Lacrosse notebook: Catch up on your Big Ten men's lacrosse teams
Thursday is here, which means it’s time to post my Big Ten men’s lacrosse notebook where I touch on each of the six men’s teams and look ahead to their respective weekends.
No. 19 Johns Hopkins (3-5)
Hopkins can’t seem to catch a break. The Blue Jays fell this past weekend to No. 8 Virginia by a final of 16-15 in overtime. The loss marks the second OT defeat for Hopkins, who also lost to Princeton in extra time by the same score. The Blue Jays led 15-13 with just over 90 seconds to play but could not hold on. Freshman Joel Tinney (3g, 2a) and senior Holden Catonni (4g) were sensational in defeat, leading the way for a first midfield line that had been struggling. The loss means Johns Hopkins now needs to focus on league play in order to secure a spot in the Big Ten Tournament to have a chance to win the league title and the AQ for the NCAA Tournament that comes with it.
As the Jays open conference play this weekend, the opponent is Rutgers. These two have a rich tradition but have not met since 1998. The last time the Scarlet Knights beat the Blue Jays was on Homewood Field in 1990. Can the Scarlet Knights repeat that effort on Saturday?
No. 3 Maryland (7-1)
The Terrapins scored the biggest out-of-conference win to date for the Big Ten when they knocked off the No. 2 North Carolina in California this past Saturday. The 10-8 final illustrates Maryland’s profile- get to 10 goals first, control the tempo, and be stingy on D. Maryland did all three against the Tar Heels and handed the Chapel Hill team their first loss of the season. Joe LaCascio was great from the midfield, scoring a career high five goals. He is the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for that effort. Not to be outdone are defenders Matt Dunn and Matt Neufeldt. Dunn anchored the stingy hardshell defense while LSM Neufeldt gobbled up nine groundballs. They were named BIG Defensive Player and Freshman of the Week, respectively. Maryland grabbed another win on Tuesday by running by Robert Morris, 13-4.
This weekend, Maryland will host Michigan on Sunday at 5 p.m. The game can be seen live on the Big Ten Network and kicks off our coverage of Men’s Lacrosse in 2015. The teams met last season with Maryland rolling by a score of 13-5. The Wolverines are improved and hungry, so they will be looking to pull the upset. If the Terrapins can control the faceoff, it could be a long day for the Maize and Blue.
The Wolverines slipped back to .500 with a 9-7 loss to Drexel. Mike Francia (3g, 1a) and goalie Gerald Logan (13 saves) had good games. In a game of scoring runs, the Wolverines didn’t have enough to keep up with the Dragons.
Michigan will square off with Maryland at 5 p.m. on Sunday. This could be a great time for the Wolverines to make a statement. Can they win enough faceoffs to deny Maryland the right to dictate tempo?
No. 16 Ohio State (7-3)
The Buckeyes were riding high with two quality wins (Denver & Towson) on their resume and playing some good lacrosse. That changed somewhat as the boys from Columbus were shut out by Notre Dame, 9-0. That’s right, a shutout in lacrosse. Ohio State didn’t get many good looks on cage and had almost as many turnovers as shots (24 shots, 22 turnovers).
Ohio State will attempt to regroup this weekend against Penn State in State College. This could prove to be a good opportunity to get the mojo back against a team that is struggling at this point. The Nittany Lions do feature a steady netminder in Conor Darcy, so they will need to shoot well.
Penn State (3-5)
The good news is Penn State played No. 5 Denver very tight this past weekend. The bad news is the Nittany Lions lost to the Pioneers, 10- 8, at Hofstra. The Nittany Lions just seem to have a tough time sustaining any momentum. Attackman TJ Sanders continues to impress with 26 total points on the year.
Next up is Big Ten play and a date with Ohio State. The Buckeyes will be looking to get the poor taste out of their mouths after losing to Notre Dame (9-0). Penn State will need to stay focused, determined and continue to get solid goalie play.
The Scarlet Knights rebounded from a tough loss to Princeton by drilling NJIT, 21-2. Everything went right for Rutgers. Joe Nardella dominated faceoffs once again, winning 14-17 draws and adding an assist. For his work, Nardella was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week. Middie Brian Goss and attackmen Scott Bieda and Jules Heninburg combined for 13 goals in the rout.
Rutgers will visit Johns Hopkins on Saturday to kick off league play. With Nardella at the faceoff dot, the Scarlet Knights could own possession time and put a lot of pressure on the defense of Hopkins. Can their defense match up the right way with the Blue Jays to slow them down?
Mark Dixon, a former Johns Hopkins lacrosse player, contributes to Inside Lacrosse and calls Big Ten men’s lacrosse games on BTN. Follow him on Twitter (@dixonlacrosse).