A few conference tournament titles have already been handed out, overtimes have been sweated through and we’re just one day away from May. The NCAA tournament is just around the corner.
Yet the hierarchy of men’s lacrosse is anything but solidified. Let’s roll into the latest Inside Lacrosse Top 20 poll:
And now, let’s parse:
1. Here come the Irish?
A 10-spot jump? Yeah, let’s start there.
Notre Dame stumbled to the finish of its regular season, losing three of its final four games down the stretch, including a two-goal effort against Duke at home. Things didn’t look great.
Then the Irish took the field at Klockner Stadium on April 27, toppled No. 2 Duke by three, and then two days later pasted No. 13 Virginia 17-7 (a season-best offensive output) to claim the ACC tournament title. All of a sudden the Irish are 8-5, and have five ranked wins under their belts.
Ryder Garnsey, a supremely efficient shooter and the key to the Irish offense, was a big reason for the weekend wake-up. He scored eight of Notre Dame’s 31 goals in the two wins, tacked on three assists, and was generally on top of his game. Garnsey recorded one-third of his season’s goals in two games. It was wild.
But the nicest part for Notre Dame, in its win over Virginia, was the way the entire team played. Six different players scored at least two goals, and a swarming Irish defense turned UVA over 25 dang times. It might just have been a case of the Irish having a mental edge on Virginia (they held the Cavaliers to seven goals twice this year), but that certainly wasn’t the case for ND’s win over Duke.
Maybe, just maybe, this Irish team has flipped the switch.
2. Ben Reeves and Yale might just run everyone over
The Bulldogs claimed the No. 1 spot in the country a few weeks back, and the tear they’re on has made that ranking seem unquestionable. The main force behind the Elis’ current five-game win streak? Ben Reeves, who’s scored 16 goals across the five wins, and boasts a hat trick in each of Yale’s last four games.
With Reeves at the sticks, Yale has scored 88 goals over its last five games, outscoring its opponents by a combined 48 goals.
Just for reference, UMBC — yes, the same team that knocked off then-No. 1 Albany — has played 13 games this season. The Retrievers have 89 goals in those 13 games.
Yale has 88… in five games.
They might get tripped up, eventually, by a very good team in the postseason. But as long as Reeves and the Bulldogs play this way, they’re going to be nearly impossible to beat.
3. Biggest risers, biggest falls
With conference tournaments upon us, everyone’s playing their best lacrosse, which makes this upset season. And upsets mean shake-ups. Here’s a look at the aftershocks from a pretty busy week:
Obviously, the biggest riser of the week is Notre Dame, with its 10-spot jump. But Ohio State’s recent tear lifted the Buckeyes six spots into the Top 15 (and into the Big Ten tournament), and Virginia, despite its 17-7 loss against the Irish, vaults three spots just for making it to the ACC title game.
College lacrosse: Ohio State downs No. 9 Rutgers to keep postseason hopes alive
The biggest faller of the week is Navy, which plummeted six spots after falling to Lehigh in overtime in the Patriot League tournament. This, despite winning its last five games, including that tremendous last-second victory vs. Syracuse. Ah, well. Penn State and Bucknell both fell five spots, and Duke and Cornell each dropped three spots.
4. Conference check-in
Let’s take a glance at the conferences involved in our latest Top 20:
- B1G: 5 (Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers, Ohio State, Penn State)
- ACC: 4 (Duke, Notre Dame, Virginia, Syracuse)
- Patriot: 3 (Loyola, Bucknell, Navy)
- Big East: 3 (Denver, Villanova, Georgetown)
- Ivy: 2 (Yale, Cornell)
- NEC: 1 (St. Joseph’s)
- America East: 1 (Albany)
- CAA: 1 (UMass)
For the first time this season, we have eight different conferences represented in the Inside Lacrosse rankings! That’s a whole lot of diversity. Three conferences — the Northeast, the CAA, and the America East — bring just one team to the table, but they’re included just the same.
The Big Ten continues to reign supreme with 25 percent of the Top 20, including four in the Top 13. That triple-overtime matchup between Maryland and Johns Hopkins was some of the most entertaining lacrosse I’ve seen in a long time. This conference rocks.
But this is also, if memory serves, the first time four different conferences slotted three teams in the Top 20. There’s a lot of talent out there. Enjoy it!
5. Watch to watch for this week
Here's a look at the highlights from the upcoming week:
Thursday, May 3
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 11 Rutgers in the Big Ten semifinals. The last time these two sparred, Rutgers nearly won. It was a one-goal game. Should be good again.
Friday, May 4
No. 1 Yale vs. NR Penn (a team which was previously ranked earlier this season). Yale doubled up Penn earlier this season, but any chance to watch the Elis should be taken.
Saturday, May 5
The Big Ten championship will be on Saturday. Likely matchup: No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 7 Johns Hopkins. One word: rematch.
The Big East championship will be on Saturday. Likely matchup: No. 3 Denver vs. No. 14 Villanova. Probably good stuff. Denver likely wins, but that's why you play the game.
The NEC championship will be on Saturday. Likely matchup: No. 20 St. Joe's vs. NR Robert Morris (a team which was previously ranked earlier this season.) Winner dances? I'm in.
Sunday, May 6
The Ivy League championship will be on Sunday. Likely matchup: No. 1 Yale vs. No. 9 Cornell.