The NAIA Conference Championships were this past weekend, and I must say, our No. 1 seeds came ready to play. All three of the top seeds cruised to victories over their respective fields.
NAIA CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP RECAPS
The AAC Championship saw a very familiar championship matchup in No. 1 Reinhardt versus No. 2 Cumberlands. Reinhardt started hot right out of the gates, scoring all four of the first quarter’s goals. The second quarter saw Cumberlands match Reinhardt’s defensive intensity as both teams only scored once to make the halftime score 5-1 in favor of the RU Eagles. In the second half, Reinhardt continued to control the game, in large part because of Matt Webb’s 14 saves and JR Sess going 13-of-17 on face-offs. When the final horn sounded, the scoreboard read 10-3 and Reinhardt celebrated its fifth-straight AAC crown.
The KCAC championship game featured a highly anticipated rematch between No. 1 seed Columbia Cougars and No. 2 seed St. Ambrose Bees. Most people thought this game would be quite competitive as the regular season meeting saw CC take it, 12-8, but most people were wrong.
Columbia stormed out to an early 3-0 lead before Ambrose rallied to make it 5-2 at half. CC had no intention of letting SAU get back in this one, though, as it scored three-straight goals to start the third quarter. Thanks to goals from Christian Dimaano and Cole Danner, Ambrose gained a little life as it cut the score to 9-5 early in the fourth. But the rest of the final quarter would belong to the Cougars as they rattled off seven of the last eight goals to conquer the contest, 16-6, and give the program its first KCAC championship.
The WHAC title game saw No. 1 Indiana Tech square off against No. 2 Concordia of Ann-Arbor for the second time in as many weeks. This contest was almost identical to the regular season matchup. In the regular season, Indiana Tech cruised to a 13-6 victory, and this time around it pulled away to a 13-4 triumph.
Tech’s Nate Langille was the standout offensive performer, netting three goals and assisting on another three. He got things started just 15 seconds into the game with a quick goal off the face-off. Just like that, the rout was on. The thing that was prevalent in both meetings between these two has been Indiana Tech’s high pressure defense forcing failed clears. In fact, it forced an average of 30 turnovers in these matchups. This led to Concordia being held to below a 25-shot average against Indiana Tech.
National Invitational Bracket
This weekend, the National Invitational Bracket was also released, The seeding is as follows:
1.Reinhardt (14-0, AAC champs)
2.Indiana Tech (16-1, WHAC champs)
3.Columbia (14-0, KCAC Champs)
4. Keiser (6-2, at-large Independent bid)
5. St. Ambrose (13-3, KCAC runner up/at-large bid)
6. Cumberlands (7-6, AAC runner up/at-large bid)
7. Concordia (8-3, WHAC runner up/at-large bid)
8. Benedictine (9-4, KCAC at-large bid)
Tuesday Update: Concordia can no longer participate due to COVID protocols, moving Benedictine up to the 7 seed, now playing Indiana Tech. Lourdes is the new 8 seed, playing Reinhardt.
My favorite matchup to keep an eye on is No. 3 Columbia versus No. 6 Cumberlands. I think this game could be one that comes down to the wire.
To watch the NAIA Conference champions play in the NAIA Men’s Lacrosse Invitational you can purchase a day pass for $4.99 or a weekend pass with all games for $9.99.