Week Six: 3 Games to Watch
Lot’s of craziness to unpack. First, welcome back to Logical Lacrosse. You may have noticed I skipped week five (for games to watch). After midterms, I flew back home to Colorado. With a few days off, I took time to relax and unwind. That is all. I don’t have Coronavirus. Articles are resuming as normal.
Initially, week six was loaded. Yale visited Cornell. Pennsylvania played Princeton. The Ivy League, college lacrosse’s best conference, was primed for a massive week. That isn’t happening. Unfortunately, Ivy League presidents decided to cancel all 2020 spring sports. Thanks Coronavirus. The storied careers of TD Ierlan, Jett Teat, and Michael Sowers ended unceremoniously. Next time you see them, they’ll be wearing PLL jerseys. 2020 won’t be the same without three top five programs. Bad news aside, there’s still action approaching. Teams originally eliminated from playoff consideration have second life. Here are my three games to watch.
Utah at #16 Massachusetts *Friday 3 ET*
Coronavirus strikes again! Originally scheduled for Saturday at 1 ET, school officials moved faceoff to mitigate Coronavirus exposure. I’m guessing Utah wants to leave Massachusetts as soon as possible? Don’t see how Friday makes everything safer but whatever.
Utah’s ascent occurred faster than expected. The Utes have moved from bottom of the barrel to middle tier. Utah can beat middle of the road schools. Can they finally earn that statement win? Looking at Utah’s schedule, Massachusetts is their best shot.
Utah is two goals away from 5-1. The 3-3 Utes lost one goal games to Air Force and Mount Saint Mary’s. All three wins have come against SoCon competition (Bellarmine, Furman, Jacksonville). Massachusetts is another level. The Utes look solid on both sides of the ball. An offense averaging 12.8 goals per game and a defense allowing 11 goals per game is decent. Not great. Not good. But average.
Attackmen Colin Burke (15 goals, 16 assists) and Jimmy Perkins (18 goals, 3 assists) are crucial to Utah’s journey. Without them, the Utes are nothing. They must be stopped. Defensively, watch Samuel Cambere. The sophomore has 1 goal, 2 assists, 28 groundballs, and 10 forced turnovers. Talk about a contributor!
The 5-2 Minutemen are rolling. Recently, UMass snagged their first win over a top ranked team (13-10 win over Yale). Everyone points at this, but don’t forget UMass beat Ohio State in Columbus (9-7). Two impressive victories. Massachusetts plays Utah before a two-week furlough (Brown game is cancelled). Everyone’s beat up, but they can’t look ahead.
Surprisingly, Massachusetts averages 11 goals per game. I thought it’d be more. That said, the trio of Chris Connolly (9 goals, 14 assists), Kevin Tobin (10 goals, 11 assists), and Jeff Trainor (14 goals, 6 assists) is dangerous. The offense is hungry for a blowout.
Last year, UMass enjoyed a 16-2 victory in beautiful Salt Lake City. This time around, Utah proves they’ve closed the gap. The Utes don’t win, but we see how far they’ve come since year one. Massachusetts wins 14-7. Utah is coming.
Johns Hopkins at Navy (12 ET)
Poor Johns Hopkins. Another season with high ambitions has come crashing down. Until recently, Hopkins booked a seat on the couch. A comfy couch to watch NCAA playoffs on. With the Ivy League’s cancellation, 3-4 tournament spots opened. Avoid utter disaster, make the Big Ten playoffs, and Hopkins is in.
At 2-4, Hopkins blew any opportunity to snag a major non-conference victory. They can’t afford losing at Navy. Blue Jay fans aren’t confident. Johns Hopkins barely beat Mount Saint Mary’s in overtime (13-12). At home. That’s like Alabama beating Vanderbilt in overtime (in college football). That shouldn’t happen. Even worse, Hopkins is 0-2 in road games (Loyola and Princeton). On the road, they’ve been outscored 18-28. Their defense allows 13.1 goals per game. A successful clear percentage of .789 is atrocious.
The numbers are bleak; however, Hopkins is Hopkins. They have talent. To achieve victory, attackman Cole Williams (11 goals, 6 assists) must carry the load. Talented Joey Epstein is healthier. He needs to get on a roll. Epstein’s 2 goal, 1 assist performance against Mount Saint Mary’s is promising. He needs three goals and two assists for Hopkins to win.
The 3-2 Midshipmen are undefeated in Annapolis (Manhattan, Furman, Colgate). Navy is outscoring opponents 44-21 in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Impressive!
Attackmen Christian Daniel (8 goals, 9 assists) and Tyler Perreten (11 goals, 4 assists) lead a stout offense. Defensively, Nick Franchuk (1 goal, 13 groundballs, 7 turnovers) is annoying. My biggest worry? The trio hasn’t produced in Navy’s two losses (Richmond and Lehigh). The stats are slightly misleading. Production is low against better competition.
My pick won’t make any sense. Statistically, Navy is superior. That said, my gut says Hopkins pulls this out. This will be a typical service academy game (against superior competition). Navy leads through three quarters, but tires out. A couple late Navy mistakes prove costly. Hopkins wins 11-9.
UPDATE: The Patriot League just announced the cancellation of all 2020 spring sports. Apparently, this takes effect Monday.
UPDATE 2: I just read Johns Hopkins suspended spring athletics until April. Just enjoy my bashing of Hopkins I guess. All this info is practically void.
#1 Syracuse at Rutgers (1 ET)
Poor Rutgers. It’s the same thing every year. “This is the year Rutgers makes the NCAA tournament”. Do any of you follow college football? Every year, Michigan fans say this is the year they finally win it all. Does it ever happen? No. But every year it’s the same thing. Rutgers is the Michigan football of college lacrosse.
I’m guilty of this too. When Eric Seremet joined Rutgers’ staff, I thought the nation had another thing coming. That hasn’t happened. The Scarlet Knights can’t put it all together. They NEED this win. At 2-4, Rutgers is on a four-game losing skid. Army’s 15-4 blowout broke them. With the Ivy League’s cancellation, there’s a small glimmer of hope. Upset Syracuse, win some conference games, and Rutgers has a shot. It all starts with beating Syracuse. A monumental task indeed.
I’ll come back to this, but if you want to gauge how gritty a team is, look at groundballs. Rutgers isn’t gritty. They’re getting demolished on groundballs. The Scarlet Knights have lost the season groundball battle 156-219. Tough teams get groundballs. Granted, groundballs are slightly skewed thanks to a .331 faceoff win percentage. If you can’t split faceoffs, you won’t win (much).
Despite their 2-4 record, the Scarlet Knights have improved. There’s talent. For Rutgers to win, attackmen Adam Charalambides (15 goals, 7 assists) and Kieran Mullins (10 goals, 10 assists) must capitalize on their opportunities.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a Syracuse fan. So, when I say they’re good, they’re good. Historically, I’ve felt Syracuse is always overrated. Not this year. The Orange have earned their #1 ranking. At 5-0, Syracuse rolls into Piscataway averaging 16.6 goals per game. Combine that with a defense allowing 9.4 goals per game and you have a recipe for success.
I mentioned groundballs earlier. This team is tough. They’re gritty. Syracuse has won the season groundball battle 206-152. Syracuse outworks opponents. Bad news for Rutgers.
Chase Scanlan (18 goals, 5 assists), Jamie Trimboli (17 goals, 3 assists), and Stephen Rehfuss (2 goals, 18 assists) look unstoppable. These guys make big plays when big plays are needed. Rutgers struggles on faceoffs. Look for LSM Jared Fernandez (1 goal, 1 assist, 14 groundballs, 4 turnovers) to dominate wing play.
Rutgers needs this win. They’ll play spirited. Spirit only gets you so far. After a close first quarter, Syracuse pulls away. This won’t be a blowout, but it’ll never been in doubt. Syracuse wins by five.
Here are my picks for other notable games being played. These are gut picks. I did no extra research for these. Yes, I realize I didn’t include Maryland v Virginia in my games to watch. I highly recommend viewing it. North Carolina beats Georgetown. Army beats Lehigh. Maryland beats Virginia. Duke crushes Towson. Loyola beats Bucknell.
Will you be watching these games? Which one are you most excited about? Who do you think wins? Whatever your thoughts, air them by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can comment directly onto the article by subscribing. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. Any and all support is appreciated. Regardless, thank you for reading and enjoy the games!