No surprises in men's tournament
Notes: Lord Jeffs beat Panthers for the first time since 1989
After one week of NCAA Championship play in men’s lacrosse, the biggest surprise would have to be the lack of surprises.
Of the 26 games played in the Division I and Division III tournaments last week, the home team won 24 times. Heading into the second week of tournament play, seven of the top eight seeds will playing in this weekend’s quarterfinals at James Shuart Stardium in Hempstead, N.Y., and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. In the Division III tournament, the four quarterfinal games scheduled for Wednesday afternoon will involve the top seven teams in the May 8 United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Poll, the last poll before championship play began.
The lone team from the top eight in the USILA DIII poll that was eliminated during the weekend was No. 8 Stevens, which found itself matched up with No. 4 Cortland in a second-round game on Saturday. Playing at the Cortland Stadium Complex, the Red Dragons burned the Ducks, holding them for nearly 35 minutes, from the end of the first quarter through the first 4:39 of the fourth. That win put Cortland in a quarterfinal against No. 5 Tufts, which will take place on Wednesday afternoon at the Jumbos’ Bello Field in Medford, Mass. The Jumbos scored a 6-5 victory against Union, the lone Division III team to win a first-round game on the road, to advance to the quarterfinal round.
In Division I, the lone team to win on the road was Maryland, which scored a 13-6 win at ACC rival North Carolina in the third meeting between the teams this season. Having won the rubber match and dispatched the eighth-seeded Tar Heels, the ACC champion Terrapins will try to pin just the second loss of the season on top-seeded Syracuse when the teams meet on Sunday in the first game at Gillette Stadium (ESPNU, noon ET).
Need to Know
• When Amherst defeated Middlebury on April 6, it was the first time the Lord Jeffs had beaten the Panthers since 1989. Head coach Jon Thompson and his team didn’t need to wait nearly as long for the next win against the Panthers, as Cole Cherney led the offense with four points and Sam Jakimo made a career-high 25 saves to backstop the Lord Jeffs to a 12-9 win in a second-round game on Saturday. With the win, Amherst advanced to Wednesday’s quarterfinals, and will meet the lone undefeated team in any division, RIT, on Wednesday afternoon in Rochester. The winner will play the winner of the Tufts-Cortland State game, which means that Amherst could have a chance to avenge its season-opening loss to the Jumbos. For now, though, Cherney, Jakimo and the rest of the Lord Jeffs have their hands full with the Tigers.
• With the Division II semifinals set for Saturday afternoon, Mercyhurst enters NCAA Championship play as the No. 3 team in the USILA Division II poll, having lost just two games during the regular season. One of those was to Chestnut Hill, which did not qualify for the four-team tournament. The other loss is one the Lakers will have a chance to avenge this weekend. When Mercyhurst takes the field against C.W. Post in Brookhaven, N.Y. on Saturday afternoon, seven weeks will have passed since the Pioneers edged the Lakers, 4-3, in a game that saw sparkling play from Mercyhurst goalkeeper Zach Nash and Post keeper Mike Giordano. Only time will tell if the two goalies will be able to match their 27 combined saves in the first meeting.
• It will be a familiar feeling forw Denver head coach Bill Tierney on Saturday when he takes his Pioneers onto the field to face Johns Hopkins in the second of two quarterfinals at James Shuart Stadium (ESPN 2, 2:30 p.m. ET). A three-year assistant at Hopkins who was part of NCAA Championship seasons in 1985 and 1987, Tierney coached against the Blue Jays 24 times in his 22 years at Princeton, going 12-12 in those games. Princeton lost its first three games against Hopkins under Tierney’s guidance, but the first win came at the right time, as Princeton edged Hopkins, 9-8, in a first-round NCAA tournament game in 1990. Saturday’s game will be Tierney’s first against Hopkins since he left Princeton to take the reins at Denver.
• Notre Dame and Duke played for the NCAA Championship a year ago, with the Blue Devils scoring a 6-5 win at M&T Bank Stadium for the first title in program history. This year, the Blue Devils and the Fighting Irish will play for the right to go to M&T Bank Stadium, as Duke (a 15-14 winner over Delaware in the first round) and Notre Dame (a 13-6 winner over Penn) will meet on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in the last game of the quarterfinal round (2:30 p.m., ESPNU).
• The lone team in the Division II tournament outside the top four in the USILA poll is No. 5 Adelphi, which got the nod against No. 4 Le Moyne despite a 9-8 loss to the Dolphins season. The Panthers, who wound up standing tall as the champions of the Northeast-10, will look to make the most of their opportunity when they travel to Gaffney, S.C. to take on Conference Carolinas champion Limestone on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
• If last year’s NCAA quarterfinal between Stevenson and Roanoke is any indication, Wednesday’s meeting between the Mustangs and the Maroons should be a barn-burner. The teams went back and forth for 60 minutes, with each team leading three times, before Richie Ford scored his fifth goal of the game 1:07 into overtime to send the Mustangs on to the NCAA semifinals, dealing the Maroons a loss they’ll look to avenge on Wednesday in Owings Mills, Md.