Denver Falls Two Spots in Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men's Top 20

PHOTO BY NATALIE LeDONNE / DUKE ATHLETICS

Michael Sowers contributed one goal and six assists combined in Duke's 2-0 opening weekend.


There’s one big absence from the first rankings update of the year, and it’s a team that didn’t even play this past weekend.

Or, it would seem, any weekend this season.

With much of Yale’s roster not enrolled this semester to save a year of eligibility based on Ivy League rules, the Bulldogs will not participate in the 2021 season, according to multiple reports. And that explains why Yale, which won the national title in 2018, was the NCAA tournament runner-up the following year and was the preseason No. 8 this season, is no longer in the rankings.

While the fate of all Ivy League competition this spring still remains unclear, the likes of Cornell and Penn will remain in the rankings — for now at least. Sources from Cornell and Penn have told US Lacrosse Magazine that the programs are still focusing on preparing for the spring season.

For the moment, Yale is the noteworthy exclusion from this weekly exercise.

Nike/US Lacrosse
Division I Men’s Top 20

 
February 8, 2021

W/L

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1 Duke 2-0 1 2/13 vs. Mercer
2 Syracuse 0-0 2 2/21 vs. No. 14 Army
3 Maryland 0-0 3 2/20 vs. Michigan
4 Penn State 0-0 4 2/20 at No. 18 Rutgers
5 Virginia 1-0 5 2/20 at No. 12 Loyola
6 North Carolina 1-0 6 2/13 vs. Jacksonville
7 Cornell 0-0 9 TBA
8 Notre Dame 0-0 10 TBA
Denver 1-2 7 2/13 vs. Air Force
10 Georgetown 0-0 11 TBA
11 Ohio State 0-0 12 2/20 at No. 19 Johns Hopkins
12 Loyola 0-0 13 2/13 at No. 16 Richmond
13 UMass 0-0 14 2/27 at Boston U.
14 Army 0-0 15 2/21 at No. 2 Syracuse
15 Lehigh 0-0 16 2/27 at NJIT
16 Richmond 0-0 17 2/13 vs. No. 12 Loyola
17 Penn 0-0 18 TBA
18 Rutgers 0-0 19 2/20 vs. No. 4 Penn State
19 Johns Hopkins 0-0 20 2/20 vs. No. 11 Ohio State
20 Villanova 0-0 NR 2/13 at Delaware
Also considered (alphabetical order): Albany (0-0), Brown (0-0), Bucknell (0-0), Hofstra (0-0), Navy (0-0), Providence (0-0), Robert Morris (0-1)






Nike/US Lacrosse Rankings
Division I Men | Division I Women
Division II Men | Division II Women
Division III Men | Division III Women

HOT

North Carolina (No change)

Three of the teams above the Tar Heels won’t open the season for a couple more weekends, and the other two won, so it’s hard to justify much movement this early on. But make no mistake: North Carolina more than looked the part of a title contender in Sunday’s 24-13 rout of Denver.

Chris Gray had six goals and an assist for the Tar Heels, who held football leads inside Kenan Stadium at halftime (14-3), after three quarters (21-6) and at the end of the game. North Carolina had six multi-goal scorers, 10 players find the net and picked up an 11-save effort from freshman Collin Krieg in his college debut.

The defense and especially the middle-of-the-field play were impressive over the first three quarters, but the offense will get the most attention. Considering it is the most goals ever allowed by a Bill Tierney-coached team — breaking the mark set by Cornell in a 21-5 rout of Princeton in 1988, Tierney’s first season with the Tigers — that’s understandable.

Virginia (No change)

Another team without movement that nonetheless enjoyed some fine moments in its opener, the Cavaliers dominated the middle two quarters of a 20-11 defeat of Towson.

Payton Cormier had six goals, heralded redshirt-freshman Connor Shellenberger had four goals and three assists in his debut and Merrimack transfer Charlie Bertrand delivered four goals and two assists for the Cavaliers.

Missing from that quick recap: Established stars Matt Moore (did not play), Dox Aitken (one shot in a reserve role) and Ian Laviano (0-for-4 shooting). All will be heard from before long. The Cavaliers might not have added as many transfers as some of the other top programs in Division I, but they were plenty loaded to begin with.

NOT

Denver (-2)

How much should the Pioneers be punished for playing a competitive game at Duke, then not having much in the tank against a sharp North Carolina bunch less than 48 hours later? Candidly, not too much.

It’s more equitable to focus on the first game of Denver’s Research Triangle trip, when it bolted to a 6-1 lead before Duke eventually rallied for a 12-10 triumph in the season’s first high-profile game.

The 24-13 loss at Carolina counts, too, but’s hardly time to press the panic button on the Pios. They have work to do — who doesn’t in early February? — but some more time to establish cohesion with some new pieces coupled with not dealing with such a brutal scheduling sequence will help.

UMass (+1)

How does a team go up in the rankings yet end up on the “Not” list? The Colonial Athletic Association favorites got the worst news of the weekend: The Minutemen’s entire athletic department began a two-week pause Sunday because of rising pandemic infection rates on the Amherst, Mass., campus.

That means no practice or games for any team at UMass until the final week of February at the earliest. For Greg Cannella’s program, games against Army and UMass Lowell are shelved as a result.

IN

Villanova

As the Wildcats move into the Top 20, it’s worth mentioning one of the many things the sport will miss this season: The annual result (or two) that reminds everyone of how capable Villanova is to beat anyone at any given time.

The Wildcats have defeated at least one of Penn State (2010-11, 2014-16, 2018), Syracuse (2012-13), Maryland (2017, 2020) and Yale (2018-19) in every season since 2010. Yes, there is a little statistical manipulation involved since some of those Penn State teams were unremarkable. But there were also two eventual NCAA champs (2017 Maryland and 2019 Yale) and a national runner-up (2013 Syracuse) among Villanova’s victims over the last decade.

The Wildcats’ only scheduled non-conference games are against Delaware and Lehigh, and with Yale opting out of the season and the Big Ten going the league-only route, there aren’t the same opportunities available as usual. Nonetheless, Villanova figures to be heard from in what should be a largely competitive Big East.

OUT

Yale (previously No. 8)

The season was over before it started for Yale, which joins Hampton as Division I teams on the sideline in 2021. Andy Shay’s program won’t face quite the same “what if” as a year ago, when things were halted a month into the season and the likes of Jackson Morrill and TD Ierlan might have led the Bulldogs to a third consecutive Memorial Day appearance. This time around, given the sheer number of players reportedly not enrolled in classes this spring, it could be that Yale effectively deferred its 2021 season by a year.

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