It doesn't always happen this way in sports, but in the 2019 NCAA Division I women's lacrosse tournament, the four top seeds entering the tournament are the four that make up the semifinals.
We'll get an All-Big Ten clash in No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 4 Northwestern, and an All-ACC battle in No. 2 Boston College vs. No. 3 North Carolina.
Three of these teams have each won a national championship, most recently with Maryland taking the crown in 2017, North Carolina winning it all in 2016 and Northwestern taking the title in 2012. From 2005-17, each national championship was won by either the Terps, Tar Heels or Wildcats. Boston College doesn't have any women's lacrosse titles, but have advanced to the national championship game in each of the last two seasons.
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Both of these games kick off on Friday in Baltimore, Maryland and can be streamed live on ESPN3.
We took a look at the numbers and broke down each semifinal matchup.
Preview: No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 4 Northwestern
|No. 1 Maryland||vs.||No. 4 Northwestern|
|16.00||Goals Scored Per-Game||17.65|
|7.76||Goals Allowed Per-Game||12.95|
|.578||Draw Control Percentage||.532|
54 goals, 22 assists
|Top Scorer||Selena Lasota
82 goals, 18 assists
.556 save percentage
.485 save percentage
This will be the third time these two Big Ten foes have faced off this season. Maryland won the first, 17-13, and Northwestern took the second, 16-11 in the Big Ten title game. Northwestern allows much more goals per-game than Maryland does, but that hasn't stopped the Wildcats from being successful — they're just simply outscoring everyone.
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Northwestern has the second best offense in the nation, powered by Lasota, the third best scorer in the nation. Maryland is one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, with the third best defense and the sixth best offense. To get into the national championship game, the Terps will have to contain the Wildcats' attack or keep up with it.
Preview: No. 2 Boston College vs. No. 3 North Carolina
|No. 2 Boston College||VS.||No. 3 North Carolina|
|17.23||Goals Scored Per-Game||15.25|
|9.95||Goals Allowed Per-Game||8.30|
|.631||Draw Control Percentage||.554|
89 goals, 28 assists
|Top Scorer||Jamie Ortega
76 goals, 29 assists
.484 save percentage
.534 save percentage
Like our other semifinal, this will be the third time this season the Tar Heels and Eagles meet. Boston College won the first game, 14-8, and UNC won the second, 15-13 in the ACC tournament. In that second game, the Eagles started with a five-goal lead that was diminished by several Tar Heel runs.
This matchup will feature two of the best scorers in the nation, as Apuzzo ranks sixth and Ortega ranks ninth in goals scored per-game. The Tar Heels have the more stout player between the pipes, as Moreno has the fourth best save percentage in the nation. Statistically, North Carolina has the better defense, but Boston College has the better offense. When the dust settles, we might point to one team's strength as the reason they're advancing to the national championship.
Next stop: Baltimore! pic.twitter.com/ewfPcZM5rm— UNC Women's Lacrosse (@uncwlax) May 18, 2019
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.