Only eight teams remain. And after this weekend, four of them will move closer to grabbing the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse championship.
The defending champs, James Madison, were eliminated in the first weekend of play, falling to Stony Brook. And then the Sea Wolves were eliminated by No. 1 Maryland. Last year’s runner-ups, No. 2 Boston College, is still alive. So is ACC champ North Carolina, Ivy League champ Princeton, Big Ten champ Northwestern, No. 6 Virginia and un-seeded Denver, which upset USC and Michigan to get here.
All four games will be decided on Saturday, May 18.
Here’s everything you need to know about the quarterfinals.
No. 3 UNC vs. No. 6 Virginia — May 18, 12 p.m., ESPN3
The first game on deck is an all-ACC battle featuring the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers. North Carolina and Virginia played one other time this year, with the Tar Heels winning 13-12 in Chapel Hill.
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UNC is a well-rounded team, with an attack led by Jamie Ortega, who is ninth in the nation in scoring with 3.84 goals per game, and Katie Hoeg, who’s 3.42 assists per game rank third in the country. The Tar Heels have a stout defense too, ranking seventh in the country in goals allowed per game with a mark of 8.37. Goalkeeper Taylor Moreno’s .528 save percentage ranks fourth in the nation.
Virginia is 33rd in defense, allowing 10.89 goals per game, and 38th in offense, scoring 13.42 goals per game. Still, Virginia took down a tough Navy team in the previous round, winning 15-12. Virginia has a balanced attack, with Avery Shoemaker, Maggie Jackson and Sammy Mueller each notching more than 65 points this season.
No. 2 Boston College vs. No. 7 Princeton — May 18, 1 p.m., ESPN3
Boston College decimated Colorado last weekend in its first step to get back to the national championship game, winning 21-9. Up now is Princeton, who beat Wagner and Loyola on its way to the quarterfinals.
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Kyla Sears guides Princeton’s offense, having scored 92 points this year, which is 17th best in the country. Princeton is also 19th in defense, allowing 9.95 goals per game.
Boston College is armed with a powerful offense, ranking fourth in the country in scoring with 17.24 goals per game. Leading that attack is the 2018 Tewaaraton Award-winner Sam Apuzzo, who is sixth in scoring this year with 4.05 goals per game. Also adding to that attack is Kenzie Kent, who is fifth in the country in total points with 109.
No. 4 Northwestern vs. No. 5 Syracuse — May 18, 2 p.m., (Broadcast TBD)
While these teams come from different conferences, they did meet earlier this season, with Syracuse winning 15-14 at home on Feb. 24.
The Orange are decent on both ends of the field, ranking 24th in defense with 10.15 goals allowed per game, and 22nd in offense, scoring 14.05 goals per game. Leading Syracuse’s attack is Emily Hawryschuk, who is 10th in the country in scoring with 70 goals.
Northwestern has a potent attack, ranking second in the nation in scoring with 17.63 goals per game. Powering that attack is Selena Lasota, who is sixth in the nation in scoring with 79 goals. The Wildcats don't rank in the top 50 in goals allowed per game, but that hasn’t stopped them from winning. Northwestern also has one of the best players in draw controls per game, as Brennan Dwyer is fifth in the country, winning 8.53 per contest.
No. 1 Maryland vs. Denver — May 18, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network
The Terps lost the Big Ten title to Northwestern, but they’re still considered a favorite in this tournament. Maryland is one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, ranking seventh in scoring with 15.95 goals per game and third in defense, allowing just 7.75 goals per game. Guiding Maryland’s attack is senior Jen Giles, who has racked up 75 points this year. Goalkeeper Megan Taylor is one of the best between the pipes too, ranking third in goals-against average with an 8.11 mark.
But Denver’s goalkeeper is just as good, if not better. Junior Carson Gregg ranks second in that stat with a 7.22 mark. She also has a .464 save percentage. She’s a big reason why Denver has the nation’s best scoring defense, allowing just 6.79 goals per game. Leading Denver’s attack are Hannah Lilly, Julia Feiss, Eliza Radochonski and Quintin Hoch-Bullen, each with more than 56 points this season.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.