Making Sense: One Man's Tourney Predictions
You know Cabrini is going to be in the NCAA Division III tournament, but how far will the Cavaliers go? What about the teams from Division II and the MCLA? Read on.
© Kevin P. Tucker
It was Easter weekend and I had a houseful of in-laws, so there was little time for interviews or deep analysis of any issues plaguing the NCAA bushes or the MCLA. The solution? Predicting not only which teams will make the NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and both MCLA tournaments, but also laying out the outcomes of every game.
A monumental waste of time? Absolutely, but again, my primary task over the past three days has been to keep my mother-in-law's martini glass perpetually filled, leaving no time for anything of substance in this space. There's no notebooks, no game balls, no Power Fives.
Just turn off your brains for a bit and indulge your inner brackets.
NCAA Division II
We need a regional "champ" form the North, Central and South, along with a Wild Card, which qualifies as the best of the remaining group. The first three are pretty easy. Le Moyne (North), C.W. Post (Central) and Limestone (South) should get the nod. The Wild Card goes to Mercyhurst, as Dowling's loss to Chestnut Hill not only bumped the Lions out of the running, but took Adelphi (which lost to Dowling earlier) with them.
Semifinals – May
21 and 22
- C.W. Post 9, Mercyhurst 7 – Eddie Plomplen (4g) sparks the Pioneers to a quick, 4-0 start and Mike Giordano makes six fourth-quarter saves to blunt a comeback bid from the Lakers.
- Limestone 8, Le Moyne 7 – No team is better equipped to grind down the Saints than the Dolphins, but a late turnover springs a 4-on-3 break that ends with Shayne Jackson finding Riley Loewen on the doorstep.
- Limestone 13, C.W. Post 10 – The Pioneers dynasty is cut short by the Saints attack. With the Post defenders putting Jackson and Loewen on lock down, Tom Langan and Jackson Decker have hat tricks at halftime. John Jez's offense keeps it within two for much of the game until a late spurt pushes the final margin to three.
NCAA Division III
As you know, there are three different pools in Division III totaling 26 teams.
Pool A is for the 16 conference champions: Cabrini (CSAC), Castleton (NAC), Colorado College (SCAC), Cortland (SUNYAC), Dickinson (Centennial), Endicott (CCC), Farmingdale (Skyline), Goucher (Landmark), Keene State (Little East), RIT (E8), Roanoke (ODAC), Salisbury (CAC),Skidmore (Liberty), Springfield (Pilgrim), Tufts (NESCAC) and Widener (MAC).
Pool B is for the four teams that are members of leagues without an auto qualifier or true independents: Adrian (Midwest), Denison (NCAC), Ohio Wesleyan (NCAC), Wittenberg (NCAC).
Pool C is for the at-large picks from the Pool A conferences: Amherst (NESCAC), Haverford (Centennial), Middlebury (NESCAC), Stevenson (CAC), Stevens (E8), Trinity (NESCAC).
First Round - May
- Endicott 11, Skidmore 10 – Sam Ozycz domination at faceoff (18-for-25) allows the Gulls to pick up an impressive road win.
- Stevens 16, Keene State 8 – After a slow start and a two-goal halftime lead, the Ducks explode in the second half. Chris Laurita strikes for five goals.
- Amherst 18, Castleton 3 – Eleven different Jeffs find the net as Amherst puts this one away quickly, leading 7-0 after one quarter.
- Middlebury 15, Farmingdale 5 – David Hild scores the first four goals of the game and the defense takes over from there.
- Springfield 12, Trinity 8 – Deficiencies at faceoff and the postseason jitters are enough to doom the Bantams against a seasoned Pride team.
- Wittenberg 11, Colorado College 8 – Despite a perfect regular season record, Colorado College is forced to hit the road and falls to the other Tigers.
- Cabrini 14, Goucher 7 – The Cavaliers defense gives the Gophers fits, allowing just four first half goals while the Cabrini offense pulls away.
- Roanoke 22, Adrian 8 – The constant Noke pressure breaks down the Bulldogs from the start. Jeff Keating posts seven points before sitting in the fourth.
- Haverford 6, Ohio Wesleyan 4 – The Bishops go toe-to-toe with the Black Squirrels, but Fords goalie Joe Banno allows just one goal in the second half.
- Denison 8, Widener 3 – The Pride does its best to grind down the Big Red, but a natural hat trick from Emmett Jones in the second half is the difference.
Second Round –
- Tufts 14, Endicott 5 – Revenge is sweet, and thorough, for the Jumbos as Hessler, Kirwan and Witko strike for hat tricks in the romp.
- Cortland 9, Stevens 7 – It's not a great match-up for Cortland, so the Red Dragons set a methodical tempo to frustrate the Ducks.
- Middlebury 10, Amherst 9 – The Lord Jeffs got the better of the Panthers in the regular season, but Middlebury's postseason experience pays off when it counts.
- RIT 16, Springfield 6 – The Tigers are a terrible style match-up for the Pride and the final score accurately reflects that.
- Dickinson 11, Wittenberg 5 – The Tigers' magical season comes to an end when the Tigers can't quite subdue the Red Devils.
- Salisbury 11, Cabrini 8 – Johnny Rodriguez plays goalie for the first 30 minutes, but Tim Swinburn comes in and shuts the door.
- Haverford 7, Roanoke 6 (3ot) – Max Hjelm finds himself alone on the doorstep. After a double-clutch, he scores off the post to push the Squirrels through.
- Stevenson 13, Denison 3 – The Big Red faces Stevenson for the second time in as many weeks, and the results don't vary too much.
- Tufts 10, Cortland 8 – In a physical, back-and-forth struggle, the Jumbos take their first lead early in the second half and make it stand up.
- RIT 13, Middlebury 9 – The Tigers expose the Panthers' faceoff woes and Kelso Davis pots five goals in a game more lopsided than the score.
- Dickinson 13, Salisbury 12 – The Red Devils have flown beneath the radar since an early season loss to Skidmore, but catch the Sea Gulls looking ahead.
- Stevenson 10, Haverford 5 – Jimmy Dailey (5g, 2a) factors in seven of the Mustangs' 10 goals, and the defense frustrates an already anemic Squirrel attack.
Semifinals – May
- RIT 11, Tufts 10 – The Jumbos do not get a chance to defend their title as the Tigers counter Tufts at every turn. MJ Kiekebelt has a career day for RIT.
- Stevenson 15, Dickinson 9 – The Red Devils get lured into a high-tempo game, and hold their own for a half, but the Mustangs finally overwhelm them.
Finals – May
- Stevenson 14, RIT 13 – In what be the most exciting championship game in Division III history, the Mustangs and Tigers play a game of huge runs. Leading 13-10 with eight minutes remaining, RIT watches as Stevenson races back to tie the game with just under a minute left and then win it with 13 ticks remaining on a Richie Ford bounce shot.
MCLA Division I
There are 10 conference champions and six at-large picks filling out a traditional 16-team bracket.
Michigan (CCLA), Illinois (GRLC), Texas (LSA), Buffalo (PCLL), Oregon (PNCLL), Colorado State (RMLC), Florida State (SELC), Arizona State (SLC), Minn.-Duluth (UMLL) and Cal Poly (WCLL) are the winner's of the automatic qualifiers.
The at-large selections are Michigan State, Chapman, UC Santa Barbara, Colorado, BYU, Boston College.
First Round –
- No. 1 Michigan 14, No. 16 Minn.-Duluth 6 – In a small victory, the Dawgs keep Trevor Yealy below his nine goal average against UMD. He finishes with six.
- No. 2 Colorado State 14, No. 15 Buffalo 8 – The Bulls stunned BC in the PCLL finals, but couldn't pull the shocker against the Rams.
- No. 3 Arizona State 15, No. 14 Illinois 5 – The Illini slow down the Sun Devils for a half, but run out of gas as Ryan Westfall runs wild in the final 30 minutes.
- No. 4 Michigan State 12, No. 13 Florida State 11 (ot) – The Seminoles rally to tie the Spartans with under a minute left, but Pat Nemes connects 18 ticks into OT.
- No. 5 BYU 10, No. 12 UC Santa Barbara 7 – The Gauchos linger for 45 minutes, but Tyler Monteath notches a fourth-quarter hat trick for the win.
- No. 6 Chapman 9, No. 10 Texas 5 – The new, defensive minded Panthers take advantage of the Longhorns' rustiness to post a relatively comfortable win.
- No. 10 Oregon 8, No. 7 Boston College 7 – There's only one upset in the first round, and the Ducks pull it off, thanks to 22 saves from Nick Johnston.
- No. 8 Cal Poly 12, No. 9 Colorado 10 – The Mustangs finally show some patience on offense against a good team, barely foiling a Buff comeback bid.
- No. 1 Michigan 12, No. 8 Cal Poly 7 – Poly's patience shown against Colorado disappears against the Wolverines as Chad Carroll has a six-point afternoon.
- No. 2 Colorado State 10, No. 10 Oregon 9 (2ot) – The Rams almost bow out again in the quarterfinals to a 10-seed, but Cooper Kehoe saves the day.
- No. 3 ASU 8, No. 6 Chapman 6 – The Panthers defensive experiment finally collapses as the Sun Devils outscore Chapman 4-1 in the second half.
- No. 4 Michigan State 10, No. 5 BYU 8 – A 5-4 halftime lead holds up as the Cougars take seven second-half penalties, allowing Sparty to stay one step ahead.
Semifinals – May
- No. 1 Michigan 5, No. 4 Michigan State 4 – The MCLA's best rivalry gets a little better as the Wolverines squeeze out the third meeting of the year.
- No. 2 Colorado State 16, No. 3 Arizona State 14 – The regular season grinder is replaced by the game of the year. Ryan Westfall has 11 goals in the losing effort.
- Colorado State 12, Michigan 11 – For the fourth time in as many championship games, Michigan is forced into a zone defense for the final 30 minutes. Unlike the previous three championship contests, it doesn't work. The Rams thwart the Wolverines with dominant faceoff play and a clinical clearing game.
MCLA Division II
There are nine conference champions and seven at-large picks filling out a traditional 16-team bracket.
Grand Valley State (CCLA), Missouri Baptist (GRLC), Sam Houston State (LSA), Briarcliffe (PCLL), Western Oregon (PNCLL), Westminster (RMLC), SCAD (SELC), Concordia (SLC) and St. Thomas (UMLL) are the winners of the automatic qualifers.
The at-large selections are Utah Valley, Dayton, Davenport, Elon, North Dakota State, St. John's, Hope.
First Round –
- No. 1 Grand Valley State 22, No. 16 Sam Houston State 4 – The tragedy of this outcome is the Bearkats might have been dangerous at a different seed.
- No. 2 St. Thomas 12, No. 15 Elon 6 – The maturation of Division II means that there aren't quite as many throw-away first round games.
- No. 3 Davenport 11, No. 14 Concordia 9 – The Panthers have shown they can beat, or lose to, any team. Davenport escapes the Eagles.
- No. 4 Western Oregon 18, No. 13 Missouri Baptist 7 – The Spartans are late to receive the memo that the first five numbers on the WOU roster are the key ones.
- No. 12 Hope 14, No. 5 North Dakota State 10 – The Bison hold Eric Weber to three goals, but forget about Allen Campbell.
- No. 6 Briarcliffe 14, No. 11 Utah Valley 9 – The Wolverines' quest to return to the championship gets derailed by the newest Cinderella.
- No. 7 St. John's 8, No. 10 Dayton 6 – The promising Flyers season comes undone in the first round as the Johnnies control the tempo.
- No. 9 Westminster 13, No. 8 SCAD 12 – The Griffins open things up and the Bees can't match the up-tempo style. Josh Condas gets six for Westminny.
- No. 1 Grand Valley State 12, No. 9 Westminster 10 – Four years later, Cam Holding finally gets the best of Dallas McLellan and the Griffins.
- No. 2 St. Thomas 4, No. 7 St. John's 2 – The Johnnies learn their lesson and take the air out of the ball. Joe Costello nets three of the Tommies four markers.
- No. 3 Davenport 9, No. 6 Briarcliffe 8 – Altitude plus short bench plus equals trouble for the Bulldogs. Shawn Beer posts five goals.
- No. 12 Hope 18, No. 4 Western Oregon 15 – After jettisoning its coach late in the season, the Wolves make the unwise decision of trying to run with the Dutchmen.
Semifinals – May
- No. 1 Grand Valley State 22, No. 12 Hope 13 – I don't want to say the Lakers toyed with Hope, but the Lakers toyed with Hope.
- St. Thomas 14, Davenport 9 – Stop me if you've heard this one before. Davenport races out to a quick lead...
- St. Thomas 14, Grand Valley State 12 – Pete Moosbrugger called his first timeout down 6-0 in the first quarter, but doesn't say anything. Surprisingly, he locks Joe Costello on Cam Holding on the defensive end of the field, negating the Lakers best option and springing numerous transition opportunities. Stunningly, Costello is too tired at the end of the game for a good quote -- an MCLA first.