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Around the Ivies: men's lacrosse table looks highly competitive at the top

Only one week of play into the 2014 Ivy League season, is it too early to rank the Ancient Seven (minus Columbia, who have yet to institute a varsity side)? For sports writers, there is no such thing as too early. Considering week one performances as well as preseason rankings, we give you our take on the league’s standings:

(This article was published before the conclusion of games on the evening of Tues., Feb. 25)

  1. Princeton (1-0): With one win under their belts, the Tigers retain their No. 9 NCAA national ranking this week. The team is replete with veteran leadership, including all-world – hyperbolic but valid – midfielder Tom Schreiber and all-America honorable mention attackman Mike MacDonald. The two seniors combined for seven goals Saturday against Hofstra. While the young defense struggled to hold back the attack of the visiting Pride, this team has the makings of an Ivy League champion and NCAA contender. The question will be: Can they hang with the powerhouses of the East during the regular season and beyond?
  2. Yale (1-0): The Bulldogs, holding a comfortable lead for much of the game, knocked off No. 19 St. John’s. As a result, the Connecticut side jumped one spot to No. 12 in the national rankings. The two-time reigning Ivy League tournament champions pulled off a first-round win in the NCAA tournament last year over Penn State and held tight with top-ranked Syracuse in a 7-6 quarterfinal loss. Faceoff specialist Dylan Levings will continue to frustrate opponents with his prime form at the X.
  3. Cornell (1-0): Having graduated one of the greatest-ever college laxers in attackman Rob Pannell, the Big Red will struggle to replace one of last year’s top senior classes. Nonetheless, No. 15 Cornell’s roster still features plenty of talent, including unanimous first-team all-Ivy and second-team All-America selection Connor Buczek. His goal total from the midfield ranked only third on his team but seventh in the Ivy League in per-game average. It is difficult to imagine that such a strong program will take too much of a step back following its perfect regular season Ivy campaign last year.
  4. Penn (0-1): There is no shame whatsoever in losing to No. 1 Duke in Durham on opening day. In fact, the No. 20 ranked Quakers should take pride in the fact that they kept the Blue Devils’ lead to just two goals for most of the contest. Senior leadership will be key for this team, with three Inside Lacrosse preseason honorable mention All-Americas playing in their final year in Philly. No. 6 ranked Denver comes to town next Saturday. If the Quakers can pull off an upset, they should surely be considered a contender for the Ivy title.
  5. Brown (1-0): Attackman Dylan Molloy won Ivy League Rookie of the Week for his four-goal effort against Quinnipiac. He will add to a prolific attack unit led by Henry Blynn, whose 27 goals last year led the team. One of their biggest challenges of the season will come next week in a home matchup against No. 13 UMass. The Bears will stay competitive in the league but, along with the next three on this list, are unlikely to compete for a league title.
  6. Harvard (0-1): Their opponent’s three games played to the Crimson’s zero may mean that early-season rust contributed to an 8-6 loss to in-state rivals UMass. Devin Dwyer as attack was one of last year’s top Ivy League rookies, and it is hoped that he will be looked to lead his team’s offense. With games against ranked opponents Albany, UNC and Duke, a winning season is probably not in the cards for the men of Cambridge.
  7. Dartmouth (0-1): Though the Big Green tends to sit at the bottom of the Ivy League rankings, it pulled off a gritty 10-9 win against Princeton last year, which significantly altered the league picture. If it can remain competitive at home, it will have a chance to approach a .500 record. Finding consistent offensive production will likely frustrate the Dartmouth squad, as it graduated two of its top goal scorers in Chris Costabile and Nikki Dysenchuk.
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