopping 12 of the 17 shots he faced on the day.
An interesting stat was on the groundball front, Georgetown picked up 27 groundballs to Denver’s 21 which is a rare feat when the opponents fogo messes you up. Georgetown looked more aggressive all day long all over the field, so it makes sense when you consider that, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
#11 Yale – 10
#20 Princeton – 19
Outside of Yale knotting things up at one goal each just 21 seconds into the contest (a long pole goal by Jack Stuzin after Pricneton scored 6 seconds after the opening faceoff), it was all Princeton, and goals came early and often.
Beau Pederson broke that tie just 19 seconds later via the old hidden ball trick, faked the flip, carried lightly to the right corner and let it rip from about 17 or so yards out. 2-1 Princeton.
It didn’t stop there, Yale actually won the ensuing face, but Rodriguez’s shot was saved by Gianforcaro who hit Jake Stevens going the other way, as Stevens approached the goal, his defender never closed out on him, let him get too close and Stevens scorched it passed Paquette, off stick hip, 3-1 Princeton, and at this point, four goals had been scored in the first 61 seconds of the game.
Things never improved from Yale as Princeton continued to lay it on thick through to the end of the first quarter. Sean Cameron dodged to the middle of the field, got his hands free and scored on a weak bouncer, that made it 4-1 Princeton.
Later on in the quarter, Princeton beat Yale in the sub game, Christian Ronda found Cameron open in the middle of the field and Cameron stepped down and laced it off stick hip. 5-1 Princeton.
To risk sounding like a broken record, it just kept going as Princeton stretched their lead to 7-1 off a Jake Stevens man up goal, got free on the crease and ripped it ¾ low to high, Vardaro got the assist.
It was 16-4 in favor of Princeton before Yale finally got their shit together and started actually playing some lacrosse. They closed out the third quarter with a couple of goals to get back to 16-6, and they scored the first three goals of the fourth quarter to get as close as 16-9, but Princeton answered to stop the rally, took a 17-9 lead, and that was all she wrote.
As has been the case since Michael Gianforcaro took over in cage for Princeton, the junior netminder was very good when called upon.
North Carolina – 9
Notre Dame – 18
Notre Dame beat North Carolina in their last meeting just a couple of weeks ago by a score of 16-9. This game didn’t go as well for UNC, a game that they needed to win to have any shot at an at large bid.
Pat Kavanagh scored a goal and 6 helpers, 4 groundballs and a forced turnover. He assisted the games first goal, man up, the Irish ping ponged the ball around, at one point hitting Ricciardelli on the high crease and he banged it right back out, a very basketball “high post” kind of look. It eventually came back to Ricciardelli from Pat Kavanagh and he put it on the stick side pipe of Krieg.
Pat’s 4th assist of the game went to brother Chris with 3:28 left in the third quarter, that made the score 13-4 Notre Dame. Chris finished with 5 goals and a dish off 9 shots, 2 groundballs and a also caused a turnover.
Pat picked up his fourth and fifth assists early in the fourth quarter, both to Jake Taylor, just 46 seconds apart. Taylor finished the game with 3 goals and an assist.
Notre Dame won in all but one statistical category. They lost the faceoff battle 17-14 to UNC and Andrew Tyeryar and Graham Schwartz. But beyond that, they outshot UNC by 10 shots, they put 7 more shots on cage, they had 2 more saves, 7 fewer turnovers, 10 more groundballs and went 2-for-3 on extra man opportunities while not committing a single penalty in the game.
UAlbany – 11
Bryant – 12 (OT)
The America East needed overtime to crown their champion. Bryant jumped out to a 7-3 lead on a goal by Kevin Groeninger, fed by Ryan Dobrzynski, nice little two man game from X, the coma slide went to cover Dobrzynski, he hit Groeninger, and the back side help never came down to help making it an easy dunk just above GLE up the right side.
Albany would fight back, and end up spending a bit of time late in the third quarter and fourth quarter playing with a one-goal lead. The most important one came with 2:14 left in the game with the score knotted up at 10’s. Daniel Kesselring dodged from the right wing towards GLE, drew an ill-advised slide leaving Silas Richmond wide open on the crease and the Danes went up 11-10.
Bryant needed a bit of last second magic to tie things up and force overtime. Albany won the ensuing faceoff and ran the clock right down to the wire only to see the shot glance off the top crossbar and Bryant went back up the other way. Before getting the ball settled, Bryant turned it over, but they rode hard, there was a crazy scrum, a Bulldog picked up the rock and they got a timeout with just over 30 seconds left in the game. Winning that scrum saved Bryant’s ass.
First OT, no scores. Second OT, Nathan Laliberte won the draw and Albany never got the ball back. They got a defensive stop, but turned the ball over right away, Jake Piseno was credited with forcing it. That resulted in Aidan Goltz getting a dodge up the right side from X, buried it as he got above GLE (his 42nd goal of the season) and Bryant punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament.
Kevin Groeninger had a monster day scoring 5 goals and 2 assists for Bryant. Goltz put up 2 goals including that sudden death game winner.
High Point – 8
Richmond – 15
Richmond slow burned this game to an easy win. Lance Madonna is very good at lacrosse, he put up 2 goals and 4 assists off 5 shots and the fellas all chipped in as well. Dalton Young went for 2 goals and a dish including a really nice wrap around just above GLE up the right side for a goal. The other Madonna, Derrek put up 2 goals, one of them dished by Lance. In all, 11 players put up at least a point for the Spiders.
Zach Vigue had a great day in cage for Richmond stopping 15 shots to just 8 goals against. He had 9 stops in the first half, and 5 more in the fourth quarter as High Point was getting desperate and trying to claw back into it.
Richmond pulled all of the above off despite losing 17 of 25 faceoffs. Collin Hoben hauled in 16 of 21 for High Point, but 20 turnovers (7 of them forced by Richmond) evened out that possession disparity. Tommy Stull and Jack Pilling each forced 2 of those turnovers.
Siena – 7
Marist – 12
Jojo Pirreca gave Marist an early 2-1 lead involving some BTB action on a quick feed from Joshua Balcarcel.
Sienna started the second quarter with the ball and a man up, with the scored tied at 2’s. Christian Watts got the ball on the right wing and absolutely stung the top right corner. A filthy stick. Big ego boost for that kid.
Marist went on a 5 goal run from there and took a 7-3 lead with 1:20 left in the half, Sam Ferrel, unassisted, a kind of ridiculous dodge that started out by midfield and he slow rolled it down the left side of the field, his shorty was playing soft and allowed him to the 5×5 region and he stuck it. Poor defensive effort.
Sienna would get two back quickly but Marist would go on another 5 goal run and take a 12-5 lead. That completed a 10-2 run that spanned early in the second quarter, to late in the fourth.
Kyle Stofko forced 3 turnovers and picked up 8 groundballs. Daniel O’Meara stopped 12 shots and just 7 goals against.
Loyola – 8
#12 Army – 10
Army jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to have Loyola answer and knot things up at 3’s about 5 minutes into the second quarter.
Jadob Morin started a 6-goal Army run scoring with 9 minutes left in the second quarter on a dish from Ryan Sposito and about 15 minutes later, Paul Johnson scored on a feed from Andrew Kelly capping the run and giving Army a 9-3 lead with 9:40 to play in the third quarter.
Loyola would go on to score 5 of the next 6 goals to finish of the game and make the score respectable, but Army controlled and the outcome wasn’t really in question.
Will Coletti dominated the dot for Army winning a monster 18 of 22 on the day. Throw in Knox Dent having a great day in cage stopping 14 of the 22 shots he faced and it made for a frustrating day for the Greyhounds.
Air Force – 9
#19 Utah – 11
Air Force started strong taking a 4-2 lead after Josh Yago scored on a dish from Brandon Dodd, Dodd saw the double, hit Yagowho was fading at X and Yago was able to sprint up the left side, beat and bury it.
But Utah scored 7 out of the next 8 goals, with Jared Andreala scoring with 12:05 left in the third quarter giving Utah a 6-5 lead that they would extend to 9-5 and they’d never look back from there.
Air Force couldn’t win a faceoff to save their life as Cole Brams dominated the dot going for 21 of 23.
Stony Brook – 10
Delaware – 13
Things went according to plan for Delaware against Stony Brooke on Saturday in the CAA Championship game. They held a 7-5 lead at the half and outscored the Seawolves 3-1 over the third quarter to give themselves a 4-goal cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
It was 13-8 Blue Hens before Stony Brook rattled off 3 straight goals to finish the game, but it didn’t matter and Delaware will once again take the CAA’s AQ.
JP Ward (4g, 2a), Tye Kurtz (2g, 2a) and Mike Robionson (2g, 1a) combined for 13 points.
Stony Brook dominated the faceoff dot winning 19 of 26 on the day, with Renz Conlon winning 17 of 20 himself.
Delaware needed Matt Kilkeary’s 14 saves to help offset that a bit. The job was completed by a Blue Hen’s defense that forced 11 turnovers on the day. Tate Wasson (3 caused turnovers), Kevin Lynch and Joe Speers (2 caused turnovers each) teamed up to force 7 of them.
Listen to the audio version…