Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a new team at the top.
Monday’s Inside Lacrosse rankings have the Albany Great Danes as the best team in the country, and for the second straight week 17 of the poll’s 20 teams moved from their previous ranking.
First, here’s the full poll:
And now, let’s dive in a little deeper, with five key takeaways…
1. The Great Danes are ablaze
We begin, as we did last week, with the best team in the country: Albany, the medicine-bringers. The purple-and-yellow people eaters are making it very clear who has the best offense in the nation, and considering what they did to Syracuse in the season opener, they might be the most well-rounded team as well.
The Danes took an unreal 16-2 lead over Drexel in the first half and coasted to an 18-5 win, with Connor Fields taking the role of the aggressor against the Dragons. Fields finished with nine points, one shy of his career high, including an outrageous seven assists. Freshman wizard Tehoka Nanticoke kept things rolling in his second career outing with a hat trick and a pair of assists, as did Justin Reh.
Oh, and goaltender J.D. Colarusso only allowed two goals in the first 45 minutes of the game before stepping out of the net.
Oh, and T.D. Ierlan has won 37 of his first 43 faceoffs this season.
Absolutely everything is going right for the Danes, making them the team to fear for now. Their next test is a visiting Cornell squad on Saturday.
2. Watch out for Vermont
The Danes aren't the only America East team making noise this season. While Albany owns the country's largest average margin of victory (an absurd 12.50), Vermont ranks third at 7.60, with a five-game sample size. The Catamounts have absolutely dismantled teams this year, not allowing more than six goals in any game and hitting double-digits in all five.
They've racked up 60 goals in a hurry, and by rolling out seven players with at least five goals this season, you assume Ian MacKay and Rob Hudson will be the goal-getters at your own risk, never actually knowing what to expect from this tremendously deep squad.
Good luck, Jacksonville: you're up next.
3. Biggest movers, biggest fallers
Among teams who participated in last week’s Top 20, the biggest riser we saw was Syracuse after the Orange’s dramatic come-from-behind triple OT win over Army. UNC and Virginia both saw two-spot bumps.
The biggest fallers in this week’s poll were Army and Johns Hopkins, both of whom fell four slots.
Of course, the biggest rising of all came from a trio of outsiders, including an ostensible seven-spot leap from a group of Quakers.
No. 14 Penn, No. 17 Georgetown, and No. 19 Marquette all make appearances after being on the outside looking in last week.
4. Conference check-in
We’ve got power up where it normally resides, but a rising underdog conference won’t be silenced.
Here’s the full rundown:
- ACC: Duke, Virginia, UNC, Syracuse, Notre Dame (5)
- B1G: Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, Johns Hopkins (4)
- Big East: Villanova, Denver, Georgetown, Marquette (4)
- Ivy: Yale, Princeton, Penn (3)
- Patriot: Army, Loyola (2)
- America East: Albany, Vermont (2)
Look at the Ivy League putting three teams in the Top 20! The Quakers’ upset of Duke showed they can stick with the biggest dogs, not just in their own conference but in the entire country. The third of three ranked Ivy teams, Princeton, could’ve made headway with a win over new No. 4 Virginia this past week, but the 18-15 loss (fireworks!) doesn’t mean the Tigers are lacking. The Cavaliers are just very good. And so is the Ivy.
The CAA, of course, lost its sole representative, Towson, which means we only have six conferences represented in the Top 20 this week.
Towson has started its year with two losses in three outings, and which puts even more pressure on their next game, a huge matchup with No. 9 Loyola. A win and the Tigers are right back in it. A loss? Well, 1-3 isn’t pretty, even if those losses all come to (currently) ranked teams.
5. What to watch for this week
We’ve got more than a few good ones, beginning on Wednesday with the first of two notable games this week that *don’t* include two ranked teams.
Towson was ranked last week, and as we said before they desperately need a win vs. No. 9 Loyola. The Tigers showed preseason promise, and a 1-3 start could be deadly. Loyola is very good. Can Towson pull out a mid-week upset?
On Friday, the best game of a sparse schedule is No. 19 Marquette vs. No. 6 Ohio State, in which the newcomer Golden Eagles take on a Buckeyes team that took until overtime to dispatch Jacksonville this past week. Is there an opening here for Marquette? Don’t be surprised.
And then there’s a jam-packed weekend, with three great ranked matches and an appetizer of a nearly-ranked match in Penn State vs. No 14 Penn, where the Quakers will try and prove they can stick around for the long haul.
No. 20 Princeton vs. No. 18 Johns Hopkins on Saturday is a matchup of two blue blood programs looking to keep their heads above water. The Bluejays could slip to 1-3 and out of the Top 20 with a loss.
The match of the weekend takes place on Saturday when No. 8 Notre Dame takes on No. 2 Maryland. The Fighting Irish have allowed just 14 goals in two games, albeit against unranked competition, while Maryland has scored at least 10 goals in each of its first four games, all wins, and has already racked up a goal differential of +21. It’s gonna be a doozy.
And No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 4 Virginia on Sunday is a great weekend aperitif, two more powerhouses looking to throw haymakers early in the season. The Orange have bounced back from the early shellacking they took from Albany. Can they land a statement win of their own?