Commentary

Minutemen post week's best wins

Updated: March 29, 2010, 2:13 PM ET
By Quint Kessenich | Inside Lacrosse

Virginia and North Carolina remain unbeaten after this weekend's matchups, each posting impressive wins. Can they keep their perfect records in tact leading up to their clash on April 10 in the Big City Classic? Don't look now, but Duke has won four in a row. The week's biggest winner was UMass -- the Minutemen beat Brown and Hofstra this week -- and we'll give them an E-Z Pass into the top 10. March built the foundation for the 2010 season, and now the tempo gets picked up a gear. April is about conference rivalries, warmer weather and jockeying for slots in the NCAA tournament.

1. Virginia Virginia
Twins Rhamel and Shamel Bratton shot 6-of-14 (43 percent) and Virginia finsihed on a 9-2 run, beating Johns Hopkins 15-6 on Saturday. The atmosphere at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., was sensational -- a standing room only crowd, on a brisk sunny afternoon -- and the Wahoo band had much to celebrate. Freshman Matt White netted a hat trick and Brian Carroll had 5 pts, including his 83rd career goal. The Cavs dominated Hopkins off the ground, holding a 36-22 advantage in loose balls. The ACC is now 27-1 out-of-conference this spring. Virginia travels to Maryland on Saturday (ESPNU, 8 p.m. ET).

2. Syracuse Syracuse
The Orange host Villanova on Monday. They have beaten Denver, Army, Georgetown, Hopkins and Hobart, the latest a 9-8 overtime win last Tuesday. Syracuse is averaging 43 shots per game while winning 59 percent of its faceoffs. They've outscored opponents 25-8 in the first quarter. Chris Daniello leads the team with 20 points and Stephen Keogh has 16 goals. But most importantly, SU midfielders are starting to emerge as legit offensive threats (Jeremy Thompson, Josh Amidon, Jovan Miller and Max Bartig).

3. North Carolina UNC
Great win for the Heels on Saturday in Chapel Hill over ACC rival Maryland. Freshman Marcus Holman scored four times in the 9-7 victory. The Heels shot 5-of-13 (38 percent) in the second half and Thomas Wood chipped in four points. UNC's defense didn't want to slide to Maryland dodgers and Heel defenders held up, winning their one-on-one battles. UNC leads the nation in goals against average at 6.22 per game. Carolina played without star Billy Bitter, who according to UNC officials, has a leg injury. Top midfielder, Sean Delaney, left the game in the third quarter and was wearing a sling on the sideline at the end of the game. UNC faces Johns Hopkins in Baltimore on Saturday (ESPNU, noon ET).

4. Princeton Princeton
The Tigers survived a scare at Yale, winning 7-6 behind a late goal from freshman Jeff Froccaro. Jack McBride chipped in five points and goalie Tyler Fiorito made 15 saves. Princeton has topped Hofstra, Hopkins, Manhattan, UMBC, Penn and Yale. They've won three of those ball games by a goal. Brown comes to town on Saturday.

5. Maryland Maryland
Terps fell from the ranks of the unbeaten this weekend, dropping a 9-7 decision at North Carolina in front of 4,542 fans. Attackman Ryan Young and midfielder Adam Sear were bright spots, scoring two goals apiece. The Terps struggled to run past UNC defensive pressure on the perimeter and shot just 7-for-33 (21 percent) after shooting 34 percent for the year so far. Maryland hosts No. 1 ranked Virginia on Saturday night in Byrd Stadium.

6. Duke Duke
The Blue Devils used a 5-1 fourth-quarter spurt to beat Georgetown in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. Max Quinzani and Zach Howell both contributed three goals and one assist. Quinzani has 40 points after nine games. Duke is earning a +7 groundball advantage per game this year. Defender Tom Montelli scored twice in transition and freshman goalie Dan Wigrizer played well, making 13 saves. It's Ivy League week as the Blue Devils host Brown on Tuesday and travel to Harvard on Friday.

7. Cornell Cornell
The Big Red are 7-1 with wins over Hobart, Canisius, Army, Binghamton, Yale, Stony Brook and Penn. Cornell picked apart Penn on Saturday in Philadelphia behind four goals from Scott Austin and six assists from Rob Pannell.

8. Drexel Drexel
The Dragons dropped a midweek game to Villanova but rallied to post a big win over previously unbeaten Lafayette on Sunday afternoon.

9. Loyola Loyola (Md.)
The Greyhounds slipped past Towson 7-6 this week. Colin Finnerty scored three times and Jake Hagelin made 15 stops in the win. Attackman Cooper MacDonnell is back in the lineup for coach Charley Toomey. The Hounds have wins over Navy, Quinnipiac, Bellarmine, Air Force and Towson. Four key ECAC tests remain on their schedule against Ohio State, Fairfield, Hobart and Denver.

10. UMass UMass
The Minutemen are the national team of the week, beating Brown 11-10 on Tuesday and upsetting Hofstra 11-9 on Saturday. Both wins will be tremendous ammunition come NCAA Selection Sunday (May 9). UMass is averaging 13.7 goals per game. Art Kell is setting the pace with 21 goals, and coach Greg Cannella has relied on freshman Will Manny (14, 11), Bobby Hayes (14, 8) and Anthony Biscardi (13, 8). This is a UMass team that has undergone an offensive facelift since 2009 -- they are shooting a red-hot 41 percent in the fourth quarter this spring.

11. Hofstra Hofstra
The Pride lost their CAA opener to UMass on Saturday. The Colonial is a conference that can get more than one NCAA bid, with teams like UMass, Hofstra, and Drexel vying for at-large berths.

12. Brown Brown
Brown has given up double-digit goal totals in four of their five games this year as opponents are winning 55 percenet of the faceoffs and shooting 33 percent. Attackman Andrew Feinberg averages three goals per game. The Bears challenge Duke on Tuesday.

13. Johns Hopkins JHU
The Blue Jays are in the midst of a three-game losing streak (Hofstra, Syracuse, Virginia) and now welcome North Carolina to Homewood Field on Saturday. Coach Dave Pietramala has been tinkering with offensive personnel -- we've seen Tom Palasek become a contributor in the past two games, and Lee Coppersmith scored his first career goal against UVa. The Blue Jays' remaining schedule consists of UNC, Albany, Maryland, Navy, Towson and Loyola. To be considered as an at-large NCAA selection, a team must have a .500 or better record against Division I opponents. Do the math.

14. Georgetown Georgetown
The Hoyas have given up goals in bunches in three losses this spring. On Saturday they fell to Duke 15-10. Georgetown's résumé includes wins over Harvard and Delaware -- but most importantly the Hoyas still get to play Navy, Notre Dame, Loyola, UMass, Rutgers and Villanova.

15. Stony Brook Stony Brook
The Seawolves tackle their America East rivals UMBC this Saturday in Catonsville. Stony Brook's last five games are in conference. America East teams are 12-31 out-of-conference this year and will only get one automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament.

16. Harvard Harvard
Harvard's win on March 13 over UMass has appreciated in value. Crimson have five very difficult games left on their schedule -- Friday against Duke, at Cornell, at Penn, Princeton and at Yale.

17. Lafayette Lafayette
Leopards are the feel-good story of 2010. Preseason ranked No. 47 in Division I by Faceoff Yearbook, they've rattled off wins against Fairfield, Navy, and Bucknell. Coach Terry Mangan has a veteran offensive group lead by Matt Mersky and Tom Perini. Lafayette is ranked in the top-five in scoring offense and No. 1 in assists per game, with more than 10 per contest. The loss this weekend against Drexel is their first on the season, but they are still unbeaten in the Patriot League.

18. Villanova Villanova
The Wildcats own wins over Fairfield, Delaware and Drexel. They still have to play the Big East's Big Three -- Syracuse, Notre Dame and Georgetown. Nova has held opponents to one goal in 19 extra-man attempts. Freshman Jack Rice has 14 goals and Nova's defense is only giving up 8.4 goals per game.

19. Fairfield Fairfield
The Stags have won four consecutive games -- beating Notre Dame, Colgate, Ohio State and Hobart. Four offensive players have reached double digits in points -- Sam Snow, Matt Plominski, John Snellman and Max Trunz. Goalie Joseph Marra is clicking at 60 percent saves. Key ECAC game will be April 10 against Loyola.

20. Yale Delaware
The Bulldogs have lost back-to-back games against Princeton and Cornell. Yale beat UMass on March 5, which is why they get my support at No. 20. If Yale is truly for real, now is the time to go on a serious run.

Quint Kessenich covers lacrosse for the ESPN family of networks and welcomes your opinions at quint@insidelacrosse.com.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN.