NCAA Power Rankings: New #1, UVa Team to Beat, PSU and Loyola Looking Big

We have a new top team in the land. Maryland is the new number one team with Virginia seizing the second spot while Syracuse continues to tumble. Penn also earned another early season win over a top 10 program in Denver.

1 Maryland (4-0)—It was a good day for Turtle Nation. Mike Chanenchuk put on another clinic tying his career high with five goals, the defense was aggressive, led by Michael Ehrhardt with six ground balls and four caused turnovers, while Niko Amato made 17 saves for the winning cause. Once again, the youngsters played a role. The Terps improved to 29-6 over Duke in College Park.

2 Virginia (6-0)—The season is far from over but Virginia is the hottest team in the nation right now. Their latest victory comes against ACC newcomer Syracuse. It was a high scoring affair that came down to possession. Groundballs (51-22), turnovers (only four), and efficiency at the draws by Mick Parks winning 24-of-31, all combined for a good part of the game that was played in Syracuse’s own zone. James Pannell (7 G) and Mark Cockerton (4 G, 3 A) continue to be difference makers.

3 Duke (4-1)—Against the stout Maryland defense, Duke could not crack the shell and suffered their first loss of 2014. The inexperienced midfield combined to shoot 1-18 while the team was held scoreless for 26:26 in the middle quarters. No rest for the weary with Loyola coming up this Sunday.

4 Johns Hopkins (4-0)—Tied four apiece in the first half, Johns Hopkins blew the game open with an 8-1 run to win 15-9 over Princeton. Once again, the attack unit continues its assault against opposing defenses. Ryan Brown scored eight points and Wells Stanwick contributed five points. Can they keep this up in a tough month ahead?

5 Loyola (4-1)—With their 14-7 win against Lehigh, the Greyhounds have taken over as the team to beat in the Patriot League. Kevin Ryan scored a career high five goals, Nikko Pontrello added four in the first half, and goaltender Jack Runkel made 13 saves. We shall see if Loyola can crack the top three when they host Loyola on Sunday night.

6 Notre Dame (2-1)—Trailing 8-3 in the third quarter, Matt Kavanagh led the Irish comeback as they knocked off the Tar Heels on the road. Matt Kavanagh led the way with five points (2 G, 3 A) while Liam O’Connor won 16-23 draws. The defense did their job holding North Carolina’s offense to 29 shots. Goalie Shane Doss came off the bench to make 10 saves to earn the win.

7 Penn State (3-1)—The Nittnay Lions used a six-goal run spanning two quarters to capture its second Creator’s Trophy in an 11-8 victory over Ohio State. Shane Sturgis (4 G, 1 A) and Kyle VanThof (3 G, 2 A) paced the scoring. Another crucial out-of-conference game approaches with a trip to Denver this week.

8 North Carolina (3-1)—Disappointing result for North Carolina as they allowed Notre Dame to come back from an 8-3 third quarter deficit to steal the win. The inability to make a pivotal defensive stand has hurt the Tar Heels for a long time and it did so again last weekend. Four failed clears and three extra man goals allowed in the second half contributed to the loss.

9 Syracuse (2-2)—Back-to-back ACC losses are a humbling reminder that the Orange are not in the Big East anymore. Good news from Saturday’s 17-12 loss to Virginia: the first midfield contributed eight of the 12 goals. Bad news: possession was heavily in favor of the Cavaliers due to ‘Cuse’s inability to win faceoffs, groundballs or clear the ball (15-20). They committed 12 turnovers total and allowed 55 shots. John Desko must make adjustments to get his team in positive possession numbers.

10 UMass (4-0)—Led by Nick Marino’s five goals, UMass beat down Brown 15-2. They forced 17 turnovers while Zach Oliveri made 10 saves. March 8 sees them take on Albany.

11 Yale (2-0)—Kevin Massa (14-21) may have won the faceoff duel against Dylan Levings (7-21), but Yale held off Bryant’s late push to preserve the win. Conrad Oberbeck and Colin Flaherty each scored a hat trick while the team caused eight of the Bulldogs 19 turnovers.

12 Denver (3-2)—The Pios jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first quarter but stumbled the rest of the way against Penn. Goaltending played a role as Jamie Faus only made one save in the second half. He replaced Ryan LaPlante who made seven saves in the first 30 minutes. Riding is also an area of concern as opponents are clearing successfully at 96 percent. Movement week ahead with Notre Dame and Penn State this week.

13 Penn (2-1)—Despite a slow start, Penn scored five of the last seven goals to stun No. 6 Denver. Kevin Brown scored three goals and Nick Doktor (2 G, 2 A), Isaac Bock (2 G, 1 A), and Pat Berkery (1 G, 2 A) provided the team’s balanced attack to seize the victory. Regional rival Villanova is up next.

14 Princeton (2-1)—Defense sank the Tigers as they were outmatched by the Blue Jays gunners. Outside of Ryan Ambler (2 G, 3 A), the attack struggled to keep up. It does not get easier as North Carolina comes to Sherrerd Field looking for a bounce back.

15 Cornell (3-0)—The Big Red survived a near stunner by Michigan thanks to Matt Donovan’s game-winner. Their offense is buzzing, but their goaltenders are struggling (44 percent) and must improve.

16 Lehigh (4-1)—The Mountainhawks were brought back down to Earth as Loyola assumes the top dog spot in the Patriot League. It does not get easier from here with upcoming games at Bucknell, at Yale, Navy and at Army.

17 Drexel (2-2)—Drexel unloaded 18 goals against Robert Morris and now welcomes St John’s to Philadelphia on Tuesday. They have a pair of one-goal losses to Virginia and Villanova and another win against Albany.

18 Albany (1-2)—Eight goals by Miles Thompson, including three behind-the-back, guided the Great Danes to their first win of the season against Harvard. Keep an eye on their next three games: at UMass, home vs Bryant and at Penn State.

19 Ohio State (1-3)—It is hard to find fault with the Buckeye’s losses, all close defeats to Johns Hopkins, UMass, and Penn State. It comes to finishing the job and finding that extra play to win the game. Coach Meyer’s team takes on Hofstra Saturday in a must-win situation.

20  St John’s (2-1)—We will see what the Johnnies are capable of in the next five games. It starts later today against Drexel, then Saturday against Syracuse, followed by Georgetown and Long Island rivals Hofstra and at Stony Brook. The defense will be tested and must rise to the challenge.

Honorable Mentions:

Hofstra (2-2)—A good bounce back week for the Pride with a weekday win over No. 19 Fairfield and an overtime victory over Georgetown. It was their first win past regulation since 2009 vs Army. Freshman Brier Davis tallied five goals in those two games. Sam Llinares leads the team with 16 points. We will see if they can crack the Top 20 with Ohio State coming to the Dutch Dome this Saturday.

Army (3-1)—Following their opening day loss to UMass, the Black Knights have rolled to three straight wins, including their first conference win of the season over Lafayette. Army’s defense has been stifling, holding teams to about 19 shots per game, a 5.00 GAA, while goaltender Sam Somers (57 percent) has played well.

Colgate (3-1)—Freshman goaltender Brandon Burke earned his second Patriot League Rookie of the Week honor following the Red Raiders win over Bucknell last weekend. He stopped 10 Bison shots and has jumped right into fray as one of the hottest goaltenders early in the year (5.62 GAA, 63 percent).