staff, April 9, 2015

Every Thursday I take a look at each of the six Big Ten men's lacrosse teams and give an overall assessment of their season with a quick look ahead to the weekend. Johns Hopkins faces Penn State, Maryland heads to Rutgers and – wait for it – Michigan goes up against Ohio State.


Johns Hopkins (4-6, 1-1 Big Ten)

The Blue Jays lost a tough one to Ohio State by a final of 15-12. The game was really the first big Big Ten game: two teams vying for conference position with a huge feather in the cap to the winner and some work to do for the loser. Now Hopkins has some work to do. At 1-1 in the league, the margin of error has shrunk again for the Blue Jays. Against the Buckeyes attackman Ryan Brown went off for eight goals. Brown was superb, scoring goals in a variety of ways. His performance earned him Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week notice. Old problems – primarily spotty goaltending and less than stellar midfield defense – once again proved to be the undoing of Johns Hopkins.

This week the Jays welcome Penn State to Homewood Field. The two coaches – Dave Pietramala and Jeff Tambroni – know each other very well. Tambroni served as an assistant to Pietramala at Cornell and took over head coaching duties when Pietramala left for Hopkins. The two always scheduled scrimmages against one another, both when Tambroni was at Cornell and now at Penn State. This time they tangle for real in an important Big Ten contest. It will be the first meeting on the lacrosse field between the two schools since 1946.

No. 3 Maryland (10-1, 2-0)

The Terps took two more victories over Penn State and Loyola. Against the Nittany Lions the hardshells exploded for eight first quarter goals en route to a 12-5 victory. Matt Rambo was exceptional, recording five points on three goals and two assists. The win, however, came with a price, as faceoff man Charlie Raffa was injured in the 1st quarter and did not return. He is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury. Last night the Terps tangled with in-state rival Loyola. Maryland fought its way to an 11-10 win. Raffa did not play and was missed in the lineup. Using a combination of Jon Garino and Andrew Walsh, the Terps won only 9-24 faceoffs. They still got the win with some great playmaking by Jay Carlson (3g) and Bryan Cole (1,2).

This weekend Maryland travels to Rutgers on Sunday to challenge the Scarlet Knights at 6 p.m. ET live on the Big Ten Network. This will be the first meeting between the teams since 1998, where the Terps prevailed 16-11. The Scarlet Knights present a unique challenge to the Terps.

Rutgers features Joe Nardella, one of the best faceoff men in the nation. Will Raffa be back? Or will the Terps be able to neutralize Nardella? The nation?s No. 2-rated defense could find another stiff test coming off of the one goal win versus Loyola.

Michigan (5-5, 1-1)

Michigan scored a critical 10-8 win over Rutgers this past Sunday. One, the win snapped a two game Wolverine skid. Two, the win gives Michigan some breathing room at 1-1 in the conference and the inside track to a berth in the Big Ten Tournament. This game also marked the return of Ian King. King had missed four games with an injury but remained the team?s leading scorer even as he missed the action. King made up for lost time in this one as he pumped in four goals in the win. His heroics were not the only bright spot for Michigan. Goalie Gerald Logan made 13 saves. His performance got him Co-Specialist of the Week notice for the week by the Big Ten.

This weekend the Wolverines tangle with Ohio State. This game will be a spectacle as the two get after it under the Big Ten banner for the first time. The Maize and Blue vs. the Scarlet and Grey in Big Ten Lacrosse has a nice ring to it! The last meeting between the two was 2013. The Buckeyes claimed a 17-8 win that day. At stake for Michigan this time around- further evolution as a program and continued momentum in terms of securing a top four seed and berth in the conference tournament.

No. 14 Ohio State (9-3, 2-0)

What a win for the Buckeyes last week. Ohio State defeated Johns Hopkins for the first time ever. The 15-12 win was surprising on a couple levels. First, no one really expected the high score we got. Second, Ohio State had never beaten the Blue Jays … ever. Led by the combination of Jesse King and Carter Brown, who combined for 11 goals, the Buckeyes got some solid faceoff work and better goaltending.

Christopher May went 18-29 at the dot, while goalie Tom Carey made 14 saves on the night. The two were a big reason Ohio State took the game. May was recognized as the Big Ten co-specialist of the Week.

Michigan, or "The School Up North," is the opponent this week. Ohio State will need to be on their toes as the Wolverines would like nothing better than to pull the upset. Michigan has too many athletes to sleep on, and they will take it to you. The Buckeyes need to win some possessions early then try and frustrate the Wolverine runners with the tactic.

Penn State (3-7, 0-2)

The Nittany Lions are struggling right now, losing four straight and five out of their last six. The latest setback was to Maryland by a final of 12-5. Defensively Penn State got overwhelmed in the 1st period, falling behind 8-2. They never really got on track. Penn State is in dire need of an offensive QB.

Penn State travels to Baltimore for a Saturday clash with Hopkins. The Nittany Lions will need to incorporate quick ball movement into the offense. They will need to play together in order to knock off Hopkins.
Rutgers (4-8, 0-2)

The Scarlet Knights dropped a tough one to Michigan by a final of 10-8. Up by one at half Rutgers got blitzed in the 3rd period by Michigan. One bright spot was the play of freshman Jules Heninburg, who scored two goals and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. Other solid performances came courtesy of Scott Bieda (2,5) and Joe Nardella (16-22). These two have been bright spots all season long.

The game this weekend vs. Maryland could be very interesting. If Charlie Raffa doesn?t play Rutgers and Nardella will have the opportunity to jump start some things. At 0-2 Rutgers desperately needs a win to stay alive in the fight for a top-four seeding and a berth in the Big Ten Tournament in late April. They will likely get possessions but the trick will be how they attack the Maryland defense.

Don?t forget to check out the BTN TV schedule for lacrosse as well as the BTN Plus live streaming schedule, too.


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).