May 15, 2013

Men's Division III Quarterfinal Breakdown

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Tyler White (13) and Dickinson head coach Dave Webster will have their hands full when they entertain defending national champion Salisbury on Wednesday.
© Kevin P. Tucker

Only eight teams remain and every one of them still has a puncher's chance of getting to Philadelphia. How are the programs preparing for Wednesday's opponents? I asked each coach three questions in hopes of formulating my picks for the quarterfinals.

Tufts (16-4) at RIT (17-2), 4:30 p.m.

Tufts head coach Mike Daly

Who stands out the most for RIT?
"Their whole team. I have so much respect and admiration for their program. They have the same philosophical approach to the game. I think everybody there plays fast. I was just on the phone with Jake [Coon] and I couldn't be more happy that the four teams left in the North are four of the best coaches and guys — well, three of them; I'm not going to throw myself in there. For me it's a great time of the year and to be doing it against three of the best guys out there and to be in that company is pretty special."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"Just the courage [the players] have and the accountability they have. It's like no other team that I've coached. I just have so much respect for their courage and accountability to themselves. They just keep persevering through any challenge that comes their way."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"Just have a complete game. Obviously we had a 10-1 run in the second half and at the end of 35 minutes we were down 8-4. That's what's terrifying about this business. Most of our breakdowns were stick-skill related. Throwing and catching errors. Obviously, Stevens Tech put a ton of pressure on us and forced us to make those throws and catches, but at this time of year you have to be able to do that because everyone is going to put pressure on you from here on out."

RIT head coach Jake Coon

Who stands out the most for Tufts?
"Which guy doesn't? Certainly those two attackmen are fantastic, [Cole] Bailey and [Beau] Wood. They are both great. We're going to contain those two, for sure, but in the past their middies have done a great job against us. I see their offense as a huge threat. We'll have to play some solid defense and limit their possessions. It seems like we always get into an up-and-down battle with these guys, which is OK with us, but we just have to come up with some ground balls and faceoffs."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"I'm glad the guys handled a little bit of adversity. We were losing in the third period and they kind of fought through it and stuck with the game plan and showed a great sign that they can come to play when they want to. I haven't seen a 12-1 run in a long time, and that was huge for us, especially against a team like that. I'm just proud of the guys for sticking with it and continuing to grind."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"We need to tighten up on defense. I'm comfortable with our defense and I like our defense, and they've played great all year, but we're going to see a potent offense again on Wednesday and we're going to need to tighten some things up with our team and individual defense. That's probably the biggest thing. We won faceoffs, we played great on offense, we finished our shots and we were dodging hard, we just need to tighten some things up."

* * *

These two North titans have met the last two seasons, once in the quarterfinals ('12) and once in the semis ('11), and the Jumbos have come out on top each time. In both of those games, RIT and Tufts combined for 28 goals, and there's very little to make me believe we won't be in the same ballpark this year. It's not that these teams don't have good defenses. Both have shown a proclivity for high-level stinginess on the backline, but it rarely occurs for extended periods of time. RIT and Tufts both got railroaded at various points by Cabrini and Stevens, respectively, on Saturday.

As Coon noted above, this game is about possessions, and it starts with faceoffs. I've been harping on Tufts' lack of production at the dot (46.5 percent as a team) for a while, and the Jumbos will be going against the duo of Tyler Brooks-Lambert (63.4%) and P.J. Hart (53.0%). Fortunately for Tufts, it got rocked on Saturday by Stevens on the draws (the Ducks were also sub-.500), but still managed to coast to a victory. Having recently been admitted to Harvard dental school, Tufts faceoff man Brian Ruggiero is a man in full, and that mojo will grab the Jumbos an extra few draws. But not enough.

Prediction: RIT, 13-11.

Salisbury (16-5) at Dickinson (18-0), 4 p.m.

Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman

Who stands out the most for Dickinson?
"[Brian] Cannon is their best guy on attack and he's the guy who scores the most goals and [Matt] Cherry does the most for them out of the midfield. Cherry is a senior and Cannon is a junior, so they've been around the block and they've started every year they've been there."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"Obviously, our defense. To hold a team of that caliber [Washington & Lee] to four goals in a playoff game? I just thought we played some great team defense. Our short-stick defensive middies were outstanding."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"We've obviously got to score more goals. We got out of the gate quick and we scored four really nice goals and jumped on them. And then we had three or four more great looks when their goalie came up huge. We literally could have had six or seven. We kind of shut down for a little bit and then in the third quarter, we totally dominated the game. We outshot them 15-2, but we only had one goal because they came up with some huge saves. We're going to need more than seven goals. We need 10 on Wednesday."

Dickinson head coach Dave Webster

Who stands out the most for Salisbury?
"Tough to come up with just one. Their faceoff guy is very talented and imposing physically. You see that in the possessions all the time. They are athletic with good size and they are aggressive all over."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"I like that we responded well during a challenging week with exams. It's a grind. Being a student-athlete is a grind and I think our guys responded well. We had a slow start, but we got better throughout the game and everybody contributed."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"We've learned to focus really well on the challenge at hand. It was just getting the guys centered again for this next challenge and keeping it all about our effort in this one game."

* * *

Picking against the Sea Gulls can be a fool's errand as last week demonstrated, and they are a frightening matchup for the Red Devils. But there's no getting around how well Dickinson is playing right now. The Devils advance, but not easily.

Prediction: Dickinson, 10-8.

Lynchburg (14-5) at Stevenson (19-2), 7 p.m.

Lynchburg head coach Steve Koudelka

Who stands out the most for Stevenson?

Elliot Cowburn and the RIT defense will once again be put to the test when the high-flying Tufts offense comes calling on Wednesday.
© RIT Athletics

"[Callum Robinson], their big defenseman. He seems like he has turned into a great player as the year has gone on. We played them at the end of March, and obviously I thought he was good that night that we played them, but he's someone that we have to plan around a little bit. He seems like he has a great year and everyone I talk to speaks very highly of him. He is playing his best lacrosse right now."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"Our best players played their best game. We've been trying, or hoping, that they'd do that in the biggest games, and sometimes they have and sometimes they haven't. I thought for the most part, Vin Curran, Max Voumard and the midfield played great. I thought John Gill and our defense played great. I thought our goalie played great. And Pat Ohrem and the attack played really well. You give yourself the best chance to win when those guys are playing their best lacrosse."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"We're still struggling on the man-up. We were 1-for-4 when it really counted. We were 1-for-5, but one came late in the game when we didn't even go to goal. I think that 25 percent, if we can bump that number up a little bit, that would be great. And I think our man-down defense. At this time of year, those are two factors that play a big part in the game. I don't think we played great man-down defense on Saturday, and that was disturbing because we had been playing great to that point. We'll get back to the drawing board and clear that up a little bit."

Stevenson head coach Paul Cantabene

Who stands out the most for Lynchburg?
"Their first midfield is very good. [Campbell] Armstrong, [Max] Voumard and [Vin] Curran are all very good midfielders and they play hard. They are the heart of that team. They make a lot of plays between the lines, on offense and on defense. They are very tough and they get the job done for them. They play like 80 percent of the time for them, so they just do a great job."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"Just the grittiness we showed to come back and really take over the fourth quarter. When the game was on the line, we played great. We've learned a lot throughout the year about to play in the fourth quarter and we are just doing a better job of it now. We showed it in our Widener game; we showed it in this game. We're playing better in the fourth quarter. Winning games instead of losing games."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"We need to play a little better defense. We gave up some easier goals than we should have and I think our goalie needs to play better. More consistent throughout the game. We had to pull Dimitri [Pecunes] and get him out so he could get his head straight. He needs to play a little bit better, and I think it will."

* * *

Stevenson won the first meeting between the two teams back on March 30, 12-11, in overtime. The Mustangs held an 11-7 lead with four minutes to play, but the Hornets came charging back with four straight goals, including a Derek Sweet marker with 39 ticks left to send it to extra time. This should be another physical affair, not unlike the Stevenson-Washington College matchup, and that favors the 'Stangs.

Prediction: Stevenson, 12-10.

Western New England (13-6) at Cortland (18-0), 6 p.m.

Western New England head coach John Klepacki

Who stands out the most for Cortland?
"Cody [Consul] at attack, Joe [Slavik] in the midfield and [Brian Winterfeldt], the defenseman, who didn't play against us in the first game. Those are guys who have had pretty big impacts in the past couple of years when we've played against them."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"I thought the guys played with good poise. They came out from the beginning, were able to compete and we got an early advantage. But when Nazareth answered, I don't think they got rattled. The experience from the season and the composure that they developed throughout the year, they dug in. We had some moments at the beginning of the year when we rushed back to get momentum, and I thought they played with a lot of poise. When the game is played back and forth, being able to settle down and create some opportunities for themselves. Right now, the way we're playing, we're trying to create opportunities for the offensive group, and not just individuals. That's why a lot of different guys are stepping up. This is the most balanced offensive team that I've had in the NCAA tournament. In the past, we've had one or two guys where they had to make plays or our run was done."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"Cortland is such an athletic team and the physicality they play with and their team speed, just being able to match that. Making clear decisions, especially in the clearing game. Get some transition opportunities for us and not allowing them to run, because they run very well."

Cortland head coach Steve Beville

Who stands out the most for Western New England?
"They move guys around and it's kind of what they've done through the years. They move guys from attack to middie and from middie to attack. They are playing real well right now with [Sean] Lawton and [Jon] Bota. Those two have really stepped it up for them recently. Overall, it's their athletic ability. As a team, they have a lot of good athletes and they get up and down the field really well."

What did you like the most about your second round performance?
"The way that we came out at the start of the game. The guys had prepared and did a great job jumping on them right off the bat, which got us off to a quick lead. That was probably the best part of our game. We got a little undisciplined a bit during the second half. That's something that we'll work in."

What needs the most attention after your second round performance?
"Like I said, we just have to lock some things down on defense. We were a little undisciplined there a few times. It's not going to get it done for the future rounds."

* * *

Let's grind. Every possession will be both a chess match and a test of the players' manhood as these two familiar foes will be putting their defenses on display. As proficient as Western New England is at the grind game, no one does it better than Red Dragons.

Prediction: Cortland, 8-5.


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