Sticks of the Week: Rivalries renewed as season heats up

Liam Oram

Sports Blogger

@liam_oram

 

Johns Hopkins Blue Jays at Virginia Cavaliers

10:30 a.m. Saturday ESPNU

VisitPlano/Flickr

No. 10 Virginia has had an incredible offense this year, and some young players have led it. The Cavaliers (6-2) have had most of their goals from freshman attackman Ian Laviano, who has provided 21 on the season. Their top scorer Michael Kraus has been on fire for the offense as well, as he has 23 goals this season and sits on the Tewaaraton watch list. Their offense has propelled them to many of their victories this season, but the Cavaliers’ defense has hurt them.  Virginia’s goalies have struggled in their last couple of games. In the Cavaliers’ victory against Stony Brook, freshman Alex Rode allowed some goals that were considered fairly easy saves. The Notre Dame attackmen outpaced the Virginia defenders, running all over them by the end of the game. The defense will have to be ready to play a top-tier offense, as No. 9 Johns Hopkins is one of the best in the nation. Senior Shack Stanwick, who has provided goals and assists to help the Blue Jays (5-2), leads their offense. The Blue Jays have strung together some great victories and are quickly building up their resume for the season. They showed off their offensive prowess in their last game against Delaware as they went on a big run to take over the game in the end. Senior midfielder Joel Tinney, who has 14 assists and seven goals on the season, is helping the Blue Jays’ fast-paced offense with his speed. They move the ball fast and make sure the opposing squad can’t touch the ball. Last year’s matchup ended in an overtime thriller, and expect nothing different from this year’s matchup.

Syracuse Orange at Duke Blue Devils

12:30 p.m. Saturday ESPNU

Two of the most historic teams meet once more in Durham, North Carolina.  No. 3 Duke has been in top form the last couple of weeks, as it is on a four-game winning streak since losing to Pennsylvania. The Blue Devils (8-1) have one of the best players in the nation on offense in Justin Guterding. He has provided 32 goals on the season and has been unstoppable on offense. The Blue Devils have also received major help from their freshman attackman Joe Robertson, who has provided 20 goals. The Blue Devils’ defense has also been impressive as senior goalie Danny Fowler has a save percentage of 59. Only two teams have scored more than 10 goals this season on the Blue Devils. Duke will have to be ready to play on Saturday as it is coming up on a No. 15 Syracuse team that wants to prove itself in this big ACC rivalry game. It has been an up-and-down season for the Orange (3-3). They have received big victories against teams such as Virginia and Army but have struggled to win without some of their key players from last year. Their offense has been balanced with major help form senior Brendan Bomberry and junior Nate Solomon. Their defense has struggled some this year as goalie Dom Madonna has struggled to get big stops with a save percentage of 43, and a couple of teams have dismantled them at home this year. Many players figure out the Orange’s defensive schemes and pick them apart. They will need their defense to play big  against an offense that is on fire. This is always a hotly contested rivalry game, so expect it to be close.

North Carolina Tar Heels at Maryland Terrapins

9 p.m. Saturday

No. 2 Maryland has been just as good as it was last year in its championship season. Senior midfielder Connor Kelly has led the offense with 18 goals and has been a big vocal leader for this Terrapin team. The Terrapins’ (6-1) defense has been strong again, as many of the defenders who helped win a championship returned for this season. The Terps also have seen major improvement in their face-off game as they have received much help from freshman Justin Shockey on their newly nicknamed “Hawgpen” group of face off specialists. This group has allowed Maryland to control the ball on its side of the field for most of each game. The Terps have proven that they are still title contenders as their only loss this season came to the strong Albany team, and they want to keep their winning ways together as they face another tough team. No. 20 North Carolina has been an inconsistent team this season. It has grabbed big victories against teams like Johns Hopkins but has lost to weaker teams like Hofstra. The Tar Heels’ (6-3) offense has been decent as it has gotten help from players including senior attackman Chris Cloutier, but other players seem to have struggled more this season. They have struggled as well on defense, as sophomore goalie Jack Pezzulla has a save percentage of 45. With the defensive struggles, many of the teams the Tar Heels play have picked their defense apart and run circles around them. If they improve their defense for this game, they can try to claim a victory. The Tar Heels are in danger as this kicks off a hard stretch of games to come, and Maryland will look to capitalize on the weak defense. Expect a hotly contested game for two teams looking to go on runs.

ozone@ocolly.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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