No luck of the Irish: Notre Dame's stay at #1 was cruelly brief after losing 12-10 to St. John's on Saturday. Arguments could be made for both St. John's winning the matchup and Notre Dame losing it. On the one hand, Red Storm goalie Jeff Lowman stood on his head to help the Johnnys withstand an early barrage from the Irish, making six saves in the first quarter alone; St. John's also won the groundball battle and was nearly perfect (17/18) on clears. On the other hand, Notre Dame didn't convert any of its three extra-man opportunities, was only 14/19 on clears, and only held even at the face-off X--a consequence, no doubt, of losing stellar FOGO Liam O'Connor (how's that for a Notre Dame name?) at the start of the 2nd quarter. Either way, St. John's and Notre Dame played one of the top games from this past weekend.
Which brings us to...
Heeeeeere's the Johnnys!: The season being enjoyed by the St. John's Red Storm. Last week, Bucknell was the surprise darling of the NCAA lacrosse world. With the Bison stumbling and St. John's picking up a signature win, the Johnnys are the newest talk of the town. The Nike poll puts St. John's in 10th, a deserved spot with their three wins over ranked opponents (in addition to hanging tough with Syracuse). The coaches have been less impressed: a 14 ranking in the USILA poll suggests the coaches are more concerned with nailbiter wins over Yale, Siena and Hofstra. The Red Storm will have ample opportunity to prove which pollsters are right down the stretch, with remaining Big East games against a disappointing Georgetown squad and a Villanova team that beat Syracuse.
Whole lotta ugly blue: The only game keeping SJU/ND out of the top spot from last weekend was the Johns Hopkins vs. UNC-Chapel Hill clash. Carolina came into the game a slight favorite, ranked 6th to Hopkins' 8th. The two squads proceeded to slug it out as one would expect of two top 10 teams. The Heels' early lead held into the 4th quarter, when middie John Greeley gave Hopkins its first lead with under 5 to play. Carolina's Davey Emala answered with only 90 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. That's when UNCCH face-off man R.G. Keenan--in a game played at Carolina's Kenan Stadium--took matters into his own hands. Off the initial OT draw, Keenan went face-off/walk-off, beating Pierce Bassett only 7 seconds into the extra period.
Them again: Maryland is your new #1. Or perhaps more accurately, your new old #1. The Terps have held the top spot in 6 of the 8 USILA polls. And when they haven't been #1, they've been #2 (in the first poll of the year, and after losing to UNCCH at home). While the theme of the year has been parity and chaos, Maryland has seemed to buck the trend. An Old Line State showdown with Hopkins looms largest on the Terrapins' remaining schedule; if Maryland gets past the Blue Jays, look for them to be the #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
What's next: The Big East race could come into clearer focus this week: Notre Dame looks to bounce back against Marquette in a mid-week game (4:30 Eastern this afternoon, in fact); Villanova and Georgetown square off Wednesday evening; Georgetown and St. John's play Saturday afternoon; and Rutgers and Villanova round out the Saturday action with a 7 PM game. Carolina has the chance to put another nail in Virginia's NCAA coffin on Saturday afternoon in a big ACC matchup. And Syracuse plays Princeton for the right to be #8 (the two are tied in this week's USILA poll).
USILA Top Ten for 4/1/13
1. Maryland (7-1)
2. Cornell (9-1)
3. Denver (7-2)
4. UNC-Chapel Hill (7-3)
5. Notre Dame (6-2)
6. Loyola (8-2)
7. Duke (8-4)
8. [tie] Princeton (6-2)/Syracuse (6-2)
10. Johns Hopkins (6-3)
18 Virginia (5-5)