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MLAX: Back of the Net – Feb. 24

Feb 24, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

The CAA men’s lacrosse team’s found it and so did you, the Back of the Net, here we are again –  it’s the third week of the 2014 season and it has been turning out to be a thrilling one so far. The league saw teams go 5-2 on the week, including a pair of road victories over nationally-ranked teams. Then-ranked No. 12 Penn State marched into South Bend, Ind., and captured an 8-7 win over No. 4 Notre Dame, while Drexel, who was receiving votes in both polls, also earned a one-point road win over #11 Albany, 14-13. The two losses that came on the week went to ranked teams, as Towson fell to #9 Loyola and Hofstra fell to #10 Princeton.

Senior attack Shane Sturgis led Penn State to its road victory over nationally-ranked Notre Dame with five goals and an assist for six points. He connected on 5-of-7 shots (71.4%) and picked up three ground balls in the process. Sturgis was a factor in six of PSU’s eight goals and registered his third game in a row with at least three goals.  He was awarded CAA Player of the Week for the second time this season. Sturgis was joined by Drexel’s Cole Shafer who was named CAA Rookie of the Week after helping the Dragons to their 14-13 road win over nationally-ranked Albany. Shafer dished out five assists and scored one goal to earn his second consecutive weekly honor from the league.  To read more about these student-athletes, check out the CAA Men’s Lacrosse Weekly Report on CAASports.com.

With the stellar overall week, three teams were ranked in the two national polls. Penn State and Massachusetts continued to improved in the polls, while Drexel made its first appearance this season. The Nittany Lions jumped to No. 9 in the USILA Coaches Poll with the huge victory over Notre Dame, while UMass improved to No. 13 after a 3-0 start. Drexel entered the poll at No. 15 with the win over Albany, who has now started the season 0-2. In the most recent Warrior/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll, PSU was ranked 10th, while the Minutemen followed at 13th and the Dragons at 16th.

Last week, the Senior CLASS Award released its 20 candidates for men’s lacrosse and the CAA was proud to have a pair of student-athletes recognized. Towson’s Thomas DeNapoli and Penn State’s Austin Kaut were two of 20 seniors that have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. For the full list check out the Senior CLASS Award website. The candidate class will be narrowed down to 10 finalists midway through the regular season and the award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Lacrosse Championships in Baltimore, May 24-26.

source:  The first NCAA national ranking summary (click on the photo to the left to access the full NCAA report) came out today and man, the CAA was boasting with some great numbers for both team and individual leaders. Penn State’s Shane Sturgis is averaging 4.67 goals per game, just three games into the season, to lead the nation in scoring. Drexel’s Nick Trizano follows in the CAA with 3.50 gpg in just two outings (12th nationally), while UMass rookie Nick Mariano leads the team with 3.0 gpg and is tied for third in the league with PSU’s TJ Sanders (3.0 gpg) – ranked 18th in the nation. Sturgis also leads the nation with 6.00 points per outing, while Drexel rookie Cole Shafer is second in the league with 5.50 ppg (8th nationally) as he leads the league in assists with 3.00 apg (7th in the NCAA). UMass’ Zach Oliveri is the league’s top goalkeeper early in the season with a 6.53 goal against average, .636 save percentage and 11.67 saves per game. Drexel’s Nick Saputo leads the conference in faceoff percentage winning 66 percent. Full national rankings listed on page 5 of the CAA Men’s Lacrosse Weekly Report. To check out the full report of CAA Men’s Lacrosse statistics, check out CAASports.com.