Penn State Ascends to No. 1 in the Nike/USL Division I Men's Top 20


Penn State is 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country after defeating previously unbeaten Harvard. (Pictured: Sophomore attackman Grant Ament)

Who’s No. 1? That’s really anyone’s guess at this point.

Denver’s 11-10 defeat of Notre Dame threw another wrench in trying to figure out who might belong at the top. The Pioneers, Notre Dame and Maryland now form a nice string of one-loss teams thanks to results this month (the Irish beat the Terrapins 5-4 on March 4).

But is there someone else to take a turn at No. 1? Why not Penn State, which joins Rutgers, Hofstra, Ohio State and Boston University as an improbable set of remaining undefeated teams as the bulk of nonconference play begins to wind down. The Nittany Lions dealt Harvard its first loss over the weekend as they continued to build a solid resume for May.

March 13, 2017




1 Penn State 7-0 3 3/17 vs. Fairfield
2 Denver 5-1 5 3/18 at No. 18 Ohio State
3 Notre Dame 3-1 1 3/18 at No. 12 Virginia
4 Maryland 4-1 2 3/18 vs. Villanova
5 Rutgers 6-0 6 3/14 vs. No. 9 Princeton
6 Hofstra 5-0 15 3/18 vs. Providence
7 Army 6-1 7 3/13 vs. NJIT
8 Syracuse 4-1 8 3/18 at No. 13 Johns Hopkins
9 Princeton 4-1 16 3/14 at No. 5 Rutgers
10 North Carolina 4-2 4 3/13 vs. Richmond
11 Towson 4-1 17 3/14 vs. No. 18 Ohio State
12 Virginia 5-2 11 3/18 vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
13 Johns Hopkins 4-2 9 3/18 vs. No. 8 Syracuse
14 Albany 3-1 14 3/18 at Vermont
15 Michigan 7-1 NR 3/25 vs. UMBC
16 Penn 3-2 10 3/18 vs. No. 9 Princeton
17 Duke 5-2 NR 3/13 vs. Jacksonville
18 Ohio State 7-0 18 3/14 at No. 11 Towson
19 Loyola 3-3 12 3/18 vs. Navy
20 Boston University 6-0 20 3/13 at Colgate
Also considered: Binghamton, Harvard, Marquette, Richmond, Stony Brook

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


Hofstra (+9)

That’s two years in a row with a victory at North Carolina for the Pride, which dealt the defending national champions an 11-9 setback on Saturday.

Last year’s triumph felt exciting because Hofstra was coming off an up-and-down year, but there was also uncertainty of how important it was because of how erratic the Tar Heels were (which, in fact, remained a defining trait for Carolina right through its dominant May). Hofstra is rock-solid this year and Carolina, while unpredictable — it was coming off a victory at Denver — has a national title to point to as evidence of fulfilled potential.

At the very least, Hofstra has an offensive centerpiece in Josh Byrne (three goals and two assists against the Tar Heels) and one of the top goalies in the land in Jack Concannon (13 saves on Saturday), and that means Seth Tierney potentially has his best team yet on Long Island.
Princeton (+7)

The Tigers didn’t have their smoothest performance in a midweek defeat of Quinnipiac, but they still followed up their rout of Johns Hopkins with a victory and now head into a monster week that includes games at Rutgers and Penn.

(Imagine, for a minute, telling a Princeton fan two decades ago that a two-game swing to Rutgers and Penn would constitute a “monster week.” But it’s true).

Princeton belongs somewhere behind Hofstra (which dealt the Tigers their only loss) for the moment and somewhere ahead of a two-loss Johns Hopkins team. Both of those rational requirements were met. The Tigers look like they will be a factor in an Ivy League that has been turned on its head a bit with favorites Brown and Yale struggling. Matt Madalon is making an impact in his first full season at Princeton.
Towson (+6)

For the second time in three years, the Tigers dealt Charles Street rival Johns Hopkins a loss. In 2015, Towson picked off the Blue Jays in a low-scoring midweek season opener. This time, the Tigers were more efficient offensively, peppering Hopkins with 24 shots on goal while getting four goals from Joe Seider in a 13-8 victory. Towson is 4-1 and closes out the month with visits from Ohio State (assuming snow doesn’t wipe the game out on Tuesday) and Denver.

The Tigers could be on their way to building an interesting resume … as well as placing themselves on a collision course with Hofstra in a regular-season finale that could well decide the CAA’s top seed.


Loyola (-7)

The Greyhounds have just about run out of chances to distinguish themselves outside of Patriot League play. Their victory over Towson has the potential to help them in a chase for an NCAA tournament at-large bid, but they now have a 15-7 drubbing at the hands of Duke to go with one-goal losses to Virginia and Johns Hopkins to open the season.

Loyola can still control the Patriot League as so many figured it would, though trips to Boston University and Army to close the regular-season schedule won’t be a picnic. At some point, results are required, and that’s the spot the Greyhounds find themselves in entering a mutually critical meeting with Navy this week.
North Carolina (-6)

Maybe Hofstra just has the Tar Heels’ number. Or Carolina is just in for another season like last year, one coach Joe Breschi wasn’t afraid to compare to a rollercoaster throughout a successful postseason run.

Just think about the last three weekends. North Carolina was pummeled at home by Johns Hopkins, went to Denver and dealt the Pioneers a rare loss in the Rockies and then returned home and slipped up against Hofstra. And just think: There’s still four consecutive weeks of ACC play still to come for the Tar Heels to confound everyone.
Penn (-6)

The Quakers were probably pegged a little high to begin with after their victory over Virginia last month. They’ve dropped two of their last three, with one-goal losses at Penn State and Michigan accounting for the setbacks. There’s nothing wrong with Penn. It’s just difficult to try to make sense of this particular season. We’ll get a better sense of the Quakers on Saturday when Princeton pays a visit to Franklin Field.


Michigan (No. 15)

The Wolverines have a gaudy 7-1 record, but it wasn’t built on the most rigorous schedule and they had absorbed a 16-5 loss in their most notable February game at Notre Dame. They’re suddenly much more intriguing after upending Penn 13-12.

Michigan plays only once more this month and in nonconference play (March 25 against UMBC), so there’s a solid chance the Wolverines remain ranked when they head into a seemingly loaded Big Ten schedule next month.
Duke (No. 17)

It was only a matter of time before the Blue Devils resurfaced, and their 15-7 blowout of Loyola provided the opportunity.

Jack Bruckner had four goals and Justin Guterding had three goals and two assists to help Duke shoot 41.7 percent. The long-time Duke model was that it would take its time figuring things out and maybe drop a surprising game or two in a season’s early stages, but by mid-March it would start to round into form. The Blue Devils couldn’t match that formula the last two seasons, but things might be back to normal. Certainly, Duke has progressed since an early loss to Air Force.


Stony Brook (was No. 13)

The Seawolves fall out as a two-pronged combination of their first loss of the season, a 17-4 defeat at Rutgers on Friday, and the continued devaluation of what looked like a useful triumph over Brown last month. The Bears (1-3) have dropped three in a row and already have as many losses as they did all of last year.
Yale (was No. 19)

The Bulldogs haven’t been quite right since a Feb. 25 rally at Maryland fell just short. They dropped games at home to Bryant and UMass  before righting things with an 11-10 double overtime triumph over Fairfield. Ivy League play starts this weekend for Andy Shay’s bunch as Cornell visits New Haven.

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