WD2 Bracket Breakdown: Is Eight Teams Enough?
by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com
|For the second straight year, the
PSAC champion will not play in the NCAA tournament. The new
eight-team bracket might be outdated already, writes Mark
© Lee Weissman
A record eight teams will enter the NCAA Division II women's lacrosse tournament, with the hopes of raising the championship trophy at Stevenson on May 19. You could have penciled in seven of those teams before the season began, but the tournament's only newcomer, Pfeiffer, surprised with a record-setting season and took advantage of the expanded playoff structure.
Pfeiffer edged out West Chester as the South's final seed and the other seven spots were never really in doubt, thanks to the fact that Division II's top teams tend to settle matters on the field during the regular season.
It's time to analyze the field. Here's the bracket breakdown.
The Top Seeds
LIU Post (North)
The Pioneers fell to Dowling the day before Selection Sunday last season and haven't lost since. That's a 20-game winning streak, beginning with last year's NCAA tournament. The defending champs have the most lethal one-two scoring punch in Division II, with Ashley Olen, who is second in D-II in goals (78) and Jackie Sileo, who leads D-II in assists (104) and points (149). It all adds up to D-II's second-highest scoring offense and its seventh-stingiest defense. One thing working against the Pioneers is unfamiliarity. Stonehill, LIU's first round opponent, is the only tournament team the Pioneers saw this season.
Limestone lost just one game, by one goal to Le Moyne, all season. That was way back on March 4 and the Saints have since rattled off 14 straight wins, knocking off all three other South Region playoff teams during that time. Then, just for fun, Limestone ended Florida Southern's slim playoff chances this weekend to wrap up a perfect South Region season. Senior goalie Rashelle McLellan has championship game experience and returned to the starting lineup in a big way this year, posting a Division II best 5.87 goals against average, while Chelsea Treat (60 goals) and Sarah Oor (71 assists) lead a dynamic offense.
Last Team In
Pfeiffer's surprising loss to Queens in the Conference Carolinas semifinals seemed like a season-ender, but Pfeiffer still had a good enough resume to edge West Chester for the South's final spot. Working in the Falcon's favor was a superior overall record, a superior record against teams with a winning percentage above .750, and a superior record against common opponents (Pfeiffer beat Le Moyne, West Chester did not).
First Team Out
The Rams were undone by four losses during a brutal stretch in mid-April. All four of those losses came to NCAA tournament teams. West Chester later beat an NCAA tournament team, Lock Haven in the PSAC Championship game, but it was not enough.
If you go by the selection criteria, Pfeiffer had the better resume, so it's not really a snub. But when a team can win the South's most competitive conference, lose only to NCAA tournament teams, and miss out on the tourney, there's something wrong with the system. Division II is growing every year. This is the second consecutive year that the PSAC champion is sitting at home. The brand new eight-team bracket might be outdated already.
Best First-Round Game
Lock Haven at Rollins
This is the only first-round game that isn't a rematch from the regular season and it's an intriguing one. Lock Haven is the only PSAC team dancing this season, so they'll be representing the entire Keystone State when they head to Florida to face the Tars. It's Division II lacrosse's version of new south versus old south and it should come down to the wire.
Seeded Too High
In most cases (Le Moyne over Adelphi, LIU Post over Stonehill, Limestone over everyone) the teams above beat the teams below. For others the transitive property can be employed. Rollins beat West Chester, which beat Lock Haven, so Rollins gets the two seed. Nice when it works out that way.
Seeded Too Low
Le Moyne played one of the country's toughest schedules, and had the Dolphins gone undefeated in regional play they could have had an argument for the North's top seed. But they lost to Bentley on St. Patrick's Day, so unbeaten LIU Post is North's the undisputed No. 1 seed.
Adelphi vs. Le Moyne
Here's something you'd never expect a few years ago: A Division II team has beaten Adelphi three times in the past two seasons. That team is Le Moyne. But both losses this season have come by two goals, and it's difficult to beat a team three times in one year. Then again, for motivation, Le Moyne needs only to look at 2011, when Adelphi beat the Dolphins three times.
Best Potential Matchup
LIU Post vs. Adelphi (North Region Finals)
The regular season seemed incomplete without a showdown between these two Long Island rivals. They're also the two highest-scoring teams in the NCAA tournament. LIU Post beat Adelphi twice last season, but you can bet Adelphi wouldn't mind getting a chance to play the Pioneers again this year.
Three Players to Watch
Elyse De Lisle, Rollins, Jr. G
Rollins plays an uptempo style, subbing constantly and using everyone on the bench. One player who never leaves the field is De Lisle, the Tars' athletic goalkeeper who often functions as 12th field player. The Sunshine State native will also be playing the first-round game just a half hour from her home of Windermere, Fla.
Sarah Oor, Limestone, Jr. A
Gaffney, S.C., has been a destination for Canadian men's and women's lacrosse players for some time now. Few have had as big of an impact as Oor, who broke Limestone's single-season point record this season and ranks fourth in Division II in points (106) and third in assists (71). Oor had four assists the first time Limestone played Queens.
Jackie Sileo, LIU Post, Jr. M
Sileo made this list last year and went on the break the NCAA championship game record with nine points. After a sophomore the season like that, there didn't seem to be much she could for an encore, but Sileo has found a way. Sileo broke the NCAA career scoring mark earlier this season and leads the country in assists (104) and points (149).
Don't Be Surprised If...
We crown a first-time champion. LIU Post is the favorite heading
in, but there are five teams that never won the title this year and
all seem capable of winning it all. Le Moyne has reached the North
Region championship game every year since joining Division II and
are capable of winning it all. West Chester, the only South Region
team to ever win the tournament, isn't in, but Limestone, Rollins,
Lock Haven and Pfeiffer all look capable of joining that exclusive
club this year.