Quint Kessenich: College lacrosse midseason report

March 31, 2011|By Quint Kessenich, The Baltimore Sun

With six Saturday's remaining in the regular season, it's time to hand out our mid-term grades. Syracuse and Notre Dame have aced their tests, while Maryland and Princeton need some extra help. Rob Pannell and Nicky Galasso headline the Dean's List, while Loyola hopes to shed the dunce cap. Study up, the final exam is scheduled for Memorial Day.

They get an A+

Rob Pannell: Cornell's junior attackman leads the nation with 5.5 points per game and has 116 career assists to lead all active players. Pannell is the game's most dangerous player, a triple threat who's able to dodge, pass or shoot. The Long Island native has scored a point in 43 straight games and is my favorite to win the Tewaaraton Trophy ahead of Steele Stanwick, John Lade, Kevin Crowley, Shamel Bratton, Brian Karalunas and Jeremy Boltus.

Maryland and Northwestern women's teams: Last year's finalists are a combined 20-0 and on course to meet in the NCAA championship game at Stony Brook in May. That's must-see TV, except it won't be televised.

They get an A

Syracuse defense: The Orange's offensive woes continue, but the back line has shined, holding opponents in check. The starting seven of goalie John Galloway, defenders John Lade, Brian Megill, Thomas Guadagnolo, Joel White, Kevin Drew and Tim Harder have limited teams to just 7.8 goals per game and are unbeaten despite their anemic offense.

Nicky Galasso: North Carolina's freshman attackman has lived up to the hype, averaging 3.9 points per game. The left-hander has range and smooth fakes from the crease, but his best skill is passing. He also has exceptional vision and game sense. UNC faces Hopkins on Sunday at the Meadowlands (4 p.m., ESPNU).

John Lade: This eraser does his job without fanfare or flash. The senior defender from Syracuse makes names disappear from the box score. Just ask Steele Stanwick, Alex Demopoulus, Kevin Cunningham and Jeremy Boltus.

Mike Murphy:It was a gutsy move by the second-year coach from Penn to turn up the volume on the Quakers' schedule. His aggressive tactics paid off with a win over Duke. It's the type of quality win that gets rewarded on NCAA selection Sunday.

They get an A-

Big East: March was a month to forget for the Big East on the hardwood, but it was a superb start for the league on the lacrosse field. Syracuse and Notre Dame are the nation's only unbeatens, and Villanova is in the playoff discussion.

They get a B+

Duke: The Blue Devils ride a seven-game winning streak into Sunday's showdown with Syracuse (6:30 p.m., ESPNU). Duke dropped two early games to Notre Dame and Penn, but shifted freshmen Jordan Wolf and Christian Walsh back to their natural attack positions and began to click. , and began to clicking. Credit team leaders CJ Costabile, Zach Howell and Tom Montelli for the turnaround.

They get a B-

Referees: The zebras are getting accustomed to the new high hit rules. Properly assessing punishment on bang-bang plays is challenging. Players beware: head hunting isn't being tolerated.

They get a C+

ACC: The nation's premiere league was 45-2 out of conference in 2010 but hasn't gotten off to a great start in 2011. ACC schools have already accumulated five losses out of league, and are staring at two more this weekend.

They get a C-

Virginia defense: The Cavs were unable to get a late stop in losses to Syracuse and Johns Hopkins. Will Virginia play zone defense this week against Maryland? Will coach Dom Starsia adjust personnel? Or turn up the heat and increase perimeter pressure?

Maryland: The Terps are on the playoff bubble, needing to beat Virginia (Saturday, noon, ESPNU), Hopkins or win a game in the ACC tournament. When Debbie Yow hired John Tillman she made it crystal clear that winning in May was a priority. If this team doesn't wake up in April, it won't be relevant in May.

They get a D+

Syracuse offense: Take a look at shots per game stats from Syracuse title teams: In 1990, Syracuse averaged 55.3 shots per game; in 1995, it was 54.9; a decade later in 2004, the total slipped to 44.5; and in 2009, it fell to 41.3. This season, it's just 37.1 shots per game. The Syracuse "run and gun" moniker can be officially retired.

They get a D

Loyola: Falling to ECAC rival Denver is no big deal, but losing to Air Force is eye-opening.

They get a D-

Pace of play: Soccer scores don't strengthen the game's argument as the fastest on two feet. Too much standing around, waiting for endless substitutions, coupled with conservative zone defenses and cautious offensive schemes have left fans craving excitement. Sports fans who watch lacrosse wonder why the game doesn't have a shot clock. If the product isn't compelling, only the hardcore will watch.

They get an F

Princeton: The Tigers sit at 1-5 and 0-2 in the Ivy League with six regular-season games to play. Ravaged by injuries to Jack McBride and Thomas Schreiber, their offense has only scored 41 goals in six games. Another league loss would be devastating.

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