Another crazy weekend in college lacrosse has the rankings shaken up once again. With upsets all over the country, many teams took advantage of statement opportunities, while others could not handle the pressure of success.
Let's take a look at the new poll this week, only two weeks out from postseason play!
10. Penn State
The Nittany Lions won a nail-biter against the Towson Tigers last weekend. Their ability to escape with victories against big-time opponents will bode well as the tournament is just around the corner. A few weeks ago, a win over UMass propelled PSU up the rankings, and obviously gave them a confidence boost. Since that game, Penn State has won seven straight games.
They still have Delaware and Hofstra on the horizon, giving them a good chance of winning out and finishing the year even higher in the polls.
9. Johns Hopkins
Just when you thought Hopkins was done, it pulled off a surprising victory against No. 1 Maryland. The Blue Jays were able to control the pace of play and time of possession, while the Hopkins defense played its best game in years.
Holding this year's Maryland team to only four goals seems impossible, but Hopkins proved its worth, winning the game 7-4. Seems like Hopkins coach Dave Pietremala has his team believing in itself down the stretch.
Loyola stormed back on Denver only to lose a tight game in overtime. Due to a lack of quality opponents, Loyola fell a few spots this week. The defending champions will look to rebound against Hobart and Johns Hopkins to close out the season. The finale against Hopkins should be a great game, as it will certainly decide the fate of Hopkins' tournament chances.
In a nationally televised game, Duke was able to outlast a hungry but disappointing Virginia team Friday night. Duke showed great speed on offense, and is playing excellent lacrosse late in the year.
True to form, the Blue Devils started the season slowly, but are gaining momentum at the right time. Their last two games are against Rutgers and Marquette, which provides a great opportunity to win out and finish the year on a 10-game win streak.
Cornell fell at the hands of a hot Syracuse team last week, resulting in a fall from glory for the Big Red. With a win, Cornell would most likely have been No. 1 in this poll, but the close loss was enough to be hopped by multiple teams.
Cornell can score with anyone in the country, but its defense looked vulnerable against the Orange. Cornell still has a lead in the Ivy League, with Brown and Princeton still on deck to finish out the year.
5. North Carolina
North Carolina continued its hot streak, pummeling the Hofstra Pride 14-5 on Long Island this weekend. The win proved what many of us thought, that UNC is primed for a big-time run toward the final four.
Marcus Holman surpassed the 60-point mark for the season, which is an outstanding milestone. The Heels will be able to get some rest against first-year program High Point before gearing up for a tough ACC postseason tournament. With a good performance, UNC could finish the year at No. 1.
With big wins over Princeton and Cornell, followed by a narrow victory against Rutgers, the Syracuse Orange took a huge leap forward this week. Jojo Marasco and the rest of the Syracuse offense are playing well, while goalie Dominic Lamolinara is getting better as the season progresses.
With tough games still on board against Hobart, Georgetown and Notre Dame, the Orange have a challenge ahead to stay in the hunt for a good seed in the NCAA bracket.
Maryland lost to Hopkins, so the Terps had to drop a few spots. The Maryland offense looked out of sorts and could not compete with a hungry Hopkins team on Saturday. I still believe they are the best team in the nation, but could have trouble getting to the final four if they do not receive a favorable seed. They must watch out for Duke and UNC in the ACC tournament.
2. Notre Dame
Notre Dame had to battle for four quarters against Georgetown, but emerged victorious nevertheless. The Irish have steadily handled business this year and have hovered near the top of the rankings since week one. Although very successful thus far, they still must play the top two teams in the Big East, Villanova and Syracuse. These games will give ND the opportunity to take a hold of the top seed with wins, but a loss to either team will have them fall a few spots in the last week of the season.
With a tough schedule and a big win over Loyola last weekend, Bill Tierney's Denver team is finally atop the national rankings. The Pioneers are incredibly fast and play a unique brand of lacrosse. Their speed catches many teams off guard, and their ability to close out games in the fourth quarter has been downright impressive this year.
With a good seed in the tournament, the Pioneers could make a run for the trophy.
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