5 & 5 - Week 3

5 & 5 - Week 3

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

High Fives!

1 - Georgetown - Congratulations to the Hoyas exceptional win at Notre Dame. But a great performance by their young defense/goalie would have gone to waste except for the play of Aidan Carroll.  Remember - in Week 1’s “5 X 5”, I took Georgetown to task for not having an attacker that could win his matchup.  Specifically, I wrote, “And Georgetown’s lead Attack was being covered by a SSDM for most of the game.  I think that says enough on this point with respect to Georgetown.”  Well…. It seems like Georgetown feels similarly.  TJ Haley, while winning his matchup once, is still primarily a brilliant ball distributor (1G/3A). And Bundy demonstrated his elite outside shot (2G/1A).  But when Georgetown needed a goal - of the “had to have it now” type, they gave the ball to Aidan Carrol and asked him to beat his defender for the 3rd time in crunch time.  Carroll obliged, dodging past his defender, planting his feet, and getting off an off-hip shot before the slide arrived to win the game - HC Kevin Warne’s 100th victory - and his 3rd goal of the game (all in the 4th quarter or OT).   Athletes with the ability to create their own shot - especially at the highest levels of play - are still essential to winning big games.  And yes, I’ll die on this hill.

2 - Towson - Very quietly, the Tigers should be making the rest of the CAA very concerned.  After a tough loss to a very strong Johns Hopkins squad in a midweek game, they’ve stacked 3 convincing wins together - 15-5 vs Mt St. Mary’s; 17-5 vs Navy; and 15-7 vs St. Joseph's.  And none of those 3 games were close in any way/shape/form.  Historically, Towson has a formidable defense, and has been inconsistent on offense.  And that appears to have changed.  Nick DeMaio leads the team with 18 points.  DeMaio’s left hand balances the field, and he passes and shoots with the same technical supremacy and flair.  Mikey Weisshaar is an explosive dodger with 17 points - he’s eating the opponent’s “#2” pole for a snack.  But what completes the unit is Joaquin Villagomez as the third attackman with 12 points. This 6’ 6’ attackman is only a sophomore and is just continually gaining confidence as the season has progressed.  Very soon, defenses are going to realize that this attack unit may be sufficient to bring a CAA crown to the Tigers.  I’m circling the Towson/Delaware and Towson/Drexel games as “Must Watch” games.

3 - Harvard - Down 8-1 in the second period to a confident and innovative Bucknell squad, coming after a meat-grinder of a mid-week game (and victory) against a possible tournament team in Bryant, is not a combination that yields an expectation of victory.  Especially at a neutral site.  Yet the Crimson rallied, holding the Bison to 4 more goals in the entire game, and scoring 7 in the pivotal 4th quarter.  While Sam King did alot of the work, it was sophomore Teddy Malone, with 3 goals in the 4th quarter, that brought happiness to the Crimson.  Malone is a powerful, yet shifty, left-handed slasher.  If you have instagram, check out his hard drive above the cage with stick in his right hand, a subsequent hockey stop that makes his defender touch earth, and then his calmly switch back to his left and hammer a low to high over the Bison goalie’s head. Early results suggest this team understood it underperformed last year and will not tolerate that this year.

4 - Providence. Rhode Island, from a men’s lacrosse perspective, has historically belonged to Brown.  And Providence’s team bore the brunt of that that dominance - from 1999 to 2024 - Brown won 20 of 23 games vs Providence (and that includes last Saturday’s game). So when Brown went up 2 goals, with 90 seconds left, history would have said that the game was over.  But it was not.  Coach Benson’s Friars put the ball into the hands of Senior Michael Chabra who scored his third and fourth goal in the last minute of the game on two.  Lefty Jack Horrigan scored the winner off a Ryan Bell feed (his 5th assist of the day) early in OT to win the game.  Coaches speak about “culture” all the time - and especially when they come into a team that has historically lost a lot of games.  And they are correct - building the belief in the players that things are now different, as opposed to what happened before, is key to changing how athletes prepare for the season/individual games, and that gives your team a chance.  It’s also incredibly hard to do.  And that’s even more the case after a severe loss (like Providence experienced against Harvard last week).  So don’t overlook what’s happening at Providence. This is a significant win and shows the impact that a great coach can have on a moribund program (See Coach Wolf’s impact on NJIT also! And cross reference Publius’ prediction that they’d be 7-0 before entering their AE schedule).  Coaches Matter.  Period.

5 - ESPN+. Yes, the quality of the announcing varies. Yes, the number of camera angles varies.  But in our numerous decades of involvement with lacrosse NEVER has there been more lacrosse available for fans to view.  Seriously, it’s great. Thank you to ESPN+, and we appreciate that they are not FloSports.  Now if we can just work with the Athletic Directors to approve 4 distinct start times on Saturday - 12/2/4 and one slot at 7pm - we could then all watch more games live!!!!

What The Heck’s

1 - Navy.  Dear Old Goats:  It’s time to seriously consider a change.  I get it, we don’t judge a new coach until he gets his first class through the school.  And Coach Amplo certainly started during Covid and all that it entailed for the next 24 months after that start date.  So, he should probably be judged after the 2025 season - not now.  But the statistics are brutal right now - last 2 games were losses by 10 and 12 goals. And they were not playing Duke/UVA/ND.  Rather they were playing Towson (which is not a slouch) and Penn State, who despite the loss to Colgate, is still a top 15 team. Yet Penn State was without 2 starters at Defense. Navy only scored 5 goals against Towson and 3 against Penn State.  No starter scored a goal against Penn State. Last year in 2023, the last two losses in the season were each by 5 goals, and that was AFTER a 6-game losing streak. None of this suggests a positive trend.  The post Penn State game press conference was put up on YouTube.  Listen to it.  Watch the faces of the players.  Navy should be a premier program.  Army is doing it without Canadians, NIL or 5th year transfers.  Navy has a nicer climate, a great campus and is right in a hotbed.  The education is free.  No reason to not be successful.  None.  Yes, the schedule will provide opportunities for wins (Holy Cross/Lafayette/ and maybe Bucknell? Maybe not?). But I’ll be shocked if this team has a winning record at the end of the year.  And deep inside, Old Goats, you have the same fear.  Let the season play out.  But if in the last press conference, if the players have that 100-yard stare, you may want to consider a change….

2 - Brown.  Remember one of the principles of these articles.  Every successful team has party starters.  Usually, 2.  And those dodgers force defenses to move. And that movement opens up opportunities for assisted goals and feet-set step downs from a reasonable distance.  And this results in a positive shooting percentage.  Brown has no such dodgers currently playing.  Thus, not surprisingly their team shooting percentage is below the 50th ranked team (Bellermine is at .257) - Brown is at .222. For comparison, Duke was at .432.  Cornell at .332 when I checked.  Coach Daly’s record is 43-43 last I checked.  When everyone is running a high tempo offense because the shot clock requires it, perhaps the offense needs to adjust because your organizing principle on offense (play fast) is no longer an outlier, and you’re not doing it with elite athletes that can win a matchup quickly.  Brown will be favored in one of their remaining games (vs Dartmouth) this season, maybe 2 if UMass fades.  This could get very ugly very, very quickly with games coming up against Georgetown and Maryland.

3 - Ohio State’s Offense.  Yes, they are 4-1.  TOSU’s defense has been elite and is deserving of accolades.  We actually love the way that Ohio State recruits at defense, and really appreciate their style of play in games.  Caleb Frylock has been great in cage for a first year. In fact, if you look at the 4 wins, they’ve all been led by the defense.  Average teams struggle to score on their defense, unless (like Utah did for ⅓ of the game), the opponent plays at a very high pace.  But TOSU only scored 10 against Bellermine, 13 vs Cleveland State, 11 vs Utah and 12 vs Air Force.  None of those results inspire confidence.  TOSU has athletes.  They just appear to not be on the same page.  There is no “flow” to what they do so far.  It’s still early. We’ve just seen 5 games from them.  But the 8 goals against UVA will not get it done if TOSU wants to reach what I assume are goals such as winning a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament.

4 - Loyola.  After a great initial win against Georgetown, the Greyhounds have pulled up lame, losing their next 3 to 3 BigX teams - and none of those were close games. Their game on Tuesday against Towson will be telling.  None of the Loyola offensive players are regularly winning their matchups against defenders - all of whom appear to be bigger/faster/stronger.  Only 3 players have scored in those 3 BigX games.  And where, against Georgetown, high shooting percentages against a first-year goalie playing in his first game was sufficient to bring home a win, that has not been duplicated. Loyola’s face off unit is struggling. In contrast, Goalie Staudt is routinely making stops that not many goalies make.  What’s the solution?  Finding middies that can win battles and force rotations that can get the ball into the Attack’s sticks to allow them to do their job (maybe move Poitras to Midfield?).  Until that happens, more of the same will result vs elite teams.

5 - Non-standardization of Replay availability.  Not having replay available probably resulted in Albany losing to Drexel.  Read that again.  Drexel did not have replay available at the facility. So, no replay was done.  And if it had, Albany’s goal would have counted - go look on social media - it’s there.  In contrast, Loyola benefitted dramatically from Replay being available at its facility in their game vs Georgetown.  The BigX is not requiring replay for BigX games. But it will be available for ACC games.  Consistency matters - unless all teams are playing under the same rules, it’s quite difficult to assess the impact of any one win or loss, especially if replay (or the absence of replay) impacted the result. Can’t we all play under one set of rules?

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