TD Ierlan - Coming into the season, the outlook on FOGO’s was Trevor Baptiste, then about a million miles, then the next best guy, whoever that ends up being. We now know who that next guy is, and the gap between Baptiste and Ierlan isn’t looking to be that huge. Here’s Ierlan’s game by game numbers: 16 for 21 against Syracuse, 21 of 22 against Drexel, and now a perfect 24 for 24 against Cornell. That’s 61 for 67 on the year, or 91% success. Ierlan is reason number one why the Dane Train stayed undefeated against Cornell, as the offense couldn’t get into a rhythm, but saw plenty of extra possessions thanks to the faceoff dominance. The Cornell game was a lesson for the Danes on how to get a win when an opponent manages to keep Fields and Tehoka in check: you lean on Ierlan and grind people out. Here’s a look at Ierlan’s thoughts on Baptiste:
THIS SUMMER. ATLANTIC CITY. THE TAJ MAHAL. BAPTISTE/IERLAN.
Connor Kelly - When the season started, I went out on the sturdiest limb on earth and said Connor Kelly is the best midfielder in America. We may need to adjust slightly and just call him the best player in America. There are two primary reasons I make this adjustment. First, Kelly doesn’t even really just play midfield. He lines up at attack enough to really be called an attackman anyway. Second, I watched him play Notre Dame, and like everyone else, watched the Kelly stock soar even higher. The Irish may have a young defense, but it has still been strong so far this year. Connor Kelly lit them up for ten points, on three goals and SEVEN ASSISTS. The assists weren’t cheap either. Take a look at Kelly drawing a slide, stepping away, and flipping the ball back across his body, and the defense, with enough weight and power to find a shooter.
There aren’t many guys in the sport who can make that play, and I don’t just mean in college. Kelly had three assists on the day that were similar, where he found a seam through the defense to a shooter that, as you watched, would make you wonder just how he was getting the ball through. It was truly special. He also did this at the halftime buzzer:
Can we talk about this halftime buzzer beater for a minute? From 20 yards out... @Tewaaraton nominee Connor Kelly is , leading No. 1 @TerpsMLax past @NDlacrosse 12-10 with 10PTs on 3G & 7A. pic.twitter.com/cqxSKkhKt3— US Lacrosse Magazine (@USLacrosseMag) March 3, 2018
I said it during the game and I’ll say it again. Steph Curry has Connor Kelly range.
Jacksonville Lacrosse - OK, hear me out. I realize Jacksonville is 2-4, and their wins against Navy and Detroit Mercy. Those aren’t necessarily bad wins, but they don’t scream Top 20 either. Their losses are: a beatdown by Duke, one goal to Marquette (top 20), OT loss after leading by two in the closing two minutes to Ohio State (top 10), OT loss to Vermont (top 20). The Dolphins are right on the cusp of turning the corner. Analytics Lacrosse actually has them currently rated as a top 20 team, ahead of the likes of Hopkins, Notre Dame, UNC, and Princeton, and right behind Rutgers. They’re 13th in RPI, and though their future RPI drops them down, meaning they’re expected to finish further down in the rankings, it remains that this team is turning a corner. They have an offense ranked 20th in adjusted efficiency, and are 5th in strength of schedule. What’s to say this team can’t get hot and be on the winning end of these one goal games? The Dolphins are best 2-4 lacrosse team you’ve ever seen. Coach John Galloway is building a very solid program in Jacksonville.
Loyola Attackmen not named Pat Spencer - Breaking news: Pat Spencer is Loyola’s best player. He drives the offense and is a probable Tewaaraton finalist (for real, not like 90% of the watch list). However, in lacrosse there are six guys on offense. Joining Spencer at attack are two freshmen, Kevin Lindley and Aiden Olmstead. In the opener against Virginia, Olmstead had an assist and Lindley had zeroes, as the unit looked for rhythm and for the most part struggled against UVA. Things have progressed nicely since then. Early in the week against Towson, Lindley had a hat trick and Olmstead has two goals and an assist. Things got even better against Holy Cross. Lindley got his name in the record books with an 8 goal, 9 point outing, the most ever for a Patriot League freshman. Olmstead added two assists. Here’s the thing though, as their output increases, Spencer’s holds steady. Lindley had 9 points against Holy Cross, and so did Spencer (3g, 6a). The group is getting more comfortable together, and Spencer is using his elite vision looking for his freshmen linemates, which is nothing but good news for the Greyhounds.
#PoleGoals - UVA and Syracuse game us a gem of a game. And for those of us who, while playing or as fans, live for the moment where a longstick is coming down the field with a clear lane to the goal, this game was everything we wanted. Brett Kennedy had two goals in transition for Cuse. The big one came from Virginia, have a look and listen to Klockner go nuts:
Chicks dig pole goals.
Figuring out the bottom third of Top 20 polls - I’ll let you all in on a little secret: the back end of everyone’s top 20 is a mess. It’s a disaster. I have changed mine, conservatively, 30 times in the last 24 hours. As more and more games get decided in OT, with teams like Bellarmine getting big wins over Marquette, Ohio State getting pushed to the limit by teams like Detroit Mercy, UVM never losing, Bobby Mo looking better all the time, and Delaware definitely being for real, it’s genuinely hard to fill these polls out. I’m hoping we take the leap to doing a top 25, because that would make life a bit easier. Regardless, it being impossible to rank teams is a good thing, because it means so many teams are rank-able and defensible as worthy of a spot. Parity is ALWAYS good. It means we get entertaining lacrosse games more often, upset bids more often, and more reasons to say figuring out a top 20 is impossible.
Goals that apparently aren’t actually goals - Let’s go back to UVA and Syracuse again. Late in the game, Dox Aitken did this:
Folks, that is a goal. Inside Lacrosse media members who were at the game said it looked like a goal from various angles. The fan reaction said it’s goal (not in a mom goal kind of way either). The ricochet tells me at least some of that ball caught the net, which makes it a goal. Look at the time remaining and the score, too. Dox, you got robbed. That’s a goal. UVA has now gone about 1400 days since their last regular season ACC win, which is positively insane. They need all the help they can get to break this curse.
Marquette - It was a rough weekend for the Golden Eagles. They got a huge win over Ohio State in OT, but they followed it up by going down to Bellarmine, which likely will keep them out of the top 20. This early, it’s not a huge deal and won’t sink Marquette. But the Big East this year is looking like it has more than Denver and some middling teams. Georgetown and Villanova are absolutely for real, and even Providence can give teams problems. Of Marquette’s entire remaining schedule, the only teams currently not in the top 20 are Michigan, Providence, and St Johns. Their out of conference opponents are Duke, Notre Dame, Michigan, and a top 20 Robert Morris. Marquette can’t afford to be dropping games to teams like Bellarmine in such a deep conference if they have designs on NCAA tournament play.
Playing after the whistle - OK, last venture into Cuse and UVA. So this one came down to the wire, after a late tying goal from UVA. Cuse freshman midfielder Tucker Dordevic dodges a pole, makes a great move to separate, and stings the low far corner. It’s a textbook dodge and shoot from a kid earning more respect every week, here’s a look:
That’s a freshman looking like an upperclassman with the game on the line. Only 13 seconds left, the game is all but over. Cuse would win the following faceoff and just lob the ball toward toward the goal. Virginia goalie Alex Rode would gather the ball and heave it to other end as time expired, and then after the whistle Nate Solomon leveled him. There is absolutely no need for that. Syracuse was the better team and won the game, but this was a dark spot on the win. And now, it spills over after the win. As officials left the field, they announced that Solomon had been ejected, as had UVA’s Zach Ambrosino. Ejections typically are followed by a one game suspension, which means Syracuse could be without Solomon for their next game against Hopkins. UVA will be without Ambrosino against Manhattan, so obviously it’s a much bigger deal for Syracuse. Regardless, this was a dirty play, and could have been avoided.
Colgate - Colgate, welcome back to Earth. After a 3-0 start, highlighted by a win over Cornell, the Raiders have dropped two straight. They lost to Bucknell and Lehigh, each by three goals. The Patriot League continues to be a bit of a mess. You have the obvious, Loyola and Army as the class of the conference, but after that, it’s a mix of teams that can all beat each other. Early on Colgate looked to be separating itself a bit, with high goal totals (18, 21, 14 in their first three games respectively) and big production from a young and developing core. They only managed 10 against Bucknell and 7 against Lehigh, and while Mike Hawkins still is scoring in bunches, the production elsewhere is dropping off, and the play from the defense and goalie has been poor to say the least. Colgate still has the Patriot League studs of Loyola and Army to play, but also still has a BU team that is no cakewalk, an improving Navy team, and Syracuse to close the season. Thinks are only getting tougher from here and it’s not the time to be trending in the wrong direction.