Commentary

Losses shake up Kessenich's Top 20

Virginia, Syracuse remain at helm of men's lacrosse

Updated: March 9, 2009, 6:13 PM ET
By Quint Kessenich | ESPN.com

The tempo slowed this weekend and final scores dipped as we witnessed teams holding the ball, valuing possession and shortening the game. Seven teams in my Top 20 lost last week. I spent time Sunday crunching the numbers, getting to know each team better and searching out the secrets to success or failure in 2009.

Quint's Power Rankings

1. Virginia Virginia
Last week: 1
The Wahoos beat Cornell 14-10 on Sunday in Charlottesville, Va. The Cavs will entertain Towson this weekend.

2. Syracuse Syracuse
Last week: 2
The Orange picked up a quality road win in Washington, beating Georgetown 8-5. Goalie John Galloway made 19 stops and showcased his outlet passes. Matt Abbott was a difference-maker in the middle of the field, and Stephen Keogh (shooting 68 percent for the year) scored four goals. Cuse is 9-of-14 with the extra man and is shooting 33 percent as a team. Kenny Nims has 19 points after four games. Syracuse will welcome Hopkins to the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

3. Princeton Princeton
Last week: 4
Freshman goalie Tyler Fiorito made 10 saves and the Retrievers hit six pipes as Princeton beat UMBC 6-5 on Friday night. Princeton's defense was excellent -- Jeremy Hirsch, Chris Peyser and Chad Wiedmaier were solid at close, and Brendan Reilly, Josh Lesko, Charlie Kolkin and John Cunningham held UMBC's first midfield in check. The Tigers will visit Long Island to scrap with Hofstra on Saturday.

4. Maryland Maryland
Last week: 5
The Terps were forced by Towson to slow down. If you're a fan, can you run to the exit gates and ask for a ticket refund when a team gets hit with a stalling warning right off the bat? Grant Catalino had four goals and one assist. The Terps have lost to UMBC the past two years, and the teams will play Saturday at Ludwig Field.

5. Johns Hopkins JHU
Last week: 10
JHU picked up two wins last week against UMBC and Hofstra, who might both be playoff teams in May. The Blue Jays put up 14 goals Tuesday against the Retrievers, and the defense was the story Saturday, as it limited Hofstra to just 35 shots. Kyle Wharton scored five goals against the Pride. Faceoff men Matt Dolente and Michael Powers were dinged up during the week, and their immediate availability is in question. The Jays will travel to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse on Saturday.

6. Notre Dame Notre Dame
Last week: 11
The Fighting Irish (4-0) beat North Carolina 9-7 on Sunday behind 16 saves from Scott Rodgers. Regis McDermott was terrific on defense, and faceoff man Trever Sipperly held his own against Carolina. Notre Dame will travel to Bethesda, Md., on Thursday to take on Bucknell.

7. Georgetown Georgetown
Last week: 9
They had to turn fans away in Georgetown for the standing-room-only game against Syracuse. After a low-scoring first half, the tempo escalated in the third quarter. Scott Kocis and Barney Ehrmann played well for the Hoyas. Georgetown will play two on the road this week at Delaware and Hobart.

8. North Carolina UNC
Last week: 3
The Tar Heels are undefeated no more after falling to Notre Dame on Sunday. UNC will host Duke on Saturday.

9. Cornell Cornell
Last week: 7
The Big Red lost to Virginia 14-10 on Sunday.


10. Hofstra Hofstra
Last week: 8
Goalie Danny Orlando did not make the trip to Baltimore for the Pride's game with Hopkins, so Hofstra started freshman Andrew Gvozden, the brother of Hopkins goalie Michael Gvozden. The proud Gvozden parents wore sweatshirts that read "'HOP-STRA." The Pride fell behind 4-0 and never got any full-field transition opportunities in the 12-7 loss. They are 0-8 all-time at Homewood Field.

11. UMBC UMBC
Last week: 6
UMBC experienced a two-loss week, falling to Hopkins and Princeton. The Retrievers won only nine of 41 faceoffs in the two defeats.

12. Duke Duke
Last week: 15
The Blue Devils (4-2) have wins over Yale, Loyola, Colgate and Bucknell and losses to Harvard and Maryland.

13. UMass UMass
Last week: Not ranked
The Minutemen (3-1) played great defense in a 7-3 win over Harvard. Jim Connolly has 15 points after four games, and Doc Schneider has saved 64 percent of shots faced. UMass is shooting 34 percent and has cleared the ball 88 percent of the time. UMass hosts New England rival Brown on Saturday.

14. St. John's St. John's
Last week: Not ranked
The Red Storm are 4-0 after beating Georgetown and Drexel. Dom DeNapoli has won 62 percent of his draws, and goalie Gavin Buckley sits at 61 percent saves. Opponents are averaging only 26 shots per game.

15. Loyola Loyola (Md.)
Last week: 14
Loyola (3-2) and Duke entered the fourth quarter tied at 7. The Greyhounds were held scoreless for the last seven minutes and 27 seconds and lost 11-9. They have been outscored 18-9 in the final quarter this year. Shane Koppens scored four goals in the loss. P.T. Ricci has 31 ground balls after six games. The Greyhounds own close losses to Notre Dame and Duke and will tackle St. John's in a must-win game Saturday.

Brown
16. Brown
Last week: Not ranked
The Bears beat Denver 12-11 on Sunday.

17. Navy Navy
Last week: 19
Coach Richie Meade started goalie RJ Wickham and was rewarded with 14 saves and a 14-9 win over Lafayette. The Mids are 4-2 but are losing the statistical battle at the faceoff X (46 percent), in the goal (52 percent) and in shooting percentage (24 percent). They'll take on Holy Cross in a Patriot League tilt Saturday.

18. Villanova Villanova
Last week: 20
The Wildcats needed overtime to dispose of Binghamton on Wednesday. They are 4-0 thanks to goalie Andrew DiLoreto (64 percent saves and 5.07 goals against average) and have surrendered only six goals in the second half of games thus far. Nova will face Lehigh this week.

19. Harvard Harvard
Last week: 12
The Crimson (2-1) lost to UMass 7-3 in Cambridge. Harvard has outshot opponents 114-68 but has shot just 2 percent as a team.

20. Hobart Hobart
Last week: Not ranked
The Statesmen are off to a 4-0 start after beating Bucknell. Hobart will host Georgetown in an ECAC clash Saturday.

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.