With a loss to Catawba in their second game of the season, Pfeiffer hit a stumbling block early, but with a visit from No. 4 Merrimack on the horizon, the Falcons are taking flight.

With wins at Belmont Abbey and Wingate last week, Pfeiffer improved its 2011 record to 8-1, the best start in school history, and entered the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division II Coaches’ Poll this week as the No. 12 team in the nation.

Freshman attackman James Shepherd has been an instant success with the Falcons, leading the team in goals with 27 and points with 30. Classmate Steven Tilmon has also made an instant impact, ranking second on the team in points (23) and goals (17). Sophomore Kory Lutes leads the team in assists with 11, and has 14 goals as well, one of seven Pfeiffer players with 11 goals or more in the team’s first nine games.

The Falcons appear to be hitting their stride at the ideal time, as this week could prove to be their biggest of the regular season. After Wednesday’s game with Merrimack, Pfeiffer will travel to Charlotte on Saturday to face No. 8 Queens.

Merrimack figures to present a stern challenge, having defeated NYIT, Dominican (N.Y.) and Southern New Hampshire, the last in the Northeast-10 opener for both teams. What’s more, the Warriors are coming off a loss of their own at Catawba’s hands. Marty Tuohy scored 39 seconds into overtime on Monday night, lifting the Indians to a 12-11 upset victory in Salisbury, N.C. The sting of defeat will likely have the Warriors extra hungry on Wednesday afternoon in Misenheimer, N.C.

Need to Know
• After winning its first five games of the season and rising to No. 4 in the USILA Division I poll, Hofstra figured to ride high as the team to beat in the CAA, but Delaware had other ideas. The Blue Hens stunned the Pride on Saturday, treating the fans in Newark to a 7-6 upset victory. Hofstra was able to shut down top scorers Eric Smith and Sean Finegan, who finished with a single assist between them, but junior attacker Grant Kaleikau stepped up to pace the Delaware effort with two goals and three assists, including an assist on the eventual game-winner by Nick DiaChenko. It was a key win for the Blue Hens, their first of the season against nationally-ranked opposition, and should build momentum for their next CAA game, on Saturday against Towson.

• The ultra-competitive NESCAC has one more team to keep an eye on, as Wesleyan joined the USILA Division III Coaches Poll this week at No. 13 following an upset victory against then-No. 5 Middlebury. Max Landow completed his hat trick at the best possible time, scoring 29 seconds into overtime to lift the Cardinals to a 9-8 victory against the Panthers, who overcame four goals and an assist from NESCAC Player of the Week David Hild. It was Wesleyan’s fifth consecutive win to start the season, as the Cardinals have been very busy since opening their season on March 5.

• After falling out of the USILA Division II Poll, NYIT reasserted itself in the East Coast Conference with a 10-7 upset of No. 3 Dowling on Saturday. The Bears got 21 saves from junior Billy McGee, who earned Goalkeeper of the Week honors from the East Coast Conference. The Bears rejoined the USILA poll at No. 11 this week, while the Golden Lions fell to No. 5. Dowling won’t get it any easier in its next contest, as the Golden Lions will host No. 1 C.W. Post on Saturday.

Quick Hits
• Plattsburgh swept the SUNYAC weekly honors this week, as senior attacker Kyle Norchi was named the conference’s Player of the Week and junior goalkeeper Danny Caufield was honored as the Goalie of the Week. Norchi led the Cardinals with totals of 14 goals and nine assists in wins against Guilford, Montclair State and Birmingham Southern, while Caufield backstopped those victories with five saves against Guilford, 10 against Montclair, and a season-high 17 against Birmingham-Southern.

• Penn freshman defenseman Maxx Meyer was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after anchoring the Quakers’ defensive effort in an 8-3 win against then-No. 11 Princeton. In addition to scoring his first collegiate goal, Meyer caused two turnovers and scooped up four ground balls as part of a Penn defense that held Princeton to its lowest score in an Ivy League game since 2006.

• Mercyhurst junior attacker Kyle Kallay was named the East Coast Conference Player of the Week for his efforts in the No. 6 Lakers’ hard-fought win against No. 7 Mercy. Kallay figured on two-thirds of the Lakers’ goals, scoring five of them himself and assisting on another in a 9-7 win.

• Rensselaer senior midfielder Nick Billy and Hamilton junior attackman Henry Burchenal shared Offensive Performer of the Week honors in the Liberty League. Billy totaled eight goals and four assists for the No. 9 Engineers in wins against Southwestern and Elmira, while Burchenal led the Continentals with nine goals and two assists in wins at Greensboro and Drew.

• Maryland senior midfielder Brian Farrell was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the No. 5 Terrapins’ wins against UMBC and St. Joseph’s. Farrell scooped up four ground balls and caused two turnovers against the Retrievers, then matched his career scoring high with two goals and an assist against the Hawks while picking up two more ground balls and caused turnovers.

• Limestone’s Riley Loewen has been named the Conference Carolinas Player of the Week, as he paced the scorching-hot Saints (7-0, 2-0 Conference Carolinas) to wins against Belmont Abbey and Wingate. After scoring three goals and assisting on two more in Limestone’s 16-4 win at Wingate, Loewen scored five goals and handed out three assists in a 19-4 win against Belmont Abbey in the Saints’ home opener.