5 & 5 – Week 0

A collection of 5 “High fives” and 5 “What the heck’s” from the prior weekend’s D1 Action.

High Fives:

1:         To Colgate – yes, Penn State shot itself in the foot, head and numerous other body parts (10 Unforced errors out of 25 turnovers and a 70% clearing rate), but Colgate had to score vs Jack Fracyon, and defend a team lead by TJ Malone on the offensive end.  And a special High 5 to Liam Connor for finishing in front rather than fading away on what might be the biggest goal of his career so far.

2:         To Denver – Coaches always preach “Play the whole game – to the last whistle”, but rarely do teams listen, and even more rarely does the team act on what their told as a team – with everyone bought in and doing their job.  Yes, the ‘Jays made numerous errors and a couple questionable coaching decisions – but Denver had to do almost everything right, ignore the part of their brain that might be quietly saying “yeah, a one goal loss with our new coach in an away game vs the #5 team in the country is ok”, and actually execute.  And they did.  There is no more fun experience than a long trip home with your teammates after a road trip win over a higher ranked team. Seriously.

3:         To Ohio State – You were down.  By a lot.  At home. And Utah’s “60 minutes of controlled chaos” style of play was creating valuable scoring opportunities.  This could have gone very badly very quickly if you’d have joined them in playing that way. But you didn’t and so the game changed.  After falling behind by 4 goals (6-2 in favor of Utah), offensively the team played “slow”, didn’t take the bait to chase mid-level shots, and forced Utah to play an “in the box” 6 v 6 game.  And lo and behold, Utah’s athletes couldn’t beat the Buckeye defenders for 41 minutes – and Utah only scored 2 goals.  Game over.  (Note to self, the days of just throwing shooters on the field and moving the ball for 3 minutes until the defense expires from boredom ended a couple years ago.  You must have offensive players that can run past people. And if you don’t have them, you lose vs a team with a great defense).

4:         To Duke – ummmmm So Josh Zawada is the perfect complement to Brennan O’Neill and Dyson Williams.  Got it.  Bellermine was better on offense than many expected, but was that due to average Blue Devil goalie play? We shall see – but it really doesn’t matter when Duke’s attack unit may be the most frightening collection of athleticism, IQ and skill that I’ve seen in a very, very, very long time (I know, those in Upstate NY are burning this writer in effigy right now after the video game performance of their current attack unit).  Barring injury, I think the numbers Duke will put up this season will be mind-bending.

5:         To Loyola – A proud program strikes back.  I’d thought Georgetown was going to encounter some serious growing pains early this season. I just didn’t think that Loyola was the team that would highlight that losing so many points to graduation is tough from which to recover, especially since Loyola was replacing ⅔ of their defense (but not the starting goalie -which meant alot on Saturday – listen as best you can to his command of the defense).  The returning offense played fast without playing stupid (YES, you CAN play fast without taking stupid risks!  Really!!!!), but that is what happens with a great coaching staff and an offense that basically returned everyone.  Is this result more an indictment of Georgetown’s youth? Or a statement about Loyola’s place in the top 20?

What the Heck’s?

1:         The obvious mis-cues by a certain Penn State and a certain JHU defender at the end of each respective game.  Coaches – their errors are partially on you.  There’s no reason for that hit, and there’s REALLY no reason for a cross field pass at that time to an area 5 yards from the midline.  THINK!

2:         Maryland – I think you need to rapidly identify where you are going to “win” matchups (even in a motion based set) and get those players on the field, and get them the ball.  Had Richmond not thrown the ball all over the field, and misfired in OT, you were looking at a third loss for the BigX.  Identifying those players now, before say, you play Ohio State and their defense will be absolutely critical. Yeah, Erksa had 3 goals, and Malaver had 4 points.  Don’t care.  Your schedule is brutal – Seriously much respect to your HC for that – and while the defense played well against a strong Richmond offense, your offense will have to do better to reach goals that you have set.

3:         Holy Cross – ummm guys…. There are these things called “clearing drills” and “stick work drills”  Try them.  Seriously, the number of unforced errors and poor decision-making by this team surprised the heck out of me, even for a first game in cold (but sunny) weather. There are some athletes on the squad, and a couple of nice first year players.  But…. Yeah…. This was a really bad showing from a basic skills/clearing perspective.

4:         Rutgers – you almost lost to a Patriot League team picked no better than 4th in that league, who graduated their force of nature at the X and who just lost their Head Coach in the prior summer.  Yes, Scott and Knobloch are awesome players.  But I wonder if there’s enough around them this year to allow them to shine.  Put another way, can those two carry the load when defense’s focus on them? 

5:         The BigX’s RPI.  Two unpredicted losses for the #4 and #5 team in the country.  Three more results that were dramatically closer than they should have been.  Had Maryland lost in OT, and Rutgers not pulled it out vs Lehigh, would we already be thinking that the Big X was at best a 2 bid league?  It’s certainly early, and there are CLEAR paths to a much different RPI endpoint because of the strong scheduling done by these 6 schools, but seriously this opening weekend raises the question of whether the Ivy League or the Patriot league jumps the BigX in this year.  You are all welcome, BigX coaches, for this bulletin board material….       


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