May 4, 2012

Ten to Watch: One Last Time Before Selection Sunday

by LaxMagazine.com staff

As you can see below, our single-elimination playoff bracket starts this weekend with the top four regular-season finishers getting byes into the quarterfinals. For the lacrosse playing nation, the playoffs start in earnest next week. But before then, teams have one more go-around to make their national postseason, either by winning a conference tournament AQ or making a case for an at-large.

Follow the weekend's action here at laxmagazine.com. All Times Eastern.


VS.
    

VS.
  

VS.
  
VS.
Overall 
 65-45    62-48   67-43   58-52    
66-44
  60-50   65-45   62-48
Seed

No. 8

  No. 9

  No. 5

  No. 12

  No. 6

  No. 11

  No. 7
  No. 10

M:ADL-MER ADL   MER   MER   MER   MER   ADL   ADL   MER
                               

W:COR-DAR

DAR

 

COR

 

COR

 

COR

 

COR

 

COR

 

COR

 

COR

M:YALE-COR

COR

 

COR

 

COR

 

COR

 

COR

  COR  

COR

 

COR

M:LOY-FAIR

LOY

 

LOY

 

LOY

 

LOY

 

LOY

 

LOY

 

LOY

 

LOY

W:HAR-PEN

PEN

 

PEN

 

PEN

  PEN  

PEN

 

PEN

 

PEN

 

PEN

M:MD-GATE

MD

 

MD

 

MD

 

MD

 

GATE

 

MD

 

MD

 

GATE

M:ALB-SBU

SBU

 

SBU

 

SBU

 

SBU

 

ALB

 

ALB

 

SBU

 

ALB

W:NAV-ORE

NAV

 

NAV

 

ORE

 

NAV

   

NAV

 

NAV

     

NAV

 

NAV

M:DRX-MAS

MASS

 

MAS

 

MAS

 

MAS

 

MAS

 

MAS

 

MAS

 

DRX

M:LIM-DOW

DOW

 

LIM

 

DOW

 

DOW

 

DOW

 

DOW

 

DOW

 

DOW

 

Winner Plays


 

 

No. 1
 71-39

   

 

 

No. 4
68-42

   

 

 

No. 3
69-41 

   

 

 

No. 2
70-40 


MD2: No. 5 Adelphi (13-2) at No. 6 Merrimack (12-2), 4 p.m. Friday

Northeast-10 Semifinal

The North region needs a Hail Mary to get the Wild Card - a loss by Dowling to Limestone on Sunday and one of these two teams to defeat Le Moyne in the Northeast-10 championship game on the same day - but that just might be secondary in this game. These two programs have built a healthy rivalry over the last couple of years, and while there is certainly a respect level between the two, there is also an undercurrent that would lead one to believe they don't particularly care for each all that much. While the chance to unseat Le Moyne is the obvious goal, the winner will take a healthy dose of satisfaction for vanquishing an unloved foe.


In the last nine games, Adelphi has kept their opponent under six goals all but once. I'm guessing you can see where I'm going with this. The weird thing is Merrimack is far from a run-and-gun team - a style the Panthers typically thrive against - yet the Warriors dominated in the first meeting with a 50-19 shot advantage and a 45-27 edge in ground balls during the 12-8 victory. And don't blame AU goalie Eric Jannsen; he made 15 saves in that game.

It started with Nick Maggio's domination on faceoffs, which combined with the Warriors ball control system, turned the game into a shooting gallery on the Adelphi end. Throw in the strong defensive effort by Merrimack that held Joe Vitale to just two shots and one assist, and the Panthers didn't have a chance. Despite Adelphi's strong postseason performance last year, it's tough envisioning anything changing from the first meeting.


WD1: No. 10 Cornell (11-4) vs. No. 13 Dartmouth (10-4), 5 p.m. Friday

Ivy League Semifinal at Penn

When the Big Red met the Big Green on April 7, they played to a halftime tie before Dartmouth broke out with a 7-1 run in the second period and held on for 12-10 win. Senior Kirsten Goldberg had an exceptional shooting day with five goals on six shots. The Big Green enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed thanks to a tie-breaking win over Penn earlier in the season, but it's currently on a two-game skid that they'll hope to break in pursuit of their first Ivy League tournament championship.

Cornell enters the contest on a three-game winning streak, keyed by an attack that averages 14.50 goals per game. The Big Red's defense is less settled. Head coach Jenny Graap has been giving freshman Carly Gniewek and junior Courtney Gallagher some significant minutes in the cage, although she hasn't given either one a permanent starting spot over senior Kyla Dambach (.641 save percentage).

This game will feature the meeting of the Ivy League's two Tewaaraton candidates, seniors Jessi Steinberg and Sarah Plumb. Steinberg leads Cornell in goals (44) and assists (20). Plumb leads Dartmouth in goals (33), assists (11) and draw controls (71).

MD1: No. 15 Yale (9-4) vs. No. 13 Cornell (9-3), 5 p.m. Friday

Ivy League Semifinal at Princeton

The Big Red's road to the NCAA tournament starts against Yale, as Cornell is likely on the outside looking in at making this year's bracket and will need to win the Ivy League Tournament to qualify. Cornell has made eight straight trips to the big show, but is at risk of missing the field after losing back-to-back conference games to Brown and Princeton. Of course, the Big Red opened the year as Lacrosse Magazine's fourth-ranked team in the preseason, but they've played most of the year without all-everything attackman Rob Pannell.

Yale is riding a seven-game win streak and hasn't lost since dropping consecutive one-goal games to Cornell and Princeton. The Bulldogs out-shot Cornell, picked up more ground balls and won the faceoff battle in the March 17 matchup, but lost where it matters most: 8-7 on the scoreboard. Cornell has won each of the last 14 meetings between the teams, which includes an 11-7 victory in the 2011 Ivy League Championship.

MD1: No. 3 Loyola (13-1) vs. No. 16 Fairfield (12-3), 6 p.m. Friday

ECAC Championship at Denver

Loyola escaped Fairfield on April 7 with an 8-6 win after trailing by two goals in the fourth quarter. "We're lucky to get out of here with one," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. Meanwhile, the Stags felt they gave the game away with sloppy play and turnovers. Fairfield got bit of big-game redemption two weeks later at home when they came from behind to vanquish Denver in overtime. "There's been too many times this year where we've lost a big game like that," said Fairfield goalie Charlie Cipriano. They turned the corner, but how far will the road go? The Stags beat Ohio State in the ECAC semifinals, less than a week after the Buckeyes beat them to end the regular season. Now, Loyola is back on the radar after the Greyhounds won an OT thriller on Denver's home turf in Wednesday's second semifinal. With a win, the Stags would make their third NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2005. Loyola should be in either way.


Success can be a double-edged sword for many of the non-elite programs. At the same time that a school like Fairfield is celebrating an NCAA berth – which it hopes to receive via either the AQ or at-large route this weekend – it must also begin worrying about a raid on its pantry. Now in his fourth season, former Maryland assistant Andy Copelan has put the Stags into the national discussion. But that also puts Copelan into the national discussion when jobs start opening at schools that can offer fatter contracts to its coaches. Is it fair? No. But it's the marketplace at work.

 


The ECAC has delivered one of the more fascinating and competitive conference races this season. At one point this year the conference had just as many teams in the top 15 as the ACC. Fairfield will have to mentally get over its late collapse against Loyola in the regular season if it wants to throw a wrench into the selection committee's job on Sunday. This one's in Denver after both played on Wednesday. Which team recovers better?


WD1: Harvard (9-6) at No. 9 Penn (8-6), 8 p.m. Friday

Ivy League Semifinals at Penn

The Crimson blew a 10-5 lead against Penn in the regular season, and ended up losing, 14-13, in overtime. It may be tougher going for the Quakers this time, as Harvard freshman goalie Kelly Weis has settled into her job and held opponents to single digits for five straight games, most recently in a 7-5 upset of Dartmouth. Weis is fifth in the nation in GAA (7.54). She'll have her work cut out for her, though, versus sharp-shooting Penn (.494 shooting overall). Erin Brennan leads the Quakers in goals (29) but is also Penn's primary distributor, dishing out 23 assists.

MD1: No. 6 Maryland (9-4) at No. 11 Colgate (12-3), 1 p.m. Saturday

Both Colgate and Maryland appear to have sufficiently secured NCAA tournament at-large berths, given their overall resumes and bodies of work, though Colgate could be close to the ever-tightening bubble. But postseason seeding — specifically a chance to host a first-round game — and momentum building will be at stake Saturday, as these teams meet just more than 24 hours before the NCAA Selection Committee finalizes the bracket.

The Terrapins won consecutive games over Mount St. Mary's and Bellarmine after losing to Duke 6-5 in the ACC Tournament two weekends ago, while the Raiders have won five of their last six — the loss came Sunday against Lehigh, 16-14, in the thrilling Patriot League Championship. A year ago Colgate spoiled Maryland's Senior Day, topping the Terps 10-8 at Byrd Stadium in the regular-season finale, as Peter Baum totaled two goals and an assist.

MD1: Albany (5-10) at Stony Brook (6-9), 3 p.m. Saturday

America East Championship

Jim Nagle's homecoming to Long Island didn't get off to a stellar start - a 1-7 record after eight games, but the first-year Stony Brook coach has turned things around. The Seawolves have won five of their last seven games with both losses coming in overtime. Ironically, a Stony Brook win here sends the Seawolves to the NCAA tournament, something last year's mega-hyped Stony Brook unit (including a Lacrosse Magazine cover) couldn't accomplish. Redshirt freshman Mike Rooney has come on to lead the offense and junior Sean Brady, a Duke transfer, has been solid in goal. A big area of concern is faceoffs, where the Seawolves are winning below a 38 percent clip. Albany began this season with high expectations, but then proceeded to lose seven straight games out of the gates. Like Stony Brook, Albany has turned things around, and might have played its most complete game of the season in blowing out UMBC, 19-8, in the America East semifinals. A key for Albany will be spreading the wealth. Joe Resetarits (41), Miles Thompson (30), Ty Thompson (28), Lyle Thompson (16) have combined for 115 goals - the rest of the team has just 29.

WD1: Navy (17-2) at Oregon (14-4), 4 p.m. Saturday

NCAA Play-In Game

Navy and Oregon have never played in women's lacrosse, but the Mids are in familiar territory in a NCAA play-in game. This is the third straight year Navy has had a play-in game and they've won their previous two times – beating Sacred Heart 12-2 in 2010 and Quinnipiac 20-5 last season. Oregon, meanwhile, is playing in the postseason for the first time in school history after beating Stanford 13-10 to win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship. Oregon goalie Caroline Federighi ranks seventh in the country with a 49.6 save percentage and was the MVP of the MPSF championship. She'll face a Navy offense that ranks sixth in the country in scoring (15.2 goals per game). Jasmine DePompeo (37g, 44a) makes the Navy offense go.


I'll take Navy, which has a terrific, varied offense. Six different players with 20 goals or more. Incidentally, both of these teams lost to High Point earlier in the season. The Panthers are doing well for a second-year program. They're currently seeded No. 1 in the National Lacrosse Conference tournament, which is being played this week (but does not have an AQ).


MD1: No. 19 Drexel (8-7) at No. 1 UMass (14-0), 7 p.m. Saturday

CAA Championship

You never know, right? Can Drexel shrink the NCAA tournament bubble by knocking off top-ranked UMass, which should get in the big show even with a loss on Saturday? The Dragons, for a while, were the nation's best sub. 500 team with four one-goal losses to Virginia, Notre Dame, Bucknell and Penn State, holding them down. They're now above .500 with a 13-11 win over those same Nittany Lions in State College, Pa., in a CAA semifinal on Wednesday. UMass beat Drexel 8-6 a couple weeks ago in the Battle of Bethpage (at a neutral-site on Long Island), but the game was close until the Minutemen pulled away late.

MD2: No. 4 Limestone (15-1) at No. 3 Dowling (11-1), 1 p.m. Sunday

Believe it or not, this is a rivalry that dates back to the mid-90s when these two programs met on an annual basis for the "Sportsmanship Cup." After a seven-year hiatus, the rivalry is back and for the first time the Saints are making the trip to the Empire State. The stakes are different for these squads, however.

Limestone has the South region bid locked up, so this contest is about getting quality competition heading into the tourney - something they didn't have last year - as well as acting as a logistical dry-run in the likely event Limestone takes a return flight to New York in a couple of weeks to face Le Moyne. In theory, Dowling could take a loss and still be in decent shape to grab the Wild Card, but they'd be putting themselves at the whims of the selection committee and after what happened to Le Moyne last year, that's not a comfortable position. The Lions will be going all out in this one in order to take the guess-work out of it.


If Dowling manages to pick up the win, there's a pretty decent chance that the original three-member national selection committee - Dowling coach Tim Boyle (Central), Merrimack AD Glenn Hoffman (North) and Limestone AD Mike Cerino (South) - will have to be replaced on Sunday because of a conflict of interest. This is a big reason why Dowling will want to wrap things up on the field and not permit any new interpretations by replacement representatives. I'm looking for the Lions to roar - and roll - to a comfortable win, taking all the guess work out of this decision.


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