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Three College Lacrosse Favorites, Week 3

Another packed weekend of games is at our doorstep. By now, everyone has some games under the belt. The Ivy has joined the party and even played multiple games for some teams. Other teams around the country have played as many as five games already. And with all that data, the pecking order nationally is still shaking out. The great thing about this part of the year is getting to those non-conference games that you already know will be talking points in a few months when the NCAA tournament field is getting set. This is when at-large resumes are made, and these are my three favorite games this week that I’m sure we’ll be talking about down the road. 


All spreads come from DraftKings at the time of writing, all rankings are from the most recent Inside Lacrosse media poll


9 Johns Hopkins (-1.5) vs 15 North Carolina


The Jays come into this one with a 3-1 record, and those three wins are their last three games. The schedule has not been light for Hop, the opening loss to Denver in OT was a great battle, and they followed it with wins against Towson, Georgetown, and Loyola. Maybe not heavyweight contenders, but no cakewalk either. Carolina comes in 2-0, with wins over Mercer and Fairfield, so you could call this their first real test. 


For Hop, I’ve very much enjoyed watching Jacob Angelus play in the first month of the season. Looking at the Hopkins offense there are just so many weapons to pick from, so many players who can have that big game each week. But each week, it’s Angelus. He’s up to 21 points, averaging over five per game, and he’s either led or been tied for the team lead in points every game. Garrett Degnon is the only other player in double digits. 


For Carolina, it’s about the youth. Logan McGovern has 12 points and leads the team in scoring, he’s a grad transfer. The next highest scoring senior is faceoff man Andrew Tyeryar who has two goals. Dominic Pietramala and Owen Duffy, both freshman, are second and third on the team respectively in scoring. They tore up Fairfield. 


I find this game intriguing because we get to see what the young Carolina kids do with their first taste of a top ten opponent. The kind of atmosphere will be new for them, and seeing them respond will be fun to watch. Carolina has what looks like a two headed monster facing off in Tyeryar and Brady Wambach, if they can keep Hopkins off balance with it and win possession, can the kids succeed against an experienced defense with Scott Smith and Chayse Ierlan? Fun questions. And of course, there’s the “Coach Pietramala on the sideline against Hopkins” fun of this, which I’ll enjoy for the rest of my days. 


4 Maryland (-4) vs 11 Princeton


Last week Maryland got the OT win against Syracuse in the dome. It was the Terps second OT win of the year already in just three games. Maryland’s defense looks better all the time. Logan McNaney looked back to his NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player form against Syracuse, making 14 saves and five on Joey Spallina alone. Obviously we all know Ajax Zappitello is there, a 1st team All American and if you were handicapping it now, in my opinion the Schmeisser favorite. For thee second week in a row, we get a great individual matchup for Ajax. He’ll get to tangle with Coulter Mackesy, considered a Tewaaraton dark horse a year ago, and this year, by many, and with the departures in the portal the unquestioned top weapon on the Tiger offense. Mackesy has nine points in two games. 


For the Tigers though, what makes this interesting to me is the freshmen in the mix. Colin Burns and Nate Kabiri, both first years, are leading the team in scoring. Chad Palumbo, a sophomore who played sparingly last year as a freshman, has six points in two games. There are multiple reasons that makes this game a fun one for me. First, scouting a team with a bunch of freshman and new faces on it is hard. There isn’t a ton of film out there, it’s hard to prepare for players when you really don’t know much about tendencies and the different looks they can throw at you yet. On the flip side of that, Princeton’s young guns have to contend with a defense that is experienced and supremely talented. Ajax and Mackesy will get at top billing, but players like Burlace, Canfield, these are guys have who played against some of the best attackman in lacrosse in their careers, and McNaney stands behind it all. 


On top of that, Maryland will have to deal with the a very good goalie in Michael Gianforcaro. There are 13 players who have scored a goal for Maryland already, they spread the wealth on offense and get opportunities in transition for SSDMs and poles. They have risen to the occasion once already, shotting just under 45% against Cuse netminder Will Mark, one of the nation’s best. They’ll have to shoot well again this week. 


(RV) Penn (-1.5) vs 14 Delaware


We all had the same question about Penn when the year started. Whose team is this? Is going to become an attack led team on offense? Will they lean more on Gabe Furey in midfield? How does Leo Hoffman fit in and can he lead the offense as a freshman? Through two games for Penn, I don’t really know if those questions have been answered at all. Their defense on paper is solid, and Emmet Carroll has been good so far, which can buy them time to figure things out on offense. That’s what makes this game so interesting.


Delaware is arriving with Mike Robinson and JP Ward, a dynamic duo at attack that is as dangerous as just about anyone in the country. Robinson is a potential PLL draft pick this spring and a two league pro. He’s among the best pure lefty shooters and scorers in the country. Ward was one of only two players with a 40/40 season a year ago, the other was Brennan O’Neill. They can create goals out of thin air. The Hens offense is solid, the question for them is on the defensive end, as they deal with the graduations of Owen Grant and Matt Kilkeary. 


Both teams have a unit that is solid, and can bail the other end of the field out. And in this game, one teams solid is unit is up against the other team’s questionable unit. Who prevails? That’s why it’s fun.


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