With the lacrosse world constantly being shaken up by big upsets and heartbreaking losses, this week provides an opportunity for a lot of teams to prove themselves. Some teams are looking to widen their conference leads, while others are trying to claw back from early-season losses as they strive to make the NCAA tournament.
With no more undefeated teams in lacrosse, the field is wide open. It seems like nobody is safe, and even the traditional powerhouses are struggling in 2013.
Here are my predictions for this week's match-ups:
Wagner @ Robert Morris: Wagner, at 1-6 this year, is struggling to say the least. Robert Morris is 4-4 and has six players with over 10 points so far. Wagner's defense will struggle in this one. Robert Morris wins 14-8.
Dartmouth @ Cornell: A big game for Cornell as they look to stay perfect in conference play. Dartmouth has talent but is inconsistent. Look for Cornell to take a hold of the face-off X, and for Steve Mock to have another big day. Cornell wins 13-6.
VMI @ Marist: VMI has yet to win a game in 2013, as Marist is quietly having a terrific season. Marist is 6-1 so far, but it should be mentioned that their strength of schedule is terrible. VMI will struggle on the road. Marist wins 18-5.
Air Force @ Michigan: Air Force had a three-goal lead on Denver earlier this week. Even though they lost the game, they had to have gained confidence after playing it tough with a Top-5 team. Michigan is very good for a first-year program, but Air Force should take care of business. Air Force wins 10-6.
Johns Hopkins @ North Carolina: Huge game for two teams that are looking to play at a high level late in the season. Both teams have huge wins and terrible losses, so this is a chance for a statement to be made.
UNC is coming off of a Wednesday night win over Brown, so fatigue could play a role. UNC's defense has looked vulnerable this year as well. Hopkins midfield goes wild, outscoring the UNC attack. Hopkins wins 15-13.
Stony Brook @ Vermont: Stony Brook is 5-4, while UVM is 3-6. Stony Brook certainly misses Kevin Crowley but is still a good team. Stony Brook wins 8-5.
Delaware @ Drexel: Drexel is ranked in the Top 15 and certainly don't want to move backwards. Delaware is having a disappointing season this year, sitting on a 2-7 record right now. Drexel is proving to be a real contender, as they win this one 13-7.
St John's @ Notre Dame: St. John's offense is rolling this season, as they are becoming a scary team to face. Notre Dame is finally No. 1 in the country, and know not to overlook the Red Storm. ND barely escaped with a one-goal win at Rutgers last weekend, so I expect this one to be close as well.
Look for Kieran McArdle to have a big day for St. John's; he is a true talent. Notre Dame wins a tight one in the end; let's call it 12-11.
Yale @ Penn: Having seen both teams in person this season, I have been impressed with both of these squads. Penn pushes transition well, and Yale will lean on Brandon Mangan to continue his hot streak this year on offense.
In a tight Ivy League race, this game is a must-win for both teams. I think it will be close, but Penn is just too good at home. They will defend Franklin Field and take this one 8-7.
Sacred Heart @ Mount St. Mary's: Mount St. Mary's is 4-6 so far with big wins against Bucknell and Georgetown already on their resume. Not a tournament team this year, but certainly on their way. Sacred Heart is 0-8, and I do not see them getting their first win in this one. The Mount wins it 15-4.
UMass @ St. Joseph's: UMass has big wins over UNC and Lehigh, while St. Joseph's is 4-6 against weak competition. UMass wins this one in Philadelphia by a score of 13-6.
Navy @ Lehigh: Navy has been inconsistent, falling from being one of the most prominent programs in the country. Lehigh has been on the rise and looks to make a run at the tournament this year. Lehigh wins it 10-7.
Denver @ Hobart: Denver's offense is scary good this year. They move the ball fast, they run fast, and they shoot fast. They are fast. Look for them to get back on track after having to rally to beat an inferior Air Force squad. Denver wins 15-7.
Holy Cross @ Bucknell: Bucknell suffered an 11-3 loss at the hands of Penn State this week after finding themselves in the top-10 this past week. They must win this game to keep pace in the Patriot League. Look for goalie Kyle Feeney to have a big day for Bucknell as he looks to get back on track. Bucknell wins 13-10.
Brown @ Princeton: Princeton looks to stay close to Cornell in the Ivy League standings at home this weekend when they host Brown.
Brown is coming off a 18-12 loss to UNC Wednesday night, a game in which their offense looked good. This one could be high scoring if Brown continues shooting the ball well. Princeton offense has too many weapons for Brown to handle. Princeton wins 14-10.
Detroit @ Jacksonville: Detroit sits at 1-6 this season, while Jacksonville is 4-3. Neither team can score at a high rate; look for Jacksonville to take this one 6-3.
Bellarmine @ Fairfield: Bellarmine has seen stellar goaltending get them national attention this year. Dillon Ward has recorded an astounding 70 percent save rate as he leads Bellarmine to their 6-2 record. Fairfield is 6-3 and having a good year also, but scoring on Ward will be tough. Bellarmine wins 10-5.
Loyola @ Ohio State: Loyola, the defending national champions, have a huge game against Ohio State this weekend. Ohio State has already beaten Virginia this year, showing they aren't scared to win big games. Loyola wins a close one away from home, 13-9.
UMBC @ Hartford: Both teams have losing records thus far, with UMBC underachieving this year. UMBC has talent on the roster, and have lost close games to big opponents. Look for UMBC's Maryland-rich talent to show in this one. Terriers win it, 13-8.
Maryland @ Virginia: A huge game for Maryland as they look to right the ship after a loss to UNC at home last weekend. Virginia needs a win here to stay in the talk for a tournament bid. With their senior captain out for the year, so too are the Cavaliers' chances at a tourney run. Maryland wins one in Charlottesville 16-6.
Quinnipiac @ Bryant: Quinnipiac won three straight to start the season, but have since lost four-straight. This is a big chance for them to get a win, as Bryant is 1-8 with a lone win over Stony Brook earlier this year. Quinnipiac wins a sloppy game 9-5.
Manhattan @ Siena: Both teams enter the game with 2-7 records, and neither looks to be the clear favorite in this one. Having seen Manhattan in person this year, and liking their goalie play, I will take them on the road 8-7.
Albany @ Binghamton: Albany is a quality program but has struggled with consistency against good teams on their way to a 5-3 record. Binghamton comes in a 4-4, and looks to make a statement at home. I do not see Albany losing this rivalry game; they take it 12-5.
Providence @ Rutgers: Providence started the season well but has slipped up as of late. Rutgers is having a bad season but played well against Notre Dame last weekend. Look for Rutgers to stop the losing streak and finally break through. Rutgers wins 11-9.
Penn State @ Villanova: Penn State has just beaten Bucknell, and Villanova has recently beaten Syracuse. Big wins for these two squads. Villanova is better than their record, and Penn State is playing great lacrosse. Penn State wins their second in-state game of the week 10-7.
Hofstra @ Towson: Hofstra was in the top-10 before dropping two straight games and subsequently plummeting down the polls. Towson is a talented team that is playing better and has won close games. I think Towson steals one in Baltimore, 9-7 over the Pride.
Duke @ Harvard: Duke looks to keep pace in the ACC, which is looking more difficult as the weeks move on. Harvard has lost talent in recent years, and hasn't replaced it through recruiting. Duke wins this one 15-8.
Army @ Colgate: This game pits two of the best offensive players in the Patriot League against each other. Colgate's Peter Baum is the defending player of the year, as Army's Garrett Thul can score with the best in the nation. Baum's supporting cast is clearly better, Colgate wins 12-7.
High Point @ Mercer: Two teams look to build programs as they face each other this weekend. High Point has been surprisingly good and has played tough in every game. They beat Mercer 8-3.