Richmond Debuts, Syracuse Returns in Nike/USL Division I Men's Top 20

PHOTO BY KEITH LUCAS

Tate Gallagher scored two goals in Richmond's 9-8 win over then-No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday.


This might not be a season in which a dominant team emerges.

At the very least, the first few weeks have made it clear there aren’t many candidates.

When Syracuse dealt Army its first setback on Sunday, the number of undefeated teams in Division I was whittled to seven. On Feb. 24!

The unblemished seven are Cornell, Delaware, Loyola, Maryland, Ohio State, Towson and VMI. Some unexpected named, to be sure, but also some usual suspects. And that group will be winnowed to at least six by the middle of the week, since Loyola visits Towson on Wednesday night.

The vulnerability of nearly everyone had led to some difficulty discerning who is actually a top-10 team. More to the point, it makes it difficult to judge teams with weird weeks like High Point, which won at Virginia before losing by a goal at home against St. John’s.

March, April and May will sort that out. February, as it nears its end, provided about as much separation in Division I as it did in the old days when teams routinely waited until the third month of the year to begin their schedules.

Nike/US Lacrosse
Division I Men’s
Top 20

 
Feb. 25, 2019

W/L

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1 Loyola 3-0 1 2/27 at No. 6 Towson
2 Maryland 5-0 3 3/3 at No. 12 Notre Dame
3 Cornell 2-0 4 3/2 vs. Albany
4 Yale 1-1 6 3/2 vs. UMass
5 Penn State 3-1 2 3/2 vs. Penn
6 Towson 3-0 8 2/27 vs. No. 1 Loyola
7 Ohio State 4-0 10 3/2 vs. Marquette
8 High Point 4-1 11 3/2 vs. Robert Morris
Duke 4-1 12 3/1 at No. 11 Richmond
10 Denver 3-1 13 3/2 at No. 14 North Carolina
11 Richmond 3-1 NR 3/1 vs. No. 9 Duke
12 Notre Dame 1-1 5 3/3 vs. No. 2 Maryland
13 Virginia 2-2 9 3/2 at No. 17 Syracuse
14 North Carolina 3-1 7 3/2 vs. No. 10 Denver
15 Villanova 2-1 17 3/2 vs. Delaware
16 Colgate 2-1 15 2/26 vs. Hobart
17 Syracuse 2-1 NR 3/2 vs. No. 13 Virginia
18 Army 3-1 14 3/2 vs. Lafayette
19 Rutgers 2-2 16 3/2 at Fairfield
20 Princeton 1-1 19 3/2 vs. Johns Hopkins
Also considered (alphabetical order): Albany, Delaware, Georgetown, Hofstra, Johns Hopkins, Marquette, Navy, St. John's, Stony Brook






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

HOT

Ohio State (+3)

The Buckeyes are getting helped by inertia, sure. And it is an odd-numbered year, so they’re due to be a consistently serious threat again this season.

Still, Ohio State has handled its business, winning each of its first four games by at least three goals. Jack Jasinski and Tre Leclaire both have 13 goals. Justin Inacio (60 of 97) is doing well at the X. Goalie Josh Kirson (.603 save percentage) is doing his part in front of a capable defense. With the way the Buckeyes are playing, they belong in the top 10.

High Point, Duke and Denver (+3)

Considering High Point won at Duke, which in turn beat Denver, this trio seemed like good bets to pair together until High Point (a) got blown out or (b) suffered a couple losses.

Then the Panthers went and won at Virginia, which makes it hard to drop them for a one-goal slip-up against an improved St. John’s team. Duke torched Penn over the weekend, avenging a loss from last year, while Denver dismissed Utah and Cleveland State. The three teams move up in tandem, and are likely to remain in a string until one of them slips up.

Which, given the unpredictability of the season’s first few weeks, might not be long.

NOT

North Carolina (-7)

The Tar Heels give back their progress from the first few weeks of the season, plus a couple more spots, after an 11-10 loss to Johns Hopkins that according to the game’s box score was played in “chilly, bleak” conditions.

Those words shouldn’t be used to describe the Tar Heels’ season, but it’s also fair to say they have plenty to prove after gradually escalating their level of competition this month. Victories over Mercer, Furman and Harvard were helpful in developing Carolina’s roster, but they’re unlikely to carry a major impact in May. A victory over Denver on Saturday, though, would be an entirely different sort of accomplishment.

Notre Dame (-7)

The 1-1 Irish are down four spots from where they began the year. Blasting Detroit looks a bit better after the Titans took down Marquette over the weekend, but Notre Dame couldn’t quite get over the hump in a 9-8 road loss to a feisty Richmond team that earned its way ahead of the Irish in the rankings.

Notre Dame can make a quick jump back into the top 10. Its March schedule is a grinder, for sure: Maryland, vs. Denver in California, at Virginia and Michigan and then home to face Ohio State and Syracuse.

IN

Richmond

No one should be surprised to see Dan Chemotti’s Spiders taking down a brand-name opponent. Richmond has beaten a team from either the Big Ten or the ACC in five consecutive seasons, with Rutgers (2015), Duke (2016), North Carolina (2017 and 2018) and now Notre Dame (2019) all going down to the Spiders.

Richmond’s only loss of the season came by a goal at Maryland, so it belongs close to the top 10 after a 9-8 defeat of the Irish. Oh, and the Spiders have an 11-game home winning streak dating back to 2017, and Duke is coming to town on Friday. Will Richmond have another leap in them this time next week?

Syracuse

After struggling on the opening night of the season against a Colgate team with a first-year coach — and, thus, a challenging opponent to scout — the Orange have looked much better the last two weeks. They blistered Albany, then dealt Army a 10-8 defeat in the Carrier Dome on Sunday.

Credit goalie play (Drake Porter’s career-high 16 saves) and work on faceoffs (Jakob Phaup was 15 of 18 on the day) for some of the difference, as well as defenseman Nick Mellen’s work on Black Knight freshman attackman Brendan Nichtern (one goal, two assists). The Orange can move closer to the top 10 with a defeat of Virginia in the ACC opener for both on Saturday.

OUT

Georgetown (was No. 18)

The Hoyas (2-1) hung around for three quarters before Towson’s faceoff dominance wore them down in a 14-8 loss. It was Georgetown’s toughest test yet, and it’s not surprising a team that lost so much in last year’s senior class would have a trying day or two in the first half of the season. It’s still a team to count on improving as the spring unfolds.

Marquette (was No. 20)

A 15-12 loss at home to Detroit knocks the Golden Eagles out of the top 20. Marquette (2-1) will face Ohio State in Dallas on Saturday, an immediate opportunity to climb back into the rankings.

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