Weekly Sports Rant…
I finally realized I’m a walking, talking, blogging jinx and my sports predictions are more often than not, wrong. First it was March Madness, then Cubs opening night (and really the Cubs season so far), and now my Hawks prediction, a series win in 5. Actual result: Preds sweep. The first time a #1 seed has been swept by a #8 seed in not only the ENTIRETY of the NHL, but also the NBA. I can’t even begin to describe my combination of anger, embarrassment, and sadness, but I digress. My Bulls prediction is surprisingly still intact (Bulls in 6). I’m writing this as game four is going on, but I have faith even without Rondo as I know the TNT Bulls, as odd as it is, are a thing (20 straight wins at home, knock on wood). However, as you’ve probably already noticed, this blog isn’t about Chicago sports, or even any traditional sports at all. It is, in fact, about lacrosse, the fastest game on two feet.
I assume many readers have little to no knowledge of lacrosse: the rules, good teams/players, equipment, history, etc. The only thing anyone ever references when they hear the word lacrosse is a stereotypical “lax bro”. As someone who’s been obsessed with lacrosse ever since about the 5th grade, I’ll be the first to tell ya’ that most kids you’ll meet who’ve played lacrosse aren’t actually like the cultural appropriation they are “teased” about (the long hair, slang terms, smoking/drinking, cocky, etc.). Football players who play so they don’t have to do offseason football shit are their own breed. Again, I’m not hating on football players who play lacrosse, it will always be entertaining as fuck to watch jacked football dudes with little very little stick skills truck stick people going for ground balls. Anyways, the reason why I’m writing a blog about lacrosse is: 1. It was the first sport I truly fell in love with. Don’t get it twisted, it wasn’t because I loved the intricacies of the sport (at least at first), it was mostly because I got to hit kids with a metal stick and I wasn’t completely awful. 2. I’ve been watching a ton of lacrosse lately (I’m actually writing this as I watch Penn State v. Rutgers but I’ll get to that matchup later). 3. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve realized I’m horrible at predicting traditional sports. I suppose my only excuse for this that I suck at them in real life. I know I’m going to get shit from old teammates and friends about some of the shit I’m talking, but for y’all that wanna give me shit, just know that its all in good fun, I know, and will always admit, that I was shit. Now without further ado, onto the weekend recap.
Major League Lacrosse (NY Lizards) blogs are back.
I don’t know why I say the MLL blogs are back as they were never really a thing. Anyways, opening weekend in the MLL is usually pretty mediocre. Half the actually exciting players are still competing in the indoor (box) lacrosse league, the NLL and must play there until seasons’ end before coming to the MLL, which blows, but I get it. However, this year didn’t disappoint, all four games were decided by only one goal with two needing overtime to decide a winner. Needless to say, I have no idea if teams are good or just lucky. If I had to make a prediction, I’m putting my money on my favorite team, the team the majority of the MLL blogs will revolve around, the NY Lizards. Now, anyone that knows anything about the MLL will call me a bandwagon fan, but I’ve supported the team since the Chicago Machine were moved to Ohio in ’09 and the Lizards were still in Long Island. Therefore, they’re only team have any real knowledge on/care about. Game #1, W v. The Chesapeake Bayhawks 15-14 in OT. This game should’ve been in the bag since the beginning, but for some odd reason, it wasn’t. If you’re going to watch any MLL game, watch one with the Zards as the team is LOADED. Paul Rabil, as expected, had his way with defenders (2G, 2A), cementing his status as the best in the world. Greg “Beast” Gurenalian, yes that’s actually his nickname, was dominant, going 20-31 with 10 GB’s at the faceoff X. Drew Adams saved almost 60% (59.3%) of shots faced, recording 19 total saves including a clutch acrobatic save to send the game to OT. Overall, I’m optimistic about the season. The EMO needs some work and the defense needs some sharpening up but those are correctable. So far, my x-factor for the season looks to be the addition of Joe Walters from the Bayhawks. The firepower on the first midfield: Walters, Rabil, and game 1 OT hero Dave Lawson is going to be an electric trio to watch this season. Roll Zards.
NCAA Lacrosse heatin’ up
The 2017 season is coming down to the wire. Every year around this time is the undoubtedly every college lacrosse fan’s dream: teams are scared to be #1, top 20 matchups galore, conference tourneys just around the corner, and a couple weeks away from selection Sunday (May 7th). 7 games on the slate today from this past weekend of college lacrosse so lets get right into it.
#6 Notre Dame 14 – #16 North Carolina 13
Well I can’t say I was surprised watching this game. Notre Dame, as much as I have (and still do) hated on them, have been a tough out this season, winning two, one-goal games and losing two one-goal games. With Irish star Ryder Garnsey neutralized, the Notre Dame offense revolved around attackman Mikey Wynne (5G) and powerhouse midfielder Sergio Perkovic (3G, 2A). On the other side of things, Canadian Chris Cloutier’s 4 goals in the 2nd half kept the game close. However, the only action anyone will remember about this game is Notre Dame midfielder Bobby Gray’s top corner, net-ripping shot in the 1st quarter (video linked below). As a result of this game, ND secures the #3 seed in the ACC tourney and will play #2 seeded Duke in the semis. This leaves UNC the #4 seed and a matchup against #1 seeded and overall Cuse in the other semi. I like ND and Cuse in the ACC tournament with Cuse the eventual winner.
Next week: Notre Dame: @ Army / North Carolina: N/A
#4 Duke 11 – Marquette 7
I really can’t explain the collapse of Marquette this season. Impressive postseason performance against eventual champs UNC to preseason top 20 to now 6-6 with the #4 seed in the Big East tourney. As much as I’m bashing Marquette, this game wasn’t horrible by any stretch of the imagination. If you need any indication of this, both goalkeepers made 13 saves, a pretty rare feat in college lacrosse as usually one goalie makes a ton of saves and the other just gets merked. Justin Guterding’s impressive Junior campaign was furthered by 3 key goals and an assist against the Golden Eagles, he is now tied his highest point total, 71, which was achieved in both 2015 and 2016. Duke’s win secures them the #2 seed in the upcoming ACC tournament, but unfortunately, I think Notre Dame will get the better of them. Either way, big ups to Marquette and Duke for selling out the game and helping promoting a great cause in the HEADSTRONG Foundation.
Next week: Duke: v. BU / Marquette: v. Denver
#1 Syracuse 9 – Binghamton 8
Cuse’ lives to fight another day. 8 out of the Oranges’ 11 wins this season have come as 1 goal games (their only loss, v. Army, also a 1 goal game). Now, you may look at this and think one of two things: 1. Syracuse knows what they’re doing at the end of games and they’ve got the clutch gene or 2. The Orange are lucky as fuck. No matter which way you think about it, they’re still #1 in the country and have secured the #1 seed in the ACC tournament. The Orange’s balanced attack is paced by red-hot senior midfielders Nick Mariano (29G, 14A) and Sergio Salcido (13G, 25A). This game was a lot closer than it needed to be, Binghamton’s star attackman Tom Moore scored 5 goals and Austin Macchi won 60% (12/20) of face-offs, a key to controlling possession and overall tempo of the game. The Bearcats face a key opponent next week in Stony Brook to decide the fate of their American East tournament seeding. But, at the end of the day in the American East, we all know Albany is going to kick the shit out of anyone in its path.
Next week: Syracuse: @ Colgate / Binghamton: @ Stony Brook
#8 Johns Hopkins 19 – Michigan 9
In one word if I were to describe this game, I think I would pick, MASSACRE. This game was definitely one of the more entertaining of the weekend, as Johns Hopkins, aka the Kyle Marr show (3G, 6A), basically scored at will. The son of UAlbany head coach Scott Marr, the sophomore attackman leads the Pietramala’s squad in both goals (24) and overall points (41) and has become a catalyst for the Blue Jays as the season has progressed. Michigan really had no answer for not only the EMO of the Blue Jays, which finished at 100% on the day, but also the attack on all facets. Couple his play with X-magician Shack Stanwick and phenom middie Joel Tinney and Hop’ is starting to heat up and look dangerous in the Big Ten. Also with their victory, they secured their place in the Big 10 tourney, with the seeding still up for grabs. On the topic of Michigan, with a new facility and a couple elite-level recruiting classes in the pipeline, its not a matter of if the Wolverines get good, its when.
Next week: Johns Hopkins: @ Maryland / Michigan: v. Penn State
#2 Maryland 10 – #7 Ohio State 11
I’m a big Terps guy, always have been, always will be. This game, as exhilarating as it was from start to finish, crushed me. From having to watch a miserable Colin Heacock to blowing 5-goal lead to eventually surrendering the OT winner to a Canadian’s off-hand, the game was a burden. Hell of a game for OSU’s Eric Farnell (5G)’s, Jake Withers (18/25 on face-offs, 10 GB’s), and Tom Carey, who came up big with another double-digit save performance in conference play. As I mentioned before, with Colin Heacock out, Matt Rambo (3G, 2A) and Tim Rotanz (3G, 1A) put the team on their backs. The win put OSU level with Maryland and Johns Hopkins, who are all 3-1 in conference play. Next weeks games’ are critical in the seeding of the teams, even though I’m pretty sure all three will probably make the overall tournament even if Penn State (the #4 seed) wins the Big Ten tourney.
Next week: Maryland: v. Johns Hopkins / Ohio State: @ Rutgers
#5 Albany 13 – #11 Yale 12
Last night’s top-20 nightcap was, in my opinion, the game of the weekend. The Maryland v. Ohio State probably was in most peoples’ eyes, but as a Terps fan, theres no way I’m going to give the Buckeyes that satisfaction. Again, I’m probably biased in saying that this game was probably my favorite of the weekend for a variety of reasons. 1. Connor Fields, kids a fucking stud. 2. I grew to love the fast-paced, high-powered offensive style of play Scott Marr employs at Albany, as made famous by the Thompson trio. 3. I HATE Yale. The comeback effort (down 4 goals in the 4th) by the Great Danes capped off the best game they’ve played all year, and the signature win they failed to achieve against Syracuse and Maryland, both 1 goal losses. The Bulldogs’ star attackman Ben Reeves (29G, 28A) was held to only 1 goal in the game, a key factor in the Great Danes pulling out the comeback victory. The Albany attack was once again headlined by Connor Fields’ (3G, 2A), and goalscoring machine Bennett Drake (4G, 1A). Albany has again secured the #1 seed in the American East with ease, and, like I mentioned before, I have no doubts they’re going to steamroll the competition. Similarly, Yale also are the #1 seed in their conference tournament (The Ivy’s) and will most likely play the streaky Penn Quakers in the first round. Their road to a conference title is not as simple however, as they will also have to get through the winner of Princeton v. Brown, both teams with potential to get hot and make some noise.
Next week: Albany: v. Hartford / Yale: @ Harvard
#9 Penn State 13 – #14 Rutgers 7
Well Penn State did it, they clinched the #4 seed. Congrats, you’ve basically signed your own death wish. Yes, yes, I know they beat Ohio State at home but would bet my house they couldn’t do it again, especially in Columbus. Hell, OSU may not even get the #1 seed, which, in my opinion, would actually be more problematic as Johns Hopkins are red hot and Maryland are going to be playing PISSED after their OT heartbreaker to OSU. Getting back to the game in discussion, from the beginning, Rutgers had no shot. Gerard Aceri won 16/20 face-offs, Mac O’Keefe & Kevin Hill each scored 3 goals, and Nick Aponte dished out 3 assists, what more could you ask for? In all honesty, it really was a very impressive, complete performance from the Nittany Lions. Even with that being said, like I said earlier, I see them going nowhere in the conference tourney, but still making the big dance. On the flip side, Rutgers got another gem of a performance from Junior goalie Max Edelmann, who recorded a career-high 16 saves in the loss. It really goes without saying but, the Scarlet Knights NEED a win against the Buckeyes as they now require an “at-large” bid from the committee to make the NCAA tournament.
Next week: Penn State: @ Michigan / Rutgers: v. Ohio State
In case you haven’t already figured it out/don’t know, the top 4 teams in each conference are seeded based on conference record and then play bracket-style (1v4, 2v3) for an automatic qualification into the NCAA tournament. 8 of the 16 teams in the tournament are selected this way, with the other 8 needing to receive unanimous “at-large” bids from the committee. To be taken into consideration, a team must be at least .500 and have played 10 games. There is no limit on the number of teams from each conference being selected.
Here’s a random video of big hits because why not, everyone loves seeing people get hosed. Side note, I no joke have probably watched this video 25 times.