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North Carolina and Virginia were road warriors Saturday, setting up a battle of the unbeatens this week. Duke dismantled Harvard in front of 13,000 lacrosse fans in Cambridge, Mass. Dartmouth shocked Cornell, while Navy (5-5), Notre Dame (5-4) and Johns Hopkins (4-5) are clinging to NCAA tournament hopes. The ACC is rolling and the Patriot League doesn't have a Top 20 team in my ballot.
Saturday's Big City Classic in the new Meadowlands stadium features the top four teams in the nation (UNC-Virginia, Princeton-Syracuse) at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
At times Saturday night, the Cavaliers looked invincible, but they also showed signs of being mortal on the defensive end. The Wahoos ambushed Maryland in front of a hostile crowd of 7,636 on Saturday night. Ground ball domination (up 20-7 at half) led to complete control. Chris Bocklet and Steele Stanwick each scored four times. The first midfield line of Shamel Bratton, Rhamel Bratton and Brian Carroll only accounted for two goals. Virginia's team speed is absurd. Chris LaPierre, Max Pomper and Mikey Thompson owned the Byrd Stadium carpet. Defender Ken Clausen put together another strong outing but the other Cavalier poles couldn't keep pace with Will Yeatman. The Cavs will take on the Tar Heels on Saturday at the new Meadowlands (ESPNU, 4 p.m. ET).
2. North Carolina
Thanks to UNC's win over Johns Hopkins, the ACC is now 30-1 out-of-conference this spring. The more I see the Heels, the more I like them. Saturday's win at Homewood Field was done without leading points-getter Thomas Wood and midfielder Sean DeLaney and midfield defender Tyler Morton. Player of the Year candidate Billy Bitter had four goals and drew two fouls that resulted in Carolina EMO goals. He's the clear frontrunner for the Tewaaraton Trophy. I was impressed with Carolina's toughness, scrapiness and willingness to play team ball.
The Orange picked up program win No. 800 by beating Albany 15-8 this week in front of 5,200 in the Carrier Dome. Chris Daniello chipped in five points and Josh Amidon and Stephen Keogh are shooting the ball well. Syracuse faces Princeton in the Big City Classic on Saturday at 6.30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Goalie Tyer Fiorito, after a slow start in 2010, is playing at top form. He made 17 saves in the Tigers' 9-7 win over Brown in front of 6,400 fans at Gillette Stadium. Chad Wiedmaier is back on defense and Princeton is now in the catbird seat to win the regular season Ivy League title. The Tigers are minus six goals in the specialty departments and have been out ground balled this year. Attackman Jack McBride has 18 goals, Rob Engelke has 21 points, and Mike Chanenchuk has 19 points after sitting out the 2009 season with an injury. Tigers get a serious test on Saturday at 6.30 p.m. on ESPNU against Syracuse.
Terps stumbled out of the gate, falling behind 6-0 in the early stages against Virginia. Maryland wouldn't give up though, and played inspired lacrosse in the second half, losing by one goal. Will Yeatman and Brian Phipps were the two anchors on Saturday. Maryland defended well against the Brattons, but attackmen Bocklet and Stanwick got too many strong looks. Maryland must regroup to challenge a hungry Navy team this week.
Thirteen thousand fans showed up at Harvard Stadium to watch Duke dismantle the Crimson on a gorgeous Friday night. The Blue Devils have won six straight overall, and under John Danowski, play their best lacrosse in the month of April. Duke is now averaging more than 12 goals per game, shooting 33 percent, and have converted 53 percent of their extra-man attempts. Attackman Max Quinzani has 42 goals and Tewaaraton finalist Ned Crotty has 36 assists. Midfielders Justin Turri and Steve Schoeffel have come alive with 10 goals apiece. They all will try to pad their stats this week against Jacksonville and Presbyterian.
The Minutemen held serve over Penn State 10-7 and have now scored double digit goals in every game this spring. UMass plays Towson on Saturday.
Freshman Robert Church scored seven times as Drexel nipped Hofstra 13-11. Church now has four game-winning goals this spring. The Dragons own wins over Notre Dame, Lafayette and Hofstra and are in the hunt for the CAA title or an at-large NCAA bid. New coach Brian Voelker has relied on Scott Perri (31 pts), Colin Ambler (29 pts), Robert Church (24 goals) and Kevin Stockel (14 goals). Goalie Mark Manos is saving 60 percent. The Dragons host Penn State on Saturday.
The Hoyas are fun to watch. They needed overtime to get past Navy on Friday night. It was a season-making win; a loss would have been devasting, considering they were up 12-9 in the fourth quarter. With wins over Harvard, Delaware and Navy, Georgetown is beginning to build an NCAA caliber resume. But the Hoyas still have much work to do with have games against Mt St Mary's, Notre Dame, Loyola, UMass, Rutgers and Villanova.
The Greyhounds' defense has been superb, only surrendering double digits once this year (11 to Notre Dame). Loyola beat Ohio State 11-9 in a workmanlike performance. Their wins don't jump off the page quite yet -- Navy and Towson. Three of their final five games are on the road, and the level of competition increases. Loyola finishes at Fairfield, against Georgetown, at Hobart, at Denver and at Johns Hopkins on May 8 in what may be a defacto NCAA outer-bracket game.
The Pride lost a nailbiter to Drexel 11-10 this weekend. In three loses, Hofstra has given up 13.6 goals per game. The CAA looks much stronger than the America East, MAAC, ECAC and Patriot Leagues and should get at least two, if not three, NCAA tournament qualifiers.
The Big Red lost to Dartmouth in Gillette Stadium, only scoring six goals in the process. It was a signature win for new Dartmouth coach Andy Towers. Goalie Fergus Campbell made 23 saves and Ari Sussman shined. Sussman, a former Under Armour All-American, continues to be productive without much national fanfare.
13. Stony Brook
The Seawolves own wins over Siena, Towson, Delaware, Bryant, UMBC and St John's -- none are Top 20 teams right now. They must win their conference tournament AQ to make the NCAA tournament.
Gigantic win for Villanova this week over Notre Dame. Kevin Cunningham had three goals and one assist as Nova won its ninth consecutive home game. The Wildcats have key wins over bubble teams -- ND, Fairfield and Drexel. Their game on May 8 against Georgetown looms large.
Coach Andrew Copelan has the Stags on a five-game win streak heading into next week's showdown with Loyola.
The Bears have dropped three straight -- on the year they've come up short against quality competition in Hofstra, UMass, Duke and Princeton. If Brown hopes to make a return trip to May Madness, it will have to finish the year with a flourish.
The only reason I'm keeping Harvard in the Top 20 is because they've beaten UMass.
18. Johns Hopkins
If Hopkins finishes the season 8-6, they have an outside shot to make the NCAA tournament with a strong SOS and RPI. At 9-5 they should be a lock. The Jays have very little room for another slip up and still must face Maryland, Navy, Loyola, Albany and Towson. This is the third straight year that Hopkins has fallen below .500 near the midpoint of the season. Saturday's UNC loss featured a first midfield group of John Ranagan, John Greeley and Mike Kimmel that shot a combined 1-17. Freshman goalie Pierce Bassett made six saves in his debut but the Jays struggled to keep pace with Billy Bitter and Carolina's ferocity on defense.
The Bulldogs beat Penn 16-14 last weekend. If Yale can beat Brown and Dartmouth in the regular season and win its Ivy League semifinal game, the Bulldogs will make the NCAA tournament without question. Anything less puts them on the bubble.
20. Mount St. Mary's
The Mountaineers have rattled off five straight wins for coach Tom Gravante, including Saturday's 14-12 win over Lafayette. Gravante faces his former coach, Georgetown's Dave Urick, on Wednesday.