Detroit preview: Air Force

Air Force is in the “”others receiving votes” category in the media poll, which… well, it’s probably out of the realm of likelihood for a Titans upset, especially on the road. However, there are some interesting mismatches to exploit.

Air Force

Air Force Falcons Lacrosse

Is the bird part of the lightning or being struck by it?

March 11, 2017, Noon MST
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Live stats. Video.
Detroit preview. Air Force preview.
@UDMLax. @AFLacrosse.

The Falcons

Air Force has a pretty interesting resume so far this year (“interesting” is a word which here means “mostly quite bad”). The Falcons started the year with a one-goal upset of Duke, but their only other wins are a close-ish defeat of Canisius and a blowout over new program Cleveland State.

Meanwhile, USAFA has lost to No. 5 Denver (hardly something to be ashamed of), and a pair of surprisingly-good teams in Marist and Boston University… whose resumes are primarily based upon their wins over Air Force. There’s jut not enough evidence at this point in the season to know how good the Falcons are.

Offense

Two Falcons stand above the rest as the keys to this offense: miniature (5-7, 175) junior attackman Chris Walsch has 12 goals and seven assists, while attack/mid Nick Hruby has 14 goals and four assists. Hruby has been playing mostly midfielder (at least that’s where he’s earning starts), but is versatile enough to line up in either spot. Junior attack Andrew Tien has seven goals and three assists to round out double-digit scorers so far this year.

In case you weren’t sure about this junior class, Grant Gould starts at midfield, and has scored eight goals without yet recording an assist. Marcus Ward, a senior (the first non-junior!) has seven goals without an assist from the midfield, as well. These midfielders – outside of Hruby, at least – are finishers first, foremost, and only.

The offense overall is not particularly notable, No. 31 in adjusted efficiency. There’s a bit of noise in those numbers – playing a huge standard deviation of opposition in one of the country’s worst (Cleveland State) and a couple good ones (Marist and Boston U) will make it tough to determine how they are against the middle of the pack – but they’re pretty good, not elite so far.

If UDM can slow down a couple of the key performers, the rest of the offense may have a tough time picking up the slack.

Defense

Senior Nick Accardi is the team’s leading GB-acquirer outside of faceoff specialists, with 19 on the year. Sophomore Brandon Jones and junior Sean LaVine get the majority of time alongside him. They form a decent unit, No. 17 nationally overall. It’s not particularly reliant on caused turnovers, either, with Air Force below-average nationally in that regard.

Sophomore LSM Christian Pung has six ground balls on the year – and no shots yet. Stephen Parker and Daniel Pagano also get a pretty fair amount of time. There’s rotation at this spot that is pretty interesting (with some filtering through the close D, as well). None of them have launched a shot yet.

Freshman Paxton Boyer has played just about every meaningful minute this year, but his numbers are bordering on terrible. He’s saving just .457 so far on the season, and has al six decisions of the 3-3 record. If you can put the ball on-cage (unfortunately a very well known shortcoming of the Titans), you can score on him.

Special teams

Air Force is just over .500 on faceoffs, with sophomore Trent Harper (.588) and junior Josh Radjenovich (.433) getting about equal time despite a pretty wide gap in their performances. Harper is very solid at collecting his own ground balls – which I take to be a sign of better faceoff play without any evidence to support it – and should get the majority of the time as long as he doesn’t struggle.

Air force is a pretty heavy riding team, with opponents making it into the offensive zone at just a .786 clip. Against a traditionally poor clearing team like Detroit – though to be fair, they’re performing much better this year – that could spell trouble (and more so on a day that should be in the low 50s temperature-wise).

Air Force and opponents have had plenty of EMO opportunities, and both are around .400 converting. Detroit is a pretty good man-up team, so if they get chances, they will be able to get some goals.

Overall

Air Force is a pretty good team, but one whose resume is basically built upon one win, with five games’ evidence os mediocrity in between. The problem is that Detroit hasn’t proven to be particularly good yet this year, and a team on the fringe of the rankings is a tall task.

Pulling the upset would really position the Titans well to make a run going into conference play. Given the results of the rest of the non-conference schedule, this one is more about getting ready for MAAC play than needing a win for RPI or other purposes.

Predictions

Air Force is a decent team, though one that has some serious flaws. However, UDM is probably at a lower level than that.

  • This Air Force offense has enough weapons that they should be able to get some easy looks on the Titans. With a scheme that sees half their goals assisted (a pretty good number), they should be able to beat Jason Weber based on open looks, rather than needing to bomb away. That’s a fit that should see them do well, despite the quality of UDM’s netminder.
  • Air Force has a chance to do pretty well on faceoffs, with the mercurial play of Ben Gjokaj (and to a lesser extent Alex Jastrzembski) an X-factor. The Titans have the pieces to be a good faceoff team, but relying on them to do it consistently is a fool’s errand.
  • I’m not sold on the quality of this Air Force defense. Especially given their weakness in goal, Detroit should have chances to put the ball in the back of the net. That, of course, requires pointing the ball toward the net, which has been a consistent problem for UDM.
  • The EMO battle should be pretty even, with the Titans getting a chance to equalize the game a bit by getting man-up goals.

Detroit seems to be playing quite a bit better in the past couple games than they did to start the year, but Air Force is a task that is on another level. In a true road game (halfway across the country), that’s a tough ask. Air Force takes the win, 15-9.

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Michigan preview: Penn

U-M flopped in its first opportunity to dispatch a bigtime opponent this year (16-5 at Notre Dame). While Penn isn’t on the same level, the Quakers are a ranked team nonetheless – and they visit the Big House today.

Penn

University of Pennsylvania Quakers lacrosse

Boring logo. Boo.

March 11, 2017, 1 p.m. EST
Michigan Stadium
Live stats. Video.
Michigan preview. Penn preview.
@UMichLacrosse. @UofMLaxManagers.
@pennmenslax.

The Quakers

Penn is 3-1 this year, with the lone loss by a single goal on the road against Penn State (a team ranked No. 3, despite consensus – including among those who do the rankings – that they are overrated). That strong start, along with the pre-season expectations, sees the Quakers come in a consensus No. 10 in the national rankings.

Wins over UVa and Navy (the former still ranked, latter receiving votes prior to the mid-week Penn victory) are pretty solid, and a blowout over fellow Philly squad St. Joseph’s gives the Ivy squad a much better early-season resume than Michigan, whose victims to date have just a handful of wins between them.

Offense

Sophomore attack Simon Mathias is Penn’s leading scorer so far, putting together a seven-goal, six-assist line so far for a very balanced output. He’s a bigger attackman, standing 6-2, 190 – not a mini dodger-feeder. The more classically sized attackman is fellow sophomore Tyler Dunn, a 5-11, 190-pounder whose statline reads more like a midfielder, with ten goals and just one assist. He’s your crease finisher. The third starter is another sophomore, Alex Roesner, who, like Dunn, is primarily a finisher with eight goals and nary an assist.

The Quakers have shuffled through starting lineups (and are listed with a very confusing five attackmen and one midfielder for the St. Joe’s game), with freshman Keyveat Postell also earning a couple starts in there. The No. 4 attackman certainly doesn’t add any experience to what is a pretty young front line. Postell has started at midfield in the games he was not in the starting attack, but his relatively pedestrian scoreline (two goals, one assist) indicates he’s not as big a threat as other players. He and Roesner rotate between which is on attack and which is playing midfield.

The other starting midfielders are junior Kevin McGeary, a bit of a feeder (on what is not a particularly assist-dependent offense) with two goals and four assists, and big junior Reilly Hupfeldt – six goals and two assists, and a pure midfielder though he’s listed as an attackman on the roster – who runs 6-2, 215. Joe Licciardi will also mix in, though he hasn’t been particularly productive yet.

The defensive corps will get in on the scoring, however, with LSM Connor Keating already potting four goals, at least one in each game except against PSU (he scored twice Wednesday against Navy). That’s something to watch, especially if Michigan manages to have its clear broken.

The advanced stats like this offense quite a bit, putting it among the nation’s top 15 or so, and the versatility in personnel really helps there.

Defense

Keating is also the team’s ground ball leader – as LSMs often are, especially those who play on the wing for faceoffs – but is not much of a threat to simply take the ball away.

That responsibility falls to the close defense, especially its unquestioned leader Kevin Gayhardt. The 6-6, 225-pound senior is tied with Keating for the team’s ground ball lead with 13, and has seven caused turnovers in just four games (albeit concentrated with three against Navy and four against Virginia). Fellow senior Eric Persky doesn’t have the size at 5-11, 200, but has started every game alongside Gayhardt. He has only three ground balls on the year, though. Kevin McDonough and Mike Mulqueen have split the starts at the third close defense position, with neither accomplishing much of anything – and each only boasting two ground balls on the year.

Reed Junkin has been the Quakers’ goalie for every second of gameplay in 2017. He has relatively pedestrian stats – a .542 save percentage and 9.50 goals against average despite playing for one of the slowest teams in the country – and adding that all up… sort of makes it confusing why the defensive efficiency looks pretty good (until you see what the pace means in a moment…)

Special teams

The Quakers are one of the slowest teams in the country (according to AnalyticsLacrosse, run by IL‘s Patrick McEwen), which, combined with their possession percentage, has to mean they have by far the fewest offensive possessions of any team in the country. Thanks to a pathetic .316 mark on faceoffs, and a clear that is only OK combined with a lack of desire to ride, they have just 46.7% of possessions on the year, or 115 opportunities in four games, fewer than 29 per contest.

That faceoff issue has been spread a bit across the roster – four different guys have taken at least two draws – with the top two options both performing very poorly. Chris Santangelo is the No. 1 guy, and his ability to turn faceoff wins into offense (two goals and two assists) is better than his ability to turn attempts into wins in the first place (.347 wins). Backup Jack Ulrich is barely clearing 20%.

The Quakers have a .887 clearing mark, which is fine, but they haven’t faced heavy-riding teams yet this year. They are also very much not a heavy-riding team themselves, forcing only five fails in four games so far.

The Quakers have played in relatively clean games so far this year (Michigan will be the most penalty-prone team they’ve played), with both their own EMO and opponents’ having trouble converting.

Overall

The record and the opponents defeated make Penn look pretty good, for the most part. Looking at the stats, though, it’s an absolute mystery how they’ve done it: they have a moderately-efficient offense and defense (in raw terms; the opponent-adjusted numbers are a bit better), and are terrible in the possession game. Obviously they’ve done it against a good slate, but this does look like a squad that’s poised to struggle in a game where they simply can’t get ahold of the ball.

Michigan is a good faceoff team, so can the Wolverines be the squad that upsets the rickety apple cart here? It’s possible, and would be a huge win for the program. The highest-ranked team to fall victim to U-M in the six years of existence would probably vault U-M comfortably into the rankings should they pull the upset. Even coming close against the Quakers would give the Maize and Blue a chance to be on the fringe of the rankings come Big Ten play.

Predictions

Penn is obviously a bit better than the raw numbers make them look, but this early in the year (especially for Ivy League teams, which start late and therefore have played fewer games than other notable ones), there’s a bit of noise in the opponent-adjustment of those numbers, too. There’s a vulnerability here.

  • Michigan should dominate possession in this game. A good faceoff team against a bad one is an obvious advantage, and Mike McDonnell should be able to exceed .667 at the dot. Michigan’s clear is the x-factor here. While Penn doesn’t ride, U-M has shown an ability to fail clears without much help from the opponent. Have a consistent day clearing, and the path to a huge advantage is obvious.
  • Penn’s offense, when they do get the ball into U-M territory, is going to be a problem. Michigan has a solid defense, but has let mediocre-to-poor teams tread water a bit too much lately. Against a potentially elite offense – and one with a lot of versatility in personnel, which Michigan hasn’t had to deal with much this year – there’s a chance it all falls apart. Tommy Heidt can equalize that, and will have to if U-M is to shut down the Quakers.
  • I’m not at all impressed with the Penn defense, even if the efficiency numbers are pretty good. UVa and Penn State hit double-digits despite a very slow pace of play out of the Quakers (Penn State is also pretty slow – so naturally those squads played a 64-possession game), and Navy was pretty close. Michigan isn’t in the realm of the Cavs or Nittany Lions, most likely, but not far off Navy. One good game – against a mediocre goalie, no less – could be a difference-maker in perception.
  • One of the keys for Michigan, therefore, will be avoiding turnovers. Penn forces TOs on .160 of opponents possessions, with .260 of other possessions resulting in an unforced turnover. Play smart ball, don’t give it away unforced, and this Penn team doesn’t stop you a whole lot. Unfortunately, I’ll believe Michigan can do that when I see it.
  • Penalties will also be an interesting data point. Michigan plays a pretty loose style of game, that results in them both going man-down (39 opponent attempts this year, 11 more than No. 2) and man-up (just above middle-of-the-pack nationally) a whole lot. If U-M gives Penn chances with the advantage, the Quakers may snap out of a 3/11 performance this year and hit around 50%. That could be the difference-maker.

It’s very tempting to pick the upset in this one: I don’t think Penn is particularly good, but Michigan isn’t necessarily the team to exploit that. It should be close, probably closer than the experts think (the LaxVegasLine is Penn -4), and the Wolverines will have a shot to steal it. However, they won’t, and Penn takes the 11-9 victory, the Quakers’ second by that scoreline in the past four days

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Detroit 12, Jacksonville 11

Jason Weber Detroit Titans Jacksonville Dolphins lacrosse

Jason Weber starred, as usual. (Photo via UDM Media Relations)

It took four tries, but Detroit finally got up off the mat and took home a victory in 2017. Will it help them turn the corner and finish the year strong?

Tempo-Free

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

Jacksonville 2016
Jacksonville Detroit
Faceoff Wins 17 Faceoff Wins 9
Clearing 11-14 Clearing 18-20
Possessions 33 Possessions 32
Goals 11 Goals 12
Offensive Efficiency .333 Offensive Efficiency .375

UDM got abused on faceoffs, but mostly made up for it by playing solid defense and generating opportunities to clear on the basis of that defense. They forced Jacksonville into a sub-.800 clearing day, and that helped make the difference.

Notes

I’m so used to touting Jason Weber’s performances that I almost don’t know what to do when he has a pedestrian day. He allowed 11 goals and made 10 saves, a rare performance with worse than a .500 save percentage. The Dolphins didn’t even get that many shots off (or one-goal when they did fire), which means this game appears to be the rare performance that the defense in front of Weber, rather than Weber himself, led to the opponents’ inability to score.

That solid defense allowed Detroit to even up possession when the faceoff spot could have seen them get worked in overall opportunities with the ball. I’m at a loss for what to expect on a game-in, game-out basis from the Titans’ faceoff unit, which can be awesome at times, but then flop against poor competition (even with this domination, Jacksonville is at .475 on the year). Ben Gjokaj had a mediocre-minus 8/21 day, while the two backups combined to go 1/5. This appears to be a random number generator going forward.

Detroit’s starters were extremely solid offensively, despite a dearth of assists. Kyle Beauregard scored three goals, while Alec Gilhooly, Sean Birney, and Matthew Vangalen all had a pair (Vangalen also added an assist). Only one of those came on the man-up – and as expected, the EMO goal was assisted – meaning three of 11 even-strength goals were assisted. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely tough to sustain without the top-end offensive talent that the national powers have.

The giveaway problem continued for Detroit, with 10 turnovers in just 32 possessions. The number itself isn’t particularly horrible, but when you look at the concentration of giveaways among key personnel (Sean Birney and Seth Mendell both had multiple – though sometimes that’s the blessing and the curse of being relied upon by your team), it’s still something the Titans can work on.

This was a back-and-forth affair in the second half, but UDM actually seemed to have the upper hand for much of the contest, with a couple runs by Jacksonville first keeping the Dolphins in the game, then making them a serious threat to steal it from the home team.

JU had a couple standout performances in possession terms, mostly thanks to their dominance on faceoffs (specialist Hunter Forbes had six ground balls while LSM Tommy Barnhorst had five). Offensively, all three attackmen were multi-point scorers.

Elsewhere

Detroit recap. Jacksonville recap. Boxscore. Photo gallery. Highlights.

Up Next

Detroit got smacked around by Robert Morris before getting back on the winning side of the ledger lat weekend… More to come.

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Michigan 13, Bellarmine 5

Michigan Wolverines Lafayette Leopards lacrosse

File photo (via U-M Media Relations).

Bellarmine has been an up-and-down team from a Michigan perspective, both in terms of how they play the Maize and Blue and just what quality of opponent they’ll be in a given year. In 2017, they were an easy win… but unfortunately, that appear to be in large part because they’re not any good.

Tempo-Free

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

Bellarmine 2016
Michigan Bellarmine
Faceoff Wins 13 Faceoff Wins 8
Clearing 15-19 Clearing 12-16
Possessions 36 Possessions 28
Goals 13 Goals 5
Offensive Efficiency .361 Offensive Efficiency .179

Both teams had their fair share of trouble clearing, but Michigan won the faceoff dot handily, and was far, far more efficient than the Knights, resulting in the easy win.

Notes

The offensive efficiency was more-than solid for Michigan, which is made al the more impressve by the fact that they started out cold, cold cold. U-M shot 13 times before finally finding the back of the net, and with only two total saves for Bellarmine in the first quarter, that means at least 10 of those 12 misses to open the game weren’t on-cage. That’s no good.

Fortunately, Michigan settled in very nicely once they did finally get on the board, with an extremely prolific day on offense. Brent Noseworthy led the way with five goals and an assist, and six other Wolverines had multi-point days. Rocco Sutherland and Ian King had three and two assists, respectively, Decker Curran and Patrick Tracy each had a pair of goals, and PJ Bogle and Avery Myers had a goal and an assist apiece.

With a game that was out of hand by halftime (or certainly within the first few minutes of the third quarter), it was good to see some guys get a bit of significant run for the first time this year – depending on whatever you call the fourth quarter against Detroit.

Though both teams failed on four clears – which is pretty bad, though the Bellarmine style of being a heavy-ride team combined with their pretty poor clear explains part of it – this wasn’t a particularly turnover-prone contest. There were 23 between both teams, and even though this was a somewhat-slow game, that doesn’t feel like a particularly high number.

Goalie Tommy Heidt, as will be the case many times this year, was one of the most important performers for the Maize and Blue. He allowed five goals while making 11 saves (.688 save percentage), and has established the bar such that anything below .667 is going to be a disappointment. That’s probably not fair, especially given that the competition is going to get tougher, but such are the downsides of success.

Michigan was very solid on faceoffs, and it was actually Matt Dellacroce (4/6) who outperformed starter Mike McDonnell (9/15). Establishing multiple successful options there will be important for Michigan, and something they’re going to continue to work on when they can. McDonnell will be the guy in competitive games for now, but the more comfortable the staff can get with Dellacroce, the better.

Michigan’s man-up was 1/6 on the day, which can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Given that the total numbers (a couple weeks later) are 7/14, it can be viewed as just an aberration – and an indicator that the score of this game could have been worse. It can also be seen as a chink in the armor that good teams will be able to exploit. I lean more toward the former.

No statistical performances on the defensive side of the ball (outside of Heidt’s) stand out, but a couple team stats look pretty shiny: the outstanding Tucker Ciessau scored two goals, but it took him five shots on goal to get there, and 11 total shots. That means fewer than half his shots were on-cage, a solid indicator of good team defense on the opponent’s best player. Of course, on the other hand, Ian King managed to put only one of his eight shots on cage… but his team won by eight so whatever.

Elsewhere

Michigan recap. Bellarmine recapBoxscore.

Up Next

Michigan’s undefeated start to the season came to a bitter end in South Bend.

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The Next Level: March 6, 2017

Our weekly look at Michigan natives who are playing college lacrosse at Division-1 institutions this Spring.

Bellarmine 10, Detroit 13

  • Senior attackman/midfielder Graham Macko (Brother Rice) – Took one Shot on goal.
  • Freshman attackman Morgan Macko (Brother Rice) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

Bellarmine 11, Ohio State 14

  • Senior attackman/midfielder Graham Macko (Brother Rice) – Scored a Goal on his only Shot.
  • Freshman attackman Morgan Macko (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Binghamton 12, Hobart 6

  • Junior midfielder Liam Reaume (Brother Rice) – Scored a Goal on six Shots (three on goal), added an Assist, and won his only faceoff attempt.

Canisius 17, Cleveland State 7

  • Sophomore defenseman Logan Monroe (Holt) – Started, caused two turnovers, and picked up three ground balls. Also committed one turnover.
  • Junior midfielder Keith Pravato (Novi) – Took one Shot. Also committed one turnover.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Steve Wizniuk (De La Salle) – Did not see game action.

Cleveland State 7, Canisius 17

  • Freshman defenseman Levi Peterson (Holt) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Freshman defenseman Garrett White (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

Colgate 5, Lehigh 11

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

Detroit 13, Bellarmine 10

  • Senior attackman Kyle Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started, recorded an Assist, and took four Shots (none on goal). Also committed one turnover.
  • Junior midfielder Sean Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, scored a Goal on eight Shots (four on goal), and recorded one Assist.
  • Freshman defenseman Nick Boynton (Troy Athens) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Adam Findlay (Detroit Catholic Central) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one turnover.
  • Junior attackman Alec Gilhooly (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, scored a Goal on five Shots (two on goal), added two Assists, caused one turnover, and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Benjamin Gjokaj (Walled Lake Northern) – Won 6/9 faceoffs, picking up three ground balls. Also committed one turnover.
  • Sophomore midfielder Emmett Green (Birmingham Seaholm) – Recorded one Assist, 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) – Recorded an Assists, took one Shot on goal, and picked up three ground balls. Also committed one penalty for 0:30.
  • Senior midfielder JD Hess (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Sam Horton (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Alex Jarzembowski (Detroit Catholic Central) – Won 12/18 faceoffs, picking up five ground balls, and took one Shot on goal.
  • Junior midfielder Brent Lubin (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Picked up one ground ball.
  • Junior midfielder Connor Maks (UD-Jesuit) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Greg Marzec (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior defenseman Bryan Matney (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Started 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) – Took one Shot on goal. Also committed one penalty for 0:30.

Detroit 6, Marquette 8

  • Senior attackman Kyle Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started, took five Shots (one on goal), and caused one turnover. Also committed one turnover.
  • Junior midfielder Sean Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, scored two Goals on four Shots (all on goal), and picked up one ground ball. Also committed two turnovers.
  • 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) – Started and took two Shots (both on goal).
  • Senior faceoff specialist Benjamin Gjokaj (Walled Lake Northern) – Won 1/3 faceoffs.
  • Sophomore midfielder Emmett Green (Birmingham Seaholm) – Recorded one Assist.
  • 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) – Played, but only made the coresheet by committing one penalty for 0:30.
  • Senior midfielder JD Hess (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Sam Horton (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Alex Jarzembowski (Detroit Catholic Central) – Won 3/7 faceoffs, picking up one ground ball.
  • Junior midfielder Brent Lubin (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Connor Maks (UD-Jesuit) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Greg Marzec (Brother Rice) – Won 4/7 faceoffs, picking up one ground ball.
  • Junior defenseman Bryan Matney (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Started, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • 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) – Did not see game action.

Drexel 7, Marist 11

  • Freshman faceoff specialist Ian Foster (East Lansing/IMG Academy) – Went 0/1 on faceoffs.

Duke 9, Richmond 8

  • Junior midfielder Matthew Giampetroni (Cranbrook) – Did not see game action.

Fairfield 6, Stony Brook 9

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

High Point 12, Virginia 18

  • Freshman defenseman Luke Cappetto (Brother Rice) – Recorded an Assists, caused one turnover, and picked up three ground balls.

High Point 7, Robert Morris 9

  • Freshman defenseman Luke Cappetto (Brother Rice) – Picked up one ground ball.

Manhattan 6, St. Joseph’s 18

  • Sophomore midfielder Robert Carroll (Grosse Pointe South) – Won 1/4 faceoffs.

Marquette 6, Ohio State 12

  • Sophomore midfielder Bob Pelton (Forest Hills Northern) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder John Wagner (Cranbrook) – Started and took one Shot (not on goal). Also committed one turnover and one penalty for 0:30.

Marquette 8, Detroit 6

  • Sophomore midfielder Bob Pelton (Forest Hills Northern) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder John Wagner (Cranbrook) – Started and scored a Goal on four Shots (two on goal). Also committed two turnovers.

Michigan 11, Mercer 6

  • Freshman midfielder Ryan Prior (Birmingham/Culver Academy) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Did not see game action.

Michigan 7, Furman 5

  • Freshman midfielder Ryan Prior (Birmingham/Culver Academy) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Did not see game action.

Notre Dame 5, Maryland 4

  • Sophomore defenseman Michael Langdon (Cranbrook) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic (Brother Rice) – Started, took eight Shots (three on goal), and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.

Penn 13, Penn State 14

  • Freshman midfielder Alex Minanov (Grosse Pointe Liggett) – Did not see game action.

Providence 8, Sacred Heart 10

  • Junior midfielder Josh Keller (East Grand Rapids/Kent School) – Did not see game action.

Richmond 8, Duke 9

  • Senior attackman J.P. Forester (Brother Rice) – Scored three Goals on eight Shots (six on goal), and picked up two ground balls.

Robert Morris 9, High Point 7

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

Stony Brook 9, Fairfield 6

  • Sophomore midfielder Nathan Richards (Lapeer West) – Did not see game action.

Syracuse 14, Virginia 13

  • Freshman midfielder Nick Martin (Detroit Country Day) – Did not seegame action.

UMass Lowell 6, Monmouth 7

  • Sophomore goalie Grant Lardieri (Forest Hills Northern) – Started and played 60 minutes. Allowed seven goals while making 9 saves, for a save percentage of .563, and collected three ground balls.

Yale 6, Bryant 9

  • Junior midfielder Jason Alessi (Brother Rice) – Took one Shot (not on goal) and picked up one ground ball. Also committed two turnovers.
  • Senior midfielder John Lazarsfeld (Ann Arbor Greenhills) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

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

Posted in division 1 | Tagged | Comments Off on The Next Level: March 6, 2017

Detroit Preview: Marquette

UDM got its first big win of the year a couple days ago in Milwaukee… so let’s play two? The competition gets much tougher against Marquette, but this also isn’t the Golden Eagles team of the past couple years.

Marquette

Marquette Golden Eagles Lacrosse logo

Not many good Marquette lacrosse logos available on the internet :/

March 5, 2017, 3 p.m. CST
Milwaukee, Wisc.
Live stats. Video.
Detroit preview. Bellarmine preview.
@UDMLax. @MarquetteMLax.

The Golden Eagles

Marquette developed into a darling of last year’s lacrosse world (after a couple years building a good reputation), beating Denver in the Big East championship to earn a home NCAA Tournament game – which resulted in a very close loss to North Carolina. However, the Golden Eagles have started 2017 just 1-2.

Yes, that win came by an eye-popping 17-1 scoreline, but the losses weren’t much less eye-popping in the other direction, a 9-2 setback to Richmond and a 12-6 beating at the hands of Ohio State just Friday. This is a team that has scrimmaged Michigan in the preseason the past few years, looking weaker than the Wolverines before going on to have a much, much better season when the lights came one. They handled U-M in a relatively even matchup this year, but it seems that preseason scrimmage result is the opposite of what they need to put together a solid run.

The problem? Detroit is probably closer to the caliber of Jacksonville than either Richmond or Ohio State (though the Titans’ loss to OSU to open the season was theoretically a little more competitive than Marquette’s).

Offense

 

Despite a 17-goal outburst in the season-opener, this has not been a particularly productive Marquette offense. Averaging only 8.3 goals per game when taking into account such a beatdown is not great, Bob. Since the Jacksonville blowout allowed several depth players to get on the board (fourteen different goal-scorers), there’s not yet much stratification at the top.

Sophomore midfielder Ryan McNamara has established himself as the top feeder (partially because he’s been starting at attack, despite his listed position), with nearly half the team’s 11 assists (five of them, in fact), and two goals to his name to lead the squad in scoring. He’s the only Eagle with multiple assists so far this year. Two of the starting midfield – sort of attack-sized dodgers in the Joe Amplo system – are the next two leading scorers with junior Tanner Thomson leading the way in goals with four, while adding an assist, and senior Andy Demichiei notching a pair of goals plus an assist.

Freshman attack Dylan Dobrosky is downright lilliputian, even at a position that traditionally boasts plenty of little guys, standing just 5-6, 150. He’s got the same scoreline as DeMichiei. The third starting attackman, senior Joe Dunn, is more of a bigger guy – your crease-man, rather than a dodger, but so far has two goals and no assists.

A player I’m expecting to break out a bit when (if?) the Marquette offense gets going is former Cranbrook standout John Wagner, a 6-2, 200-pound Canadian middie. He was the fifth-leading returner from last year’s offense, and with the Blaine Fleming role vacated due to graduation, he can take a bit of that production.

Defense

The Marquette defense has actually been pretty good so far this year, despite a couple of lopsided losses (and thanks in part to the lopsided win, sure), notching a .242 defensive efficiency. That’s despite losing some straight-up stars from last year’s team: LSM Liam Byrnes, close defender B.J. Grill and SSDM Jacob Richard – now members of the staff – and so on. Will the defense come back to earth a bit when 35% of their total possessions (and about 32% defensively) came against someone other than Jacksonville? Remains to be seen.

Grill’s younger brother, freshman Nick, has started all three games thus far at close defense alongside the lone returning starter, senior Nicholas Eufrasio, and sophomore Jackson Ehlert. This is not a CT-heavy defense, with only Eufrasio averaging a caused turnover per game. Junior Colin Riehl and senior Noah Joseph are the key SSDMs, but at least from a statistical perspective, it’s tough to tell who the top LSM is (a far cry from last year’s squad, where Byrnes was the star of the D). This is not a particularly scary defense from an individual perspective, but at least so far, the overall production indicates the whole is more than  the sum of the parts.

That’s thanks to goalie Cole Blazer, a part-time starter last year who has played just about every meaningful minute in 2017, and done very well in that time. He’s saving .656 of shots faced (propped up by seven saves and no goals against in the Jacksonville game, sure), and is doing yeoman’s work behind a defense that has left him a little exposed at times.

Special teams

Marquette has been a pretty good faceoff team the past couple years, and returned Zach Melillo, but hasn’t been giving him most of the draws (to ill effect). He’s won .565 of his 23 draws – good-not-great – while junior Owen Weselak has won just .348 on the same number of attempts, an freshman Jared Hershman is just 3/9. This could be an opportunity to equalize the game with Ben Gjokaj (and, incresingly, Alex Jarzembowski).

Another area of opportunity? The clearing game. The Eagles do. not. ride. with only three opponent fails so far in three games. If the Titans don’t shoot themselves in the foot – obviously not a guarantee, or even a likelihood – they should be able to get into the settled offense. Coming the other direction, Marquette’s clear has been mediocre-to-poor (no surprise with a young defense and SSDMs), with a trio of fails in each game. Detroit has shown a bit of ability to ride, and this may be the game to break that out in a heavier implementation.

The penalty game has not been particularly notable in either directions, except inasmuch as Marquette doesn’t go man-down or man-up a lot. Both the Golden Eagles and opponents have three EMO goals this year, on slightly more attempts for opponents. Not much either way there.

Overall

I do think Marquette is a better team that Detroit, but the difference is not as great as you might expect given the recent fortunes of each squad. That means a bigtime opportunity to collect a “name” win, without having to play a team quite as good as that name implies.

Of course, there’s still the little issue that, no matter how much of a step back MU has taken from last year, they’re still a better team than the Titans, and they’re still playing at home. Without a full-strength Detroit squad (however much a previously little-known player like Seth Mendell breaking out feels good, I’d like to have a Mark Anstead in the lineup any day), simply getting better here – on the slow march to good form by the start of MAAC play – is a reasonable result, if not the preferred one.

Predictions

With a weakened Marquette team, Detroit has the chance to make some noise. Will it happen?

  • Unlike an offense like Bellarmine’s (still a lot of Canadian influence, but only one really good dodging attackman in Ciessau), I think this Marquette team, with all its little dodgy guys, is a tough matchup for Detroit. With Weber between the pipes, I’d much rather have semi-open shooters from 8-10 yards than a lot of ability to get to the crease via dodge or feed. I think Weber has his worst save% day of the year so far.
  • Faceoffs could be an interesting battle, and one that helps Detroit really surprise people. While Melillo is a good player, so too is Ben Gjokaj, and getting to a stalemate there probably sees Marquette try some other specialists, at which point UDM’s superior depth of good specialists wins out. I think that happens, and the Titans finish above 50% on the day.
  • Along with the above, Detroit has the opportunity to win the possession game overal thanks to a Marquette clear that is only OK (not that UDM’s is spectacular, but the Golden Eagles have negative interest in exploiting that phase of the game). If Detroit can tilt the possession game by maybe a half-dozen opportunities, they have a chance to win the game.
  • I’m not sure how the offense will do against this Marquette defense. They don’t have a style that scares me – no caused turnovers, really – but the success so far speaks for itself. Detroit has shown the ability to turn it over without all that much help from opponents, and that’s been the consistent issue.

I’m very, very close to picking the upset here, but am scared to show too much faith in Detroit until they give me good reason. This Marquette team has taken a step back, but this also hasn’t proven to be one of the best UDM squads in recent years, either. In Milwaukee, Marquette gets it done, 11-8.

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Michigan preview: Furman

Michigan wraps up its short spring break roadtrip in South Carolina this afternoon, taking on Furman. Can the Wolverines enter the home stretch of the non-conference schedule on a hot streak?

Furman

Furman Paladins lacrosse

I feel like joust-as-lacrosse-stick is an underused graphic gimmick here. Step it up.

March 4, 2017, 1 p.m. EST
Greenville, S.C.
Live stats. Video.
Michigan preview. Bellarmine preview.
@UMichLacrosse. @UofMLaxManagers.
@FURMANLAX.

The Paladins

Furman feels pretty similar to a lot of the other recently-added-to-D1 Southern teams: they started weak for a year or two, got much stronger, much faster than anyone expected… and couldn’t maintain that momentum and now just aren’t very good.

This edition is 1-4, albeit with a couple pretty good losses (by four to UNC, by six on the road at Ohio State), but a couple that aren’t so hot (losing at home to Vermont – albeit in overtime – and also to Sacred Heart). The win is also over one of the nation’s worst teams, Mount St. Mary’s. So: not a particularly good team.

Offense

 

The Paladins actually have almost no offensive players who have started every single game, but it’s still pretty easy to determine who the key factors are in the offense.

Freshman midfielder Lou Yovino and sophomore linemate William Holcomb have combined to account for more than a third of the team’s total shots, with nine goals each and a single assist between them (from Yovino): they are your finishers. Fellow midfielder David Williamson has five goals and a single assist, indicating that this is not a dodge-and-feed scheme from the midfield. They finish plays that are set up by the attackmen, or shoot off their own dodges.

At attack, senior Graham Dabbs has five goals and three assists, while junior Jonah Moore has four goals and five assists. The high-volume feeder (and the only player in the offensive end of the field to start every game thus far) is senior Steven Wierzbicki. At 5-9, 160 pounds, he’s likely to be your classic dodge-from-X assist man.

Defense

As bad as the offense has been, this isn’t a particularly weak Furman D. They’re right around .306 in defensive efficiency despite games against pretty good OSU and North Carolina teams (and perhaps with LaxPower’s ratings behind a paywall now, it’s time to get into the tech side of things and see if we can re-initiate TFL so we’d have fully-adjusted numbers there).

Goalie Alec Van de Bovenkamp is a big part of that success on defense: his save percentage is only .569 – good-not-great – but he’s replaced Reilly McDermott, who was struggling under .300 to start the year, which has resulted in a huge leap forward for the D.

Seniors Tommy Farnish and Joe Stone have started all five games with poles. Stone is an LSM, and the team’s leader in caused turnovers (seven in five games isn’t half-bad), and has a goal on three shots so far. He may not be the most dangerous pole with the ball in his stick, but he’s at least a willing participant in the offense. Brandon Bank, a freshman, is among the leading GB acquirers on the team, despite no starts, so it’s likely he’s fourth pole who is getting the snub in the starting lineup so Stone can be listed.

SSDMs John Vandenberg and J.J. McDaid both have double-digit ground balls with just four shots total between them (all From Vandenberg). Vandenberg does have a bit of offensive willingness, but is a caused turnover specialist and a key to the defense – he’ll likely cover the Wolverines’ best offensive midfielder that doesn’t draw a pole (likely Schlosser getting poled with Curran covered by Vandenberg).

Special teams

Part of the quality of Furman’s defense is based on the fact that their ride has been quite good. They’re holding opponents to .792 (generally, under .800 is outstanding), and while the strength-of-schedule factor comes into play, it’s something to watch regardless. The flipside of that is that they’re only OK at clearing themselves, so they give away enough of those possessions anyway.

The faceoff game has gone very well. Senior (this is a pretty senior heavy team, making it all the more disappointing that they aren’t particularly good) Hill Blaze has taken all but a handful of draws, winning .588 of them, though without getting a ton of his own GBs. My working theory – and one that I haven’t tested with any scientific rigor, so it could be totally my imagination – is that specialists who don’t get a ton of their own ground balls are more likely to be up-and-down on a given day, because they’re relying more on teammates and sheer luck.

The Paladins are committing half the penalties that opponents are (though even opponents’ four per game is not super-high, so they’re just a clean team, in a lot of respects), but their man-up offense is really bad – .219 conversion rate – and the MDD is allowing opponents to convert 60% of the time. They want to stay out of the box themselves, and don’t particularly care if they get EMO opportunities.

Overall

Furman has a bit of talent, so while they aren’t expected to be a particularly good team, it’s a little surprising to me that the results have been quite as bad as they are. Especially when taking into account that the Paladins were relatively competitive with Ohio State and North Carolina, they have no business losing to Vermont and Sacred Heart in the manner that they did. They could round into form and be a breakout team in the SoCon, but this is also a squad that shouldn’t give the Maize and Blue a ton of trouble.

From Michigan’s perspective, winning this game is imperative, not just to avoid the bad loss (something a Michigan team hasn’t done in six years, based on my memory alone), but to build  solid record as conference play approaches. Winning this one sets up a nice game with Penn next weekend, before a should-win against UMBC to take us into Big Ten play. An 8-1 Michigan team going into the conference games would surely be ranked, even if only one or two of the wins will be good ones.

Predictions

I’m not a huge fan of this Furman team, which feels like it’s underachieved. On the flipside, it could be rounding into form.

  • The Paladins are too dependent on outside shooting to make a huge dent on this Michigan defense. A very good goalie and some outstanding SSDMs should be able to take away the bombs of Yovino and Holcomb, and Tommy Heidt will notch a save percentage over .667.
  • Furman’s strength on defense is in the SSDMs, for the most part (though the senior-laden close D isn’t bad), but that plays into Michigan’s strengths, as well. A double-hatty day for Ian King and Brent Noseworthy is possible. They could also be draw-and-kick type players, so look for King at least to notch a couple assists. A five-point day for U-M’s all-time leading scorer?
  • Michigan’s clear has been mostly good, with some really questionable moments – especially on the road Thursday evening. Look for the Paladins to ride hard in hopes of getting easy opportunities for an offense that hasn’t broken out yet, and to deny Michigan the opportunity to settle in and run its own offense. That should lead to a pretty fast-paced day, with heavy rides either being broken for unsettled goals, or succeeding to produce fast-break chances the other way.
  • I think Mike McDonnell is a good faceoff specialist, but what Blaze has done so far with a mediocre supporting cast around him is not to be discounted. This could be a pretty good battle on draws, and one that may end up close to 50/50, unless McDonnell’s wing play is a difference-maker.

Am I ready to stop giving the caveat “Michigan should win, but we’ve seen them drop this one over the years?” Not quite yet. However, based on the teams’ relative strength so far this year, it’s pretty clear which the better squad is. Unless all goes to Hell, Michigan wins, 16-7.

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