Colgate coach Mike Murphy sees a lot of similarities when he looks at Loyola Maryland and the Raiders' last opponent, Cornell, especially in their respective ability to pounce on transition opportunities and turn them into goals. He said his team's ability to understand and account for that will go a long way to determining the outcome against the Greyhounds on Saturday in Hamilton, N.Y.
"I think as you look at this team you have to be great in transition," Murphy said. "They are lethal six-on-six on offense but may be one of best transition teams with [midfielder] Pat Laconi out there. We have to take transition when they give it but also have to dig in and play defense. We can't make mistake in the substitution game, either. They are very similar to Cornell in that each is very good in the run game. The good ones have to able to match the runs. We think we're pretty good."
The Raiders will find out how good in the Patriot League's marquee regular-season game thus far.
"This is absolutely as big as it gets when you're talking the regular season," Murphy said. "These are the games you talk about with recruits. I can say we play Loyola, Navy, Army … and then throw in the great education you get here. It's the best of all worlds."
Murphy hopes his team learned and improved from the 15-10 loss to the No. 2 Big Red, a game in which it fell behind big early but "didn't get discouraged whether we were down two or down six and scratched and clawed our way back in it." He believes true freshman goalie Brandon Burke got better in the process and his team in general benefited from playing a team with Cornell's depth and ability to apply pressure all over the field. A 10-7 league victory at Navy five days after the loss provided further encouragement.
"Hopefully it has given [attackman] Ryan Walsh the confidence to know he has the ability to distribute the ball as well as finish it," Murphy said. "Hopefully it has shown our offense it can survive and get the job done against a physical defense such as Navy plays. Hopefully it has helped Brandon Burke become more of a veteran. Our hope is that the Cornell experience will help Brandon Burke for the Loyola experience."
St. John's on the attack
St. John's has a surfeit of excellent attackmen. A senior trio of starters has helped the Red Storm (5-3) to a three-game winning streak.
The starters have great balance: Lefty Kieran McArdle, righty Kevin Cernuto and crease finisher Colin Keegan.
The trio helped account for one of the most incredible stats of the weekend: In a 13-11 victory over host Stony Brook, the Red Storm took 50 shots and had only three turnovers.
"That wasn't by design," coach Jason Miller said of the low turnover total. "We were trailing, so we had to move quickly. Basically a bunch of things just went right."
The starting attack accounted for all 13 goals against Stony Brook: McArdle had six, Keegan added four and Cernuto scored three.
For the year, McArdle has 25 goals and 21 assists, Keegan has 19 goals and six assists, and Cernuto has 17 goals and six assists.
"The options on how to defend those guys only go so far," Miller said. "If you 'coma slide' [come across the crease to slide], you're leaving Cernuto to get to McArdle or the other way around. If you crease slide [from the crease or near side], you're leaving Keegan. Or you don't slide [and leave a defender one-on-one]. Their balance is what makes them so effective."
All host of other offensive players, along with freshman goalie Joseph Danaher, will have a role in how far the Red Storm goes this season.
But the starting attack is where most game plans will begin.
"We're getting good balance on offense," Miller said. "And not just being strong on the left, the right and inside on attack. The midfield guys are starting to share the ball and they're starting to hit their step-down shots. It takes a lot of the pressure off the attack.
"The reason we're playing better now is all those facets [other than the attack] are getting better."
MIAA teams in the rankings
The top eight teams in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse high school rankings stayed the same this week, including the MIAA's Boys' Latin at No. 1 and McDonogh at No. 4.
Elsewhere, Calvert Hall fell to No. 17 from 12 after falling to Trinity-Pawling (N.Y.), and St. Paul's stayed at No. 14. Gilman moved up a spot to No. 12, beating St. Christopher's (Va.) and Haverford (Pa.) and losing to Culver (Ind.).
"It's a proud feeling to beat a program like that with the history and tradition that Gilman has," Culver coach Jon Posner said after the win. "The guys knew Gilman's reputation and came out and played hard. I went into the locker room after the game and told them that this was the biggest win our program's had because I don't think they realized just how meaningful it was."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun