After last week’s first-round games, the NCAA Men’s Division I bracket is in full-on survival-of-the-fittest mode. We learned quite a bit about the teams still left, and it sets up what will be an intense 2019 NCAA Lacrosse quarterfinals round. So let’s take a look at each game this weekend, going in chronological order.
2019 NCAA Lacrosse Quarterfinals
Saturday, 12:00PM ET
Maryland vs. #3 Virginia
This is a pretty interesting NCAA quarterfinals game, and is a rekindling of an old ACC matchup. It also features Maryland, who is the only “upset” of the first round, meaning they are the only unseeded team left in the field. So how did each get here?
Maryland pulled off the upset by topping in-state Towson in what was not only the lone upset, but was also the most dramatic ending of the first round and only overtime game. Most of the game belonged to the Tigers, but a five goal fourth quarter outburst (led by Logan Wisnauskas and Jared Bernhardt) set up an ending where Bernhardt scored with just three seconds left on the clock. Without the shot clock, Towson wins this game (assuming it only mattered at the end, but let’s not get into a space-time continuum here). But in the shot clock era, Towson decides to use the full clock and roll the ball into the corner, better that their settled defense would have a better shot at securing the win instead of risking a fast break on an odd bounce. So, there you have it. Maryland as an underdog despite being No. 2 in the country prior to a pair of Hopkins losses almost cost them a postseason. Now they get to try again.
Virginia’s opening round was a much different situation. Their game with Robert Morris was the second largest margin of victory in the opening round, second only to Penn State’s thrashing of UMBC. While it took them a little while to get rolling, once that first goal dropped, they never looked back. The biggest surprise for the ‘Hoos was Mikey Herring’s emergence. He entered the game with just ten goals on the season despite playing in every game this year. But when the last whistle blew, he had recorded six goals on just seven shots. That’s definitely a performance they would like to see repeated.
Head to head: They have not met this season
|Notre Dame||W 13-11W 10-4||L 14-13 (OT)|
|North Carolina||W 11-10W 14-13||W 16-9|
|Johns Hopkins||W 16-11||L 16-11L 12-7|
|Richmond||W 16-7||W 10-9|
Saturday, 2:30PM ET
#2 Duke vs #7 Notre Dame
The first of two rematches in the 2019 NCAA Lacrosse Quarterfinals. This ACC battle is an interesting one. Not nearly as even as their Ivy in terms of pure margin, they did split their first two meetings, making this a true winner takes all rematch. What was the difference between the two games?
For my money, this game comes down to one guy for Duke to have success. It’s not their defense as their dueling All-American long poles are going to a force regardless. To me it’s Nakeie Montgomery. When he’s at his best, Duke is almost unstoppable. Brad Smith will get his points, but Montgomery has that ability to change a game by forcing slides and either finishing from the alley or finding an open cutter. If he’s having a day, the Blue Devils are a different team.
For the Irish, we need to see if Ryder Garnsey used up all his magic in his return, or if a regular season out of action means he has it all saved up. After not seeing the field for the entire 2019 campaign, he showed up to drop a hat trick and an assist against Hopkins, including two man-up goals. Those two man-up goals made him the fifth on the team, so you could definitely say his presence was felt.
Head to head: Game 1 Duke over Notre Dame 14-8, Game 2 (ACC Tournament) Notre Dame 12-10
|North Carolina||L 8-10||W 12-10|
|Syracuse||L 8-9 (OT)||W 13-10|
|Virginia||W 12-7||L 13-11L 10-4|
|Denver||W 10-9||W 10-7|
Sunday, 12:00PM ET
#1 Penn State vs #8 Loyola
There is no hotter team in the country than Penn State. They still just have a single loss, and that was by a single goal. They are the top offense in the country, they have the best shooting percentage in the country, they have the most assists per game in the country, the have the best man-up offense in the country, and are top 20 in scoring defense, ground balls per game, and faceoff percentage. They are by no means invincible, but you cannot afford to take a quarter off. When UMBC scored first in their game last week, my eyebrow was raised. That eyebrow quickly dropped as the Penn State we know took over.
On the other side of the field is Loyola. Going into this tournament-of-all-lacrosse tournaments, Loyola was full of question marks. They looked flat out bad against BU in that loss, and were exposed all over the field. They really struggled in broken situations. Then, to lose their Patriot tournament game to Army left little confidence remaining. But against Syracuse, they looked much more like the early season Loyola we were hoping to see. Pat Spencer dominated Nick Mellen, who is a better cover defender than anyone Penn State has. But Penn State has the size to force the matchup a latter harder and they practice against the best passer in the country every day. This game could turn into a track meet and become a goalie battle. Against Syracuse, Stover was the different maker between the pipes. He’ll need the game of his life in this one.
Head to head: They have not met this season
|Rutgers||W 14-13W 18-6||W 13-7|
|Johns Hopkins||W 20-9W 18-17(OT)||W 18-12|
Sunday, 2:30PM ET
#4 Penn vs #5 Yale
Round 3… FIGHT! Seriously, though. This is a heavyweight battle for the ages. This preview could be 6,000 words on its own. But I’m going to keep it simple. Both their previous meetings have been decided by a single goal. It’s the #2 versus the #3 offense in NCAA Men’s Division I lacrosse. With a trip to the semifinals on the line, there is no reason to think this won’t be one of the best NCAA lacrosse quarterfinal games you’ll see. So yeah, just watch.
Head to head: Game 1 Penn 13-12 (3OT), Game 2 (Ivy Tournament) Penn 12-11
|Cornell||W 16-15||W 16-11W 15-10|
|Harvard||W 26-13||W 22-11|
|Dartmouth||W 22-6||W 20-8|
|Brown||W 16-9W 13-12||W 17-12|
|Princeton||W 19-10||W 15-10|
|Villanova||W 13-11||L 10-11 (OT)|
|Penn State||L 14-15||W 14-13|