Friday, May 16, 2008

NCAA Men's Lacrosse Round 2 Preview

The Blue Jay had a rough night also. Let's just say he was wetting his beak a little too much. He did muster up the following thoughts on Round 2...

Virgina vs. Maryland

The first battle of the weekend might be the best. These two teams split during the season with the Terps taking the first meeting 13-7 and the Cavs getting vengeance, 11-8 in the ACC tournament. Maryland might get the underdog support from the unbiased fans in attendance at what may be a record breaking day in Annapolis. There is no question that Virginia is going to score, but the question is how many goals they can give replacement goalie Bud Petit and a mediocre Cavalier defense? The attack of Rubeor, Billings and Glading will get their looks. Cinosky and the Maryland defense will have to keep them away from the crease for either Phipps or Carter.

It will be interesting to see what Maryland and their young offense can do. The key matchup will be Ryan Nizolek on Travis Reed. Nizolek shut him down in the ACC tournament to help hold the Terps to 8 goals. This was a turnaround from the regular season game in College Park where Reed lit it up for 4 goals. Maryland will most likely need double digits to win this one. Also, look for the play of Junior LSM Mike Timms who was one of the few Cavs to have a great game last week against UMBC. While this should be a tight one, Virginia has a core of leaders who have a national championship under their belts, while Maryland hasn’t beaten a team seeded ahead of it in I don’t even know how long.

Pick: Virginia

Johns Hopkins vs. Navy

Despite the sub-par regular seasons for both given the high standards, Saturday afternoon’s game has more hype to it then any of the others. You may ask why this is the case between two teams who combined for double digits in losses. It can be explained in numbers:

65: The combined number of National Championships between the two schools
34: The current Hopkins win streak over Navy

1: Prior to this year, the number of goals each of the previous four games were decided by (2 in OT)
20,000+: Expected attendance
0: The amount of times these teams have faced each other in the post season.

Net Crasher's Note: 15: About how many beers the average in-field watcher will have consumed at Preakness by the time of opening face off in Annapolis.

Throw in the fact that the game is at Navy making it very accessible for fans of both sides, thrown in with the hangover crowd from MD-UVA, and you have the best possible competition to Preakness that lacrosse can offer.

Both schools looked impressive in the opening round. Both received very stellar goaltending and both w
ill look be very deliberate with the ball on Saturday. Don’t expect too much running and gunning when these two teams meet up. Navy’s #1 ranked defense played Hopkins tight in the first half during the regular season match up, but in the third quarter, the Blue Jays erupted on their way to handing the Mids a 12-5 defeat. This was while Navy was in the midst of a three game losing streak (I think Hopkins knows a little about those). You have to expect after a big upset against UNC, a team that handled the Jays at home in a 13-8 drubbing which doesn’t reflect how much UNC dominated, Navy is going to be fired up, especially with the tremendous fan support they’ll receive (You figure Maryland and Virginia can at least agree on wanting Hopkins to go down).

While the anticipated match up is the Hopkins’ midfield against the Navy defense, this game will ride on how Tim Paul and the Navy offense do against Michael Gvozden and the Jays defense. Gvozden had a 16 save performance last time out against Navy, but last time Navy had possibly their worst shooting day of the season. Gvozden has shown consistency, and if the Jays can keep Navy from getting good opportunities it is going to be very difficult to score enough goals to win. Also face-offs will have a major role given the half field games both teams play. Which Stephen Peyser shows up, the one who dominated last year’s tournament or the one who has had problems jumping the whistle all year?

NC's Note: That's not the only that jumpe
d early...Get outta here Sean Connery!

Navy is going to win one of these days, and while they’re 4-2 in one goal games this year vs. Hopkins’ 0-3, Rabil, Peyser and Huntley have done it too many times over the past four years to bet against them, at least in this round.

Pick: Hopkins

NC's Note: Faceoffs really are going to be critical. Possessions will be limited by both teams half-field style, so dominating the X will be a must. Hopkins' ride was very good against Hofstra. Let's see if the JHU attack can co
ntinue to foil clearing attempts. Speaking of attack, will Michael Donegar continue to monopolize the front of the opponents net?

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