Commentary

Only two undefeated teams remain

Updated: March 30, 2009, 3:30 PM ET
By Quint Kessenich | ESPN.com

Virginia and Maryland staged an epic marathon in Charlottesville on Saturday. A national audience on ESPN2 witnessed a tension-filled seven overtimes, and another Cavalier victory. The top 10 remains mainly intact this week. There are 59 teams that play Division I lacrosse and only two are undefeated at the end of March.

Quint's Power Rankings

1. Virginia Virginia
Record: 11-0
Previous ranking: 1
The Cavaliers have played in three classic games this year -- wins over Syracuse, Hopkins and the latest a seven-overtime win against Maryland on Saturday. It was the longest game in Division I lacrosse history. The Cavs have used up a bunch of their lifelines in the process. Dom Starsia got a standout performance from goalie Adam Ghitelman, freshman Steele Stanwick scored four goals and Brian Carroll netted another game winner. The Wahoos were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball; Maryland forced them into dozens of turnovers. Virginia has been playing a vanilla style of offense this year and the Terp defense was well prepped. A Virginia weakness would be their lack of left-handed players aside from midfielder Shamel Bratton. The field isn't balanced right now, as Stanwick is a natural right-handed player who has been asked to man the left-wing spot. After watching Virginia practice Friday, I can't overemphasize their team speed and their poles' ability to get the ball off the ground and up the field. Virginia faces North Carolina on Saturday at Giants Stadium in the Big City Classic (ESPNU, noon ET).

2. Syracuse Syracuse
Record: 7-1
Previous ranking: 2
Dan Hardy was the hero in Baltimore as the Orange survived a scare from a feisty Loyola squad. The gap between Virginia, Syracuse and the rest of the country is not as wide as I thought last week. All of a sudden the SU defense is looking suspect -- seems like top-caliber competition can get to double digits against the Orange. Syracuse takes on Princeton on Saturday in the Big City Classic at the Meadowlands (ESPNU, 2:30 p.m. ET).

3. Cornell Cornell
Record: 6-1
Previous ranking: 3
The Big Red put up 21 goals on Penn this week.


4. Notre Dame Notre Dame
Record: 7-0
Previous ranking: 4
The Fighting Irish are undefeated.

5. Hofstra Hofstra
Record: 6-1
Previous ranking: 5
The Pride have won four one-goal games this spring. Jay Card did it again Tuesday, scoring the deciding goal at Army. Hofstra's résumé includes wins over Princeton, Army, Brown and UMass. They will be challenged in the CAA by an improving Towson team and square off with Delaware on Saturday in the Big City Classic.

6. Princeton Princeton
Record: 7-1
Previous ranking: 6
The Tigers beat Yale 11-7 on Saturday. The orange and black own wins over Hopkins, Albany and UMBC. Princeton may have the nation's best short stick defensive midfield with Josh Lesko and Brendan Reilly. I'm excited to watch their young poles take on Syracuse on Saturday in Giant's Stadium.

7. UMBC UMBC
Record: 6-2
Previous ranking: 8
The Retrievers topped Stony Brook 14-8 on Saturday. They are positioning themselves well for an at-large NCAA selection, should they be upset in their America East tournament. They should pile up wins in conference play. Midfielders Kyle Wimer, Peet Poillon and Alex Hopmann have been consistently great this year.

8. Maryland Maryland
Record: 6-3
Previous ranking: 9
The Terps played their best game of the year Saturday but came up short against Virginia in seven overtimes. Their defense was the best I've seen this year -- they scrapped on ground balls, Brian Phipps stood on his head when needed and Will Yeatman became the player that he can be. If they can repeat that type of effort, they are a threat to make a run for Foxborough. The Terps were snake bit in overtime. An inadvertent whistle cost them the game winner; it was one of the most unfortunate officiating mistakes I've ever seen. Then the Terps hit the cross bar in the next extra period. No time for Maryland to dwell on their misfortune as they must reset for Navy on Friday.

9. Brown
Brown
Record: 7-1
Previous ranking: 10
The Bears held Delaware to five goals in a nonleague game Saturday. Because of their light strength of schedule, they will have to beat either Princeton or Cornell to secure an at-large bid.

10. UMass UMass
Record: 5-3
Previous ranking: 11
The Minutemen may be the nation's best three-loss team. They won a squeaker over Penn State this week to keep their ECAC title hopes alive. Doc Schneider and Jim Connolly continue to do the heavy lifting for coach Greg Cannella.

11. Duke Duke
Record: 8-3
Last week: 13
The Blue Devils handled Dartmouth 12-5. They have a rare midseason bye this week as their series with Johns Hopkins was not renewed. Duke plays Virginia on April 11 (ESPN2).

12. North Carolina UNC
Record: 8-3
Previous ranking: 14
The Tar Heels gave coach Joe Breschi his 100th career win, as they beat Johns Hopkins for the third consecutive time. Sharpshooting Sean Delaney had the game winner. Freshman defender Charlie McComas belongs in the same discussion as Princeton's John Cunningham and Chad Wiedmaier as the top rookie defenders. North Carolina hasn't won an ACC game in more than four years and tackle Virginia on Saturday in the Big City Classic.

13. Johns Hopkins JHU
Record: 3-4
Previous ranking: 7
The defense was porous last week against Virginia. This week, the offense didn't show up for three quarters in a loss at North Carolina. Time for the Blue Jays to circle the wagons. Their upcoming games are against Albany, Maryland, Navy, Towson and Loyola. They are clinging to wins over UMBC and Hofstra as playoff ammunition.

14. Fairfield Fairfield
Record: 5-2
Previous ranking: T20
The Stags are 5-2, including a perfect 3-0 in the ECAC after a 9-7 win over Hobart over the weekend.

15. Loyola Loyola (Md.)
Record: 5-4
Previous ranking: 18
The Greyhounds' fourth-quarter struggles continue as they couldn't seal the deal against Syracuse at home. It was a game that would have given the ECAC some league-wide clout and strengthened the Hounds' NCAA tournament chances. Looks like they'll have to win the automatic bid to be included in the Big Dance. Fairfield and UMass are both undefeated in-conference while Loyola and Rutgers both sit at 2-1.

16. Harvard Harvard
Record: 5-2
Previous ranking: 12
The Crimson lost to Georgetown in overtime Wednesday and then crushed Presbyterian two days later 17-2. With the Ivy League being so strong this year, there is a chance that three teams could be selected to the NCAAs (see the GWLL in 2008). That's one of the reasons the Ivy League is having a conference tourney in 2010 -- it'll increase their strength-of-schedule rating. Redundancy (see the ACC tourney) has its merits, I guess.

17. Colgate Colgate
Record: 5-3
Previous ranking: 15
The Raiders are the class of the Patriot League this year. Brandon Corp's MLL stock is rising weekly. He's a legit contender for the Tewaaraton Trophy if Colgate can get into the NCAA tournament and win a game or two. They needed two overtimes to beat Army on Sunday.

18. Navy Navy
Record: 7-3
Previous ranking: Not ranked
The Mids may have turned the corner by beating Georgetown on Saturday. They will get tested in the next three weeks against Maryland, Army and Johns Hopkins.

19. Towson Towson
Record: 4-4
Previous ranking: Not ranked
Rumors of the Tigers' demise may have been premature. Towson rallied late to nip Drexel 7-4 on Saturday behind two goals from Billy McCutcheon and 10 saves from goalie Rob Wheeler. They are only .500 but getting better every week after a demanding nonleague schedule.

20. Denver Denver
Record: 6--4
Previous ranking: Not ranked
Vermont, Hobart, Georgetown, Penn State, Rutgers, Siena, Albany, Denver, Army, Bryant, Ohio State, Villanova and Bucknell can all be tossed into a pile here. I give my vote to the Pioneers.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN. He can be reached at quint@insidelacrosse.com.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN.

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