NCAA Power Rankings Heading Into the Weekend

1) Maryland (5-0)—The Terps outlasted a feisty Stony Broom team and will prepare for Villanova for a Friday night lights showdown. Senior Mike Chanenchuk (16 goals, 5 assists) continues to do the heavy lifting. Freshman sensation Matt Rambo (11 G, 4 A), who has made a seamless transition to the college game, is my current choice for rookie of the year.

2) Loyola (5-1)—What a statement win by the Greyhounds. They took control of the seesaw match in the second quarter and never allowed Duke to mount a comeback. Heck of a day for Matt Sawyer and Nikko Pontrello who combined for 11 goals. The defense remains one of the most underrated in the nation with longpole Joe Fletcher and goaltender Jack Runkel.

3) John’s Hopkins (5-0)—A closer match than the score indicated, the Blue Jays were able to put away UMBC with a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter. Now Dave Pietramala’s squad turn their attention to Syracuse week at Homewood Field. Johns Hopkins leads the all-time series 27-23-1. The lone tie (a 4-4 score) was the first ever meeting back in 1921.

4) Duke (5-2)—Duke’s inconsistent offense and goaltending sank them against Loyola. The coaching staff should be able to get the most out of them, but there is not much time to tinker with the bulk of the ACC approaching. The Blue Devils bounced back nicely on Tuesday with a convincing 20-9 win over Marquette. The Battle of Tobacco Road approaches with #5 North Carolina this weekend.

5) North Carolina (5-1)—In a barnburner of a game between two of the nation’s best offenses, it was the Tar Heels defense that proved to be the late-game hero, silencing the Tigers for the final 14 minutes of the game. Chad Tutton (3 G, 1 A), Jimmy Bitter (2 G, 2 A) and Joey Sanky (1 G, 3 A) all had big days to get UNC a big non-conference win. A dominating 20-4 midweek win over Bucknell sets North Carolina up for their rivalry match against Duke.

6) Virginia (6-1)—It was bound to happen eventually, but an opponent finally made Virginia pay for letting a lead slip away. Up 5-2 in the second quarter, Cornell surged on a 9-0 and the Cavaliers had no answer until the game was out of hand late. Committing 17 turnovers never helps, but neither does a hot goaltender when you are trying to stop a run. It does not get easier as Dom Starsia’s crew travels to South Bend for the first time to face the Fighting Irish.

7) Penn State (3-2)—Penn State played well but fell in this wild west shootout to Denver 15-11. They received balanced scoring from across the line-up and led 7-4 at one point. But the Pioneers went on a five-goal run and never relinquished the lead. The defense also surrendered five goals in the fourth quarter, including one save on seven shots by Austin Kaut. They play CAA-foe UMass this weekend.

8) Cornell (5-0)—What potentially could have been a disasterous season, the Big Red are an early surprise. Their upset win over Virginia should be a warning sign for the Ivy League that they are still a threat. Credit to Head Coach Matt Kerwick for the adjustments he made after a sloppy first quarter, and the players, like Matt Donovan (2 G, 3 A), Connor Buczek (3 G) and Christian Knight (15 saves), who took control of the game for the final 45 minutes. Up next is a dance with the defending conference champs who are coming off a good win of their own.

9) Denver (5-2)—Credit to Bill Tierney’s boys for a solid weekend picking up two top-10 teams in Notre Dame, then Penn State two days later. Denver seemed on their heels at times on Saturday, but they finished their shots against the Fighting Irish, including junior Erik Adamson who scored six goals on 10 shots, and received a combined 17 saves from their goaltenders. Against Penn State, Adamson added another five points, and the offense outscored the Nittany Lions 8-4 in the second half. The defense also caused eight of their opponents 14 turnovers.

10) Penn (3-1)—Trailing 11-7 in the fourth quarter, Penn looked down and out. Yet the Quakers found a way, scoring five unanswered goals, including two from Drew Belinsky, claiming a 12-11 win in a stunner over crosstown rival Villanova. Despite getting dominated at faceoffs, Penn goaltender Brian Feeney was a difference maker with 15 saves. This team has some good resume wins and looks to carry that momentum this weekend against Tom Schreiber and the Princeton Tigers.

11) Syracuse (3-2)—John Desko’s team bounced back from two straight losses, defeating St. John’s 14-8 at the Cobb County Lacrosse Classic. Kevin Rice and Derek Maltz combined for eight goals and five assists. Good sign in the crease as Dominic Lamolinar made 12 saves before Bobbuy Wardwell finished up in the fourth quarter. Fun week ahead as it is the annual Syracuse-John’s Hopkin duel at Homewood Field. A nice confident booster for the Orange: they have won six of the last seven meetings.

12) Notre Dame (2-2)—Tough day shooting wise for Notre Dame. They outshot Denver 46-29 but only 24 were on the net. Conor Doyle shot 1-for-11, while John Scioscia recorded a hat trick on eight shots. They controlled this game but Denver’s rookie netminder frustrated them time and time again. Saturday’s game against Virginia will be a challenge should Notre Dame’s shooting woes continue.

13) Albany (2-2)—Labeled a battle of offense vs defense, Albany completely dismantled UMass’ stingy backfield 25-10. What is funny is that the Minutemen won every stat category, but Albany finished their chances. The Thompsons combined for 23 points against UMass. Blaze Riorden was equally impressive in goal, stopping 18 shots. Scott Marr’s team faces another tough defense in #20 Bryant this weekend.

14) Lehigh (5-2)—The Mountain Hawks earned their first Patriot League win of the season by downing Bucknell 9-3. Before Loyola took over as the alpha-dog, these two teams were the conference favorites. Unfortunately, Yale pounded Lehigh 10-2 over the weekend with a smothering defense. Their chances were limited, but more troublesome were 21 turnovers on the day. Navy is up next.

15) UMass (5-1)—Everything that could have gone wrong did against Albany. All Greg Cannella can do is take notes, burn the tape, and move forward. They did so on Tuesday by taming Providence 16-11 thanks to Grant Whiteway’s seven-goal day. CAA play begins this week with #7 Penn State.

16) Princeton (2-2)—The Tigers made two comebacks and took the lead three times, but were unable to sustain that pressure throughout the game. Defense was an issue, but five failed clears and 0-2 on the extra-man chances piled on to missed chances that cost them the game. Princeton needs a clean performance this week against #11 Penn before taking on a desperate Villanova squad.

17) Yale (3-1)—It was a rollercoaster week for the Bulldogs. Reeling from a one-goal defeat to Fairfield last Tuesday, Yale reaffirmed its status as a top-20 team with a dominant 10-2 victory over Lehigh. How good was the defense? The Mountain Hawks were held to just three shots on cage on 17 attempts. Dylan Leving struggled last week. Yale needs him this weekend against Doug Tesoriero and Cornell.

18) Hofstra (3-2)—Defense dictated this contest as the Pride limited Jesse King and the Ohio State offense to only five goals in their victory. Credit associate head coach Kevin Unterstein for the defensive gameplan, along with the entire unit, especially sophomore Finn Sullivan who shadowed King all day. Sophomore Sam Llinares (3 G) played excellent in ensuring Hofstra’s third consecutive win.

19) Colgate (5-1)—Outside of their loss to Lafayette, the Red Raiders have had a great opening month and a half of lacrosse. Senior Ryan Walsh leads the way with 13 goals and 8 assists while Alex Kinnealey has provided key wins at the faceoff dot (61-95, 64 percent). They have a good resume thus far, and have a chance to make some noise with Cornell approaching. First though is a match with Binghamton.

20) Bryant (4-2)—The Bulldogs continue to impress, knocking off a good Drexel squad 12-7. Freshman Tucker James has played strong early on with eight goals and four assists while sophomore goaltender Gunnar Waldt remains spectacular (7.19 GAA, 66 save percentage). Big test vs #13 Albany this week.