Bracket Breakdown: NCAA Division II Women
by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com
Rollins' omission from the NCAA Division II field despite dealing Limestone its only loss of the season should add fuel to those who want to expand the tournament.
Adelphi rolled to an 18-0 record and now heads into the NCAA Division II women's lacrosse tournament as host and overwhelming favorite. Le Moyne visits Dowling Saturday at noon, with the winner getting the first crack at upsetting Adelphi on May 22.
Rollins handed Limestone its first loss of the season, but it wasn't enough. Limestone earned the top seed and a first-round bye and will meet the winner of Saturday's West Chester at Lock Haven rematch May 22.
Last Team In
Thanks to their head-to-head victory over Rollins, the Golden Rams didn't really need to worry about being leap-frogged by the Tars. Still, West Chester was probably the only team holding its breath a little in what ended up being a pretty straightforward bracket.
First Team Out
The Tars kept their title hopes alive and handed Limestone its first loss of the season, 13-9 on Saturday. Rollins fell just short, doomed by losses against Lock Haven and West Chester and the PSAC schools' strength of schedule.
Not snubbed in that teams above were undeserving, but simply by the way Division II is set up. Only three teams get in each region, and so we have a case in the South where a team went 12-2 in region and defeated the top seed, but will be left out of the tournament. Rollins' win over Limestone should add fuel for those who want to expand the tournament.
Best First-Round Matchup
West Chester at Lock Haven
This is the third meeting this season between the only two teams to win the South region since 2003. This year West Chester won at Lock Haven by one in the regular season; Lock Haven returned the favor and won on the road by one in the PSAC title game. They met in last year's NCAA tournament, and West Chester won by one in overtime. The road team has won the past four meetings. Expect overtime.
Not really an upset since the Dolphins have been ranked No. 2 for much of the season, but Le Moyne will have to travel to face ECC champion Dowling this weekend. If the Dolphins advance, they'll get a third shot at Adelphi, which they played closer than any other team this year, losing 11-9 in the regular season and 17-11 in last week's NE-10 final.
Easiest Title Route
Not just because the Panthers are the two-time defending NCAA champions, but because their title route consists of walking from their locker rooms to their home field. Whether it's Dowling or Le Moyne, Adelphi's semifinal opponent will be heavy underdogs facing the Panthers on their home field, where they've lost only once since 2007.
Five Burning Questions
1. Can anyone beat Adelphi?
When Le Moyne went up 1-0 in the early moments of the NE-10 title game, it looked like maybe the new kids in Division II could pull an upset. Adelphi responded with nine straight goals and never really looked back, settling in for a 17-11 victory and putting to rest questions about the 11-9 snow game a few months back. Adelphi beat Dowling 20-12 in the regular season, but did not play any South playoff teams.
2. Can Limestone bounce back?
Did Limestone's 13-9 loss to Rollins last week say more about Rollins or Limestone? Rollins needed a win to keep NCAA tournament dreams. As we now know, Limestone was locked into the South's top seed no matter what. It may have been a case of a team looking ahead to the NCAA tournament, but Limestone will need to bounce back quickly. The Saints beat both West Chester (16-10, March 10) and Lock Haven (7-6, April 24). Both teams are certainly capable of reversing the outcomes.
3. Can Dowling carry its momentum forward?
The Golden Lions have won 12 straight since hosting Adelphi in late March. In that time they've taken down Stonehill, West Chester, East Stroudsburg and C.W. Post and qualified for their first NCAA tournament. They'll host Le Moyne on Saturday and if they win, they'll get another shot at Adelphi. This team is playing at a different level it did when it met Adelphi in the regular season.
4. Will history repeat for Lock Haven, West Chester?
Lock Haven crushed West Chester in last season's PSAC title game and earned a first-round bye into the NCAA tournament. West Chester beat Limestone by a goal, then Lock Haven by a goal in overtime. This season, Lock Haven is also coming off a PSAC championship victory over West Chester. The teams have alternated wins in their past four meetings. If the pattern holds, it's West Chester's turn. Both teams would have a shot at avenging losses to Limestone in the regional final.
5. Were there any controversies?
Not really. Rollins had a great season and showed the young program from Florida is a contender to be taken seriously. Neither C.W. Post nor Stonehill had wins against North playoff teams. The proposed expansion to eight teams probably would have put Rollins and Post in there. No one would be complaining about those teams being in, but under the current system, they can't complain about being left out.