Ten-2-Watch: Finally, The NCAA Dance is Here
Each week, the Lacrosse Magazine staff picks and previews of the weekend's best, from all levels of the college landscape. Use #Ten2Watch to discuss the games to come, and tweet @LacrosseMag to make your own picks. Also make sure to vote in our LaxMagazine.com Fan Vote Game of the Week.
Tournament time is finally here - and we've got a doozy of a slate to pick from with games across the spectrum of divisions. Please note: ranks indicated here are a team's NCAA seed, not their placement in the final Top 20 of the season. With big week's from both leaders on the staff board, the rest of us have to do some work to catch up with Lane and Corey, that's for sure...
WD1: Ohio State (13-6) vs. Louisville (15-3) at Northwestern
|Louisville is on an 11-game win streak entering Friday's first-round game against Ohio State. Can the Cardinals keep it going against the tough Buckeyes squad and advance to take on Northwestern? (Michelle Hutchins)|
Friday, 8 p.m.
As Big East champions, Louisville has earned its first berth to
the NCAA Tournament. Though the Cardinals are the new kids on the
block, they will give the Buckeyes a run for their money. They
certainly don't want their first go at it to end so soon. During
the regular season, Ohio State defeated Louisville 12-11 in March.
Two months down the road, Louisville has improved significantly and
is currently riding an 11-game win streak. The Cardinals are led by
Nikki Boltja (67 goals, 24 assists), Faye Brust (67 goals, 7
assists) and Kaylin Morissette (42 goals, 11 assists). Morissette's
strength going into the tournament is her ability to control draws
and she currently has the most for her team with 158. For the
Buckeyes, Jackie Cifarelli will be the player to shut down. She is
the nation's leader in assists with 46 and has also docked 17 goals
to top the charts for her team in points (63). Ohio State may be
the favorite coming from a tough ALC conference, but Louisville may
be able to come up with the upset.
MD1: Johns Hopkins (10-4) at No. 6 Virginia (10-5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. on ESPN2
A year after these lacrosse blue bloods both missed the NCAA tournament, they face each other for the 15th time in tournament history. For one of them, May Madness will only last one game. Virginia coach Dom Starsia and Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said there is great deal of familiarity on both sides — "It's like playing one of our ACC partners," Starsia said of facing the rival Blue Jays — and that there won't be many surprises in Charlottesville on Sunday. Virginia won the regular season meeting in overtime, 11-10. The Cavaliers are well-rested having played their last game two Saturday ago in the ACC Showcase at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Johns Hopkins had its five game-winning streak snapped last week at Loyola. In lacrosse history, no teams have met in the NCAA tournament more than Johns Hopkins and Virginia. In the 14 games, both have a pair of one-goal wins and the aggregate score is Johns Hopkins 152, Virginia 149.
WD1: Georgetown (10-8) vs. Johns Hopkins (15-4) at North Carolina
Friday, 5 p.m.
One of the best first-round games is that of Georgetown-Hopkins. The Hoyas thought their season was over when they lost to Louisville in the Big East final, but with their strength of schedule and quality wins over Duke and Princeton, they have stayed alive for at least one more game. But it won't be an easy one. Hopkins has been strong all season long, starting with its historical 10-game win streak. That tenth win was earned with a one-goal overtime win against the Hoyas. Key players for the Hoyas are Maddy Fisher in goal, as well as Kelyn Freedman and Caroline Tarzian, who both have 42 points for the season. Freedman takes the lead in the midfield with 43 draw controls, 29 ground balls and 26 caused turnovers. For the Blue Jays, Taylor D'Amore takes the lead with 99 points (52 goals, 47 assists). She also has 61 draw controls, 22 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers. D'Amore's supporting cast includes Sammy Cermack (57 points) and Dene' DiMartino (53 points). Whichever team wins will have a challenging game ahead of them against No. 3 seed North Carolina.
MD1: North Carolina (10-4) at No. 5 Denver (14-2)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU
No one would have blamed Jeremy Noble if a wry smile crept across his face with North Carolina was announced as Denver's first-round opponent on Sunday night. Two years ago, Noble set a single-game program-record with 10 points on three goals and seven assists in Denver's 16-14 win in Chapel Hill. After meeting in the quarterfinal round last year, Saturday will mark the third straight time in three years that the Pioneers and Tar Heels play in May. Denver is on an 11-game win streak, capped with a Big East championship win over Villanova on Saturday. North Carolina hasn't played in a game in nearly two weeks since the ACC Showcase loss to Virginia. If the previous two tournament meetings have been any indication, expect a fast pace and momentum swings galore.
WD1: Penn State (10-7) vs. Princeton (11-6) at Virginia
Friday, 4 p.m.
After losing to Penn in the Ivy title game despite having the No. 1 seed, Princeton will be looking to rebound to keep its season alive. They shared the regular season title with Penn, but earned the hosting duties for the conference tournament with its 6-1 Ivy record. Erin McMunn leads the Tigers with 52 points (40 goals, 12 assists). For Penn State, on the other hand, the Cyr sisters command the offense. Madison Cyr has the most points with 46 (39 goals, 7 assists) while Mackenzie Cyr has tallied 16 goals and 24 assists. Tied with Mackenzie for assists is Maggie McCormick, who has scored 19 goals. After earning the Ivy league regular season title, Princeton coach Chris Sailer said it was crucial to perform well against Penn State, which was the Tigers' final opponent. However, Princeton lost by one goal. Who will win this time? It will surely be a tough battle. Based on common opponents though, this game favors Penn State.
MD1: Albany (11-5) at No. 3 Loyola (15-1)
Saturday, 12 p.m. on ESPNU
Loyola coach Charley Toomey promised that the Greyhounds won't attempt to work against their DNA and attempt to slow the pace down against Albany, and we have no reason to take him at his word. Saturday's game at Loyola's Ridley Athletic Complex has everything you want: three Tewaaraton Award finalists, the nation's top scoring offense in Albany (16.31 goals per game) and the nation's second-best defense statistically in Loyola (7.13 goals allowed per game) and an NCAA quarterfinal berth on the line. Albany has the Thompsons, and Loyola defenseman Joe Fletcher is likely to mark Lyle, he of 114 points, tied for most ever in a single NCAA Division I men's season. But the most important part of this game probably will be Albany limiting turnovers. Loyola can make any team pay for careless mistakes and will likely have an edge on faceoffs, so maintaining possession will be key for Albany, although they can do a lot with even limited chances.
WD1: Loyola (14-5) vs. Massachusetts (18-1) at Boston College
Friday, 2 p.m.
The Loyola Greyhounds are still riding the excitement of winning their conference title in its first year as a member of the Patriot League, joining their men's counterparts. Marlee Paton is undoubtedly this team's leader with 75 points (49 goals, 26 assists), 44 draw controls, 37 ground balls and 40 caused turnovers. Her go-to attacking partner is Annie Thomas who also boasts 75 points going into the tournament. They will likely be feeding each other on offense as they face Massachusetts. For the Minutewomen, Katie Ferris takes the lead with 85 points (44 goals, 41 assists). Kelsey Sheridan is one of the top defenders for UMass, grabbing the most ground balls (43) and causing the most turnovers (24). Be prepared to see a faceguarding opportunity for Sheridan on either Paton or Thomas.
MD1: Cornell (11-4) at No. 7 Maryland (11-3)
Saturday, 5 p.m. on ESPNU
This is a rematch of last year's first-round game, won in a romp by Cornell. But both sides are vastly different than this time a year ago, although there are some similarities. Maryland's defense is veteran, backstopped by four-year starting goalie Niko Amato who would surely like another chance at a national title game after getting runner-up status as a freshman and sophomore. On the other end, Maryland's young offense, guys like Connor Cannizzaro and Matt Rambo, will get their first taste of the NCAA tournament, although they and the rest of the Terps are battle-tested from ACC play this year. U.S. under-19 alum Connor Buczek is a primary playmaker for Cornell in the midfield, as it Matt Donovan. Freshman goalie Christian Knight is steady for a rookie. A pair of Long Islanders meet at the faceoff X in Cornell's Doug Tesoriero and Maryland's Charlie Raffa.
WD2: No. 3 New Haven (16-3) at No. 2 LIU-Post (17-1)
Saturday, 12 p.m.
The Chargers put LIU Post in an unfamiliar position on April 24. With three minutes remaining in regulation, New Haven held a two-goal lead over the Pioneers, who at that point had not lost in two years. LIU rallied and won when Jackie Sileo connected with Stefani Vagelatos with 27 seconds to go, to keep its winning streak going. That streak was finally snapped in last week's ECC title game by Dowling, a team that New Haven defeated during the season.
As infrequently as it is for the Pioneers to lose, an LIU losing streak is even rarer. The Pioneers have not lost two in a row since they followed a loss in the 2008 championship game with one in their 2009 opener. The winner of this one likely gets Adelphi in the North Region final , Va., next weekend in Salem, Va.. Both teams are familiar with the No. 1 Panthers. New Haven lost to their NE-10 leaguemates twice this season. LIU Post rallied to defeat the Panthers in last seasons' North Region final.
MD3: Cabrini (17-1) at Stevenson (18-2)
Saturday, 7 p.m.
If the NCAA selection committee wasn't boxed in by geographical restraints on the other side of the bracket, this is a marquee game we might have seen further down the process, but just because it's in the second round doesn't lesson the story lines. Corey Elmer versus the Stevenson backline. The champs versus the up-and-comers. Brent Hiken against Anthony DiNenno at the dot. And the list goes on.
The Mustangs breezed to a first round win over Otterbein, and should be relatively fresh for Saturday's affair, but the Cavaliers had to play to the wire before subduing Mary Washington by a goal. This could be a key factor, especially if this game is still tight in the fourth quarter (which it should be). Both of these teams were probably hoping for something a little more manageable in the second round, but they would have had to go toe-to-toe at some point. Why not on Saturday night?
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