It’s time for some teams to prove one of two things. Either they’re contenders when May comes around, or they still need some work to do. It’s been about a month since the season got underway, and we’ve seen Towson, Hofstra, and even Rutgers rise into the Top 20, while Duke, Virginia, and Georgetown have been disappointments thus far.
But is this the biggest weekend of the season? Sure there’s been earlier weekends in the year that have featured many big early season games, but many of those matchups came very early in the season, in the first game or two for some teams. Now, every team has a few games under their belt, we enter a weekend where many talented teams are taking on other talented teams. Many teams have finished or are finishing their first third of their schedule, and every team will soon begin conference play, when they definitely have to play well.
There’s plenty of games to highlight this weekend, so let’s dive in:
#16 Rutgers @ #20 Stony Brook – 6 PM (America East.TV)
The Scarlet Knights are 5-0 and have one of the top offenses in the country. You read that right. Senior attackman Scott Bieda leads the team with assists (13) and in points (26), while sophomore Jules Heningburg is third on the team with 19 points. But second in points and also leading the team in goals is freshman Adam Charalambides, a Georgetown, Ontario native. Charalambides was just ranked the top freshman so far in 2016 by Inside Lacrosse, and has provided the Scarlet Knights with a spark that they haven’t had in a long time. Rutgers faces their first real test this season against Stony Brook, who will look for their Canadians, senior midfielder Challen Rogers and senior attackman Brody Eastwood, to combat the Rutgers attack.
#7 Harvard @ Penn State – 10 AM (ESPNU)
A few days ago, I was getting criticized for keep Duke above Harvard in my rankings after the Crimson defeated the Blue Devils. Duke lost to Richmond in a huge shock, but the Crimson followed that with a loss against Bryant, 12-9. Outside of their win against Duke, the Crimson have won all of their other games in overtime. Devin Dwyer is second in the nation with 28 points, while Morgan Cheek and Joe Lang make up a majority of Harvard’s scoring. After losing their last two games, Penn State bounced back with a 16-7 win over Furman on Tuesday. A big contributor this season has been freshman Grant Ament, who’s second on the team with 20 points and leads the team with 12 assists.
#9 Duke @ #8 Loyola – 11 AM (CBS Sports Network)
Duke is struggling lately, as they fell to Harvard on Saturday before losing to Richmond at home on Monday. Could that be the turning point in the season for the Blue Devils? They’re known to start slow early, and this could be the time where they start to look like the Final Four contenders that they were projected to be. Their lone bright spot is Justin Guterding, who leads the nation with 31 points. Case Matheis (26), Jack Bruckner (23), Myles Jones (23), and Deemer Class (21) all have over 20 points as well on the season. The Greyhounds started strong with a 3-0 record, but fell to Towson 10-8 and escaped Holy Cross with a 10-9 win last Saturday. Zach Herreweyers anchors the offense, but freshman Pat Spencer leads the team in points with 20, and was named the 2nd best freshman by Inside Lacrosse so far this season.
#19 Ohio State @ #13 Hofstra – Noon (Lax Sports Network)
The Buckeyes have rebounded nicely since falling to UMass 16-9. Unfortunately, their schedule is brutal from here on out. They start on the road against Hofstra, followed by games against Towson, Denver, Notre Dame, then starting Big Ten play against Penn State, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Maryland, and Rutgers. Yet again, brutal. Guys like Carter Brown, Austin Shanks, and goaltender Tom Carey will need to play out of their minds, along with the rest of the team, in order to have a record that could give them a chance at an at-large bid come May. The Pride are coming off of a 11-6 loss to Georgetown last week, and are looking to rebound against a very good Ohio State team. The tandem of junior Josh Byrne and senior Sam Llinares has put the Pride on notice throughout the country.
#6 Towson @ #14 Johns Hopkins – 2 PM (ESPNU)
Towson has a very good defense. You heard that last year, and it was evident in the near upset against Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament last year. The Tigers have the second best scoring defense at 5.60 goals per game, and senior goalie Tyler White is third in the nation with 5.24 goals against per game. The Tiger defense will have to defend against Shack Stanwick, Ryan Brown, and John Crawley amongst other Hopkins offensive players. The losses of Connor Reed and Joel Tinney have shown their impact on the Blue Jays in some games so far.
#2 Denver @ #1 Notre Dame – 5:30 PM (ESPNU) (Game of the Week)
Flashback to last season in Denver. The Pioneers beat the Fighting Irish 11-10 in overtime. And they met again at Championship Weekend, where a late Notre Dame rally, led by Sergio Perkovic, was not enough, as the Pios defeated the Irish once again in overtime by a score of 11-10. Notre Dame is looking for their first win against Denver since a 13-12 win in overtime back in 2013. Perkovic, Matt Kavanagh, and Mikey Wynne provide the Irish with a talented offense. But the defense is tops in the nation in scoring defense at 5.50 goals per game, and goaltender Shane Doss is second in the nation with a 5.01 goals against average and with a .655 save percentage. For Denver, no Wes Berg, no problem. Connor Cannizzaro is looking like the leader that Denver has looked forward to, as he leads the team with 14 goals and 22 points. Tyler Pace, Zach Miller, Jack Bobzien, and Brendan Bomberry have contributed well on offense, but keep an eye out for freshman Nate Marano as well. And with two big games (Duke, North Carolina) under his belt, how will freshman keeper Alex Ready perform?
Providence @ High Point – 11 AM (streamed)
#11 Maryland @ Princeton – Noon (ESPNU)
#17 Virginia @ Cornell – Noon (streamed – $)
Lehigh @ Army – Noon (streamed)
Colgate @ #19 Boston University – 1 PM (streamed)
#4 Yale @ Fairfield – 1 PM (ESPN3)
Bucknell @ Holy Cross – 1 PM (streamed)
St. Joe’s @ Monmouth – 1 PM (ESPN3)
St. John’s @ #3 Syracuse – 4 PM (ESPN3)
Penn @ #12 Villanova – 4 PM
#2 Le Moyne @ #7 Lake Erie – 1 PM (Division II)
#4 Seton Hill @ #15 Pfeiffer – Noon (Division II)
#8 NYIT @ #11 Dowling – 1 PM (Division II)
#10 LIU Post @ #13 Molloy – 3 PM (Division II)
#1 Tufts @ #7 Middlebury – 2 PM (Division III)
#6 Bates @ #4 Amherst – 1 PM (Division III)
#9 Ohio Wesleyan @ #8 Cabrini – Noon (Division III)
#19 Stevenson @ #12 Cortland – 1 PM (Division III)