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Quint Kessenich’s Reaction: NCAA Lacrosse Tournament

You’re all 0-0 now. New season. 18 teams comprise the 2022 NCAA Men’s Division 1 lacrosse tournament. Here are some details on when these games will be played

  • Play-in games will take place on May 11
  • First round games are on campus at the higher seed on May 14 and 15
  • Quarterfinals will be played at Hofstra and Ohio State on May 20-21
  • Semifinals and the Finals will take place in Rentschler Stadium in Hartford, CT. on May 28 and 30

Duke, North Carolina, Denver, John’s Hopkins and Notre Dame will watch the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament from home. New faces and Ivy programs look to take the next step to greatness.

Get out to these games. Make the trip. Show up. 

#1 Maryland vs (Winner of Vermont vs Manhattan)

Date: Sunday, May 15 (12:00pm)

Quick Reaction: Vermont will be favored over Manhattan. Maryland played the Catamounts in the first round last year. Jake and Jesse Bernhardt match coaching wits. Vermont will host the play-in game against Manhattan.

#1 Maryland (14-0)

Big Ten Champions by virtue of a 17-7 win over Rutgers in front of 2,041 fans in College Park, were led by seven points from Logan Wisnauskas. Terps were plus 16 in ground balls and plus 14 on faceoffs.

“Be the Best” handled Hopkins on Thursday night in the Big Ten semifinals which was also the 117th meeting between these two rivals. Maryland has now won five straight contests against the Jays, all within the last calendar year. Hopkins is not a Top 20 program by any metric.

Offensive coordinator Bob Benson has his group in constant motion this season, dishing out 11 assists per game, scoring 18.7 goals per game, and shooting 41%, all stats are nationally supreme. Transfers Owen Murphy, Keegan Khan and Jonathan Donville are major upgrades from 2021.  Luke Wierman and his wingers win 63% of the draws. Their scoring margin is over 9 goals per contest. Maryland have won the title in 1973, 1975 and in 2017. They’ve been the runner-up 12 times.

Manhattan (8-6)

The Jaspers claimed the MAAC AQ with a win over St Bonaventure. Head coach Drew Kelleher relies on goalie Brendan Krebs. The Jaspers earned a bid to the NCAA Playoffs back in 2002.

Vermont (11-6)

A 13-11 win over UMBC gives the Catamounts a return trip to the dance as America East champs. They’ve won nine straight games after a brutally cold winter up-north that hurt their practice routine. Thomas McConvey, Michael McCormack, Liam Limoges, David Closterman, and goalie Ryan Cornell have been around the block.

#8 Brown vs Virginia

Date: Saturday, May 14 (7:30pm)

Quick Reaction: Lars Tiffany returns to Providence. The non-seeded team is favored on the road. Horrible seeding to put UVA in a quarterfinal bracket with the No.1 seed. If Brown couldn’t handle UNC, how are they going to deal with Petey LaSalla and UVA’s athletes?

#8 Brown (10-5)

The Bears were dominated in the first and third quarters and never got their running shoes tied in a 14-9 home loss to Penn in the Ivy semifinals. Devon McClane was productive but the defense had no answers for Penn behemoth Sam Handley and wing shooter Dylan Gergar.

Brown has gone on a late season tear, bolstered by their depth, uptempo style, and second midfield (Reed Moshyedi, King, Jack Kelly) production. Under coach Mike Daly, Brown State wants to score outside the confines of the traditional six-on-six offense. The advantages of being a strategic outlier in the Ivy League are obvious. “The People’s Goalie” Connor Theriault nicknamed the “Showstopper” was the Ivy GOTY. The Bears have played in the Final Four in 1994 and 2016. 

Virginia (11-3)

Virginia was idle this week. Cavs have the third rated scoring offense in the nation on the impact of Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore. Jeff Conner, after dealing with an early season injury, gives OC Sean Kiran options with the two-man game. The defense is long with Cole Kastner and Cade Saustad but the shorties have been inconsistent lately. Goalie Matt Nunes struggled in his last three outings and a 17 day break was well timed out for a much needed reset. The Wahoos have captured seven D1 titles (1972, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2019, 2021) including the last two. 

#5 Princeton vs Boston U

Date: Saturday, May 14 (12:00pm)

Quick Reaction: The Tigers limp into May. Boston University is on a mission. Princeton won 12-7 on April 9.

#5 Princeton (9-4) 

The Tigers watched the Ivy tournament with the week off. They are excellent off the ground, the Ivy’s best in ground balls per game. Princeton has a rich history of success, winning pre-NCAA era championships in 1884, 1885, 1937, 1942, 1951 and 1953. They’ve captured the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2001. They haven’t been to the quarterfinals since 2009 or the tourney itself since 2012.

Boston University (12-4)

BU defeated Lehigh and Army to capture the Patriot League AQ. The Terriers defense slides early and often while leading the country in caused turnovers. Boston University’s D1 lacrosse program was founded in 2014. They make their first appearance in the NCAA tournament. 

#4 Yale vs Saint Joseph’s

Date: Saturday, May 14 (5:00pm)

Quick Reaction: The Hawks were up over Penn 10-5 entering the fourth quarter a few weeks back. FOGO Zach Cole is an X factor. The Yale ten-man ride is difficult to prep for. The Bulldogs offense should find success. This game smells high scoring.

#4 Yale (11-4)

Diversified scoring and goalie Jared Pacquette were the main storylines in a 14-11 Ivy League semifinal win over Cornell. Brian Tevlin stepped up at crunch time and the Yale ten-man ride had bite. A 3-0 second quarter was the difference.

Yale saw a 4-4 tie against Penn spiral out of control into an 11-4 deficit. The Bulldogs lost the Ivy League final and didn’t look good in the process. Their defense continues to be cause for concern.

The Bulldogs won it all in 1883, and 2018. They made semifinal appearances in 1990, 2018, and 2019. Matt Brandau leads the country in points per game. Thomas Bragg is a stealth weapon on the EMO. Patrick Hackler’s move to SDDM in combination with an overall youth movement has the Bulldogs on the improve. The defense is still a major concern. The Ivy League comeback from a 2020 season that was cut short along with no lacrosse in 2021, to six teams qualifying in 2022 has been one of the biggest stories this spring. 

Saint Joseph’s (14-3)

Hawk Nation rejoice. Carter Page scored five times in a 14-7 win over Hobart in the NEC final. Robbie Seeley has been a huge story between the pipes, he made 16 stops against the Statesmen and is now 10-1 as the starter.

The Hawks were elevated from a club program to varsity in 1992. Three times prior to 2022, they lost in the NEC finals. This is their first NCAA tournament appearance. They led Penn 10-5 after three quarters and won’t be an easy draw this tournament, especially after avoiding a play-in game.

#3 Penn vs Richmond

Date: Saturday, May 14 (2:30pm)

Quick Reaction: This may be the most competitive game of the first round. Richmond has to find answers for Handley. Penn isn’t deep and got banged up in the Ivy League final.

#3 Penn (10-4)

The Quakers are the Ivy League champs after spurting away from Yale on Sunday, breaking open a 4-4 tie into a 11-4 lead. Dylan Gergar, Sam Handley, and Patrick Burkinshaw were spectacular. Handley is by far the biggest matchup problem in the nation.

Penn ambushed Brown in the Ivy League semifinals exploding to a 6-0 lead and pulling away in the third quarter for a 14-9 final. Sam Handley was dominant with seven points and Dylan Gergar found the net five times. LSM BJ Farrare had seven grounders and five caused turnovers. Penn, behind a stellar outing from goalie Patrick Burkinshaw, never let the Browns find their transition flow.

Handley, Gabe Furey, and James Shipley form a wickedly athletic first midfield line. Handley has been averaging nearly six points per game lately while playing on the first and second midfield line coming out of the box each possession. Shipley has been clutch with overtime winning goals against Duke and Saint Joseph’s. Freshmen attackmen Ben Smith and Tynan Walsh are fresh wrinkles. Goalie Patrick Burkinshaw was on the 2019 UVA title team before transferring. Quakers played in the 1988 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament in the Air Gait semifinal, a close loss. Penn played in the 2019 quarterfinals.

Richmond (11-4)

The Spiders did it again, capturing the SoCon AQ after a nail biter against Jacksonville. RU has won five straight and Saturday’s 10-9 win came off the stick of Luke Frankeny, who tied it and won it for coach Dan Chemotti.

Richmond defeated UVA at home this season and are capable of hanging with the big boys. Ryan Lanchbury, Luke Frankeny, Dalton Young, and Ryan Dunn thrive in settled sets; this is a good passing team. The Spiders were founded in 2014 and they have made three prior NCAA tournament appearances in 2014, 2018, 2019.

#6 Rutgers vs Harvard

Date: Sunday, May 15 (2:30pm)

Quick Reaction: Setting the over/under total at 30.5 for this one. Rutgers’ resume sports wins over Ohio State (twice) and Army, so I won’t be surprised when this is a tight matchup. The age difference between these rosters is eye popping. Rutgers will play its first-round game against Harvard at Yurcak Field. Graduation is occupying the football stadium in Piscataway.

#6 Rutgers (13-3)

Rutgers’ first Big Ten Tournament win since 2016 came on Thursday night, pulling away from Ohio State to cement their at-large resume and solidify home field game. The “Jersey Boys” owned the second half, 8-3, after trailing by three at halftime.

A loss to Maryland in the final was a first round knockout, down 8-2 after being out shot 28-11 in the first half.

Rutgers goes from defense to offense in a blink of an eye, clearing the ball at 92% and scoring on odd-man rushes with their NASCAR shorties very capable of taking the ball to the rack. Ross Scott controls the ball from X with improved midfield performance from Ronan Jacoby, Shane Knobloch, Ryan Gallagher, and Jack Aimone. Rutgers plays man-to-man defense and doesn’t want to slide to their poles at all.

The Scarlet Knights won a first round game at Lehigh in 2021 in their first tournament appearance since 2004. They’ve been to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament quarterfinals once since 1991.

Harvard (8-4)

The Crimson entered the bracket by virtue due to wins over Brown, Princeton, and BU. With an RPI of 15 and an SOS of 21, this was the committees toughest decision.

#7 Cornell vs Ohio State

Date: Sunday, May 15 (5:00pm)

Quick Reaction: Cornell beat Ohio State in March. I’m not sure the Big Red have improved as much as the Buckeyes have since then. They’ve gone 1-3 lately. The Cornell attack may give OSU fits. The Buckeye’s pick and roll offense will try to pry Adler from Jack Myers’ gloves.

#7 Cornell (10-4)

The Big Red fell to Yale in the Ivy League semifinals 14-11 after an 18:00 minute scoreless drought in the middle of the contest. 8 failed clears hurt. Michael Long was the star on offense and Gavin Adler was terrific on defense.

Cornell’s attack is elite with CJ Kirst, Michael Long, and John Piatelli. Gavin Adler and shorty Harrison Bardwell are the pillars of the defense. Midfield scoring is the million dollar question. Head coach Connor Buczek, while only 29 years old, has done remarkable work navigating his team through the season. The Big Red won NCAA championships in 1971, 1976, and 1977 under coach Richie Moran. Their last appearance in Championship Weekend came in 2013. 

Ohio State (10-5)

A Big Ten semifinal loss stings after the Buckeyes built a three-goal halftime lead. Goalie Skyler Wahlund finished with 21 saves as the Scarlet Knights hit 8 of 24 shots in the second half (33%) and just 4 of 23 in the first. Jack Myers and Jackson Reid produced but the supporting cast was held in check.

The “Jack and Jackson” combo has led to repeated layups and the Bucks shoot a strong 34%. The pick heavy schemes compensate for their lack of speed in settled sets. Colby Smith and Jason Knox are both sharp shooters with their feet set. The Buckeyes appeared in the 2017 NCAA Championship game. They’ve played in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament quarterfinals in 2008, 2013, 2015, and 2017 and haven’t been in the bracket since 2017. 

#2 Georgetown vs (Winner of Delaware vs Robert Morris)

Date: Sunday, May 15 (7:30pm)

Quick Reaction: Delaware can be hot and cold. The Hoyas road to Connecticut may be the softest I’ve ever seen for a top seed. They can moonwalk to Rentschler. Delaware will host the play-in game against Robert Morris.

#2 Georgetown (15-1)

Goalie Owen McElroy made 17 saves in the Big East finals, a sloppy 14-12 win over Villanova. The “Swamp Dogs” have won 11 straight. Production was top heavy and FOGO James Reilly took every draw.

Graham Bundy Jr. paced the Hoyas with four goals and two assists while Declan McDermott added four goals in a 15-5 East semifinals win on Thursday night in the Swamp.

Cornerstone of coach Kevin Wanre’s squad is a No.1 scoring defense in the nation complimented by rock-solid FOGO Reilly and goalie McElroy. The Hoyas lost to Syracuse in the 1999 semifinals, their only trip to Championship Weekend. They lost to UVA in the 2021 quarterfinals in a one-sided mauling. This team is built for Connecticut.

Delaware (11-5)

The Blue Hens are kings of the CAA and will make their first NCAA Lacrosse Tournament appearance since 2011. Delaware owns a win over Hopkins and after playing Duke, Villanova, and Michigan. They won’t be over their heads next weekend.

Robert Morris (10-5)

Robert Morris defeated Utah to grab the ASUN AQ. This will be their third trip to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. After an 0-3 start, Taggert Clark, Corson Kealey, Dan Taddeo, and Jake Boudreau have delivered on offense.