Major Shakeups in Nike / US Lacrosse Division I Women's Top 20

PHOTO COURTESY OF PENN STATE ATHLETICS

Penn State beat Maryland on Sunday behind five goals and one assist from sophomore Olivia Dirks.


It didn’t take long for the Division I women’s lacrosse season to get turned on its head. Half of the teams in the top 10 lost. We have the Big Ten to partially thank for the pandemonium.

The Ivy League teams previously occupying two spots in the Nike/US Lacrosse Top 20 — Penn at No. 11 and Dartmouth at No. 16 — are now gone after the Ivy League’s announcement last week. That created openings for two teams. Penn State and Ohio State quickly snatched them up.

Penn State overcame an incredible disadvantage on the draw to top Maryland 15-13 at Panzer Stadium. In Columbus, Ohio State knocked off Michigan 15-12.

There were other upsets over the course of the week, too. Let’s recap the wild week that was.

Nike / US Lacrosse
Division I Women’s Top 20

 
February 22, 2020

W/L

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1 North Carolina 3-0 1 2/26 vs. No. 9 Duke
2 Syracuse 1-0 4 2/27 vs. No. 5 Stony Brook
3 Notre Dame 1-0 2 2/26 vs. Oregon
4 Northwestern 1-0 5 2/26 @ Johns Hopkins
5 Stony Brook 1-1 7 2/23 vs. No. 14 USC
6 Florida 1-1 6 2/23 @ Kennesaw State
7 Virginia 2-0 18 2/27 vs. No. 18 Virginia Tech
8 Loyola 0-1 3 2/24 @ Towson
Duke 3-0 15 2/26 @ No. 1 North Carolina
10 Penn State 2-0 NR 3/5 @ No. 4 Northwestern
11 Denver 0-0 12 2/28 @ Colorado
12 Richmond 1-1 10 2/27 @ William & Mary
13 Maryland 0-1 8 2/26 vs. No. 20 Michigan
14 USC 2-0 14 2/23 @ No. 5 Stony Brook
15 James Madison 0-0 13 2/26 vs. High Point
16 Boston College 0-0 17 2/23 vs. Albany
17 UMass 0-0 19 2/28 @ Boston U.
18 Virginia Tech 1-1 20 2/24 vs. Longwood
19 Ohio State 1-1 NR 2/26 vs. Rutgers
20 Michigan 0-1 9 2/26 @ No. 13 Maryland
 Also considered (alphabetical order): Hofstra (2-0), Jacksonville (1-0), Navy (2-0), Stanford (0-0), Temple (1-0), Towson (2-0)






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

HOT

Virginia (+11)

The Cavaliers might not have many household names on offense, but don’t be mistaken — there are major offensive threats on this roster. Virginia exacted revenge on in-state rival Richmond on Friday night, beating the Spiders 15-9 after a hard-fought overtime loss against them a season ago.

Ashlyn McGovern and Annie Dyson have proven unstoppable in the early going, and freshman Mackenzie Hoeg is already making her presence felt. The ACC is rough, and Virginia might be overlooked, but the Cavs look like they have staying power.

Duke (+6)

It’s been a solid start to 2021 for the Blue Devils, and while none of their three wins are particularly exciting, they are solid nonetheless. They beat a sneaky-good Davidson team and then handled William & Mary with ease before opening ACC play with a 12-8 win over Virginia Tech on Sunday.

The offense has been strong, as expected, but the defense has played well. Look out for Sophia LeRose, the junior goalie from San Diego who played the final 46 minutes of Sunday’s win and made eight saves while allowing just three goals.

Syracuse (+2)

The Orange are every bit as good as advertised, and maybe even better. The Orange held a Loyola offense that averaged 17.6 goals per game in 2020 to just 14 shots in an 18-6 blowout win Saturday afternoon.

NOT

Michigan (-11)

The Wolverines lost to an Ohio State team that trailed Northwestern 18-0 at halftime in its season opener. The Buckeyes picked on Michigan goalkeeper Arielle Weissman, who allowed 14 goals and made just five saves in 41 minutes.

Michigan has been lauded for its defense in the past, but this was not a great start to the spring. This is a better team offensively than some realize, but just five players accounted for all of the scoring Sunday.

Loyola (-5)

Jen Adams’ team didn’t lose a single player from 2020, and one would have thought that such continuity would be evident against an opponent that hadn’t played in nearly a full year. But Loyola had that long of a layoff, too, and the rust was certainly apparent.

To give credit where it’s due, Syracuse’s defense was pesky and didn’t leave Loyola offensive players much room to operate. But an 18-6 loss is still concerning.

Maryland (-5)

Maryland recorded more shots (38-28), shots on goal (27-23) and draw controls (23-6) than Penn State and also attempted 14 free-position shots to Penn State’s one. But the Terps also turned the ball over 16 times and were dominated on ground balls, 23-12.

It’s those two statistics that were most telling Sunday as Penn State surprised the Terps.

IN

Penn State (No. 9)

The Nittany Lions brought in a nationally lauded freshmen class and return a program staple in Maria Auth. Taylor Suplee is underrated in the cage, but she’s a showstopper. Penn State has the talent to stay in the mix as the season progresses.

Ohio State (No. 19)

Beating Michigan is a resume-builder, but it’s hard to shake that big 23-7 loss to Northwestern. The Buckeyes have our attention, though, and with a player like Liza Hernandez leaving her mark all over the field, Ohio State could continue to surprise.

OUT

Penn (was No. 11) and Dartmouth (was No. 16)

It just makes sense to group Penn and Dartmouth together. Through no fault of their own, these Ivy League teams were bumped from the rankings after the Ivy’s Council of Presidents canceled all conference games and championships for the spring. There’s a road — if not a convoluted one — for Ivy League teams to play local competition if conditions improve, but it’s too murky to bank on at this point.

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