(Ed. Note: This post was written before last night's games.)
Well hello everyone. Am I a little tardy to the party? Better than not being there at all.
Welcome to the Philly Phour Phocus, which is properly spelled for the occasion. In case you couldn't tell already, this series will follow all four Philly teams every week and update their chances of repping the great city in this year's Final Four. Did I mention that it's going to be in Philly? Well, it will be.
We're getting off to a late start, but you'll soon be caught up on what the city's four teams have been up to the first month of the season.
Let's get started with graphs! Before we get into each team individually, let's highlight where each team finished last season and where they currently are, entering today's games.
|Team||2015 Overall Record||2015 Conference Finish||2016 Overall Record (So Far)||2016 Preseason Conference Finish|
|Drexel||7-8||3-2 (3rd in CAA)||1-3||Tied for 3rd in CAA|
|Penn||6-7||3-3 (5th in Ivy)||2-1||Tied for 5th in Ivy|
|St. Joe's||11-6||6-0 (1st in NEC)||3-1||Tied for 1st in NEC|
|Villanova||6-8||1-4 (4th in Big East)||3-1||4th in Big East|
Two years ago, the Dragons upset 4th seeded Penn and were one game away from appearing in the Final Four. Only one problem, they had to beat Denver, who was the 5th seed in the tournament. They lost 15-6. After falling to eventual CAA champion Towson last season, the Dragons hope to be Philly's representative in this year's Final Four.
Right now, they're 1-3, with all three losses coming against ranked teams (Virginia, Albany, Villanova). Last Saturday, they got their first win of the season, as freshman Matthew Varian scored as time expired to cap off a 4-0 run in the final quarter to beat St. Joe's 10-9. Today, they host Maryland before traveling to Rhode Island and playing Bryant on Saturday.
As for conference play, well, you got Towson and Hofstra starting out hot, while UMass is alright. The CAA BOSSES called for the Dragons to finish tied for third along with Hofstra. How's that looking right now?
Current Big Dance Chance: 5%. At least they're trying!
Two years ago, the Quakers were upset by Drexel in a very memorable season for Penn, which saw them win the Ivy League championship as well. The following year, they went 6-7 and missed out on the Ivy League tournament. Mike Murphy hopes that it doesn't happen again this year.
And so far, the Quakers are 2-1 on the young season, with wins against Michigan and Penn State, and their only loss coming against Virginia. Goalie Reed Junkin was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the second time in three weeks after making 15 saves in the win over Penn State. Today, they host inter-state rival Lafayette from the Patriot League, before traveling to the Main Line to take on Villanova on Saturday.
The Ivy League is stacked once again, with Yale, Brown, and undefeated Harvard leading the way. Four teams make the Ivy League tournament, and it looks like there will be one spot left for grabs between Penn, Princeton, and Cornell (sorry Dartmouth). Princeton was picked 4th in the Ivy's preseason poll, while Penn was tied for 5th with Cornell. Get ready for a cat fight.
Current Big Dance Chance: 5%. Ivy is just too stacked for me to see Penn sneak in and steal a spot.
The Hawk Will Never Die! Back in 2011, the Hawks finished 0-12 and ended up firing Pat Cullinan as their head coach and hired Taylor Wray. 2014 saw the Hawks go to 11-4 and host the NEC tournament, only to fall to Hobart in double overtime in the NEC Semifinals. St. Joe's then went 11-6 last season and once again hosted the NEC tourney, before falling to Bryant in the title game.
The Hawks hope to take another small, yet large, step in their program, and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. They're 3-1 on the season, with their only loss to Drexel last Saturday, and face a huge test against Virginia today at Klocker. Sophomore Chris Blewitt leads the team in offense with 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points, while Kevin Reidinger, Kyle Cain, and Mike Rastivo each have nine scores in four games this year.
The Hawks are tied with Bryant for the top spot in the NEC preseason poll, while Hobart and Mount St. Mary's should also be in contention. It should help the Hawks that Kevin Massa has graduated, but the Bulldogs still have six Preseason All-NEC selections, including goaltender Gunnar Waldt.
Current Big Dance Chance: 55%. St. Joe's has to win the NEC tournament in order to be in, and this year could be the year that the Hawks can do it.
Another school with a probable NCAA Tournament team in basketball with a pretty good lacrosse program as well. The Wildcats are 13th in the current USILA poll, as they've defeated Penn State, Drexel, and Delaware with a lot of goals (23 against Delaware), with their only loss coming to Harvard on the road in overtime to start the year. They hope to appear in the tourney for the first time since 2011, when they lost to Denver in the first round.
The additions of Jake and Joey Froccaro have benefited Villanova immensely. Jake leads the team in goals (19) and points (24), and recorded an eight goal outburst against Penn State earlier in the month. Devin McNamara has 10 goals and 17 assists after missing most of last season with an injury. Christian Cuccinello also has 10 goals on the year.
Denver looks to be in the driver's seat for the conference's AQ bid. But, the Wildcats are currently in a prime spot to at least be in consideration for an at-large bid. If they can keep up their solid play, take care of Marquette and Georgetown in Big East play, Nova will participate in not only March Madness, but also May Madness.
Current Big Dance Chance: 65%. With eight available at-large spots, two teams from the ACC and Ivy League would each get a bid, while Villanova would be next in line to get a bid. But it's early in the season, and anything can happen from now until May.
Now, let's dance!