Tyler Dunn, A, Penn - The offensive firepower for Penn has, at times this year, been lacking. Simon Mathias and Kevin McGeary have been doing most of the scoring, and no one else on the team had even reached double digit points. But junior Tyler Dunn has exploded in the last two games, both five goal efforts. Dunn scored five of the six Penn goals in a loss to Villanova, and had five more in the offensive explosion over Princeton. Ten goals in two games is nothing to sneeze out. You can also note that Dunn had zero assists in those games, which suggests that he’s finding a goal as a finisher more than anything, but that’s still something Penn desperately needs. The Penn offense has been efficient (14th in Division 1), but not terribly consistent. Finding more balance and contributors outside of Mathias and McGeary is a big step in the right direction for the Quakers.
Mark Evanchick, D, Penn - Excuse me for sticking with the same school for two topics, but start watching Evanchick. The sophomore has emerged as the top defenseman for the Quakers, guarding some of the nation’s best attackman. Justin Guterding? 3 points against Penn. Michael Sowers? 3 points, no goals. Penn lost Kevin McDonough, who transferred to Duke as a grad student, on close defense along with Eric Persky to graduation, and needed some of the younger guys to step up on close defense to go with outstanding LSM Connor Keating. Evanchick has grabbed hold of that role, and despite being thrown into the fire with the tough Penn schedule, he’s showing that he’s up to the challenge.
Duke Midfielders - Duke continues to just work through their schedule, pile up wins, and maintain a spot at the top of the polls. It’s a bit funny how quietly they seem to be doing it. The same knocks people were making in the early goings are still reasonable critiques: they aren’t really killing it at the faceoff X (Brian Smyth takes the majority of them and he’s at 40%), and Danny Fowler is only just now emerging as the primary goaltender. More than that, questions emerged about the Duke midfield. Guterding is racking up points, and freshman Joe Robertson is at 20 goals on the season as well, but where would be midfield scoring come from? Duke has found their guys. Transfer Peter Conley has settled in nicely, with 6 points against Loyola and 4 more against Towson. Brad Smith is up to 26 points on the year, with 14 goals and 12 assists. The duo combined for 12 points against Loyola, and are really the primary reason Duke was able to win that game. Guterding will continue to do incredible things at attack, but these Duke middies are quietly finding their comfort zone. When Duke is truly going six deep, they’re deadly.
Hofstra - The boys in Hempstead are on a roll. After losing their first two, including an embarrassing loss to Villanova where they only managed two goals, Hofstra is on a four-game winning streak. They waxed Stony Brook, more than handled UNC, played a tight game with an underrated Monmouth team, and then beat Providence. Ryan Tierney has emerged as the star of this squad, now over 20 points on the year. The overall rating for Hofstra over at Analytics Lacrosse has them ranked 11th in the nation, ahead of Notre Dame, Penn, Army, Virginia, and more of that ilk. Hofstra has Lehigh on a short week, and a win would put them strongly into the Top 20. They still play Towson in two weeks, but the Hofstra playing now looks like they should beat just about the rest of their remaining schedule outside of those two, and the CAA crown is a reasonable goal at this point.
Stony Brook - Let me start by saying this isn’t some kind of endorsement of Stony Brook, where I tell you they’re going to turn it around and show up in polls and all that. Stony Brook is not a contender. However, they are most definitely trending in the right direction. Stony Brook started the season 0-4, and managed only TWO goals against Hofstra. This team was very bad. But they righted the ship with a won over Fairfield, then played UVA to within one goal, and got a win over UMBC on Saturday. None of the team’s top ten scorers this year are seniors. In term’s of efficiency, here are some teams the Stony Brook offense ranks AHEAD of: Army, BU, Richmond, and Providence. They have some very difficult games left (Albany, UVM, Princeton just to name three), and they’re going to lose all three of those games. But Stony Brook is much improved over the past few weeks and deserves a trending up mention.
Fairfield FOGOs - It was a tough two game stretch for the Stags when it came to faceoffs. Fairfield hasn’t exactly been dominant taking draws all year, but they were on the bad end of a pretty serious beating. They hosted Yale last Saturday and Conor Mackie went a perfect 15-15 for the Bulldogs; Fairfield didn’t win a single faceoff. A week later, Penn State comes to Fairfield and with them, Gerard Arceri. Arceri went 20-25 and it felt even more dominant as you watched. Arceri was pulled in the fourth quarter along with the rest of the starters when the score was 15-5. Frankly, I could easily write that the Penn State backups are all trending down, because Fairfield played them for about half a quarter and the final score ended up being 17-13. Regardless, Fairfield still has Villanova, Hofstra, UMass, and Delaware on the schedule, and they’ll need to win plenty of draws to be in those games.
UVM Defense - This could just be piling on, but it’s hard to see a defense give up a 20 spot. The Catamounts came into Saturday with a defense allowing just over six goals per game, and ranked second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. Only Jacksonville had reached double digits against the UVM defense (throwing out the Sacred Heart game as they scored on backups once the game was decided). But then again, UVM hasn’t played an offense like Albany yet. Connor Fields had 10 points, Jakob Patterson had seven goals, and of the 21 goals scored by the Dane Train, 16 were assisted. UVM won’t be disappearing from polls or forgotten about; this team is still very good. They were put in a tough spot since TD Ierlan had another dominant day, and Albany just crushed possession time. The UVM defense has been so good that they only dropped from second to fourth in defensive efficiency ratings, and they should roll through their next few opponents leading up to another test against UVA in late April.
The Big East - Tough weekend for the Big East. Georgetown got their first loss at the hands of Drexel, which is not pretty. Villanova lost to Maryland. Denver needed a nine-goal run to beat a struggling Ohio State team, and their leading scorer for the day was Trevor Baptiste. Marquette is off the rails, losing to Michigan to extend their streak to three in a row. Providence’s decent start has also disappeared, as they have now lost four straight after going down to Hofstra. In the early season, some were saying that the Big East could be a three bid league. It’s probably still on the table (Denver, Villanova, Georgetown), but this weekend results should quiet that talk down a bit. Georgetown needs to beat teams like Drexel, as they still have Villanova, Denver, and Loyola on the schedule, with the Greyhounds coming to town this week on a short break.
Delaware, again - Things only got worse for the Blue Hens. They are now losers of four in a row after starting the season 3-0 and playing Villanova to a one goal game. This week, off the field issues probably sunk the rest of this season. This week, four players were dismissed from the program for a “violation of team policies.” Among them, Andrew Romagnoli, the team’s leading scorer. It’s impossible to tell how a locker room handles this sort of news, and Ben DeLuca will be working overtime to get his team to respond. Their first game since the players were dismissed was against Hopkins on Saturday, and they lose 14-8. They still have games against Rutgers, Hofstra, and Towson, all on the road. As Towson and Hofstra are going in the right direction, the Blue Hens, who looked early to be the toast of the CAA, are in freefall.
Army Offense - In last week’s game against Lehigh, attackman Conor Glancy took a nasty hit late and had to leave the game. In his absence, the Army offense sputtered, and Lehigh was able to secure a victory. Out again with an “upper body injury”, the Army offense took the field against Holy Cross without their quarterback. To say they sputtered again would be an understatement. Army manage to get the win, but the final score of 5-3 tells you just how much you need to know about where Army is right now. Glancy is a senior, and coming in was the leading point scorer for Army and the guy who did most of the ball handling. While Army still has weapons in guys like Nate Jones and David Symmes, it still looked like they just didn’t have a leader on the offensive end. The defense is as stalwart as ever. This team SHOULD be good enough to beat Colgate next weekend without Glancy should he miss another game, but after that, things get tougher with Bucknell, and Army needs to find a way to get the offense clicking again.
North Carolina - UNC has been flirting with bad results the entire year. They have one goal wins over St. Johns, Lehigh, and Furman, each of which could have easily been a loss. They’ve now lost three straight to Denver, Hofstra, and Richmond, and are freefalling out of the Top 20. It only gets worse for the Tar Heels, here is their remaining schedule, in order:
- @ Maryland
- @ Duke
- vs. Virginia
- @ Syracuse
- vs. Notre Dame
Right now that looks like five losses. If it is five losses, UNC doesn’t even make the ACC tournament and that’s that. Despite starting 6-0, this is a team that looks very much like fool’s gold. They’ve got a world of talent on offense and a dynamite top six in terms of personnel. When they can’t get much going though, there is no way the rest of the team picks them up. Only six goals scored against Denver and Hofstra will definitely not get it done. Their defense is pretty awful. They’re currently ranked 47th in adjusted efficiency, behind Mercy, High Point, and UMass. It looks like a squad that doesn’t communicate well at all, and is very weak off ball. Overall, the Heels are rated 35th, behind Hobart, Bucknell, and St John’s.