Ivy Envy: Yale No. 1, Princeton No. 5 in Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men's Top 20

PHOTO BY PETE EMERSON

Luke Crimmins celebrate's Princeton's upset win over Virginia on Saturday.


About the only time a team can vault from unranked to the top five in a week is in a season’s opening months. Even then, it requires some special circumstances.

Let’s just say Princeton checks a lot of boxes this week.

The Tigers traveled to defending national champ Virginia and left with a 16-12 victory. They’re undefeated, so there’s no evidence they’re not really good in 2020. Oh, and they have Michael Sowers, who averaged a cool 11 points a game over an eight-day span.

Three comfortable victories plus the presence of an immense offensive force who has rarely commanded the national spotlight because of only moderate team success equals quite the formula to make a splash — and even somewhat overshadow fellow Ivy Leaguer Yale’s rise to No. 1 after its 12-10 victory at Penn State.

Nike/US Lacrosse
Division I Men’s Top 20

 
Feb. 24, 2020

W/L

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1 Yale 2-0 3 2/29 at UMass
2 Penn State 3-1 1 2/29 at No. 9 Penn
3 Notre Dame  2-0 5 2/29 at No. 8 Maryland
4 Syracuse 3-0 6 2/28 vs. Hobart
5 Princeton 3-0 NR 2/29 vs. Johns Hopkins
6 Virginia 2-1 2 2/25 vs. High Point
7 North Carolina 4-0 9 3/1 at No. 12 Denver
8 Maryland 3-1 4 2/29 vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
Penn 1-1 10 2/29 vs. No. 2 Penn State
10 Cornell 3-0 11 3/1 at No. 18 Ohio State
11 Duke 2-2 8 2/28 vs. Richmond
12 Denver 3-1 12 3/1 vs. No. 7 North Carolina
13 Loyola 2-1 13 2/26 vs. Towson
14 Georgetown 3-0 16 2/25 vs. Mount St. Mary's
15 Army 3-2 7 2/29 vs. Holy Cross
16 Lehigh 3-1 18 2/29 vs. Navy
17 Villanova 2-2 NR 2/29 vs. Delaware
18 Ohio State 3-1 20 3/1 vs. No. 10 Cornell
19 Marist 2-1 NR 2/25 vs. Hartford
20 Saint Joseph's 3-1 NR 2/29 at Monmouth
Also considered (alphabetical order): Air Force (3-2), Delaware (3-1), Harvard (1-0), Hobart (3-0), Hofstra (2-1), Johns Hopkins (1-2), Richmond (2-2), Rutgers (2-2)





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

HOT

Yale (+2)

The Bulldogs are one of six teams to move up a couple places. Some, quite frankly, were boosted a bit by inertia. Not Yale. With a balanced offense and TD Ierlan handling the X with his usual aplomb (16 of 26, 15 ground balls), the Bulldogs turned back Penn State for the third time in exactly 365 days.

If not for a fine outing by Penn State goalie Colby Kneese (16 saves), Yale might have managed a more comfortable margin than two goals. Still, any winning margin is an impressive one against the loaded Nittany Lions, and Yale’s ability to build an early lead and then hold on echoed last year’s NCAA semifinals. Don’t be stunned if there’s an encore of this pairing sometime in May.

NOT

Army (-8)

The Black Knights went 0-for-2 this week, though a 9-7 loss at Syracuse on Sunday is the sort of thing no one will hold against Joe Alberici’s team. Army led by two with nine minutes to play, only for the Orange to uncork one of its patented late-game runs. A dominant faceoff performance helped Syracuse as well.

Most of the Black Knights’ step backward is rooted in an eight-goal loss to Marist, an unexpected blip not because the Red Foxes aren’t a good program (they are) but instead rooted in the still-jarring defensive performance. Army gave up 17 goals to Marist; it has yielded 18 in its other four games. That’s just a puzzler, even if the Red Foxes have some intriguing young offensive pieces.

Maryland (-4)

The Terrapins lived dangerously one too many times, dropping a 13-12 decision at Villanova on Tuesday. Maryland needed rallies to upend Richmond and Penn the previous two weekends, but a four-goal spurt in the final 8:03 wasn’t enough to surge past the Wildcats.

There wasn’t an immediate chance to bounce back over the weekend, since Maryland’s home game against Navy was postponed after an outbreak of norovirus among the Midshipmen’s players. That gives the Terps some extra time to get ready for an undefeated Notre Dame team visiting College Park this weekend.

Virginia (-4)

The Cavaliers’ 10-game winning streak dating back to April 2019 is over after their 16-12 setback against Princeton. What’s interesting about the defeat is Virginia was beat playing its own game — fast-paced, with plenty of transition thrown in to keep the Cavaliers off balance.

Next up for Virginia is an interesting pair of home games: A visit from High Point on Tuesday and Air Force’s trip to Charlottesville on Sunday. Both have some recent upset history (which, in the case of High Point, the Cavaliers know from their own experiences), so last year’s national champs will need to move on quickly to handle business in the next week.

IN

Princeton (No. 5)

The Michael Sowers show is fabulous, and the victory at Virginia gives the Tigers something likely to remain valuable right up until Selection Sunday. That’s a welcome development for a program that last reached the postseason in 2012, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Nonetheless, Saturday’s triumph provides some hard evidence on just how dangerous Princeton could be this spring.

Villanova (No. 17)

After opening with back-to-back losses to Penn State and Yale, the Wildcats jump back into the top 20 thanks to defeats of Maryland (13-12) and Hofstra (10-8). Connor Kirst has 10 goals and six assists in four games, including three consecutive hat tricks to help Villanova right the ship.

Marist (No. 19)

The Red Foxes didn’t just beat Army. They obliterated the Black Knights, as Jamison Embury had four goals and three assists. But this isn’t a one-hit wonder. Marist has four winning seasons in the past five years, averaging 9.2 victories in that span. Its lone loss so far this year came on the road against a solid Richmond bunch. It will be interesting to see how this group handles the sort of success it earned last week.

Saint Joseph’s (No. 20)

The Hawks quietly enjoyed a fine week, dealing both Delaware and Providence their first losses of the season. Saint Joseph’s has a lopsided loss to Penn State on its ledger, but there are probably a few more of those looming for later in the season. Sophomore faceoff man Zach Cole sits at 75 percent on the season after a 19 of 22 showing against Providence on Saturday.

OUT

Johns Hopkins (previously No. 14)

North Carolina blitzed the Blue Jays 17-10 at Homewood Field, and there is a ton for Hopkins to fix to get its season back on track after falling to 1-2. A lack of discipline and fundamentals hurt the Blue Jays on Saturday, including 15 total turnovers and a 13 of 19 showing on clears. Just as troubling: North Carolina’s 5 of 7 showing on the extra man, a glaring number of penalties for a Hopkins team still trying to sort out its defense.

Air Force (previously No. 15)

The Falcons (3-2) managed a split in Denver over the weekend, falling by a goal to Cleveland State before dispatching St. Bonaventure a day later. Air Force will have a chance to bounce back with its most high-profile remaining game coming up Sunday at Virginia.

Hofstra (previously No. 17)

There wasn’t anything awful in the box score of the Pride’s 10-8 loss to Villanova. They didn’t bungle a clear, committed just 11 turnovers, won a little more than half of the faceoffs, got middle-of-the-road goalie play in aggregate (considerably better in the second half than the first), committed just two penalties and scored on its lone extra-man chance. In other words, Hofstra could be right back in the top 20 with victories over Stony Brook and LIU this week.

Massachusetts (previously No. 19)

The Minutemen have been an early-season yo-yo — a blowout loss to Army, a victory at Ohio State and now a 10-9 setback against Harvard. There’s no doubting the feistiness of Greg Cannella’s bunch. Massachusetts (1-2) trailed 6-1 before rallying to tie it at 9 before Nick Loring’s man-up goal with 2:16 to play nudged the Crimson ahead for good. Next up is a two-game week, including a trip to UMass Lowell on Tuesday and an encounter with Yale at home on Saturday.

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