CBS Sports Network men's lacrosse analyst Evan Washburn provided commentary on No. 19 Navy's 10-7 victory over Patriot League rival Army on Saturday. Washburn, a former defenseman for Delaware, will cover Saturday's game between No. 6 Duke and No. 15 Marquette. He offered his thoughts on the significance of Navy's victory and the tightly contested races in several conferences this spring.
How important was Saturday's win for Navy?
It was huge for Navy on a variety of fronts. They had lost six straight to Army, and that's as big as it gets in terms of rivalries not just for the institutions but also for the fan bases. And there was pressure on Rick Sowell from when he came in. It's been a slow transition, but that's how it works at service academies. When you get your recruiting class in, you have to be patient because as we saw with Navy, they're playing with a ton of freshmen, and they're playing well, but they were all at NAPS [Naval Academy Preparatory School] last year. It's been a long time coming for that program. I was extremely impressed with what they were able to do offensively in the third and then the fourth quarter with a seven-goal run against the No. 2 defense in the nation. I still think [No. 18] Army is very good. I think [senior attackman] John Glesener is one of the best players in the country, but he went quiet, and I think he needs to assert himself more. But they're still a dangerous team. The Patriot League tournament should be a lot of fun.
I wanted to get your analysis of some of the conference races. Since we're talking about Navy, which team do you like in the Patriot League?
I think what's going to happen is [No. 17] Loyola is going to win out and host the Patriot League tournament, and that makes them very dangerous. But they're still very inconsistent. The way they played against Navy and the way they played against Maryland, I think that may have taken a lot out of them [on Saturday]. They just didn't look at their best at Boston University. But I think Loyola is the favorite in the Patriot League partly because I think they're the most talented team and I think they're going to host the tournament, which is very important. Navy is dangerous, and Army – if their offense can show some consistency and can produce a bit more – is also very dangerous, but I would take Loyola in the Patriot League.
Who do you favor in the Atlantic Coast Conference?
It's tough to call. I really love what [No. 2] UNC is doing right now. That game against [No. 4] Syracuse was a blast to watch, and I think they're playing with a passion and an energy and are executing on both ends, especially offensively, at a high clip. I still think Syracuse is probably the favorite based on what they can do in the faceoff game on top of what they have on both ends. What I think happened on Chapel Hill is they ran into a team on Senior Day and a huge crowd that that had a little bit more than they had on that day. I still like Syracuse in the ACC right now.
How about the Big Ten?
[No. 3] Maryland with their defense, and the way they're playing, this weekend's matchup at [No. 11] Ohio State will be interesting. From what I've seen, Maryland seems to be playing at a really high level, but we'll learn a little bit more about what they'll see in the Big Ten as this thing closes out with their game at Ohio State on Saturday.
Who is looking like the leader in the Colonial Athletic Association?
[No. 12] Towson's playing great. I think Towson – I don't want to say they should walk away with it by any means – watching highlights of that Fairfield game and seeing how their defense has played the past few weeks, they're not letting teams get to double digits very often and their offense is potent when it needs to be. So I think Towson is the class of the CAA, but Drexel and Hofstra are contenders, and Fairfield made it tight there for a good stretch of that game on Saturday. But I like Towson in the CAA.
Lastly, what about the Ivy League?
[No. 9] Cornell. The Ivy League—just like the ACC – is really tough to read. Princeton seems to be reeling a bit, Yale has shown glimpses, and Brown's offense keeps them in games, but with the depth of talent and where it stands right now, I like Cornell. But much like the ACC, that four-team tournament will be fun to watch. The Big Ten is the only one that I feel comfortable saying that Maryland will walk away with that. Everything else, those tournaments will be extremely entertaining.
Assuming that Notre Dame is still No. 1 in your poll, which team is No. 2?
I voted UNC No. 2. I just felt with what they showed us in that Syracuse game, they deserve that No. 2 spot. I have Marquette this weekend when they play Duke, so I watched some of that Notre Dame-Marquette game, and part of me was thinking, 'Man, UNC played like the No. 1 team in the nation.' But I think Notre Dame has earned the right to remain at No. 1. They didn't do anything to lose it. I just think North Carolina has stepped up to the point of being No. 1, and we'll see on Saturday when they face each other, which is great for the game.
Was North Carolina the biggest mover in your poll?
UNC was probably my biggest mover. I had Duke take a couple steps up from that UVA win. And one that just consistently keeps moving up my poll is Georgetown. I just think they're doing things offensively, and I knew it was just a matter of time before [coach] Kevin Warne got that thing humming. I don't know if they're in the top 10 in terms of talent or where they will stand at the end of the season, but they're moving up consistently each week.
Which team took the biggest tumble?
UVA. I was disappointed when I saw the Duke game. The turnovers were ugly. The goaltending was great. Barrett is good. But I was disappointed in UVA. And I keep dropping Princeton. I think there's an inconsistency there. It was a tough week with losing to Lehigh midweek and although they did take care of business against Dartmouth, I just haven't seen enough from those guys.
Who are your leading candidates for the Tewaaraton Award?
I think [Albany senior attackman and 2014 co-Tewaaraton Award winner] Lyle Thompson is still the guy. I think he's suffered from not being on television that much. And whenever you're the incumbent, you're judged against what you did the year before, and there was so much momentum. I think that has maybe hurt his case a bit, but I still love what he's doing. I think [Duke junior midfielder] Myles Jones should be there in the conversation. I know there have been games where he has struggled – Syracuse comes to mind – but in terms of being a dominant presence on the field and his passing ability, he has shown that he is one of the top players in the nation and should be at that ceremony. Other names that come to mind are guys like [North Carolina senior attackman] Joey Sankey and [Syracuse senior attackman] Kevin Rice. I'm a believer in the guys who produce at the top level for those top five teams. [Denver senior attackman] Wesley Berg is another one who is putting up monster numbers again. Those are guys that will be in the conversation, but I don't think Lyle Thompson has done anything to not warrant being the guy. I think what happens down the stretch here will dictate a lot of conversation.