The NCAA tournament has begun! This week saw the first round of action in the best lacrosse tournament of the year. With parity being the hot topic now, this round is no longer a formality for the top teams. On paper, every game had upset potential or at least meant a good game. And for the most part, they did not disappoint.
Week 15 Scoreboard
- 10 Bryant vs. Monmouth 7
- 8 Penn State vs. Towson 12
- 6 Johns Hopkins vs. Duke 19
- 17 Denver vs. Air Force 10
- 15 Albany vs. North Carolina 12
- 15 Notre Dame vs. Marquette 9
- 13 Maryland vs. Bryant 10
- 7 Ohio State vs. Loyola 4
- 11 Syracuse vs. Yale 10
The May Madness Stat Freaks
This section will once again be back to highlight some of the best performances from the week. Each category has a specific range we’re looking for. It’s just fun to highlight some of the gaudy performances out there.
Freak of the week: This week obviously has a much smaller sample size, and nearly every position is seeing the best in the country in the other jersey. That of course means that fewer players will meet the same standard as I’ve had all season. No defenders made the cut this week, and only one keeper did. FOGOs were dominant, though. Interestingly Duke’s Kyle Rowe had a nearly identical stat line to Yale’s Conor Mackie, but those two games could not have been more different.
The actual performance of the week for me has to be Justin Guterding from Duke. His 10 points were amazing by themselves, but given that they were the driving force behind Duke’s embarrassment of Hopkins, at Homewood no less, it has to be the performance of the weekend.
Offense: The minimum cutoff is 7 points (goals + assists)
|Justin Guterding – Duke: 4G, 6A, 8 Shots vs. Johns Hopkins|
|Matt Rambo – Maryland: 2G, 6A, 9 Shots vs. Bryant|
Defense: For here, you need 8 GBs, CTs, and/or points
Your princess is in another castle.
Face-offs: Greater than 70%, at least 10 attempts
|Kenny Massa – Bryant: 14/19, 9 GB vs. Monmouth|
|Trevor Baptiste – Denver: 23/27, 18 GB, 2G vs. Air Force|
|Kyle Rowe – Duke: 18/24, 15 GB vs. Johns Hopkins|
|TD Ierlan – Albany (NY): 23/30, 11 GB, 1A vs. North Carolina|
|Conor Mackie – Yale: 18/22, 11 GB vs. Syracuse|
Goalies: Greater than 70%
Tom Carey – Ohio St.: 12/16 Saves, 5GB vs. Loyola
This doesn’t matter at all, but it’s great social media fodder:
- ACC 3-1
- Big Ten 2-2
- Big East 1-1
- Northeast 1-1
- America East: 1-0
- CAA 1-0
- Ivy 0-1
- Patriot 0-1
- MAAC 0-1
- SoCon 0-1
- 10 Bryant vs. Monmouth 7: The opening round game is between the two teams who the selection committee has decided are the weakest automatic qualifiers in the field. It really is no surprise that this year it was the winners of the Northeast (Bryant) and the MAAC (Monmouth). This was a close game right up to halftime, but it was really a big 4-0 fourth quarter from Bryant that won this game. It was a great showing from Monmouth and huge accomplishment for the young program just to make it this far. Hopefully they can build on this going forward.
NCAA First Round
- 8 Penn State vs. Towson 12: The weekend started off with a great game and an upset. Penn State was one of the many teams who had reached the number one spot this season in the media poll. Towson was consistently ranked, but never moved too high due to a weak schedule. This game was all Towson, though. Penn State looked good when dodging from X, but the Towson D was able to smother pretty much every other option. The Tigers looked impressive, but an injury to dominant FOGO Alex Woodall will make facing Syracuse in the next round a little tougher.
- 6 Johns Hopkins vs. Duke 19: This was just weird. Hopkins at some points this season looked like the best team in the country. Other times, they, well let’s just say they didn’t. This was the latter. Duke dominated this game from start to finish and made the Hopkins defense look like they were practicing their token defense set. It was just bad. For a program as storied as Hopkins, there will be some tough questions being asked after another disappointing finish. For Duke, they were the most impressive team in the first round and will be a handful for Ohio State.
- 17 Denver vs. Air Force 10: Air Force was putting up a good fight in this game early, but then the inevitable kicked in. Trevor Baptiste took over and Denver controlled this game like they were expected to. No first round upset for the Pios this year. Next up is a rematch with Notre Dame, which they won in dramatic fashion early on in the year. It should be another great one.
- 15 Albany vs. North Carolina 12: This game set the first round attendance record up in Albany, in the rain, as the Danes went up big and early against the defending champs. UNC took a page out of Syracuse’s playbook from their regular season meeting and mounted a massive comeback and making this game much closer than the score would indicate. It was too little, too late for the Tar Heels, though. Albany on the other hand is running full steam ahead into a rematch with the top seeded Maryland. That ticket is worth the price of admission. Albany is trying to make their first final four while Maryland is trying to get the “can’t win enough games in May” monkey off their back.
- 15 Notre Dame vs. Marquette 9: Marquette looked like they had a chance against the Irish, but Notre Dame was the team we expect them to be in the month of May. Kevin Corrigan has been so successful in May for a reason. He has his team playing fantastic lacrosse this time of year and knows how to handle the weight of a tournament game. The week of rest for their stars like Perkovic seems to have done some good. They are now primed for the rematch with Denver. Denver ended Notre Dame’s season in 2015 en route to a championship and would love to do that again.
- 13 Maryland vs. Bryant 10: Bryant really gave Maryland a game for most of this one. Maryland was of course the heavy favorite, but Bryant was keeping it within striking distance. In the end, Matt Rambo took over. The Tewaaraton finalist and former #2 recruit in the country did what he does. He became a matchup nightmare and guided this offense to a win. Maryland will have to play better than this to beat Albany, though.
- 7 Ohio State vs. Loyola 4: 11 points. Only Bryant and Monmouth had a game where the winner scored fewer, let alone have that be the total. Even with teams loaded with offensive weapons like Pat Spencer and Tre Leclaire, the scoreboard did not light up. The Buckeye defense will need to do play like this and then some to hand Duke a loss this weekend.
- 11 Syracuse vs. Yale 10: Syracuse won a 1 goal game. Whoopdy do. This was unlike the others, though. Yale played possession lacrosse to end all possession lacrosse. I hope it really does end it. They owned the face-offs and had one of the best players in the country (Ben Reeves) being unguardable despite having one of the top defenders in the country on him. To Syracuse’s credit, they did not let Yale’s tactics dictate their offense. They still took risks in transition and played how they wanted to play whenever they had the ball. The result was a late game winner and some amazing saves between the pipes from Evan Molloy to seal the win.
Weekend Games to Watch
All times are eastern, Saturday’s games are on ESPNU and Sunday is on
Saturday at Hofstra University
- 12:00 p.m. – Duke vs. Ohio State
- 2:30 p.m. – Denver vs. Notre Dame
Sunday at University of Delaware
- 12:00 p.m. – Towson vs. Syracuse
- 2:30 p.m. – Maryland vs. Albany