- Chris Jastrzembski
2023 Men's Lacrosse Week 3 Preview: Are you ready for some unreal games?
We'll be crossing the quarter-mark of the season by the end of the weekend. It felt like we were just getting ready for fall ball.
A good 37-game slate is on tap for the weekend with 28 of them on Saturday. I've got five games that are top-tier, must-watch contests with another six games that will definitely be interesting to view. There's no shortage of quality lacrosse this weekend.
We should figure out a little more about everyone and who's legit and who might not be. Or it could be a ton of chaos once again. I wouldn't mind either.
You can find every game, along with live stream and stat links, on this Google Sheet. It's the best place to get everything all at once for game day.
Let's check out some of the best games of the weekend (all spreads courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook). All games are on Saturday unless otherwise listed.
The Top Games
Virginia vs. Ohio State (in Naples, FL) (7 PM, BTN+); Virginia -3.5
You can make an argument that the five games listed in this section could be the game of the weekend. But this is the only game that has both teams undefeated. We kinda had a feeling both teams would be undefeated when they met, with Ohio State's game against North Carolina being the only question.
Two very different games last week. Virginia scored 20 goals in the first half against Harvard en route to an even crazier 25-21 win. Those games are what I call "fake close." After UVA went up 24-12 in the final quarter, Harvard scored eight of the game's final nine goals to make it look much closer than it was. Backups were in and it's a good learning opportunity for them.
Ohio State won a very low-scoring 8-5 tilt against North Carolina. After scoring one goal in each of the first three quarters, the Buckeyes erupted with five tallies in the final 15 minutes en route to a 6-1 second half over the Tar Heels.
I'm happy that we're seeing some really good games at neutral sites in non-traditional hotbed areas. And I'd rather much see nonconference games at neutral sites than a conference contest (cough cough North Carolina-Syracuse in Maryland in April). Let's see a game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area next year.
Maryland @ Princeton (1 PM, ESPN+); Maryland -2.5
Maryland won both meetings last year, including in East Hartford in the national semifinals. Both were decided by five goals, but the regular season matchup brought Princeton back into the spotlight as a team that was capable of a deep run in May.
The Terps got back on track last week with a solid win over a young Syracuse team. Maryland recorded the game's first 13 shots on goal in nearly half of the opening quarter and got ahead 3-0. The Orange fought back to keep it close but couldn't stay on pace with the defending national champs.
Princeton opened up their season with a dominating win over Monmouth and then a surprising 14-9 win over Manhattan on Tuesday. The Tigers finished the game on a 6-2 run after the Jaspers stayed within a goal midway through the third quarter. I was really impressed with how Manhattan played and don't think it was a typical "Tuesday is for the hunter" trap game. If they win the MAAC, the Jaspers are capable of giving a seeded team some trouble at least early on.
Both teams are different than when they last met on the lacrosse field, yet they're both still good. Should be a fun one in South Jersey (because Central Jersey doesn't exist).
Notre Dame @ Georgetown (12 PM, FloSports); Notre Dame -2.5
A tough first two weekends for the Hoyas, who entered the season with very high expectations. Instead, they're 0-2 after losses to Johns Hopkins and Penn. Brian Minicus had a goal and three assists last weekend, while Tucker Dordevic added a hat-trick of his own. Will Bowen caused three turnovers. But Penn's Emmet Carroll made 18 saves in goal.
Notre Dame is 2-0 after easy wins over Marquette and Cleveland State. This is their first real test of the season. If they beat the Hoyas by 10 or more goals like they have the opening two contests, there's going to be a lot of dialogue had on both programs. But we definitely shouldn't see it.
Pat Kavanagh leads the nation with six assists per game (12 in total). I would think he'll get matched up by Bowen in this contest. Two of Bowen's three caused turnovers happened against Sam Handley last weekend. The Hoyas won last year's meeting at Arlotta.
Speaking of Penn...
Duke @ Penn (1 PM, ESPN+); Penn -1.5
Penn has won three of the last four meetings against Duke since 2018. They're also a perfect 3-0 in games in University City. Very impressive performance last weekend down in the nation's capital.
It feels like a month ago but Duke defeated Denver in overtime last Friday. Brennan O'Neill's fourth of the game was the game-winner. Someone should be covering him at all times. But I still have questions on offense after him and Andrew McAdorey. We know Dyson Williams is a lethal finisher. Can anyone from the midfield stand out? Aidan Danenza or Charles Balsamo perhaps?
Loyola @ Rutgers (1 PM, BTN+); Loyola -1.5
Loyola showed everyone that the win over Maryland in the season-opener wasn't a fluke. They dismantled Johns Hopkins in another "fake close" game, 13-8. They lead 12-3 early in the fourth quarter. Matthew Minicus, Evan James, and Seth Higgins each had a pair of goals and an assist. Cam Wyers had three caused turnovers (is he one of the more underrated defensemen in the country?).
Meanwhile, I was a bit surprised to see Rutgers fall to Army West Point last week. But the Black Knight defense was stellar, causing 10 of the Scarlet Knights' 13 turnovers. Winner of this game will have something to show off to the Selection Committee come early May.
The Intriguing Games
Lehigh @ Cornell (12 PM, ESPN+); Cornell -3.5
Utah @ Johns Hopkins (12 PM, ESPN+); Johns Hopkins -4.5
Penn State @ Yale (12 PM, ESPN+); Yale -4.5
North Carolina @ Syracuse (3 PM, ACC Network); Syracuse -1.5
Boston University @ UMass (3:15 PM, ESPN+); UMass -1.5
Villanova @ Delaware (Sunday 12 PM, LacrosseTV & FloSports); Delaware -1.5
Cornell was in a surprising dogfight with UAlbany (pun intended) to start their season. I'll give that a pass with it being their opening game of the season. Lehigh's looked solid to open up the season. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the Mountain Hawks pull off the upset.
As I stated last week, Johns Hopkins is not back. The Loyola game affirmed that. But they can regain some momentum in their next pair of games against Utah and Saint Joseph's, two teams that will definitely be hungry for historic program wins at Homewood Field. And both of those teams are good.
After a rough start from their defense, Yale ended up beating Villanova by six goals. Chris Lyons had nine goals. Nice. Also, Matt Brandau had four goals and three assists. Jared Paquette made 18 saves in goal, including four in less than 20 seconds in what made him look like lacrosse's version of Dominik Hasek. They're my darkhorse to win it all.
It's not even March yet and we're starting conference play...in the ACC? Typically the Patriot League would kick off league play, but not this time. It'll be the first of two meetings between UNC and Syracuse with the other coming in April in Maryland, as aforementioned. Crossroad games for both programs.
BU got a nice bounce-back win against Bryant in overtime last weekend. They could be 0-2 at this point. Meanwhile we'll get a better look at UMass after beating UMass Lowell last Friday.
Finally, I'm excited to watch Villanova and Delaware as the Sunday showcase game. It's going to be Delaware's first real test of the season. And it's another tough opponent for Villanova, and I wouldn't be shocked if they pull off the upset either. Plenty of close lines this weekend.
The Other Good Games
Towson @ Richmond (Friday 4 PM, ESPN+); Richmond -2.5
Navy @ High Point (11 AM, ESPN+); High Point -1.5
Merrimack @ Denver (1 PM, Pioneers All-Access); Denver -4.5
Bryant @ Quinnipiac (1 PM, Quinnipiac All-Access); Bryant -2.5
Marquette vs. Michigan (in Naples, FL) (3 PM, BTN+); Michigan -3.5
Brown @ Vermont (Sunday 2:30 PM, America East TV); Vermont -1.5
Plan is to at the very least peak at these contests. The Saturday afternoon games will be tough to peak when there's a bunch of other really good games at the same time. On paper, it's really going to be fun. It better be even more fun when the action happens or I might be more disappointed than the Eagles losing the Super Bowl.
The Last Thing
Congrats to Concordia University Irvine out in California on elevating their MCLA club team to varsity at the NCAA Division II level, which will begin next season. Great to see and hopefully we have more of that. They beat Whittier earlier this month, who are playing their final season as a varsity program. CUI will end up being the lone men's NCAA lacrosse team in California.
Would love to see more club programs move up to the NCAA varsity level, even though it's nowhere near and easy move. It involves money, support, and Title IX cooperation. That being said, a club team option should also be made available in a perfect world. The goal should be getting more teams being sponsored by their respective colleges and universities with scholarships involved. They should be paying for the equipment, facilities, and more, not the players (and even coaches).
And don't ask me if I know of any schools looking to add men's lacrosse. Because I don't, and it's really hard to figure out who might be even thinking about it.