It’s midweek, and now that I’ve officially picked my jaw (and the pieces of my shattered heart, thank you Tarheels) off the floor, we can start talking about the second week’s match-ups.
Last weekend opened when The Scooby-Doos reenacted Denzel Washington (to Loyola’s Ethan Hawke) and took the Greyhounds on a “Training Day” style ride. The Big Red were centimeters away from tipping a pass that ended up in the smooth stick of Channy, who ripped the game winner with mere seconds remaining to keep the “Route-1ers” championship weekend dreams alive. Then, Drexel and their “Bozo the Clown” numbers used a seventeen-second, three-goal barrage to swing the momentum and take down the tournament’s fourth seed. Finally, what lacrosse fan couldn’t watch in shock as Syracuse, with all of their offensive prowess, could not figure out how to dissect a standard zone defense. (Hats off to Coach Pressler and his guys!)
Now with the second week’s match-ups about to heat up, I know everyone’s eyes will be on the noon face-off at the University of Dupont Stadium between Duke and Johns Hopkins. I’d be a “fool’s fool” if I didn’t say this game didn’t have all the window dressings of a Salvatore Ferragamo store on 5th Avenue. But sometimes, you want to shop at the grittier boutiques in Brooklyn. I have some serious intrigue zoning in on The Concrete Jungle of Hempstead, New York, where Albany will battle Notre Dame their spot in Baltimore. I can see any number of outcomes taking place.
By this point, every lacrosse fan and non-sports caring American has heard of the Thompson-trio. If you haven’t been a privy to their story allow me to let you in on another secret: The Stanwick family plays lacrosse, and each member has an amazing skill set. These kids are the Pusha-T of college lacrosse; they continuously put numbers on the board. The Great Danes seem to score in bunches and perform best when they get out to an early lead and force a team to play catch up. When Ryan Feuerstein, John Maloney and (remember this name because when Ty and Miles are no longer, this kid is the next in line to BALL with Lyle). When Drake Bennett gets involved in the offense early, things become lights-out and nearly impossible to stop. On the other hand, when Scott Marr’s bunch is slow to get out of the gate, they press, and absurd turnovers occur like holes in a suit from Jos. A. Bank; early and often. That ripple effect results in constant pressure, and Blaze Riordan can only hold the flood gates for so long. Like the wise man Sean Carter once said, “pressure busts pipes”. We’ll have to wait for Saturday to see if Albany brings this to the Fighting Irish or applies it to themselves.
On the opposite side, Notre Dame does not send out any slouches. Super Soph and resident tough guy Matt Kavanagh is flanked by the under-appreciated Conor Doyle and John Scioscia. The Irish put an all-around group of middies on the field, led by steady team captain Jim Marlatt and freshman Sergio Perkovic. With Liam O’ Connor doing the grunt work and scooping up a team-leading 102 ground balls, Notre Dame’s offense has been able to do what it does best and maintain solid offensive possessions. The men from South Bend have been through some up-and-down times this year, and I just can’t seem to really put my finger on their pulse. It will be interesting to see if defenseman Stephen O’Hara and his bruising style have a different effect than Joe Fletcher’s did on Lyle Thompson. Will Notre Dame employ any special off-ball defensive techniques to minimize Miles and his super sexy stick skills? The Shamrocks are constantly (and justifiably) slammed as being a program that slows down the game offensively and almost bores the other team into losing, while imploring a staunch and tactical defense. On the flip side, let’s take a look at their last three contests, where the offense has put up 15, 18, and 13 goals (all victories) and had to get up and down the field to propel them to this quarterfinal match-up. Does anyone really know what we are going to get from the boys hailing from the toes of Touchdown Jesus?