Ah, the Patriot League. Welcome back into the College Lacrosse Weekend Preview Foray my friend. It’s been just under two months since we last talked about you as our main subject.
And now, it’s your time to shine again.
Usually, there would be a big weekend preview out today, but since I got caught up in binge listening to Prince’s music (RIP), we’re doing something different. Today will be part one of a two part weekend preview. And as you may have guessed, it’ll resolve all around the final day of the Patriot League regular season.
But before we get to that, there’s two non-Patriot League games of big relevance to the NCAA Tournament to get to. So let’s get those out of the way:
#15 Marquette @ #16 Duke – 7 PM (ESPN3)
What a roller coaster ride it’s been for the Blue Devils this season. They’re 8-6 in 14 games so far this season, with some bad losses against Richmond and Air Force this season. Duke’s defense isn’t one of the best in the nation, but their offense has the firepower to take them over the top. But at times, some players haven’t showed up, like Myles Jones against Notre Dame or Deemer Class against Richmond. But last week, we saw Jones put up six points against Virginia, Class score five goals, and Justin Guterding and Jack Bruckner putting up multi-point performances as well.
They’re going to host a Marquette team who forced Notre Dame to overtime last Wednesday and has the top scoring defense with 6.55 goals against per game. Guys like B.J. Grill, Nicholas Eufrasio, and Liam Byrnes are going to give Duke’s offense some trouble tonight in Durham. Meanwhile, Ryan McNamara, Blaine Fleming, and Kyran Clarke will try to get past Danny Fowler on offense.
#17 Penn State @ #19 Rutgers – 8 PM (BTN)
As the chaos in the Patriot League begins to calm down, chaos in the Big Ten warms up. Penn State has lost to Maryland and Johns Hopkins at home in overtime the past two Sunday nights, and are in-between in and out of the NCAA Tournament according to many Bracketology projections. As of Tuesday morning, I had the Nittany Lions taking on #4 Brown, but anything can change between now and Selection Sunday.
Meanwhile as Penn State’s stock might be going down, Rutgers could continue to go up with a win at home. Their attack unit of Scott Bieda, Jules Heningburg, and freshman Adam Charalambides are just above a total of 140 points for the season, and have certainly been a huge surprise in the Division I landscape. As of now, this game will be important in how seeding for the Big Ten Tournament is decided.
And now…PATRIOT PREVIEWS:
Sacred Heart @ #7 Navy – 7 PM (Patriot League Network)
Well, there’s nine teams in the Patriot League, and one team had to be left out. Let that be Navy, who will host the Patriot League Tournament next weekend and has clinched at least a share of the regular season title. They hope to rebound from a 10-5 loss to Maryland on Tuesday. Sacred Heart is 2-11 with their only wins over Lafayette and Dartmouth. There’s much better games on tonight than this to stream or watch. Unless you’re a Navy or a Sacred Heart fan.
#20 Army @ #11 Loyola – 7 PM (CBS Sports Network)
Fitting that probably the best game out of the Patriot League tonight is getting televised. Winner of this game will get 2nd in the Patriot League, while loser will get 3rd. Army has a pretty good resume entering tonight, with their only PL losses coming against Navy in overtime last week and Bucknell. With the departure of John Glesener, freshman attackman Nate Jones has been a pleasant surprise for the Black Knights, as he leads the team with 32 goals and is second only to Cole Johnson in points with 34. And speaking of freshman replacements, goalie AJ Barretto has been stellar in net this season, replacing the departed Sam Somers.
And keeping with the theme of impact freshmen, how about maybe one of the best freshmen in the country, Pat Spencer. Spencer made an impact on game one with the Greyhounds and leads the team in all scoring categories (21 goals, 30 assists, 51 points). He is a great compliment to senior Zach Herreweyers and junior Zack Sirico at attack. And we’re still not done with freshmen! Ever since taking over for Grant Limone in the second quarter of the loss to Navy, Jacob Stover has won all five of his starts, including one-goal victories over Lehigh and Boston University.
Lehigh @ Bucknell – 7 PM (Patriot League Network)
The Bison and Mountain Hawks are currently 4th and 5th in the Patriot League, but Bucknell is currently a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament. At 8-4, the Bison have lost to Villanova, Navy, Loyola, and a really bad loss to Colgate. That might hurt their chances of getting into the big dance. Bucknell is led by Will Sands and senior midfielder Thomas Flibotte on offense.
Meanwhile, Lehigh has lost five of their last six games, and their last three to Loyola, Princeton, and Cornell. Their tourney hopes are pretty bleak with a record of 6-7. Reid Weber and freshman Tristan Rai have led the team on offense. We could see a rematch of this game in the Patriot League Quarterfinals next week!
Boston University @ Holy Cross – 7 PM (Patriot League Network)
Win and you’re in. Simple as that. BU looked to be a sure thought for the Patriot League Tournament after starting 8-2 on the season and 3-1 in Patriot League play. But with three straight losses against Lehigh, Army, and Loyola, it’s panic time for the Terriers. James Burr got hot once again last week with a hat-trick and an assist, while Ryan “Don’t Call Me Sparky” Hilburn notched two goals and two assists in the loss to Loyola.
On the other hand, Holy Cross had the opposite start of BU, 1-10 to start their season, and 0-5 in Patriot League play. But they weren’t dead yet, as they defeated cellar-dwellers Lafayette and Colgate in consecutive weeks to still be alive for the sixth and final Patriot League Tournament spot. Jon Vogel leads the team with 35 goals and 37 points, while Sean Wilkinson leads with 13 assists. It’ll be Senior Night in Worcester, so expect a crowd tonight.
Colgate @ Lafayette – 7:30 PM (Patriot League Network)
Lose and you’re winless in Patriot League play. Win, and you’re not last. A sort of meaningless game for both teams, but hey, you don’t want to finish last in your conference. After winning the Patriot League Tournament last year, the Raiders are a dismal 3-9 and 1-6 in conference play. They defeated Bucknell 11-10 for their only conference win this season back in late February, but since then, they’re 1-8. No Matt Clarkson or Ryan Walsh from last year does hurt, but many people thought that Anthony Abbadessa and Peter Donato would step up. Even with freshman Sam Cleveland along and Brandon Burke back in goal, not luck.
Meanwhile for Lafayette, they’ve only beaten Wagner, Monmouth, and NJIT. Not a good season yet again for the Leopards. Their closest game was against Loyola 12-8 back in late February. Eric Joseph leads the team with 31 goals and 39 points, while fellow junior Jason Sands leads the team with 28 points.
If you like lacrosse, have multiple windows or tabs open. If you like Patriot League lacrosse, you’re in heaven tonight.