Each week, College Crosse’s Joe Keegan will try to cover the whole field of D1 lacrosse in ten topics. It’s the 10-man ride!
1. Penn zone D
Last week I wrote about all the different mismatches the ‘Hoos offense generates. Running Ryan Lukacovic out of the box allows him to pull a short-stick or LSM behind the cage. As two-way midfielders, Dox Aitken and Ryan Conrad can trap opposing offensive midfielders on the field for defensive sets. Against Penn, the ‘Hoos couldn’t capitalize on any of those matchups. The Quakers threw them an array of defensive looks, including an aggressive zone.
Virginia’s offense was 4-for-10 (40%) in unsettled situations, 4-for-9 (44%) against man-to-man defense and a dismal 2-for-12 (17%) against Penn’s zone defense. Early in the game, the zone allowed goalie Reed Junkin (16 saves) to gobble up some long distance shots. In the second half, the Quakers turned up the heat and started pressing out to cause turnovers. Loyola also played some zone vs. Virginia a couple weeks ago, but they weren’t as effective as Penn.
The ‘Hoos were never comfortable in their zone offense. Any time they caught the ball and turned to scan the field, they were greeted by the Quakers’ poles with vicious “hello” checks.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to playing zone defense was that it shortened the game. Longer possessions mean less possessions, and not many teams in the country have the athletes to beat Virginia in a track meet. Even a notoriously uptempo team like Penn knows that a run-and-gun game would play right into Lars Tiffany’s hands.
2. Penn State freshman goalie Colby Kneese (18 saves) is the real deal.
Villanova opponents saved 50.5% of their shots last season; Kneese stopped 60% on Saturday. Along with face-off specialist Gerard Arceri (65.8%) and sniper Mac O’Keefe (24G in four games), Kneese is part of a big-time recruiting class for the Nittany Lions (ranked ninth in the country by Ty Xanders).
3. Jake Froccaro’s stat line (6-for-10 face-offs, 0-for-10 shooting) must be the first of its kind.
I’d have to double-check with LAS writer Ryan Conwell who compiles a Stat Freaks column each week, though I highly doubt anyone has ever accomplished this. There’s not much to sugarcoat about any oh-fer shooting day, but I’ll give it my best shot: Attempting double-digit shots in one game is a skill few players in the country have. Besides Froccaro, here’s the short list of players capable of creating 10+ shots for themselves: Matt Rambo, Connor Cannizzaro, Dylan Molloy, Josh Byrne and Peter Conley.
It’s early in the season. Froccaro and Villanova are in a slump. They’ll bounce back. Keep shooting, Jake!
4. Out of an hour-long lightning delay, giving freshman midfielder Jared Bernhardt the ball on the restart was the ultimate show of confidence by Maryland head coach John Tillman.
With 0:37 remaining in the game and clinging to a one-goal lead, the Terrapins put the ball in their freshman midfielders hands. He delivered by killing nearly the entire shot clock (and then Colin Heacock ran out the rest). Quint and Carc kept asking who the “Run” in Maryland’s Run-DMC is. It’s Bernhardt. Kid has wheels, and it’s going to be fun to watch his game develop over the next four years.
5. Navy’s settled offense stalled against Boston University; three of their seven goals were scored by poles.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about Greyson Torain’s success running razor picks. Against BU, we didn’t see much of this action -- and when we did, the Terriers were content with switching matchups. Can you spot the major difference between these actions and most of the picks Navy ran for Torain against Hopkins?
The picks against BU all involved two poles! Of course the Terriers switched these without thinking twice; only the most matchup conscious teams in the country will worry about which pole is defending Torain. If you really want to test a team’s defensive rules, then run some big-little two-man games. Pick above the cage where a split-second lapse in coverage can result in a shot. Get creative!
Sometimes a midseason injury is a blessing in disguise. It’s an opportunity to unlock an unknown dimension of your offense. The Mids didn’t find that dimension on Saturday, but hopefully they do before junior attackman Jack Ray returns.
6. Syracuse senior Jordan Evans’s play of late has been fully deserving of the #22 on his chest.
Since arriving on campus, Evans has taken some slack -- though more from the LaxPower forums than from the media. As the only player ranked ahead of Matt Rambo on IL’s Power 100 Freshmen, expectations were high from the start. Now, just as Rambo is polishing his game down in College Park, Evans is becoming the player Syracuse fans hoped he’d be.
Through three games, Evans is one assist shy of matching his eight assists from his junior year. Like Rambo, passing is the skill that is shining now that Evans has grown used to the speed of the college game. Everything is slowing down for him; watch him recognize this play unfold. After running off a razor pick which forces his defender to lose a step, Evans draws a slide. Rather than jam a pass into a high traffic area or shoot through the slide, Evans rolls out and the Army defense interprets that as their cue to recover. When Evans comes out of his roll, he finds a wide open Brendan Bomberry who followed his sliding defender to the doorstep.
7. Good luck to poll voters who stayed up all night trying to make sense of this weekend’s results.
Five top-ten teams -- North Carolina (#3), Syracuse (#6), Virginia (#7), Yale (#8) and Brown (#9) -- lost. Richmond (#14) blew out Marquette (#16). And these polls are only going to get tougher.
8. Yale midfielder Eric Scott (5G, 1A) should be a household name after that performance on national television.
Scott did it all. He shot high-to-high stepdowns, he dished out an assist, he shot on the run sweeping off a pick, he cut to ties and he ripped a low-to-high shot from distance. On-ball or off-ball, Scott was able to make plays for himself and his teammates who were without Tewaaraton finalist Ben Reeves. I know I’m not the only one hoping for a rematch between Maryland and Yale in May with a healthy Reeves on the field.
9. Despite graduating multiple All-Americans, Notre Dame looks as athletic as ever.
From Pierre Byrne outracing people down the alley to John Sexton pressuring ball-carriers 15 yards outside the box to Drew Schantz finishing defensive possessions with plays on the offensive end, the Irish have playmakers on the field at all times. Entering the game, Michigan had six failed clears through four games (72-for-78). On Sunday, the Irish rode back six possessions (17-for-23) in one game. Their speed, strength and conditioning breaks opponents down; it’s the reason we’ve seen them outscore opponents 19-6 in second halfs so far.
10. Hot take: Connor Fields’ fake pass was more impressive than any fake flip or hidden ball trick so far this year.
Fields fooled the crap out of his defender. This looks like a sequence from the And1 Mixtape Tour. Long after Lyle, streetball is still alive and well in Albany. My favorite part: Watch sophomore defenseman Sean Gleason (#14) imitate Fields on the sideline.
Masshole of the Week: Milan Murray (Thayer Academy, Mass.)
The UVA freshman scored three goals this week (two against Siena, one against Penn). Only four games into this young season, and Murray’s reps are already increasing steadily. It’s clear that Coach Tiffany trusts him on both ends of the field. Athletically, he’s on par with Ryan Conrad and Dox Aitken; once his game is as polished as theirs, the Virginia’s midfield will be downright scary.