THIS. IS. FEBRUARY LACROSSE!
If you don’t know what movie that sort of is from, it’s from 300 (and you should probably watch at least that scene right now).
We have a great slate of Division I games this weekend, including six of the top ten teams in the nation taking on another ranked team. Many of these games are on Saturday, so set aside your Saturday.
#1 Notre Dame vs. #15 Georgetown (in Georgia) – 11:30 AM
The top-ranked team in the nation kicks off their season with a tough task at a neutral site against one of last year’s most improved teams in Georgetown. The Irish return a ton of talent from last year, including Matt Kavanagh and Mikey Wynne on attack. Their biggest strength is on defense, with Edwin Glazener, Garrett Epple, and last year’s top defenseman Matt Landis, along with goaltender Shane Doss and his backup Conor Kelly. The Hoyas are a very young team, which includes freshman Dan Bucaro. Although Bo Stafford and Reilly O’Connor are gone, the team returns seven of their top ten scorers from last season, including Craig Berge, Stephen Quinzi, and Peter Conley. Michael Mayer will also return as the team’s leader in caused-turnovers last season on defense, along with goaltender Nick Marrocco.
#20 Villanova @ #18 Harvard – Noon
It’ll be the season openers for both teams who have high expectations after poor finishes last season. In a Big East conference that has other good teams outside of Denver, the Wildcats will have to claw through the conference with Georgetown and Marquette with the likes of Sean Cerrone, Jack Curran, the return of Devin McNamara, and welcoming in transfer Jake Froccaro and his brother Joey Froccaro. Harvard returns their top 12 scorers from last season, including Devin Dwyer and Deke Burns. The Crimson are a young team, and return most of their personnel on defense, including Matt Ryan. The additions of Ben DeLuca, Eric Wolf, and Joe Nardella to Chris Wojcik’s coaching staff helps the Crimson as well.
#6 Johns Hopkins @ #8 Loyola – 1 PM
The Charles Street Rivalry returns after a year hiatus due to scheduling conflicts and Hopkins moving to the Big Ten. Hopkins comes off of a double overtime win against Navy a week-and-a-half ago, led by six goals from senior Ryan Brown. Shack Stanwick, John Crawley, and freshman Drew Supinski will try to beat Loyola for the first time since 2012. The Greyhounds have offensive weapons of their own, including Zach Herreweyers, Tyler Albrecht, Brian Sherlock, and freshman Pat Spencer. Goaltender Grant Limone had a great day in the cage last week in a win against Virginia, and hopes to carry that momentum into another big game.
#2 Denver vs. #3 Duke – 2 PM (GAME OF THE WEEK)
In a weekend full of potential games of the week, #2 against #3 is my pick for Game of the Week. The Pioneers are coming off a near scare from in-state rival Air Force last week, where freshman Nate Marano scored four goals, including the game-tying and game-winning goals. Another freshman, Alex Ready, made 13 saves in goal in his college debut. The Blue Devils come off of two wins last weekend against High Point and Lehigh. Jack Bruckner and Justin Guterding are threats at attack, and you can’t forget Myles Jones at midfield alongside Deemer Class. We should see a ton of offense like last year’s meeting, which Denver won 17-11.
#19 Penn State @ #14 Cornell – 3 PM
Nittany Lions head coach Jeff Tambroni returns to Ithaca for the first time since he left for Penn State in 2011. He brings in one of the nation’s best freshman in Grant Ament, who has five goals and seven assists in two games this season. He complements senior TJ Sanders on offense. Sophomore goalie Will Schreiner has been solid as the starter, winning both games and recording a save percentage of .467. Cornell doesn’t have a ton of experience returning from last season, except John Edmonds and Domenic Massimilian. The addition of freshman defenseman Chad Otterman also helps the team. The Big Red won’t have Christian Knight in goal due to an ankle injury. Senior Brennan Donville is expected to get the start.
#12 Albany @ #4 Syracuse – 4 PM
Albany and Syracuse will conclude this weekend’s fun action with an afternoon matchup in the Carrier Dome. The Great Danes lose Lyle Thompson, but Seth Oakes and Connor Fields are still dangerous even without Thompson. And let’s not forget what Blaze Riorden did in the NCAA First Round last May. The Orange are coming off a nine-point explosion from Dylan Donahue, but face another challenge. Graduate transfer attackman Nick Piroli suffered a PCL injury that will keep him sidelined for at least 4-6 weeks, which means that there’s an open spot at attack for the Orange. Except Tim Barber or freshman Devin Shewell to take his place, although Kevin Donahue might rotate a number of guys on attack and midfield until something clicks.
#5 Adelphi @ #10 Tampa – 7 PM (Division II)
Lehigh @ Furman – 11 AM
High Point @ #5 Maryland – Noon
#11 Brown @ Quinnipiac – Noon
#10 Ohio State @ UMass – Noon
Richmond @ UMBC – Noon
#13 Virginia @ Drexel – 1 PM
Hofstra @ #7 North Carolina – 2 PM
Michigan @ Penn – 3 PM
#3 LIU Post @ #4 Merrimack – Noon (Division II)
#20 Montclair State @ #5 Salisbury – 1 PM
Delaware @ #16 Navy – Noon