Michigan preview: Bellarmine

Both state of Michigan teams are playing in Kentucky today. Anybody making the double-dip?

Bellarmine

Bellarmine Knights lacrosse

Fear the stylized Knights!

Feb. 18, 2017, 6 p.m. EST
Louisville, Ky.
Live stats. Video.
Michigan preview. Bellarmine preview.
@UMichLacrosse. @BUKnights.

The Knights

Bellarmine started the year with a loss at Robert Morris, not exactly the most inspiring beginning to the year. That’s not to say either team is terrible, but it’s certainly a lower level than Michigan is (finally) expected to be in Year six.

This is a pretty long rivalry-type substance. The Michigan club team (led by John Paul) scrimmaged the Knights regularly, and this was briefly a conference game during the brief period of time that both were members of the ECAC. U-M lost the first two varsity matchups in resounding fashion, then took an overtime victory and won in a blowout in 2015 (the teams did not square off in 2016).

Offense

With 2015 leading scorer Austin Shanks transferring to Ohio State before last season, the Bellarmine offense took a big step back. Tucker Ciessau, however, had a pretty nice season (23G, 13A), and will play both midfield and attack in 2017 – starting at attack against Bobby Mo. Fellow attack starter Ryan Coukoulis had basically no production as a part-time starter (he also missed multiple games due to injury, in his defense), but the diminutive 5-9, 160-pounder scored two goals in three shots against the Colonials. Freshman (and Brother Rice grad) Morgan Macko was the third starter up front.

The midfield starters for Bellarmine included their LSM and short-stick D-middie, so the actual offensive starter that’s most notable is big (6-5, 220) Jack Perkins, an outside bomber who was the team’s second-leading scorer with 19 goals and six assists last year, though he began 2017 with two assists and just three shots against RMU. Dylan Gatt – a similar finish-only type – has graduated, and junior Andrew Schoenick should be another starter on the offensive midfield.

Defense

The only defender who was a real problem for opponents last year was LSM Taylor Stuart, who was the only double-digit turnover causer on the squad. He’s graduated, along with close defenders Cole Killion and Shane Healey, and short-stick D-middie Reid Wesley. That’s a lot of personnel turnover.

Evan Kalish was a starter at both LSM and close D last year, though, he he will step in to be a key member of the defensive unit – don’t be surprised if the knights try to match him up on Mikie Schlosser as much as possible. The lone returning D starter (at least full-time) is Kevin Fahey, though he didn’t garner preseason all-conference honors (the only Knight who did was Ciessau).

Chase Rose was the primary starting goalie for Bellarmine last year, but he was relegated to the bench to begin the Robert Morris game, with freshman Jordan Dondoyano getting the starting nod instead. They both saved 60% of shots faced, though Dondoyano saw three times as many in almost exactly three times as much playing time: so far, they’re very similar, and the defense plays similarly in front of them.

Special teams

Bellarmine was a pretty good faceoff team last year with Connor Harryman working the X, but he is among those Knights who exhausted their eligibility last season (with all those seniors, the 6-9 record has to have been a pretty serious disappointment). Senior Tyler Nangle took every draw against RMU, and finished at .455. Last year, he was a .382 faceoff man, so this should be a serious advantage for the Maize and Blue if Mike McDonnell’s dominance against Detroit was anything other than a mirage.

Bellarmine cleared very well against Robert Morris, and held the Colonials to .833. The Knights have had spurts over the years of being a pretty hard-riding team, so they may be trying to transition back to that. However, with Mikie Schlosser serving as a prety effective one-man clear, and Michigan’s overall ability in transition, it shouldn’t bite the Maize and Blue.

Robert Morris had three man-up opportunities and failed to convert a single one… though this early in the year, it’s impossible to say if that’s a credit to the BU man-down defense or a strike against Bobby Mo.

Overall

This is a game that Michigan should win, and comfortably so. Like the game against Detroit, though, the history and rivalry factors make it to tough to know if they’ll simply take care of business against an overmatched opponent or fall victim to some of the emotional factors surrounding the game, especially since it’s on the road.

With a victory, there’s a decent chance that the Maize and Blue – currently receiving votes in the media polls – enters the rankings for the first time ever at 4-0. That would provide a pretty nice bit of hype going into the contest at a Notre Dame team that should be a minimum of No. 4 nationaly as long as they take care of Georgetown today. Stakes are new and fun, yeah?

Predictions

I’m feeling a pretty comfortable win here, which should come as no surprise.

  • Tommy Heidt hasn’t built buzz as an elite keeper because the final scores of each Michigan game look a little closer than the contests actually were. Although U-M is allowing eight goals/game, he’s only allowing 6.2 (Gunner Garn’s GAA of more than 42 is not so beautiful right now). Against a Bellarmine team that has only a few offensive weapons, he should be able to improve on his .667 save percentage this year, which is already outstanding.
  • Michigan will spread the ball around pretty well offensively. The attack of Ian King, Rocco Sutherland, and Brent Noseworthy is starting to get some outstanding chemistry going, and the midfield, while not prolific yet, has talent. Finding production from middies other than Mikie Schlosser – who had to take on defensive responsibilities with Chase Young unavailable against Detroit – will be a nice boost going into the Notre Dame game.
  • Mike McDonnell should have a full game that’s as good as his third and fourth quarters were against Detroit. Bellarmine will probably try to play a pole on faceoffs just to muck things up, because otherwise they will not have a very fun day trying to compete with their poor faceoff group against McDonnell and U-M’s good wing play.

This should be a blowout, with the caveats about team motivation (and, a new experience for Michigan, looking ahead) playing complicating roles. However, the talent disparity has grown too great for the Wolverines to not make an easy day of this one. 16-7 Michigan wins.

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Detroit preview: Mercer

Recap of the UDM-Michigan game coming after the weekend – too much going on this week to get around to it with the level of analysis it requires. 

Detroit is 0-2 on the year, but it’s a pretty solid 0-2 (competitive-ish losses to Ohio State and Michigan). Will they get their first win of the year at a neutral site game this afternoon?

Mercer

Mercer Bears Lacrosse

Fear the Bear!

Feb. 18, 2017, 3 p.m. EST
Lexington, Ky.
No live stats (what the hell?)
Detroit previewMercer preview.
@UDMLax. @MercerLacrosse.

The Bears

Mercer has improved over the course of the program’s existence, but seems to have settled in as a middling-to-bad mid-major team (probably a step below UDM). The caveat here, of course, is that Detroit has occupied a similar niche, if a step ahead – but did lose to the Bears last year. In the Bears’ first game of 2017, they fell in overtime to Vermont.

Mercer’s athletics website is one of the worst I’ve ever experienced (we’re talking worse than club programs’ websites – Sad!), but I managed to sneak my way into the stat archive somehow.

Offense

Last year’s leading scorer, Chris Baxa, has moved on, along with his 22 goals and just two assists – he was your finishing attackman. He missed two games, which allowed now-sophomore middie Lucas Wittenberg to draw even with him thanks to 12 goals and 12 assists. Junior Matt Quinn is another key midfielder, and more like Baxa, with a scoreline heavily tilted toward shooting, not feeding. Senior attack Chris Rahill had a scoreline that was tilted toward scoring (the Bears as a team assisted on barely more than a third of their goals last year – not a sharing-type squad), as well.

Defense

Senior Colin Massa is the leader of the defense. He led close D in takeaways (12) and was close in ground balls (16) last year.  Junior Dustin White should start, as well. Mercer has to replace Clay Rivers on the close D, given that he got the lion’s share of minutes, despite only one start in 2016.

Goalie Mike Nugent played essentially every meaningful minute last spring, and had a decent save percentage of .526 despite playing behind a pretty porous defense. Tyler Boardo got 5:26 of backup minutes, which is totally not enough time to read into his .333 save percentage. Transfer Bradley Hodoval played the Vermont game, but the redshirt sophomore saved only .438 of shots faced: we’ll see how good he is against the Titans.

Special Teams

Mercer won .714 of faceoffs against the Catamounts, but their athletics website is literally so bad that you can’t see who took the draws. This should be a test for Ben Gjokaj, who dominated a good specialist in OSU’s Jake Withers, and struggled against a previously-unestablished Mike McDonnell of Michigan. Time to see whether the performance against the Bucks was fool’s gold, or if that against the Maize and Blue was

The Bears cleared just OK against Vermont, but rode very well – against a poor-clearing team in Detroit (historically, at least, and the Michigan performance didn’t inspire much confidence), that could be a point of advantage for Mercer.

Big Picture

I’m not sold on Mercer as a decent team, much less a good one. Meanwhile, the Titans look worse than they actually are thanks to playing a couple pretty good teams to start the year. I’m still not expecting Mark Anstead to play – maybe for another couple weeks as he battles illness – which is obviously a blow, but could take UDM to the next level around the time conference play begins.

Racking up a couple non-conference victories would be nice, and Mercer is one of the few opportunities to do just that.

Predictions

I think this is going to be the opening of a winning account for the Titans this year.

  • I think Gjokaj isn’t going to be quite as good as the Withers performance made him seem, but is still going to be comfortably above .500 this year. This is one game in which I think he’ll run right near what his season-long average will be.
  • The offense seemed to figure things out late against Michigan, but there are some caveats: namely that the Maize and Blue replaced their entire defensive unit with backups, including the goalie. Still, the building of confidence that comes with seeing the ball go into the back of the net can still be meaningful. Look for the most efficient offensive performance of the season.
  • The Titans should have some trouble clearing, as long as Mercer’s success on the ride last weekend was more about the Bears’ quality rather than Vermont’s lack of it. Jason Weber – for all his quality as a shot-stopper – struggles with turnovers on the clear, as do some of the Titans’ poles and midfielders.

No live stats, at some unknown D-3 school in the middle of Kentucky, against a bad team… this feels like a step backward for UDM as a program that wants to be nationally competitive, regardless of the outcome. Fortunately, the outcome should be a positive one, saving a bit of face. Titans win, 13-10.

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Preview: Michigan v. Detroit 2017

The biggest game on the schedule (my personal schedule, at least) is here. What should we expect this evening in Ultimate Soccer Arenas?

Michigan Wolverines Detroit Titans Lacrosse Great Lax State

Michigan and Detroit played like 4 minutes of the 2012 game :(. Photo by Tim Sullivan/GLS

Detroit offense v. Michigan defense

The Titans moved in fits and starts against Ohio State, but it’s fair to say that even an improving Michigan team doesn’t have quite the established track record of success of the Buckeyes (despite OSU replacing much of its defensive corps this offseason).

The Titans’ offense is going to be relatively attack-driven, as it has been since I can remember, with some bombs from outside. A huge question in this game specifically is the availability of UDM junior attack Mark Anstead. He’s been the Titans’ leading scorer (or close to it – two points off Shayne Adams in 2015) for some time now, but didn’t play against the Bucks. The Wolverines don’t have that shutdown longpole yet – or at least one isn’t established yet – so if Anstead plays, he provides some tough matchups for the Maize and Blue. Sophomore Matt Vangalen came out of relative obscurity to light up the Buckeyes (two goals and all three UDM assists), and some of the usual suspects from the past couple years – Sean Birney, Alec Gilhooly, et al – are around, but a game-changer… uh… changes the game.

Detroit’s turnovers will also be an issue. Again, Michigan may not have quite the defensive personnel of Ohio State, but the Buckeyes managed to cause seven turnovers last weekend – and the Titans gave it away eight times on their own. A more aggressive Michigan team seems to be in the cards through two games of 2017, and given the longtime bugaboo of the Titans, that may be something that helps the Wolverines control the game defensively.

Michigan’s Tommy Heidt has had two solid games between the pipes, with a .694 save percentage early in the year. However, even the oft-inaccurate Titans will be the best-shooting team U-M has faced so far, by any reasonable expectation.

Michigan offense v. Detroit defense

As much as I think Tommy Heidt is a nice goalie, there’s no question that Jason Weber is the better keeper – perhaps best overall player – in this game. The matchup between him and a pretty good set of Michigan attackmen (and a couple key midfielders) could determine the outcome in this one. A hot performance from Weber can be an outstanding equalizer, even if the Wolverines look a bit stronger in other areas.

That the Titans’ defense still seemed to be figuring things out against Ohio State (.467 offensive efficiency for the Bucks, with Weber notching just a .440 save percentage) is a little troublesome. The balance across Michigan’s offensive unit, with Ian King able to feed one week and score the next, and augmented by the likes of Brent Noseworthy, Rocco Sutherland, and Pat Tracy at attack, plus the likes of Mikie Schlosser in the midfield, makes for an intimidating matchup for a team that isn’t settled in after losing a bunch of major contributors.

When Michigan has settled possessions, there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to work their way to a good look. Detroit isn’t pressing out to cause the takeaways, but the tradeoff of giving U-M time, rather than opening up the inside, is that the Maize and Blue have a chance to get the ball to their playmakers. Weber will have to make some very good stops.

Possession and transition

The faceoff battle should be intriguing. Detroit’s Ben Gjokaj dominated a very good faceoff specialist in Ohio State’s Jake Withers last weekend, including a very impressive 10 ground balls on 15 wins (and four of the five that he didn’t earn the ground ball were violations, so no GB was awarded to anybody – though a little sketchy scorekeeping probably inflates his number, it can only be so far off).

Meanwhile, Mike McDonnell has had a couple good but not awe-inspiring games at the dot. Will he be able to perform agains the player who appears to be the best he’s faced so far this year? There’s noise in faceoff stats, so it’s tough to say whether Withers is in for a down year, had a bad game, etc., but the same could be said for those against whom McDonnell has faced off.

Michigan’s ride and clear have both been outstanding. U-M has failed just one clear, and has held two opponents to .833 total, albeit one first-year team and a Lafayette squad that may be in for a second-straight rough year. Given that the Maize and Blue haven’t emphasized the ride in a couple years, don’t expect that they’re actively forcing these failed clears with pressure, so much as letting the opponent mess up on their own.

Meanwhile, UDM had a near-perfect clearing game against Ohio State, and held the Buckeyes to 15/19 on the clear. Like Michigan, the Titans have stepped back from a fun pressure style defensively in the past couple years, so it’s possible we just saw luck of the draw in the Woody Hayes Athletic center.

Special teams

Michigan played an extremely sloppy game in terms of penalties against Lafayette, and wasn’t particularly clean against an overmatched Cleveland State squad, either. All told, five of opponents’ 14 goals on the year have come with the Wolverines at a disadvantage. Given that the Titans have been a pretty good EMO team for several years running (even when they’ve struggled on the 6v6 offense), that could be an area in which they can capitalize.

On the other side, Detroit gave up four extra-man opportunities to Ohio State, which isn’t so bad, but they did allow the Buckeyes to convert three of them. Michigan is 2/2 on the EMO this year, so they aren’t drawing a ton of flags, but when they do, they convert.

This is a reversal from previous years, where the Titans were playing a bit sloppy while Michigan was scrappy-but-clean. Can the tables turn in this one, or will the rivalry implications make it heated on both sides? No way to tell until they strap it up.

Predictions

This has always been one of the more fun games for me to cover, and most frustrating when it’s canceled (as has happened due to weather twice since Michigan was elevated to varsity status). Both teams have only played indoors so far this year, so there’s no advantage there, and it should be a good old-fashioned rivalry contest.

  • Gjokaj wins the faceoff battle, but on draws where he doesn’t win the ground ball, the Wolverines will end up with more of the loose ones than do the Titans. The wing play will be key, and it’s up to Gjokaj to take care of business for himself, at times.
  • Ian King will have a balanced game, rather than the pendulum swinging hard one way or the other. He’ll both score and assist, and while he may not put a huge day on the scoreboard, he’ll be the key offensive player for the Wolverines regardless of whether the stats show it.
  • If Mark Anstead doesn’t play, I have a hard time seeing how the Titans have a big day offensively. They’ll still get their opportunities, but hitting double-digits without Anstead available seems to be out of the question.
  • Jason Weber will prove to be the best overall player in the game, but does he have the defense around him for that to matter much? Even if he lets in some goals, they won’t be looks that he should have saved – or that he had much of a chance at.

While the rivalry factor can be an equalizer (and, in all fairness, this is a game that means more to the Titans than it probably does to Michigan), I can’t get over the trajectory of the scores since the first game in this series: Detroit +4, Michigan +1 in OT, Michigan +9… that’s a trend toward the Maize and Blue, as their roster fills out with high-level talent. That can do little other than plateau at some point soon, but the talent gap seems to be growing. Although a couple individual performances can be enough to bring this one much closer, a 17-8 Michigan win seems likely.

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Michigan 17, Lafayette 6

Michigan Wolverines Lafayette Leopards lacrosse

The Wolverines celebrate in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse (via U-M Media Relations).

I managed to talk myself into being scared of this game… and I’m not yet sure why I was wrong. Are the Wolverines just improved? Was my expectation that Lafayette would be better with experience faulty because bad players are destined to remain bad? Stay tuned.

Tempo-Free

From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:

Lafayette 2016
Lafayette Michigan
Faceoff Wins 11 Faceoff Wins 15
Clearing 12-15 Clearing 21-22
Possessions 27 Possessions 40
Goals 6 Goals 17
Offensive Efficiency .222 Offensive Efficiency .425

Michigan dominated possession, thanks to a slight advantage on faceoffs and a very clean day clearing the ball (and of course, their ability to stop Lafayette from making their possessions end meaningfully). A big advantage there, and a big advantage in efficiency, and you have yourself a blowout win.

Notes

My trend of making one terrible prediction and one great prediction continued with this game Saturday, since I thought it would be a tight matchup (wrong! Sad!), but also expected Ian King to shed the feeder role to be more of a goal scorer (I have all the best predictions). King scored five goals to lead the team, though it took him nine shots and eight on goal to get there. He’s been one of U-M’s more volume-oriented shooters when he’s in scoring-not-dishing mode, so it’s sort of something you have to deal with, and the obvious payoff of “scores five goals” is well worth the hassle.

Augmenting King’s production were three-goal, one-assist scorers Rocco Sutherland and Pat Tracy. Tracy found twine every time he launched a shot, and could have made a bit of an argument for moving into the starting lineup… except of course that Brent Noseworthy had a nice day feeding, including on Tracy’s man-up goal, so the distribution of tasks seems to be pretty logical right now. Noseworthy was credited with an assist on one of his own goals, so obviously there’s a scorekeeping mistake in there, as well.

Mikie Schlosser (2G, 1A) and Hank Adams (1G, 2A) had nice offensive days as well, on an afternoon where the scoring seemed to come pretty easy for the Maize and Blue.

The Smith brother duo on close defense seemed to work out well, with Dickson forcing a game-high three turnovers, and little bro Eric a solid three ground balls (tied for the non-goalie, non-FO specialist team-high with Sutherland). Andrew Hatton played alongside them but was statistically quiet, while Stefan Bergman caused a pair of turnovers as well, after coming in off the bench. The defense was very good at preventing looks for the Leopards, who put only 18 of their 42 shots on the cage.

…a big part of that solid defense was another great performance between the pipes from Tommy Heidt, who has certainly solidified his grasp on the top slot of the goalie depth chart, at least for the time being. He made 11 saves and allowed five goals (Robbie Zonino entered to close out the game and had one save and one goal against), with three of those goals allowed coming on the man-up. Heidt also collected seven ground balls – often an indication of clean saves – and yet didn’t turn it over once on the clear. A very nice day, indeed.

While it’s worth keeping in mind that this Lafayette team is probably pretty bad, eight of the Leopards’ 11 turnovers were forced by the Maize and Blue. That’s a bit more active defensively than we’ve seen in recent years. We’ll see if the absence of Gerald Logan has led to a bit of a change in strategy, or if it’s simply a matter of the opposition faced.

Mike McDonnell had a nice day on faceoffs, winning 13/20. Michael Sullivan was a .519 faceoff specialist last year, so that’s a pretty nice mark. Freshman Matt Dellacrose went 2/4, while seniors Brian Archer and Will Biagi each lost their only attempt – they’re looking more like depth players at this early stage of the season.

This was a super-sloppy one with 17 combined penalties, 12 of them committed by the Maize and Blue. Lafayette converted on four of eight man-up opportunities, while U-M turned both their EMO chances into scores.

Elsewhere

Michigan recap (highlights inside but annoyingly not linkable, also a person who works for Michigan Athletics doesn’t know how to pronounce “Oosterbaan”). Lafayette recap. Boxscore. Photo gallery.

Up Next

It’s the big one. Michigan heads to Pontiac for the Titans’ indoor venue at Ultimate Soccer Arenas Wednesday for the in-state matchup. If this gets canceled because of snow I’m going to throw a fit, FYI.

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The Next Level: Feb. 14, 2017

Our weekly look at Michigan natives who are playing college lacrosse at division-1 institutions this Spring. We’re one week closer to just about everybody playing.

Bellarmine 8, Robert Morris 10

  • Senior attackman/midfielder Graham Macko (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman attackman Morgan Macko (Brother Rice) – Started, cored a Goal on three Shots, picked up a ground ball, and caused one turnover. Also committed two turnovers.

Cleveland State 7, Duke 22

  • Freshman defenseman Levi Peterson (Holt) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Garrett White (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Did not see game action.

Colgate 8, Marist 12

  • Freshman attackman Cooper Belanger (Detroit Country Day) – Did not see game action.

Detroit 8, Ohio State 14

  • Senior attackman Kyle Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started and scored two Goals on four Shots (two on goal). Also committed two turnovers.
  • Junior midfielder Sean Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started and scored two Goals on five Shots (three on goal). Also committed a turnover.
  • Freshman defenseman Nick Boynton (Troy Athens) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Adam Findlay (Detroit Catholic Central) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior attackman Alec Gilhooly (Detroit Catholic Central) – Scored two Goals on his only two Shots. Also committed four turnovers.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Benjamin Gjokaj (Walled Lake Northern) – Won 15/23 faceoffs, picking up ten ground balls. Also took one Shot on goal.
  • Sophomore midfielder Emmett Green (Birmingham Seaholm) – Caused one turnover and picked up one ground ball.
  • Freshman attackman/midfielder Blake Grewal-Turner (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Jack Harrop (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Charlie Hayes (Utica Eisenhower) – Took one Shot and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one penalty for 1:00.
  • Senior midfielder JD Hess (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Sam Horton (Okemos) – Started and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one penalty for 0:30.
  • Freshman midfielder Alex Jarzembowski (Detroit Catholic Central) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Brent Lubin (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Junior midfielder Connor Maks (UD-Jesuit) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Greg Marzec (Brother Rice) – Went 0/2 on faceoffs and picked up one ground ball.
  • Junior defenseman Bryan Matney (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Started, caused one turnover, and picked up one ground ball.
  • Freshman midfielder Jackson McElhenney (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder Bo Pickens (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Austin Ross (Warren Mott) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Charlie Schiefer (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman goalie Logan Shamblin (Troy) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Travis Sparling (Novi) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior attackman/midfielder Adam Susalla (Birmingham Seaholm) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

Duke 22, Cleveland State 7

  • Junior midfielder Matthew Giampetroni (Cranbrook) – Recorded an Assist and took two Shots (both on goal).

Fairfield 3, Richmond 15

  • Freshman defenseman Brian Cosgrove (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

High Point 5, Duke 10

  • Freshman defenseman Luke Cappetto (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Manhattan 14, Wagner 13 (3OT)

  • Sophomore midfielder Robert Carroll (Grosse Pointe South) – Won 3/6 faceoffs and picked up one ground ball.

Michigan 17, Lafayette 6

  • Freshman midfielder Ryan Prior (Birmingham/Culver Academy) – Recorded one Assist.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Went 0/1 on faceoffs.

Mount St. Mary’s 5, Delaware 18

  • Freshman midfielder Keaton Mitchell (Clarkston) – Starter and took five Shots (three on goal). Also committed one turnover.

Providence 10, Holy Cross 4.

  • Junior midfielder Josh Keller (East Grand Rapids/Kent School) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one penalty for 1:00.

Richmond 15, Fairfield 3

  • Senior attackman J.P. Forester (Brother Rice) – Scored a Goal on five Shots (four on goal). Also committed two turnovers.

Robert Morris 10, Bellarmine 8

  • Freshman long-stick midfielder James Scane (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Syracuse 19, Siena 6

  • Freshman midfielder Nick Martin (Detroit Country Day) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

UMass Lowell 8, Boston University 18

  • Sophomore goalie Grant Lardieri (Forest Hills Northern) – Started and played 25:04. Recorded three saves and allowed 10 goals (.231 save percentage).

Yet to play: Binghamton (Liam Reaume), Canisius (Logan Monroe, Keith Pravato, Steve Wizniuk), Drexel (Ian Foster), Marquette (Bob Pelton, John Wagner), Notre Dame (Michael Langdon, Sergio Perkovic), Penn (Alex Minanov), Stony Brook (Nathan Richards), Yale (Jason Alessi, John Lazarsfedl).

If I’ve messed anything up, let me know in the comments, where you can also feel free to share statlines from other divisions.

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Detroit 8, Ohio State 14

Ohio State Buckeyes Detroit Titans lacrosse

Ohio State celebrates one of its 14 goals Saturday (via OSU media relations).

This game ended up with the final score I predicted, but how it got there was a far more interesting case study than I had thought we’d see. Titans looked solid against a team not many expected them to beat, and while a moral victory still goes down as a loss, there were encouraging signs for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Tempo-Free

From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:

Ohio State 2016
Detroit Ohio State
Faceoff Wins 15 Faceoff Wins 10
Clearing 15-16 Clearing 15-19
Possessions 35 Possessions 30
Goals 8 Goals 14
Offensive Efficiency .229 Offensive Efficiency .467

The Titans won the possession battle by dominating one of the country’s best faceoffs specialists in Jake Withers, but didn’t turn it into much production thanks to those age-old bugaboos of turnovers and inaccurate shooting. Meanwhile, Ohio State settled into the possession game, and made the most of its opportunities.

Notes

 

We’ll start on those faceoffs, since I was cautiously optimistic about Ben Gjokaj entering the year, but certainly did not expect him to go 13/21 (.619) against Jake Withers, a preseason all-conference guy who hit a .607 clip last year. That Gjokaj got 10 of those ground balls himself is a huge positive, that five of his wins came on violations can be considered either good (got in Withers’s head) or bad (didn’t dominate as much as the other guy just screwed up a lot). Either way, an upward trend for one aspect of the Titans’ team is always welcome.

The Titans lost this game in the stretch run of the second quarter. They battled to tie it up with 6:01 remaining before halftime, and even won the ensuing faceoff. That possession ended with a turnover… as did the next one after an OSU goal, and the Buckeyes won the final two faceoffs to build momentum and a 9-6 lead that had the Titans reeling despite a well-played 24 opening minutes. The opening faceoff of the third quarter when to Gjokaj, but another turnover and OSU goal cemented the Buckeyes’ dominance, and UDM was jsut playing catch-up from there.

Culprits on those turnovers were primarily attackmen Donavon Dempsey and Alec Gilhooly with four apiece. There’s always a grain of salt there – the offensive quarterbacks have the ball more, and are naturally going to put it on the turf a bit more, accordingly – but definitely something to be cleaned up. Junior Mark Anstead, the team’s leading returner, was not on the field, so hopefully having him available (no word on his status) will improve that quickly.

Those turnovers go part of the way toward explaining the poor offensive efficiency, but not as much the poor defensive efficiency, with only one turnover leading directly to a fast-break goal for the Buckeyes (though there’s something to be said for leaving the defense on the field a lot). The bigger portion of the blame for defensive efficiency falls on the penalty game, where the Titans were quite sloppy. They committed four penalties, and Ohio State converted three of them into goals. That included those to go up 4-1 and 5-1, and then early in the fourth quarter to effectively put the game away at 11-6. There wasn’t much payoff – only three forced turnovers – so UDM will have to improve.

Jason Weber had a decent game between the pipes in a tough situation, with tons of rubber (25 shots on goal, 14 goals allowed). I firmly believe he’s one of the best keepers in the country, and even against a good Ohio State offense, would expect him to have a better statistical day… as long as the defensive is doing its job in front of him. It would certainly appear that wasn’t the case.

The offensive load was pretty shared with Anstead not in the lineup. Sophomore attack Matthew Vangalen was the standout with two goals and three assists, while Sean Birney, Kyle Beauregard, and Alec Gilhooly each notched a pair of goals, as well (Vangalen’s assists, the only of the day for UDM, went to both Gilhooly’s scores and one of Birney’s, for the record).

Overall, it’s easy to find a lot to complain about in a comprehensive loss… and easy to forget that this degree of loss was probably exceeding most folks’ expectations for the Titans against a nationally ranked squad. We’ll have a better chance to see how they’ll compete against more comparable competition starting Wednesday against Michigan.

Elsewhere

Detroit recap. Boxscore (with worse display of stats, but plus PBP). Ohio State recap. Highlights.

Up Next

It’s the big one. Michigan heads to Pontiac for the Titans’ indoor venue at Ultimate Soccer Arenas Wednesday for the in-state matchup. If this gets canceled because of snow I’m going to throw a fit, FYI.

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Michigan preview: Lafayette

Unlike the in-state brethren, Michigan already has a game under its belt prior to today’s action – and the competition is a little less stiff, as well.

Lafayette

Lafayette Leopards lacrosse

Rawr!

Feb. 11, 2017, 4 p.m. EST
Oosterbaan Fieldhouse (FREE)
Live stats.
Michigan preview. Lafayette (season) preview.
John Paul on WTKA.

The Leopards

This was a really bad team last year – No. 63 of 70 according to LaxPower, 3-11 on the year with the wins coming against Wagner, Monmouth, and NJIT. Jim Rogalski’s fifth season at Lafayette had better feature some sort of turnaround, but this Michigan team – while hardly a world-beater – is not exactly on the “expansion teams and Wagner” level (hopefully).

There is good news for Lafayette: they return all three starting attackmen from last year, all seniors (plus the No. 4 scorer is also an attackman, now-sophomore Conor Walters). Eric Joseph’s 33 goals and 8 assists plus Kevin Lewis’s 19 and eight indicate that they’re primarily the finishers – Joseph leading the way, of course – while Jason Sands scored just seven goals but put up 21 assists: he’s your feeder. Walters started five games while Lewis was out of the lineup, but only put up 13 total points on the year.

The top three midfielders are also returners, with juniors Will McCarthy and Matt Close and senior Dillon Confalone all coming off years in which they mostly finished, and notched either 11 or 10 points. Connar Dehnert and Luke Cummings, midfielders No. 4 and 5, are also returners (with a handful of starts apiece last year). This is an experienced offense, albeit one that wasn’t particularly good last year.

Sophomores Zack Merle (nine starts in 11 appearances) and Josh Hubbard (eight starts in nine total) and Sean Andrews (started all 13 games he played) formed a super-young core of the defense last year, but with all three back – and presumably fully healthy and ready to go at the beginning of the year – they should be improved. LSM Erik Cannon, another returning starter, is the elder statesman of the group.

The Leopards were pretty good on faceoffs last year, with Michael Sullivan hitting a nice .519 stride in his first year on-campus. There’s no guarantee those numbers continue (there’s little correlation between years – except at the very top and bottom of the rankings – or guaranteed improvement on faceoffs, statistically), but entering his sophomore year, one wouldn’t expect a huge step back.

Literally the only key contributor from last year’s team who won’t see the field for Lafayette this year is goalie Dillon Falcone. However, he was actually the worse of the two regularly-used options last year, saving only .448 of shots faced while Jon Anastos saved .484… and will presumably be the starter in his sophomore year.

This was a bad team last year, there’s no questioning that, but the experience that they gained (and the growing pains that came with it) should make them much better this year, it’s just a question of how much that will manifest itself in the results.

Big Picture

 

So… a very bad team that one must assume will make huge improvements, against a Michigan team that should finally be hitting its stride as a program, but utterly failed to inspire in its season opener against a brand new program. Color me nervous about this one.

There’s plenty of turnover in U-M’s offense (Kyle Jackson, Peter Kraus) and defense (Chase Brown, Charlie Keady, Gerald Logan). There’s almost literally no turnover among contributors for the Leopards. In the battle of Experience v. Not Being Terrible Last Year, this prognosticator is going to have to punt.

Michigan needs to win this game to build a bit of confidence and cushion in the W-L record heading into a pretty tough overall schedule in the Big Ten. The advantage of Oosterbaan should help equalize whatever they lack in experience, but the Leopards aren’t coming out just for the sake of showing up.

Predictions

For all the reasons listed above, this is tough.

  • Michigan at least tries out a heavy ride a couple times. They’ve gone away from this as a regular tactic, but inside Oosterbaan Fieldhouse against an upset-minded Lafayette team, they have to try to work it to their advantage. Why play home games if there’s no benefit to it, right? If it works, they’ll stick with it a bit, but they’ll be flexible enough to scrap it in a hurry.
  • Ian King is a goal-scorer, rather than a feeder, in this one. That may seem a strange prediction to have to make, but he reinvented himself as an assist specialist playing on the attack line with Kyle Jackson last year, and four assists against Cleveland State. The Leopards have a big, physical defensive unit, so draw slide-dish is a recipe for getting one’s head taken off, may as well work topside and get a couple goals.
  • Teddy Heidt starts in goal and looks pretty good. His performance against Cleveland State was fine (two of the Vikings’ eight goals were against backups after he’d hit the bench in the fourth last weekend). He’s not going to make anyone forget about Gerald Logan – who was an outstanding shot-stopper and clearing goalie, which has continued at Johns Hopkins – but hopefully won’t need to in this one.
  • The faceoff game tips Michigan’s way, though only slightly. It was one area of the game in which the Leopards succeeded last year, sure, but Michigan should have the more athletic wing players, and there’s a lot to like about the potential of Mike McDonnell (like Heidt, his backups made the overall stats look worse last weekend – losing all three of their draws – giving a bit of a negative look to a day that was actually outstanding individually, winning 15/22).

It’s closer than those who just look at the Leopards’ record from last year think it’s going to be, but the Wolverines manage to win nonetheless. It’s a second-straight uninspiring win (at least for thoss who didn’t look into Lafayette’s returning roster), but Wolverines win, 13-11.

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