Yesterday was the Patriot League’s turn to showcase their talent. Loyola beat Army, Bucknell dominated Lehigh, and Holy Cross beat Boston University for the sixth and final spot in the Patriot League Tournament.
Today and tomorrow, it’s everyone else, and a major theme here is defense, because they win championships. Let’s get right to the games:
#6 Albany @ #4 Yale – Noon
This would be the Game of the Week, but I’ll get to that discussion in the next game, which will be the Game of the Week. Albany has done well since Lyle Thompson graduated, with their only losses coming against Syracuse and Maryland, both of whom were in the Top 10 when they played those teams. Connor Fields and Seth Oakes have picked up some of the production from Thompson, helping the Great Danes to being ninth in the country in scoring offense with 12.91 goals per game. Big Blaze Riorden is third in the country with 13.18 saves per game, and will probably have to make a ton of saves today.
That’s because Yale is seventh in the nation with 13.18 goals per game, and have one of the best attackmen in the country in sophomore Ben Reeves. He’s tied for ninth in the country with 54 points, and has guys such as Michael Keasey, Eric Scott, and Jeff Cimbalista to score as well. But Yale’s strength is on defense, anchored by senior Michael Quinn. The Bulldogs give up 7.27 goals a game, fourth in the country in that category, and cause about 9.73 turnovers a game, good for third in the NCAA. They suffered their first loss last week to a high-powered Brown offense 14-12, so they’ll be ready to get back to winning.
#1 Notre Dame @ #13 North Carolina – Noon (ESPNU)
This is my Game of the Week. The biggest reason why is because you can watch this game on TV (or online with the WatchESPN app) with a paid subscription from your TV provider. The Yale game is on their Ivy League Digital Network, so get ready to pay a small amount of money.
Back to the game preview. This game is for the top spot in the ACC Tournament next weekend. Whatever happens, Notre Dame will play Duke, and UNC will play Syracuse. If Notre Dame wins, they’ll be the top seed, while Cuse, UNC, and Duke will follow based on goals allowed between the latter three teams. If UNC pulls off the upset, it’ll be UNC, Notre Dame, Duke, and Cuse based off of head-to-head games.
The Irish are rolling along this season, but did have a tough game last Wednesday, needing overtime to beat Marquette 8-7. After going pointless against Duke, Matt Kavanagh scored four times, including the game-winner, and dished out an assist against the Golden Eagles. Last year, Notre Dame was at this very same point record wise, before being upset by Duke in the ACC Semifinals. Will they begin to fade like they did last year with an injured Kavanagh, or will they be stronger than ever?
Meanwhile, UNC looked to be one of the hottest teams entering their date with Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. They beat Duke and Virginia to start 2-0 in ACC play, and everything looked fine in their dominant win over the Wahoos. That performance didn’t happen against the Cuse, who beat them 13-7. Luke Goldstock had two goals and an assist, while Steve Pontrello had an assist, and Chris Cloutier was held scoreless. The bulk of the offense was from Michael Tagliaferri’s four goal performance. A poor performance from the starting attack is unacceptable at this time from a team that is currently just looking on the outside of my Bracketology projections. A win will absolutely help their NCAA Tournament resume, while a loss won’t be that bad. However, they will need to beat Syracuse, another bubble team, next week to have some hope of reaching the big dance, and they probably will need to win the ACC to have a sure shot in the big dance.
Fairfield @ #12 Towson – Noon (Towson Sports Network)
#9 Air Force @ Richmond – 1 PM
Two conference games that will decide 1st place in the CAA and SoCon respectively.
Beginning in the CAA, where Fairfield has bounced back from a 2-5 start to their season to win five of their last six games, and are currently on a three-game winning streak. The Stags were 8-6 victors over UMass last week, where goalie Tyler Behring had a big 19 save performance.
On the other hand, Towson suffered a shocking 10-7 loss to Delaware last week, almost killing their chances of a possible at-large bid if they don’t win the CAA Tournament. The Tigers have been known for their stingy defense, and they’re fifth in the country with 7.33 goals against this season, thanks to the likes of Mike Lowe and goaltender Tyler White. But the Tigers need to see more offensive production from guys such as Ryan Drenner, Joe Seider, and Spencer Parks in order to keep their season alive and well.
Moving on to the SoCon, where after losing their first two games of the season to Navy and Denver, Air Force has won 11 straight, owning the longest winning streak in the country. Sophomore Chris Walsch leads the team in all scoring categories, while senior goalie Doug Gouchoe has been solid in net for the Falcons, recording a .571 save percentage. The Falcons also own the nation’s third-best scoring defense, giving up only 7.23 goals per game.
The Spiders have losses against Marquette, UNC, and a shut-out loss to Virginia, but they’re also 5-0 in SoCon play, and have yet to lose a regular season SoCon game in their three year existence. This is probably their toughest regular season conference game to date, and a win would really help the pretty successful program. And they’ve done it with, well, defense. They’re seventh in the country with a 7.42 goals against average, led by sophomore Austin Cates and junior Ryan Dennis. Although their offensive totals are lower than other players around the country, Mitch Goldberg and freshman Teddy Hatfield are Richmond’s two top scorers.
Princeton @ Harvard – Noon (ESPN3)
#3 Brown @ Cornell – 1 PM (ESPN3)
Hobart @ Bryant – 1 PM (NEC Front Row)
St. Joe’s @ Robert Morris – 1 PM (NEC Front Row)
Hofstra @ UMass – 1 PM
#10 Johns Hopkins @ Michigan – 5 PM (BTN)
Virginia @ Georgetown – 7 PM (CBS Sports Network)
#7 Mount Olive @ #1 Limestone – 1 PM (Lax Sports Network) (Division II)
#5 Adelphi @ #2 Le Moyne – 12:30 PM (Division II)
#9 Lake Erie @ #4 Mercyhurst – 3 PM (Division II)
#13 Mercy @ #8 LIU Post – Noon (Division II)
#14 Molloy @ #12 Dowling – 4 PM (Division II)
#20 Wesleyan @ #3 Tufts – 1 PM (Division III)
#4 St. Lawrence @ #17 RPI – 1 PM (Division III)
#19 Nazareth @ #15 Western New England – 7 PM (Division III)
Ohio State @ #5 Maryland – 7 PM (BTN)