Bracket Breakdown: NCAA Division III
|Cortland and RIT met earlier this
spring, and the two teams will be hoping for a rematch in the North
© Greg Wall
Defending national champion Salisbury cruised through the season undefeated, but the NCAA has still decided to go ahead and play out the tournament. That's a good thing, with the likes of Cortland, Stevenson, Tufts and others more than ready to take a shot at the title.
It's time to analyze the field. Here's the bracket breakdown.
The Top Seed(s)
There were a lot of difficult questions confronting the committee, but naming the top seeds in each region was not one of them. Cortland and Salisbury were the lone remaining undefeated teams and fit nicely into the top spot in the North and South regions, respectively. Each team received a bye in the first round, but they'll get a test on Saturday. Cortland takes on the winner of the Stevens-Springfield game while Salisbury has a tilt with the winner of the Washington College-Goucher affair.
Last Team In
The Camels entrance into the tourney gave the NESCAC an unprecedented four teams this spring, and it comes as a surprise. CC was 2-4 on March 28 and just 5-5 after a loss to Keene State on April 10, but, alas, five straight wins over non-NCAA teams was good enough to get Dave Cornell's troops through. This is clearly a case of the NESCAC tide raising all ships.
First Team Out
Tough to say exactly, but it was probably either Roanoke or St. Lawrence, depending on which region you're from. The ODAC was down this year (with all due respect to Lynchburg), so the Maroons needed a big non-conference win and they didn't get it. Losing to W&L in the semis robbed them of an SOS bump. It was a similar situation for SLU, but slightly more painful. The Saints had Union beat in the first half of their Liberty semifinal game before succumbing to a second half onslaught. St. Lawrence wins that and they're in. So to answer the question, I'm saying SLU.
The Gophers put together an impressive 17-1 record, including a win over Washington College, but found themselves heading to Chestertown to take on the 11-5 Shoremen again. The Centennial is a undoubtedly a power conference, but Goucher has a beef about not hosting this game.
Best First-Round Game
Springfield at Stevens
The Ducks stomped on the Pride, 11-5, in the first meeting, thanks to a defense that allowed just one Springfield goal in the final 41 minutes of the contest. That game was on March 4, however. Springfield is dripping with confidence after winning its last 10 games and owns a considerable advantage in the faceoff department.
Stevens is a more powerful team offensively, and likely wouldn't mind getting up and down with Springfield, but Keith Bugbee and his troops will be looking for a more methodical pace. Whoever controls tempo will own this one.
Seeded Too High
The Cavaliers finished with a strong record (15-2) and own a win over Gettysburg – the first in school history – but there were just three ranked teams on the slate this spring and none amidst the weak CSAC, making their fifth seed in the south a bit generous.
Seeded Too Low
As mentioned above, it's Goucher. It's probably just one seed – they're a nine-seed and WAC is an eight – but the Gophers should probably be up one peg. There is the outside possibility that the committee had to tweak a seed or two because of distance (especially if Denison was slated to face WAC), but it's still tough to swallow.
Eastern Conn. vs. Trinity
The Little East takes a backseat to the NESCAC in the region, but the Warriors are a grizzled bunch who won't be intimidated by the Bantams' pedigree. EConn also has a hot goalie in Jamie Tommins, who made a career-high 24 saves to beat Keene State in the LEC finals. Trinity is a strong squad, but they aren't exactly peaking right now. This one could be trouble.
Best Potential Matchup
Bowdoin vs. Union
Taking a peek into the second round, the possible match-up between Bowdoin and Union is enticing. The Dutchmen are known for their defense-first approach, and the Polar Bears are no stranger to grinding out games. Goals would be premium in this tilt that would probably be as physical a confrontation as the tournament will have.
Three Players to Watch
Kyle Boncaro, Goucher, Sr., Attack
With all due respect to the Landmark coaches, Boncaro should have been the pick for conference player of the year after anchoring the Gophers offense with 54 goals and 27 assists. Even when he's not producing, he's effective. In the first meeting with WAC, Boncaro only had a goal and two assists, but his presence opened up opportunities for Matt Lynch and Pierce Ingram, who both buried hat tricks.
Tyler Meth, Montclair State, Sr., Attack
Montclair State heading to Union in the first round may look like a slam dunk, but the Dutchmen will have their hands full, especially with Meth. The all-time leader in goals for the Red Hawks, Meth can produce against the big boys, including four in Montclair's one-goal loss to St. Lawrence earlier this spring. Meth will get plenty of attention in Schenectady, but he'll be the key to any Red Hawk upset hopes.
David Monroe, Adrian, Sr., Attack
Adrian might be the flagbearer for the relatively weak Midwest Lacrosse Conference, but the Bulldogs will give Denison all they can handle thanks to Monroe. A prototypical quarterback (31g, 37a), Monroe makes the offense click. Adrian went on the road and handled NCAA qualifier Kenyon, 11-4, and Monroe had three goals and two dimes. Denison scored 11 at home against the Lords and gave up six. This will be a tester for the Big Red.
Don't Be Surprised If...
...none of the Centennial teams make it to the quarterfinals. We already know Goucher can beat Washington College, Gettysburg is unlikely to get past Stevenson if it can even tame Ohio Wesleyan, and Dickinson needed a goal with six seconds left to beat Cabrini the first time around. The league had the SOS to get three teams in, but it may not have the onfield gusto to pay it off.