Villanova, Loyola Return to Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men's Top 20


Christian Cuccinello scored in overtime to lift Villanova to a 10-9 overtime win over Marquette in its Big East opener.

The first weekend of Big Ten play didn’t provide any down-to-the-wire games. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything to learn.

Johns Hopkins emphatically turned back Rutgers 12-6 after losing two games to the Scarlet Knights last season. The Blue Jays have won consecutive games since a three-game slide and clearly have a good understanding of who they are. That’s an underrated trait.

Maryland handled Michigan 15-8 in a game that was a reminder of two things. One, the balanced Terrapins aren’t going to be an easy out for anyone. Two, there’s still a big gap for the much-improved Wolverines to close between themselves and the top of the league.

Then there was Penn State’s 9-4 suffocation of Ohio State in a Sunday night tussle. That result goes down as the Nittany Lions’ most impressive accomplishment to date and sets up a trip to Maryland that appears to be the top game in the coming week. As for the Buckeyes, they’ll need to regroup on offense in a hurry with Hopkins coming to Columbus on Sunday.

April 3, 2017




1 Penn State 10-0 1 4/8 at No. 6 Maryland
2 Syracuse 7-1 5 4/5 at Hobart
3 Hofstra 9-0 3 4/8 at Delaware
4 Army 9-1 4 4/8 at Boston University
5 Notre Dame 5-2 2 4/8 at No. 10 Duke
6 Maryland 6-2 6 4/8 vs. No. 1 Penn State
7 Denver 7-2 8 4/9 vs. No. 17 Villanova
8 Albany 8-1 10 4/8 vs. UMBC
9 Ohio State 9-2 7 4/9 vs. No. 14 Johns Hopkins
10 Duke 8-3 11 4/8 vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
11 Yale 5-3 13 4/4 at St. John's
12 Princeton 6-3 14 4/8 at Stony Brook
13 Towson 5-3 15 4/8 vs. UMass
14 Johns Hopkins 6-3 16 4/9 at No. 9 Ohio State
15 Virginia 6-4 17 4/4 vs. Cleveland State
16 Rutgers 8-2 9 4/8 at No. 20 Michigan
17 Richmond 8-2 12 4/8 vs. Mercer
18 Villanova 6-4 NR 4/9 at No. 7 Denver
19 Loyola 6-4 NR 4/8 vs. Lehigh
20 Michigan 8-2 18 4/9 vs. No. 16 Rutgers
Also considered: Air Force, Binghamton, Boston University,  Marquette, North Carolina, Providence

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


Syracuse (+3)

The Orange played yet another one-goal game, edging Notre Dame on the road to claim its fifth consecutive victory.

How good is Syracuse? That’s complicated. But over the last month, John Desko’s team has been a goal better than Virginia, St. John’s, Johns Hopkins, Duke and Notre Dame. Toss in an earlier victory over Albany (also by a goal), and it’s tough to quibble with the Orange’s accomplishments.

But can it last? Nick Mariano (19 goals, 11 assists) and Sergio Salcido (9 goals, 20 assists) form a fine combination on offense, but the truth is the Orange owns a 48.7 save percentage as a team. The defense is clearly limiting the number of shots goalie Evan Molloy is seeing, and the key to tripping up Syracuse might be tied to solving that issue.


Rutgers (-7)

Friday was not flattering for the Scarlet Knights, who have followed up an 8-0 start with consecutive losses to Delaware and Johns Hopkins. Rutgers never got going in transition against Hopkins in its conference opener, and some of its defensive limitations were exposed by attackmen Kyle Marr and Shack Stanwick.

Hopkins took away Rutgers’ biggest known, keeping Jules Heningburg to just an assist, and the Scarlet Knights were sloppy in the transition game while not creating their usual chaos in the middle of the field.

The truth is, Rutgers was overachieving in the first month of the season given its injury situation. The last two weeks represent an adjustment back to what the Scarlet Knights probably always were: A postseason contender that can create plenty of problems against an undisciplined team. Unfortunately for Rutgers, Hopkins was extremely disciplined for much of Friday’s game.

Richmond (-5)

The task of trying to rank teams in a logical manner becomes harder as the season unfolds. But for Richmond, which owns a pair of one-goal losses to Duke and Virginia, it was imperative to get it below Virginia after falling at home to the Cavaliers.

That bit of bookkeeping aside, the Spiders’ results against ACC teams provides a revealing hint at their overall quality. They held Duke to nine goals, Virginia to eight and North Carolina to just five. They’ve beaten the defending national champion Tar Heels and smashed Marquette. Their Benny Pugh-led defense is for real, and there’s a good chance they’ll make life miserable for a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in May. Richmond is the team to beat in the Southern Conference as it dives back into league play.


Villanova (No. 18)

The Wildcats have done a fine job of reviving their season, rattling off five consecutive victories since a 1-4 start. Villanova won at Brown and Maryland to start the streak, and added to its strong play of late by upending Marquette 10-9 in overtime in its Big East opener.

Almost by default (this is where it’s worth noting Providence is as good as it’s been since joining the Big East), that makes Villanova the best contender to topple Denver in the league’s regular season race. The Wildcats head west on Sunday, and they’ll take a trio of 20-goal scorers (Jack Curran, Christian Cuccinello and Jake Froccaro) who lead one of the nation’s most dynamic offenses.

Loyola (No. 19)

It was not easy filling out a top 20 this week, so welcome back the 6-4 Greyhounds after they stymied Colgate on Saturday. Loyola has only one victory over a team with a winning record (Towson), but it also has one of the nation’s best attackmen in Pat Spencer and a defense that has given up more than 10 goals just once in its last eight games.

Loyola’s path to the postseason remains through the Patriot League tournament, but its response to a double overtime loss to Bucknell was encouraging. Lehigh, Boston University and Army await over the next three weeks; win all three, and the Greyhounds will host the Patriot semifinals and title game.


Marquette (was No. 19)

Basically, the Golden Eagles (5-3) and Villanova were playing for a spot in this week’s top 20. Villanova won, and Marquette is the first team sitting on the outside.

It was a challenging week for Joe Amplo’s bunch, who slipped past Air Force 7-6 in a midweek game before traveling to Philadelphia. Marquette has played three consecutive one-goal games, and still has chances to improve its postseason profile with Notre Dame, Duke and Denver on the April schedule.

Delaware (was No. 20)

The Blue Hens followed up their upset of Rutgers with a lackluster 9-6 loss at Massachusetts in the CAA opener for both teams. Next up for Delaware is a visit from Hofstra; with a loss, the Blue Hens will be 0-2 in the league and a longshot to find a way to host the conference tournament next month.


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