It’s an old main image photo, but it’s a good one! This year’s Mens’ NCAA D3 Lacrosse tournament has long been incredibly exciting, but it has also been truly special from a great games standpoint. Not only do we get huge contests on weekends, but we are also seeing some of the best lacrosse of the year played on weekdays! Last week we saw a couple of killer Wednesday games, and this week D3 takes things up a notch or six, as each and every Wednesday game has the potential to be really exciting.
This is top notch bonus lacrosse, and if you’re not watching on May 16th, then shame on you! On top of that, this longer playoff structure (and parity in the D3 world) really pushes teams to the limit, and it makes the D3 run the hardest and longest title run in all of college lacrosse.
I’ll go over who is left alive in NCAA D3 lacrosse right now, talk about who plays who on Wednesday, throw in some highlights from recent games where available (many of which were amazing contests), and then make some predictions – because that is fun, and I like being wrong. Although I did pretty much nail my NJCAA predictions, so there’s always that.
NCAA D3 Lacrosse – Who’s Alive?
In one half of the North, you have RIT playing against York on Wednesday. RIT dropped Stevens in convincing fashion at home, while York had to win on the road at Amherst, which they did by a tight 13-11 margin. A big win at home versus a tough road win? They’re both very, very good, and it makes this match up even more exciting.
The most exciting thing about this match up is going to the contrast in styles. RIT plays fast and loose, while York plays a controlled, slower pace of play. I thought Amherst would be able to press the pace a little more, and get the goal totals up, but York did an unreal job of playing composed, and scoring big goals when they needed them. This is the big question – who will win the tempo war? Whoever does so will be favored to win here, and I’ve never seen RIT play slow this year, so watch out for this one. I watched about 5 minutes of their Stevens’ game, they looked sharp. This should be a SUPERB one.
Did I say that was the most exciting thing? Well, another exciting thing is that for many people this is really a #1 vs #2 match up, and it’s happening in the quarters. On April 30th the USILA had RIT in first and York in second. Others don’t have the same rankings, but the point is these two teams are both at, or near, the top, and it’s a tantalizing prospect to see these guys playing in the quarters!
The other half of the North is an all-NESCAC affair, with Tufts hosting Wesleyan outside of Boston on Wednesday. Wesleyan won three games over Tufts last year, and now Tufts has won two gave over Wesleyan this year. That’s just kind of amazing. Now the Cardinals travel to the Jumbos to determine which of these programs will win the biggest game of 2018. The only prediction I feel really comfortable making about this one is that it’s going to be a REALLY good game, with a number of very pretty goals and some very impressive poles. It’s two more Top 5 teams, so that makes sense, right?
Wesleyan beat Cabrini on grass on Saturday, in a game that was relatively slow and methodical. Both teams still put up some points though. Tufts came out hot against Ithaca, and while the young Bombers made a run of it at times, the Jumbos used experience and scoring to handily secure the win. These teams are tested, know each other well, and it’s a perfect match up to get into the Final Four. I’d love to see two NESCAC teams in the semis, but I’m happy to see this match up now!
Down South, or “South” as PA is not really South at all, we have Gettysburg taking on Ohio Wesleyan on one side of the bracket, and while Gettysburg is favored here and has been cruising through the NCAAs, OWU is tested and ready to prove they belong. Don’t count out the Battling Bishops. Gettysburg crushed a relatively weaker Rhodes team 22-9, while OWU bested NCAC rival Denison 12-11.
Finally, we have Dickinson and Salisbury to complete the bracket, and both of these teams are coming off of tight one goal wins to advance. Dickinson beat Washington & Lee 10-9, while Salisbury was down BIG to CNU before they came back to earn a 12-11 win at home. It showed that Salisbury is very much beatable, but that they can also comeback and win games with grit, teamwork, great shooting, and plenty of know how and confidence. It didn’t matter how big SU was down, they still expected to win that game, and they put in the work to make it happen.
Somehow neither team has any relevant video up. Oh well. On to the next one!
NCAA D3 Predictions!
Moving forward, I’m going to pick some winners, and I’m also going to make some score predictions, through the final game. Why now? Why not?!?!?!
North Bracket – Quarterfinals
RIT vs York – I’ll take RIT in this one, by a 15-12 margin. I think York will keep it lower scoring, and that could work early on, or at other times, but RIT’s offense will prove too powerful for that approach to hold through 4 quarters.
Tufts vs Wesleyan – I went to Wesleyan, and there is no way I will pick against the Cardinals. Whatever happens here, I like a 1-2 goal game, in the low to mid-teens for both teams, so I’m taking Wesleyan with the 14-13 OT win.
North Bracket – Semifinals
RIT vs Wesleyan – I need both of my picks to hold up here, but if they do, I’m going to take RIT to win here, and that feels just awful to type. Both teams have unreal settled offenses, great defensive groups and schemes (Wesleyan may even have an advantage there), but RIT has one clear edge in this potential match up and that is transition. If this match up happens, that’s where the game will be won or lost. If RIT plays Tufts, it will be the same. If York beats RIT, it will be about tempo and game management.
This is actually simpler than I though.
South Bracket – Quarterfinals
Gettysburg vs Ohio Wesleyan – I’ll take Gettysburg here, and of all the games in the quarters, I feel safest with this pick, which is not actually saying all that much. I’ll go 15-10 with the Bullets moving on to the semifinals.
Salisbury vs Dickinson – I think this will be a one goal game, along the order of 12-11, and I like the Gulls from SU to take the game. It seems to be their thing this year – coming back, and winning by 1 when they need to. Experience shines through in a tight game.
South Bracket – Semifinals
Gettysburg vs Salisbury – It might seem crazy because I’ve been all over Gettysburg, but I’ll take old faithful in Salisbury to win here. I believe Gettysburg is the favorite, and should win, but I’m picking SU in a 10-9 thriller. It’s just a feeling, based on nothing tangible at all.
NCAA D3 Finals
RIT vs Salisbury – I’ve got RIT and Salisbury (God I hope I’m wrong and that Wesleyan makes it!) and this would be a rematch of last year’s title game, which Salisbury won in impressive fashion. For me, this prospective match up will go the same way, but with the other program doing the impressing. That’s right, I have RIT as the favorite here, and I have the TIgers winning, 16-12.
Ok, enough is enough, and the games on Wednesday are all must watch livestream TV.
Game Stream Links & Times
For the Tufts – Wesleyan game, the link will be found on Tufts Schedule Page, HERE.
For the RIT – York game, the link will be found on RIT’s Schedule Page, HERE.
For the Gettysburg – OWU game, the link can be found on GC’s stream channel, HERE.
For the Salisbury – Dickinson game, the link can be found on SU’s schedule page, HERE.
My Preseason Predictions – How’d I do?
I named six “top teams” in my D3 Preseason Report, and 4 of them are still alive in RIT, York, Wesleyan, and Salisbury. I had Dickinson, Tufts, and Gettysburg in my next group of top level teams, but OWU I left out. Big mistake there! I had Denison, but OWU won the one goal game when it counted. Big stuff.
In the midseason, I took another deep look at D3, and I moved Tufts and Gettysburg up to the “top level”, but lost some faith in Salisbury (which was more than fair at that point). I also talked about OWU as an up and comer, but I didn’t give Dickinson the respect they’ve now earned. I loved seeing Salisbury right the ship late in the year, and Dickinson has continued to surprise me, which is always fun. Coach Webster is still doing a great job down there. Not a shocker.
Now Go Play!
Good luck to all the teams out there, still alive, still battling. It’s been a pleasure watching so many of you play great games in 2018.
Will see see a new champ this year? Will an old favorite win another? Let’s watch and find out. It all continues on Wednesday!