Army, Rutgers Shake Things Up in Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men's Top 20

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES


Syracuse didn’t lose in 2020 before the pandemic brought things to a halt, and the Orange wasn’t a likely candidate to get blown out at all this year.

And then Sunday’s season opener happened.

Army drubbed Syracuse 18-11 in the most jolting result of the young 2021 campaign. It wasn’t that the Black Knights won; they’re smart, tough and schematically sound. Army usually creates headaches for Syracuse and has pulled off some victories in the Carrier Dome over the last dozen years.

How it happened was another matter.

Syracuse looked like a juggernaut early on, building a 6-1 lead late in the first quarter. But the Black Knights rallied for an 8-7 lead at the break and repeatedly possessed answers whenever the Orange mustered anything.

Army wound up with its largest scoring output against Syracuse since 1968. The Orange was left with its most lopsided loss in an opener since 1974. And both teams went in different directions in this week’s substantially jumbled rankings.

 

Nike/US Lacrosse
Division I Men’s Top 20

 
February 22, 2021

W/L

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1 Duke 4-0 1 2/27 vs. Air Force
2 Maryland 1-0 3 2/26 at No. 11 Penn State
3 Virginia 3-0 5 2/27 at No. 12 Syracuse
4 North Carolina 4-0 6 2/27 vs. No. 19 High Point
5 Georgetown 1-0 10 2/27 vs. St. John's
6 Ohio State 1-0 11 2/27 vs. No. 8 Rutgers
7 Army 1-1 15 2/27 vs. Saint Joseph's
8 Rutgers 1-0 18 2/27 at No. 6 Ohio State
Denver 3-2 9 2/27 vs. Providence
10 Notre Dame 0-0 8 2/27 vs. Robert Morris
11 Penn State 0-1 4 2/26 vs. No. 2 Maryland
12 Syracuse 0-1 2 2/27 vs. No. 3 Virginia
13 Loyola 1-1 12 2/27 vs. Utah
14 UMass 0-0 13 2/23 at UMass Lowell
15 Lehigh 0-0 14 2/27 vs. NJIT
16 Stony Brook 2-0 NR 2/27 at Hofstra
17 Richmond 0-2 17 2/27 vs. Towson
18 Navy 1-0 NR 2/28 vs. Jacksonville
19 High Point 1-1 NR 2/27 at No. 4 North Carolina
20 Johns Hopkins 0-1 19 2/27 at Michigan
Also considered (alphabetical order): Albany (0-0), Boston University (1-0), Bryant (1-1), Bucknell (0-0), Providence (1-1), UMBC (0-0)






Nike/US Lacrosse Rankings
Division I Men | Division I Women
Division II Men | Division II Women
Division III Men | Division III Women

HOT

Rutgers (+10)

The Scarlet Knights covered a lot of ground in their opener, an 11-9 defeat of Penn State. They took care of the Nittany Lions’ most visible known, limiting Mac O’Keefe to one goal on seven shots. They limited turnovers (12). Their new additions made huge impacts, with Connor Kirst pitching in three goals with four assists and brother Colin making 15 saves.

Brian Brecht’s bunch set down an early marker that it wouldn’t be easy for the rest of the Big Ten to deal with the Scarlet Knights this season. They’ll head to Ohio State next.

Army (+8)

After a 2005 NCAA tournament game against Army that included some scrappiness in the second half , then-Georgetown coach Dave Urick quipped, “We knew they wouldn’t quit; otherwise, we’re all in trouble.” Rest assured, the current Black Knights weren’t the least bit ruffled by an early five-goal hole at Syracuse.

Army dominated the last 45 minutes in the Dome, surging to an 18-11 victory. They closed on a 17-5 run, got four goals from both Brendan Nichtern and Bobby Abshire and ably bottled up everyone on Syracuse’s potent offense besides Tucker Dordevic. Wyatt Schupler made 12 saves, improving as the afternoon unfolded. And the Black Knights made major progress from Week 1 to Week 2, just as good teams often do.

Georgetown (+5)

The Hoyas were one of three Big East road winners this weekend, joining Denver (at Marquette) and Providence (at St. John’s). But with respect to the Pioneers and Friars, Georgetown demolished Villanova on the Main Line to open its season. Not only was the defense crisp in a 16-1 victory, but senior attackman Jake Carraway began a season that could get him Tewaaraton attention with an eight-goal barrage against the Wildcats.

Ohio State (+5)

The Buckeyes looked pretty good for a team that, like so many others, faced their share of preseason disruptions. Blessed with veterans in key spots, Ohio State earned a 14-8 victory at Johns Hopkins to open its 10-game Big Ten gauntlet. One looming question for the Buckeyes: When will they get back faceoff ace Justin Inacio, who was unavailable for the opener?

NOT

Syracuse (-10)

The Orange was good for a quarter … and then anything but for the final 45 minutes against Army. The Black Knights simply outplayed Syracuse, and the numbers back it up. The Orange shot 6 of 9 in the first quarter … and 5 of 27 the rest of the way. Army was 2 of 9 in the first period … and a whopping 16 of 35 over the final three quarters.

None of this wipes out Syracuse’s considerable experience, or its depth, or its fabulous midfield. But it isn’t going to be easy for the Orange to win its first national title since 2009. If Syracuse responds well in the coming weeks and months, the opening loss could come to be seen as a helpful development. But right now, it is just causing frustration.

Penn State (-7)

The dangerous thing about the Big Ten’s league-only schedule is there is trouble lurking nearly every weekend. The good thing is there are opportunities for quality victories just as often.

The Nittany Lions dropped their opener 11-9 at Rutgers in a game that was tied with seven minutes left. Penn State got within 10-9 with 2:31 to go before the Scarlet Knights added an insurance goal. Now comes Maryland ‘s visit to Happy Valley on Friday.

IN

Stony Brook (No. 16)

The America East has some other intriguing teams — Albany and UMBC, among them — but the Seawolves have actual game experience. After blasting Sacred Heart on Feb. 13, Stony Brook pulled away for a 14-8 defeat of Bryant on Saturday with a dominant second half. Next up: The battle for Long Island in the form of a visit to 1-1 Hofstra.

Navy (No. 18)

The Midshipmen delivered a methodical opener, besting Mount St. Mary’s 8-5. Navy led 6-0 at the break and didn’t allow a goal for the first 37:26. Sunday’s visit from Jacksonville is one of the week’s intriguing under-the-radar games.

High Point (No. 19)

The Panthers pull off the rare trick of rolling into the rankings with a loss, but they played well in throwing a 17-15 scare into North Carolina on Tuesday. Now they get to head to Chapel Hill again, with Round Two set for this weekend. Asher Nolting, fresh off a four-goal, five-assist outing against a solid Tar Heel defense, will look to help High Point add to its recent history of toppling ACC programs.

OUT

Cornell (was No. 7)

With the Ivy League announcing there would be no league competition in the spring, the Big Red are off the board for 2021. Among the teams Cornell joins on the sideline is Yale, which effectively announced it wouldn’t field a team this year earlier in the winter.

Penn (was No. 16)

The Quakers also depart the rankings thanks to the Ivy announcement. With the Ivies (plus Hampton) sitting out the season, there will be 66 Division I teams competing this spring — the fewest since there were 63 teams in 2013.

Villanova (was No. 20)

The Wildcats won’t soon forget their 2021 opener, a 16-1 drubbing at the hands of Georgetown. In normal times, you could say it’s a shame there are no mulligans in lacrosse. But with the Big East playing a double round robin, Villanova is due to visit Georgetown on March 27. 

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