5 & 5 – Week 2

5 & 5 – Week 2

A collection of 5 “High fives” and 5 “What the heck’s” from the prior weekend’s D1 Action.

High Fives!

1 - Bryant.  Friday night’s victory over previously ranked #15 Boston University wasn’t just a victory for the Bulldogs.  It was a butt-kicking of the guys they probably see at the beach in the summer.  Face-off’s - 18 for 22 in favor of Bryant’s Nathan Laliberte was the statistic that jumped out at any observer.  And he was dominant (note, love to see him vs MD Wierman in a playoff game….).  But the Bryant defense just bullied the Terriers all over the field, whether on 1 on 1 dodges or ground balls or clearing the ball.  BU’s wonderfully talented Louis Perfetto did all he could, but in most cases, the Terriers could not physically match the Bulldogs defenders’ size and speed.  I was most impressed with Bryant’s Alexander brothers.  Tanner led the charge on defense, clearly continuously communicating with the defenders, and on the few times when a shot was generated, goalie Teegan Alexander repeatedly stymied almost all of the Terriers' opportunities.  This is an experienced Bryant team (over 20 Grad students/Seniors) that I would not be interested in seeing during the NCAA playoffs.  Could they be the best team in the Northeast? I’d not rule them out against Yale or Cornell.  And Tuesday’s game against Harvard will help shape that debate.

2 - Goalies.  NCAA D1 goalies are a different breed.  But this weekend highlighted some great goalie play. Maryland’s Logan McNaney, Notre Dame’s Liam Entemann and Bryant’s Teegan Alexander to name 3.  In no particular order, Teegan Alexander had 13 saves and was a critical part of a defense that held Boston University to 6 goals on BU’s home field.  Against Syracuse, McNaney faced 48 shots from some of the best shooters in the college game, had 14 saves and held Syracuse to 12 goals.  He’s been averaging 13 saves per game against 3 quality opponents.  Entenmann was just stellar in Notre Dame’s first two games.  Entenmann’s size, hand quickness, and ability out of the goal (whether leading the clear, picking up ground balls or contesting a “hung” situation) is just so markedly different from other goalies.  He’s a flipping cheat code.  You could see Marquette shooters almost always check to see if there was someone else to whom they could pass for a back pipe dunk - because Entenmann was always there, squared up, and eclipsing ½ the cage against any outside shot. Good goalies stop the ball.  Great goalies stop the ball and clear well.  ELITE goalies do those two things, PLUS make shooters think twice about where they are going to shoot - and all three of these did this that weekend. NCAA lacrosse will be lesser without these three shortly as 2 of the 3 are graduate students, while Alexander is a redshirt, Junior.

3  -  Notre Dame Offense.  I’ve been suitably impressed with Duke’s attack unit (understatement much???).  And UVA’s attack is populated by one of the greatest left-handed finishers of all time and a Tewaaraton candidate, as well as the #1 recruit in the country.  Both of those team’s midfield units are strong, with UVA possibly getting a slight edge?? Maybe??  Syracuse’s collection of offensive players are some of the most skilled players I’ve ever seen as a group - but Zappitello won the matchup with their prime initiator.  Yet a strong argument can be made that Notre Dame’s entire offense is the best “offense” as a unit in the country.  Their attack - the Kavanaugh brothers and one of the most creative finishers in the game.  Their first midfield line gives defensive coordinators sleepless nights - Dobson, Faison and McLane are the best midfield line in the country - and their second line would start for many teams. I’d need to see them against suitable competition, but right now, their attack unit throw passes to places that no one else sees on offense, Faison is almost non-coverable, and Dobson is bigger/faster/stronger (and he’s distributing more now….). Then add McClane?  And oh yeah, Bryce Walker and Reilly Gray come on as second midfielders.  Good luck….

4 - Yale.  When most teams lose 2 of their starting 3 returning attackmen to injury for the opening game of the season, and those two missing attackmen are Leo Johnson and Chris Lyons, most teams lose that opening game.  But the program that Andy Shay has built is better than most teams.  Lyons and Johnson’s replacements, Carson Kuhl and David Anderson each scored 3 goals.  Matt Brandeau, who often gets lost in the discussion of great attackmen in the country simply had 2G/4A including 2 assists in a 10 second span deep in the second quarter to keep Yale ahead of a Villanova team that had clearly improved from their 8-goal drubbing at the hands of Penn State the week before. The concern of most Yale observers has been goalie play and defense.  Added to that has been the injuries to Johnson and Lyons - and one could understand why the sale of Prilosec had increased in New Haven.  But the defense played with poise and competence at the end game, earning stops on 20 of 31 possessions, and the offense was sufficient in that environment to lead the team to victory.  With all this said, Lyons and Johnson must return healthy if Yale is going to have the season that many believe is possible for the Eli.

5 - West Point.  Wow.  I was reserving judgment on this team until they played Rutgers and Syracuse.  And at least the first half of that evaluation just arrived with “Straight A’s” - in a 9-goal drubbing of Rutgers that wasn’t that close.  Part of the 16-7 win was due to Will Coletti winning 17/25 face offs.  Another part was Georgia sophomore Evan Plunkett’s six points. And a third was a trio of hat tricks by Jacob Morin (expected), Jackson Eicher (no longer a surprise after the UMass game) and Gunnar Fellow (not expected by me).  But West Point’s defense, led by Matt Chess’ eight saves and AJ Pilate holding Ross Scott to just 2 assists was the foundation upon which all else was built.  Something special is happening on the Hudson….

What the Heck’s

1 - Penn - Losing to Georgetown in their first game, when Georgetown had played (and lost) two prior games against strong opponents is not, in and of itself, sufficient to get you on the “What the Heck” list.   But a ranked team going down 0-5 in against a team that has offensive questions of its own is not a good start.  Further, Georgetown out-groundballed Penn by 12, and won 10 more face-offs than did Penn (although injuries to Penn’s top 2 Fogo’s might have had something to do with that statistic).  Penn’s Emmitt Carroll’s goalie play was inspired, and First Year Leo Hoffman showed flashes of his ability.  But the very real fact is that Sam Handley and his class are gone, and Penn - in their first game - didn’t show that their defense, offensive replacements, or offensive tactical changes, are going to make up for those losses.  Their next few games will be telling.

2 - Rutgers - Alarm bells are ringing.  Two close wins vs Lehigh and Stony Brook are followed by a 9-goal drubbing that wasn’t that close to Army.  The concerns have been clear - Shane Knobloch and Ross Scott’s scoring has decreased over the past few years - as Rutgers has graduated other strong offensive players and not replaced them with offensive players with like abilities. Second, goalie play has been average.  Third, they have turned the ball over 5 more times in 3 games than their opponents.  Fourth, they are clearing the ball at an 86.5% rate, while opponents have been clearing at a 92% rate. And finally, almost ½ of their goals are unassisted, again over 3 games.  This is not a recipe for continued success given the schedule that they play.

3 - Brown - Who is going to win their offensive matchup for Bruno?  Seriously.  A 13-7 loss to Quinnipiac is not encouraging in any way, shape or form.  And it’s not just offense - Connor Theriault had a 43% save percentage after facing too many shots where the offensive player had time and space and was in range.  Barring some dramatic changes - which can happen given it was Brown’s first game, take a look at their schedule and tell me where you see a win for them other than potentially Providence and Dartmouth.  Seriously, look at their schedule - their next 5 games are BU/Providence/Georgetown/Maryland and Penn.  Then UMass/Villanova and then into the Ivy League plus Bryant in a midweek game.  The Brown defense was young last year - and they took their lumps, hoping to see big improvement this year.  At least in the first game, that didn’t happen.  Brown is a proud program with a great coach.  They are going to need Mike Daly to perhaps do his best coaching work this year.  Or things could go very badly very fast.

4 - Syracuse Defense.  Syracuse’s offense is a wonder to behold.  Maryland may have the best defense in NCAA D1 (I think they do), and Syracuse’s offense met the challenge, even with their lead Attackman going for 1G/2A against Alex Zappitello. Yet Syracuse lost.  Will Mark had 8 saves.  And Maryland’s offense, other than Brayden Erksa, has not shown a repeatable offensive threat that makes a defense have to take such a player into account.  Maryland is showing it can score with ball movement, and credit to them for that, yet no one would look at that offense and say it’s a top 10 offense.  But Syracuse will only go so far in the national tournament if its defense radically improves.  How do you see Syracuse’s defense doing against Duke? UVA? Johns Hopkins? Army? Notre Dame? Cornell?  Denver? Princeton? Yale (when Lyons/Johnson are healthy)?  That’s my point.  Currently their best defender is Face-off Midfielder Mason Kohn who is a revelation at the face-off dot.  And maybe it will simply take time - I do think their defense looks more “in tune” than it did at any point last year.  It’s just that “in tune” is not enough to win the national championship. 

5 - Navy.  High expectations after expected wins over Mount St. Mary’s (19-6) and Hofstra (16-8) ran into a large iceberg named Towson State University and sank quickly.  This wasn’t a loss.  It was a 17-5 beat-down where Towson did what they could, and Navy suffered what they must. (extra points for naming the philosopher).  Seriously.  Look at the stats for that game. Navy turned the ball over 19 times.  Read that again…. Ok, moving on.  11 of Towson’s 17 goals were assisted (read: defensive breakdowns).  Towson had 11 more ground balls, even though Navy won 12 of 26 face offs (read “Towson>Navy in the “want to” category). Towson put 11 more shots on goal than Navy did (read: defensive breakdowns again) And Towson won by 12 goals - have I mentioned that yet?  This is the type of loss that either breaks a team or makes it.  Given the strong character of these young men, I would bet on it resulting in a rebirth of the Midshipmen - but that will only happen if they honestly and meaningfully confront this failure, and change what needs to be changed.

Back to blog