Taylor's 10: All About the Big Wins


Brooklyn Walker-Welch had one of the standout performances of the weekend, writes Taylor Cummings.

Week four of the women’s lacrosse season was everything that we as lacrosse fans could have hoped for. We saw tight battles, major upsets and a few top 10 clashes that will now be thought of instant classics.

If you need any evidence as to the craziness of last week’s games, look no further than the most recent polls. Teams have moved up and down by significant margins, and we’re seeing a ton of new faces break into the Top 25 and even the top 10.

The talent of this year’s teams is so high across the board that the saying “on any given day” is truly more applicable than ever before. In this week alone, North Carolina crushed Boston College, Princeton smashed Rutgers (and then lost to Yale) and Notre Dame obliterated Duke despite all being closely ranked going in.

Both lower-seeded James Madison and Denver upset Maryland by one-goal margins, and Drexel shocked talented Johns Hopkins by multiple goals this weekend. Stony Brook upended Stanford on their own turf after a cross-country trip, and Jacksonville handled Arizona State in overtime in a one-goal thriller.

Each of the teams mentioned all played incredibly well, are looking solid as we get into March action and will be tough tests for each of the teams remaining on their schedules. Personally, I’m hoping for a rematch of some of these contests in late April and May during conference and national tournaments to see how adjustments are made and if any scripts are flipped when it matters most!

Last week’s article focused on the little things that make a big difference and didn’t necessarily keep wins and losses in mind. However, this week’s article is all about the big wins and how each will impact teams moving forward.

And with that, let’s dive right on in.

Louisville 15, Vanderbilt 12 and Louisville 12, Pitt 9

The clash between Louisville and Vanderbilt on Monday was one that was tight up until the very end. After a running clock loss to Virginia last weekend, the Cardinals were able to bounce back with a huge victory over the Commodores behind the stellar offensive performance of Kylea Dobson (six goals). They were then able to use that momentum to stifle Pitt in conference play on Saturday. Louisville plays in the ACC, arguably the most difficult conference in Division I, and the confidence-building wins against both Pitt and Vanderbilt should have them feeling good going into their next games.

Princeton 18, Rutgers 12 

These two programs have been some of the best in the game in recent years, and this midweek battle showed why. The contest was tight initially, with each team throwing punches until the middle of the third quarter, when the Tigers used their killer speed in transition to pull away from the Scarlet Knights. I was impressed with the way Princeton utilized its high-pressure defense to cause turnovers and hope to see more of that from the Tigers as the season goes on. Princeton has a tough stretch ahead with games against Penn State, USC and Maryland, and this road win should give them confidence despite the loss to Yale later last week.

Monmouth 13, Wagner 7

The Hawks are flying high on a four-game winning streak thanks in part to a midweek victory over Wagner. Their balanced offensive play coupled with their suffocating performance on the defensive end should have the Hawks feeling solid. Every coach’s goal is to have an offense powered by multiple players, and with four players currently in double digits in points, scouting Monmouth is now a tough task for all opponents moving forward.

Delaware 7, UMBC 6

The battle between Delaware and UMBC was the definition of a low-scoring affair, with the Blue Hens winning by just one. It’s in close games like these that we often find one player step up in a big way. In Delaware’s case, it was senior Megan Bozzi who put the team on her back and contributed to four of the seven goals scored. Veteran leadership and fearless play will be pivotal, intangible assets for Delaware as it looks to do well in conference play.

James Madison 8, Maryland 7

In another low-scoring game, JMU was able to hold off a late comeback from the Terps thanks to a stifling zone defense and shooting efficiency. JMU’s shifting zone and high pressure on ball created chaos on the Terps’ offensive end, resulting in a 24-percent shooting day for Maryland. On the flip side, many of JMU’s star offensive threats were between 67-100 percent in their shooting, and in a game that garnered just 16 shots total for the Dukes, that efficiency is what propelled them to victory. The Dukes have a tough upcoming stretch of games featuring Johns Hopkins, Florida and Virginia, and they will need to keep up their efficiency on both ends of the field.

Saint Joseph’s 8, Towson 6

In a game that saw few draw controls go their way, the Hawks remained composed defensively and created turnovers chances against Towson. Losing the draw so frequently can put a ton of pressure on any defense, but the Hawks should feel confident that they were able to withstand the Tigers’ offensive pressure consistently to create opportunities for their offense. Defense won this game for Saint Joseph’s, no question about it. If I was head coach Alex Kahoe, I’d feel really pleased about my team’s chances in upcoming games knowing how disciplined my defense can be in tight moments.

North Carolina 16, Boston College 5

Like many in the lacrosse world, I had this game circled on my calendar from the second schedules were announced this fall, and to say I was stunned with the outcome would be an understatement. I anticipated a tightly contested game between these two perennial powerhouses, but it was quite the opposite. North Carolina’s offense looked poised and smart for the full 60 minutes, the defense was unwavering against BC’s top offensive threats and its goalie play was superb. The play of UNC’s Brooklyn Walker-Welch against BC’s Jenn Medjid in particular was a masterclass in fundamental 1-v-1 defense and was the standout performance of the evening. The Tar Heels should feel every ounce of confidence as they head deeper into ACC play after such an outstanding (and somewhat shocking) victory.

Jacksonville 10, Arizona State 9 (OT)

Jacksonville always seems to make waves early in the season. The Dolphins were able to secure a huge victory over the visiting Sun Devils behind standout performances from their dynamic duo Grace Hobson and Sarah Elms, a pair that will need to continue to play well for Jacksonville during conference play. Any time there’s an overtime game, the details matter tenfold, and Jacksonville was able to confidently manage every aspect of the game on its way to victory. An overtime win at any point of the season highlights a team’s resiliency and poise, both characteristics the Dolphins will want to lean into come conference play.

Niagara 13, Binghamton 12

Led by junior Riley Latray, Niagara was able to secure a huge win over familiar foe Binghamton. Latray had seven assists, contributing heavily to the eight total assisted goals on the day. A target for most teams is to have 50 percent or more of their goals assisted, so to have so many in such a tight contest shows the trust that players have in one another and their willingness to share the ball. This unselfish play is something that Niagara will look to build on.

Denver 8, Maryland 7

Maryland had a tough week against talented zones, and Denver’s zone may be the best that the Terps will face all season. Denver’s suffocating and aggressive rover style defense troubled the Terps from the first possession and was unrelenting. The Pios were efficient on their offensive possessions as well and often utilized the full shot clock before finding solid shots at cage. Denver’s patience on offense and organized chaos on defense are a deadly combination for all teams waiting to play the Pios in the future.

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