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College Lacrosse Roundup: Loyola, Towson and St. John’s win in OT, Chris Gray puts on a show

Photo courtesy of Loyola athletics / Brian Walters

Welcome to Lacrosse Playground’s College Lacrosse Roundup, where we recap all the notable news, scores and highlights of the past week, while previewing upcoming matchups and analyzing the latest Tewaaraton trophy race.

Notable News in College Lacrosse

Multiple Games Postponed

There were several games cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols this past weekend, which unfortunately could be a trend that haunts the 2021 season. The most notable cancellations to men’s lacrosse were UMass at Army, Delaware at Villanova, Marquette at Cleveland State, and Virginia Military Institute at Mount St. Mary’s. On the women’s side, Saint Joseph’s at Villanova, North Carolina at James Madison, and Johns Hopkins at Maryland were all postponed. Bellarmine men’s lacrosse also announced that they were pausing all activities for two weeks due to COVID-19 related issues. While Army’s original game against UMass was postponed, the postponement opened up an opportunity for the Black Knights to face Virginia in lacrosse for the first time in 36 years.

Top Moments of the Week

Loyola’s Kevin Lindley secured a victory for the Greyhounds with this quick stick, game-winning goal. Lindley single-handedly won the game for Loyola, scoring two late goals with under four minutes left to send the game to overtime and the game-winner to complete the natural hat trick.

Jacksonville’s Molly Brock displayed a clean face dodge on this goal that would put the Dolphins within one of High Point. The Phins would eventually come out on top 14-13.

Hofstra’s Ryan Tierney displayed his abilities with a toe drag goal to tie the game up with 15 seconds left. The Pride would fall to St. John’s 19-18 in overtime.

Chris Gray landed himself on our top moments once again with a gnarly backhanded goal in UNC’s big win over Jacksonville.

Best Games You Missed

Men’s Lacrosse

St. John’s tops Hofstra in OT, 19-18

St. John’s and Hofstra were neck and neck throughout up until the very end. Hofstra led St. John’s going into the half 8-7, but St. John’s came running out of the locker room from halftime, leading Hofstra 14-12 heading into the 4th. With 16 seconds remaining in the game Ryan Tierney tied the game up for Hofstra to force OT, but St. John’s would end up on top when Mike Madsen (2g, 3a) put away the game winner for St John’s from the helper from Thomas Martello (1g, 1a). Overall, it was quite a way to kick off the season for both teams, and a great game for anyone who watched it. Hofstra plays Sacred Heart on February 20, while St John’s will play Providence on February 20.

Bryant beats Providence in season opener 9-8

The game winner for Bryant was scored by Kevin Groeninger from a helper by Logan McGovern which happened with seven minutes left to play in the game. McGovern had 5 points (1g, 4a) on the day, while his partner in crime Groeninger had 3 points (2g, 1a). For the foes, Ryan Nawrocki had 4 points (1g, 3a) for Providence and Dan Axelson joined in with three goals on the day. Bryant will travel to play Stony Brook on February 20. Providence on the other hand will travel to Queens, NY to face off against St. John’s.

Towson wins first game of the year in OT against Saint Joseph’s 8-7

A fast start for Towson allowed them to sneak past Saint Joseph’s in OT winning 8-7. Andrew Milani was the one who pushed the Tigers over Saint Joseph’s for their first win of the year. Towson was leading St. Joe’s 4-2 at half before St. Joe’s climbed back to tie it up with 1:32 remaining in regulation thanks to an Austin Strazzulla goal that forced overtime. In overtime, St. Joe’s won the faceoff, but lost the possession allowing Towson’s Milani to put away the game-winner. Towson will face off against the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils on February 20, while Saint Joseph’s will be squaring off with UMBC on February 20 as well.

Women’s Lacrosse

Towson tops the Mount, 10-7

Lindsey Marshall led Towson scorers with three goals, followed by three players with two points a piece. For the Mount, Jordan Groover and Sara Moeller both had 2 goals to help keep the loss manageable for Mount St. Mary’s.

Jacksonville inches out High Point 14-13

High Point got off to an early lead thanks to a 7-0 run to end the first half. Jacksonville would trail the Panthers the rest of the game before a three-goal run late in the second half gave the Dolphins the win. Jacksonville was led by Sarah Elms and her four goals, followed by Jenny Kinsey with four points (3g, 1a). High Point also had a couple of four-goal scorers in Kaely Kyle and Ashley Britton. Jacksonville won’t play again until March 6 when they will take on East Carolina, while High Point will play North Carolina on February 21.

Tewaaraton Tracker

Men’s Lacrosse

Michael Sowers (Duke)

Michael Sowers finally got his first non-soccer goal of the year against Mercer as the Duke Blue Devils cruised to a 17-8 victory. Sower had 6 points (4g, 2a) total bringing his season total on the year to 13 through 3 games. Duke plays Towson on Feb 20, which if there defense looks anything like it did against Virginia, Sowers will have a field day against Towson.

Chris Gray (North Carolina) 

Chris Gray has continued to put on a show with some spectacular goals, and may I add looking very good in that Carolina blue. Gray already has 14 points (10g, 4a) through two games thus far of the 2021 season. It was a much more even display of skill for Gray this time against Jacksonville as he put up seven points (4g, 3a). If Gray continues this pace and his rhythm in this Carolina offense, look for another run like the 2016 run from the Tar Heels, as they are LOADED with talent and ride like crazy!

Ethan Walker (Denver)

A new addition to the Tewaaraton Tracker list this week is Ethan Walker. Walker’s style of play, thanks to his box lacrosse experience, is effortless. His stick skills are elite and his accuracy shooting on a 6-by-6 cage is lethal. Walker currently leads the country with 16 points (12g, 4a) through four games. In his most recently bout, he had seven points (5g, 2a) against Air Force.

Women’s Lacrosse

Casey Harkins (American) 

Casey Harkins has posted 107 points (46g, 61a) through three and quarter seasons and is returning for her fifth year. In 2020, before their season was cut shot, Harkins had 52 points (18g, 34a) through only seven games, which is nearly 7.5 points per game. Keep an eye out for Harkins to have a hot start to the season. American begins there season on February 27 against Mount St. Mary’s.

Katie Hoeg (North Carolina) 

Katie Hoeg kicked off the 2021 season in style with an impressive seven-point performance (2g, 5a) in a dominating win over Stony Brook 14-7. North Carolina will be back in action on February 19 when they take on Florida.

Emma Vinall (American) 

Emma Vinall from Fairfax, Virginia is looking to run stride for stride with her fellow teammate Harkins as they will be pushing each other to gather more and more points, like the homerun race of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire of the late 90’s. Vinall at the end of the 2020 season had 47 points (42g, 5a), and a total of 147 career points (128g, 19a). It’ll be interesting to watch the one-two punch from both Harkins and Vinall as they are both favorites to win the Tewaaraton.  American begins there season on February 27 against Mount St. Mary’s.

Izzy Scane (Northwestern)

A new addition to the watchlist this week, Izzy Scane put up an incredible 12 points (9g, 3a) on Sunday when they took down Ohio State 23-7. Currently, Scane is the leader in points for all women.

What to Watch this Week

We’ve teamed up with Lacrosse Reference to provide you with the top games to watch this coming weekend based on Lacrosse Reference’s ELO ratings. The ELO system is a method for comparing the relative strength of teams. The higher the ELO rating, the better the team. The difference in two teams’ ELO ratings can be used to estimate the likelihood of each team winning.

Men’s Lacrosse

Loyola (1746 ELO) at Virginia (1717 ELO) – 5pm ET on Saturday, February 20

Rutgers (1667 ELO) at Penn State (1830 ELO) – 12pm ET on Saturday, February 20

Syracuse (1740 ELO) at Army (1638 ELO) – 12pm ET on Sunday, February 21

Women’s Lacrosse

North Carolina (2211 ELO) at Florida (2070 ELO) – 12pm ET on Friday, February 19

Loyola (2101 ELO) at Syracuse (1939 ELO) – 12pm ET on Saturday, February 20

Boston College (2047 ELO) at UMass (1962) – 4pm ET on Wednesday, February 17

Note: ELO only uses the final score, the location of the game, and the date of the game, and it does factor in some season-to-season carryover. To reiterate, this is not a ranking based on past performance, but an attempt to sort teams based on “current” strength. Consider these ratings in beta for the time being.

Sean Wiser grew up in Binghamton, a small town in Upstate New York, and attended Chenango Forks High School where he was a part of the varsity lacrosse team for four years and three sectional championships. He and his teammates made history his senior year, earning the program's first-ever trip to the Final Four in the New York state tournament. Wiser currently plays college lacrosse at DeSales University and was a part of the program's first-ever MAC Freedom championship in 2019. He has been playing lacrosse since he was 6-years-old and enjoys the flow and speed of lacrosse, as well as the momentum swings that happen throughout the game.

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