Photo: Virginia Men’s Lacrosse
Week seven wasted no time capturing our attention. Notre Dame started the day as the country’s new #1 team. They welcomed Virginia into Arlotta Stadium for a noon tilt. Virginia was ranked #1 for the first five weeks of the season before getting knocked off by Maryland last week. The Cavaliers came out of the gates determined not to see its winless streak grow to two.
Virginia has been impressive in the first quarter this season. They’ve outscored opponents 44-18 in the opening frame this season. Saturday was no different. Chris Kavanaugh opened the scoring for the Irish early in the first quarter. Virginia would go on to score the next five goals and looked ready to put the Irish away early in the second period.
The Irish though showed life and closed the gap to 7-5 at halftime and carried the momentum into the second half. Chris and Pat Kavanaugh each scored early in the third period to tie the game at seven. Momentum and the crowd seemed to be on the side of the Irish. The Notre Dame football team was in full force and bringing energy to Arlotta’s Berm.
The Cavaliers didn’t blink. Virginia went on to outscore Notre Dame 8-3 during the final quarter and a half. Connor Shellenberger (2G, 5A) and Xander Dixon (6G, 1A) led the Cavaliers with seven points apiece. The media are quick to praise the Irish’s Jake Taylor as one of the best finishers in the game, but Dixon has taken that skill to next level in 2023. Dixon leads the Cavaliers and is tied for 1st in the nation with 32 goals on the season.
There will be a new number one this week in the polls. Virginia’s results from Saturday along with an overtime loss should put them back in the top spot. The Cavaliers play their third straight Top 5 matchup next week when they host Duke for Happy Hour at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Johns Hopkins traveled to Ann Arbor Saturday night to begin Big Ten Play. The game was the second part of a doubleheader on the Big Ten Network. A packed crowd weathered a cold, windy, and snowy night to see the Wolverines challenge the Jays.
This series has not been particularly close. The Jays have won seven of eight all-time meetings against the Wolverines. Both teams have bounced back from disappointing 2022 seasons. Each has shown an ability to be resilient and bounce back after slow starts. Michigan has two come-from-behind victories this season against Delaware and Harvard.
Johns Hopkins has played steadily all season and came into the game at 7-3. The Jays have used strong second-half performances to put together a number of teams this season. When healthy, the Jays’ offense has been tough to stop. The two teams did not disappoint on Saturday.
The two teams each had their own set of first-half runs and found themselves tied at six at halftime. Michigan chased Hopkins’ goalie Tim Marcille after only making two saves in the first half. They looked poise to run away with the game when they scored back-to-back goals to go up 9-8 halfway through the third quarter.
While that run may have sent Johns Hopkins reeling in recent seasons, the 2023 Jays showed that they can weather any story. Johns Hopkins would go on to outscore the Wolverines 7-2 over the final quarter and a half to win 15-11. Garrett Degnon led the Jays with five goals an Russell Melendez had seven points (3G, 4A).
The win gives Johns Hopkins eight wins on the season. Only Duke has more with nine. Should they continue their run, the Jays could see a return to the NCAA Tournament in May for the first time since 2019.
There is trouble in New Haven. Yale gave up 20+ goals for the second straight game in their 23-10 loss on the road to Princeton. Last week, Yale lost to Cornell 20-10. The Bulldogs are now 0-2 in the Ivy League and are in serious trouble. The Yale defense is now a problem that nobody can avoid or deny.
Last year, Yale’s defense ranked 49th in the country. The Yale offense was able to for the most part hide its defensive flaws by outscoring the opposition. This year, the defense ranks 41st. The offense has fallen from 13th to 20th and faceoffs have dropped from 14th to 38th.
Yale isn’t the only Ivy league struggling to build on a strong 2022. Brown, Harvard, Penn, and Princeton all have regressed in 2023. Yale’s struggles though highlight and accentuate the league’s problems. With the return of Matt Brandau and Thomas Bragg, many penciled Yale in as a Top 10 team with a chance to return to Memorial Day weekend. Instead, they will be looking to revamp and try to figure out if they can salvage their 2023 season. Time is running out.
Follow Craig on Twitter.