What an amazing 2016 NCAA Championship Weekend! The time has finally come to say goodbye to the 2016 NCAA lacrosse season. There will be plenty of coverage from this past weekend here at LaxAllStars, but I had to get one last rundown out here for you all. So here you go!
2016 NCAA Championship Scores
14 Brown vs. Maryland 15 OT
13 Loyola vs. North Carolina 18
13 Tufts vs. Salisbury 14
4 Limestone vs. Le Moyne 8
13 Maryland vs. North Carolina 14 OT
The Stat Freaks
Freak of the Week: There’s no question that’s it’s Chris Cloutier. The D1 tournament’s Most Outstanding Player earned that recognition a few times over. He piled on the points this weekend (14 goals in two games), but also scored the game winner on Monday in overtime to give North Carolina the National Championship. You go, Chris Cloutier. His 9 goals vs Loyola tied an NCAA record for NCAA playoff games, set a Final Four record for goals in a game, AND he qualified for our offensive cutoff point. SHEESH. Oh, and he did that on 13 shots.
Offense: The Cutoff here is a combined 7 goals and/or assists
UNC’s Chris Cloutier 9G vs. Loyola
Defense: For here, you need 8 GBs, CTs, and/or points
Maryland’s Isaiah Davis-Allen 1G, 6GB, 1CT vs. Brown
Brown’s Alec Tulett 11GB, 1CT vs. Maryland
Tufts’ Zach Richman 8GB, 1CT, 2G vs. Salisbury (he’s an attackman!)
Salisbury’s Aaron Leeds 6GB, 3CT vs. Tufts
Faceoffs: Greater than 70%, at least 10 attempts
Le Moyne’s Kendall Vecchio 8/12 vs. Limestone
Tufts’ Conor Helfrich 20/27 vs. Salisbury
Goalies: Greater than 70%
Unfortunately, nobody actually hit the 70% mark, but I saw some of the best collective goaltending of my life this weekend. Huge props to:
Brown’s Jack Kelly 14/29
UNC’s Brian Balkam 7/20 & 13/26
Maryland’s Kyle Bernlohr: 11/25 & 9/23
Loyola’s Grant Limone coming in after the first quarter with 7/16
Le Moyne’s Alex Krawec 7/11
Limestone’s Patrick Sheridan 14/22
Tufts’ Alex Salazar 8/22
Salisbury’s Colin Reymann 15/28
2016 NCAA Championship Weekend
Championship Weekend is my favorite weekend of the year. It borders on lacrosse overload, but realistically, it’s not even close. This particular weekend was one of the best I have seen, and I have been going for a while. My first Championship Weekend was 2007 down in Baltimore. I missed 2008 and 2011, but have been to every other one.
I have to say that of all these tournaments, this past weekend may have been the best from start to finish. 2009 had the best title game when Syracuse had their miracle comeback. 2010 was also up there with Duke and UVA battling it out while Cornell was stifled by the imposing Notre Dame defense. That year produced the lowest scoring final ever, but I loved every minute of it (even the drawn out face-offs).
(Editor’s Note: the only other NCAA Championship Weekend we’ve seen that even came close was in 2002, when Mike Powell went 4-3 to lead Syracuse over Princeton in a rematch of the 2001 game. Both Semis were absolutely electric, Limestone beat NY Tech 11-9 to win D2, and Middlebury beat Gettysburg 14-9 to win their 3rd straight title.)
This weekend though had a spectacular matchup between Brown and Maryland on Saturday, which was preceded by a North Carolina steamrolling performance when they put up 9 early goals against a shocked Loyola.
Sunday’s DIII championship saw a furious comeback by Tufts that required Salisbury to need a huge save on one of DIII’s best shooters to win the game.
Le Moyne’s defense put on an absolute clinic which ground Limestone’s high flying offense to a total halt. Yes, Limestone’s major player was sick, but as Le Moyne’s Head Coach Dan Sheehan said afterwards: “They took 18 shots. They had 18 shots by breakfast this morning.” Limestone shoots a LOT. Just not against Le Moyne.
This was all capped off by a thriller of a final game between Maryland and North Carolina. Both teams had crucial penalties, both were loaded with top ranked recruits who had the stigma of underperforming, both were extremely well coached teams, and both were making plays. I thought the stadium was going to lose their collective minds when late in the game, the teams traded over-and-back calls off of missed passes. Each had a goalie who was making saves they had no business making. Each had shots ring off of pipes at bad times. It was true back and forth lacrosse.
Now anyone that knows me, or follows me on Twitter, knows that I’m a Syracuse fan. I’m not just a Syracuse lacrosse fan, I cheer for the Cuse is absolutely everything. I try as hard as possible to leave my fandom in the social media sphere and let my writing be as neutral as it should be. That being said, Maryland lacrosse is a thorn in the side of Cuse fans.
There is the 2011 quarterfinal game at the root of it all. There’s this year’s quarterfinal game which sent the Orange home for the year. There is the more recent history on the women’s side where the Terps are Gary Gait’s white whale in his quest for a championship. I have willfully gone along with any joke you could come up with about Maryland playing slow when they don’t have to, ruining the game by playing possession lacrosse, etc. Why am I bringing this up? Because you need to know this background for this following statement:
I enjoyed watching Maryland play this weekend.
I truly, honestly did. If I were a guy that ever bet (which I don’t), I would have put a ton of money on Maryland slowing things down on Monday after their battle with Brown just two days prior in the heat. I loved that Maryland/Brown game. It was exactly was lacrosse games should be. Both teams took chances, they let shots fly, they played good defense and goalie played out of their minds.
That is why it was such a treat for everyone who watched UNC and Maryland on Monday. The same thing happened. UNC played fast. Maryland played fast. They both took chances and tried to make things happen. They left everything on the field and played with emotion. 12 months ago, I never thought we would have had a Championship game like this.
The lacrosse world loves picking on NCAA lacrosse, but Championship Weekend is THE biggest lacrosse event of the year. Yes, it’s in NFL stadium with a closed upper deck. Yes, the tickets are expensive, and TV is cheap, giving plenty of people a reason to sit at home and watch from their couch. Yes, teams still stall and coaches can be over controlling. LaxAllStars, including myself, has jumped into the shot clock debate as much as anyone. Even right after these games were done, social media was on fire with the need for shot clocks, college stadiums, a single destination each year, and recruiting reforms.
You know what else people were talking about? How awesome these games were. You had people like New York Lizards and Stony Brook Women’s head Coach Joe Spallina saying:
— Joe Spallina (@JoeSpallina) May 30, 2016
And Quint Kessenich:
That was one of the best title games ever. If you missed it, re-airs tonight at 8p on ESPNU and then again Tuesday at 4p on ESPNU.
— Quint Kessenich (@QKessenich) May 30, 2016
Those guys have seen a few lacrosse games in their lives.
As I wrap up this final NCAA post, I just want to give everyone a small reminder. It is easy to constantly be wrapped up in what our game can become and where it is going. This weekend was there for all of us to remember that the game right now is awesome. It got people excited, on their feet, and talking about it to anyone that will listen. Some of our sport’s biggest programs, on the biggest stage, proved that today’s lacrosse can already create fans and continue to grow the game.
How do I know? This year was the first year that my cousin (who never played lacrosse) brought his lacrosse-crazy son to Championship Weekend. When I saw them on Saturday, they were grinning ear to ear just taking everything in and enjoying every bit that it had to offer. By the time they were shutting down their Monday morning tailgate, their wording had changed from “if we go to one of these again” to “I can’t wait to go up to Foxboro next year”.
This weekend is always special, but 2016 Championship Weekend is one that we’ll be talking about for years.