It’s been a season dominated by Maryland, the Ivy League, and UVA...and that was on full display last week.
Virginia's Connor Shellenberger scored 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) en route to a 17-10 win over #8 Brown on Saturday. PIC: Brian Foley
We’re approaching the end of what has been one of the most intriguing College Lacrosse seasons in recent memory. Maryland still hasn’t lost, and they’re certainly a contender to end the season with a goose-egg in the loss column. The Ivy League sent SIX teams to the tournament…and now, half the teams left in the tournament represent Ivy schools. The gap between small, “mid major” conferences and the “big boys” of old is significantly shrinking.
Here were some of the takeaways from last week’s action, and what’s to come in a critical Elite 8 weekend.
Maryland is #1 for a reason
Woah, does this team look good. If you want utter dominance, you don’t have to look farther than this game. 9 straight goals to start the first half was a testament to how serious this Terps team looks this year. Offensive distribution was key, as 16 different players registered a point. I don’t think there’s a single weakness on this Terps team…and you can’t say that for every team in the tournament so far.
Unranked Delaware hands #2 Georgetown an early loss
Sure, a lightning may have delayed the start time by 50 minutes, but would Georgetown have come out flat-footed anyway? The Hoyas owned the best scoring defense in the nation coming into their first round game, and I certainly had them as a candidate to win games on Championship Weekend. But Drew Lenkaitis facilitated his way to two early goals (assisted JP Ward and Clay Miller), and Georgetown was forced to play catch-up. Even as the Hoyas took a two goal lead into the fourth quarter, the Hens looked to JP Ward for the knockout punch, and he delivered.
Georgetown has a lot of talent that is graduating, and this team may never be this good again…has the window passed for Kevin Warne?
Virginia gets revenge against #8 Brown
Ah, yes, the Lars Tiffany Bowl. Did you know that before the Ivy League cancelled the 2021 season, Brown’s last win was against the ‘Hoos in Providence in March 2020?! They stunned Virginia, who was #14 at the time and was hoping for a national title. Of course, UVA had the last laugh, as they won the grand prize the very next season, and throttled Brown 17-10 in the revenge game last weekend. This was up-in-the-air by all means; It was locked at 7 at halftime. Then, Virginia grabbed 8 straight goals, and outscored the Bears 10-3 in the second half. Credit to Matt Nunes, who made 16 saves and earned his 11th win of the year.
What 2 Watch 4: Elite 8 Weekend
#1 Maryland vs. Virginia
The story is all-too-familiar: an undefeated Maryland has their eyes locked on a national title, but Lars Tiffany and the ‘Hoos walk in and pick them off. Last year, it was on Championship Monday; this year, it’s on the Terps’ home turf. Maryland is hungry, has too much wind in their sails, and a thirst for revenge. And, they’ve also got Luke Wierman, who went 85% from the faceoff X last week. More possessions = more goals, and enough to keep UVA’s 2021 Most Outstanding Player Connor Shellenberger out of striking distance. Prediction: Maryland wins, 12-10
#5 Princeton vs. #4 Yale
Princeton traveled to New Haven back in March and lost 14-12, but it was really only their second quarter that set them back (5-1 in favor of Yale). The Tigers were the odd team out of a stacked Ivy League tournament, and despite being #5 in the national polls, they didn’t get a shot to play for their own conference championship. They also looked clinical against BU last week, which suggests some momentum. Yale, on the other hand, looked excellent for most of the year, but stumbled 16-9 against Penn in the Ivy League Championship and was taken for a ride by St. Joseph’s in the opening round (18-16 final). In meeting #2, raw talent prevails, which is why high-octane scorers Matt Brandau and Leo Johnson will lead Yale to another win, punching their ticket to Hartford. Prediction: Yale wins, 16-13
#7 Cornell vs. Delaware
Cornell looks great. Even though they came into the NCAA tournament with 3 losses in their last 4 games, they steamrolled Ohio State - a tough team on paper, and a tougher team in-person - winning by 7 goals in the opening round. CJ Kirst exploded for 7 goals, and John Piatelli leads the nation in goals per game. Not even Delaware’s #19th-ranked scoring defense can stop that, despite a total team effort to knock off Georgetown last week. Prediction: Cornell wins, 14-8
#3 Penn vs. #6 Rutgers
Rutgers had three high-quality wins against ranked opponents this year. Then, they played Princeton & Maryland. Sure, the competition is excellent in the Big Ten, but there were some sizeable scares in the process - a 15-14 overtime win to close out the year against Penn State, a Michigan comeback that was stopped just short in the 4th quarter for a Big Red 13-12 win, and a lackluster second half against Johns Hopkins (albeit an excellent defensive one). On the other side, the Quakers have the momentum…and the resume. Penn hasn’t lost since they were punched by Brown back in early April, and they’ve got the most quality wins of any Ivy League team this year. Ultimately, it’s Penn and their #9th-ranked man-up offense that propels them into the next round. Prediction: Penn wins, 15-13