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Tourney Recaps and Weekend Predictions!

First let’s recap the action in Denver: the MCLA tournament features day after day of high quality lacrosse and results in a true champion that has been tested by the best teams over a grueling 5 day schedule of games.  Teams that had a couple of guys do most of the work tend to fall to the wayside as depth, teamwork and conditioning become bigger factors.

First let’s recap the action in Denver: the MCLA tournament features day after day of high quality lacrosse and results in a true champion that has been tested by the best teams over a grueling 5 day schedule of games.  Teams that had a couple of guys do most of the work tend to fall to the wayside as depth, teamwork and conditioning become bigger factors.

A lot of these teams have played AT LEAST one series of games on back-to-back days this season, but nothing can prepare you for 2 sets of 2 consecutive days of competitive lacrosse games where it is one and done.  At the end of the day, the last team standing will be battered and bruised but emerge as champions, making all those early mornings and extra sessions working on their game well worth it.

Can anyone stop the Wolverines?In the first round of the MCLA playoffs, Michigan was kept in check by Texas but still came out on top 11-5 as everyone expected.  #9 seed Sonoma beat #8 seed Lindenwood by a score of 9-8. Go figure.  Sonoma then took on Michigan in the second round but got worked 22-6.  Michigan seems to be stepping it up as the tournament progresses, which could be bad news for the rest of the field.

Colorado took care of UCSB handily in the first round proving the Buffs were not to be taken lightly.  UMD held off a tough BC team by 1 goal that was seeded 9 spots below them in a crazy game that didn’t have a lot of scoring at the end but there were a lot of turnovers and excitement.  That close game could have taken something out of the Bulldogs as they lost 13-10 in the Quarterfinals to Colorado.

Chapman BARELY squeezed by CSU in the first round 9-8.  A tough early game like this could spell trouble for Chapman but they can rely on their depth to overcome it.  Simon Fraser won by 3 goals over a tough VTech squad.  Both Chapman and SFU had harder games in the first round than a lot of people expected but when the two faced off in the Quarters, the match lived up to its billing with Chapman pulling out the 15-14 win over the lone Canadian team in the MCLA.

FSU beat Cal-Poly by a comfortable 6 goal margin proving the Noles are the real deal.  BYU handled BYU – Chapman might be the game of the tourneyOregon with ease and won 12-3.  BYU was rested but still could only put down the Noles by 1, winning 9-8.  There have only been 2 or 3 easy wins so far in the MCLA tourney and I think that speaks to the level of parity that exists in the league.  Have the big boys won? For the most part yes they have but others are competing and making them earn it and that will only breed better and better lacrosse.

The Semis will be played on Friday and will feature the #1, 2, 3 and 5 seeded teams in Michigan, BYU, Chapman and Colorado respectively.  Michigan seems to be a team on a mission and I think this will show in their game with Colorado.  I think the Buffs can keep it close early or maybe even take an early lead but Michigan just has too much scoring power and they are able to create “transition” or uneven situations within their set 6 on 6 offense.  I can’t see the Maize and Blue winning by less than 7 goals.

Chapman and BYU should be a great game with lots of good scorers, good poles and good keepers.  Chapman needs to keep moving the ball to keep the BYU D moving because a stagnant, isolation based Chapman offense will not win the game and BYU will need some really good transition opportunities.  I believe their LSM will create some good uneven chances at the face off square and I like BYU to win by 2 or 3 goals.

Whoever wins the second game will probably face Michigan.  I think that the battle between Chapman and BYU will wear the winner out unless these teams are much deeper than I realize.  I see Michigan taking it to either BYU or Chapman and while the game will be close through the first half, I just can’t seen anyone running with the Wolverines.  If they want to pull off the upset, BYU or Chapman will have to control the game through the face off square and long possessions that frustrate Michigan and put goals on the board.

Courtland takes on MiddleburyOn the D3 side of things, Middlebury beat my beloved alma mater, Wesleyan 13-5.  Wesleyan went up 3-0 but it was all down hill form there as Mike Stone put up 4 goals and added 2 assists.  Wesleyan had won the previous two matchups this year 8-7 and 15-14 in OT but couldn’t come up with the solution for the magic 3rd time.  In the other North Quarterfinal, Cortland jumped out to a 5 goal cushion at 6-1 over Western New England College and held on for the 6-5 win.  Freshman keeper for WNEC played out of his mind and came up with 17 saves in the losing effort.  Look for this kid to be an All-American for the next 3 years.  I really like how Middlebury is playing right now and if they get another solid day from Britt, their goalie, I like them to beat Cortland on the road.

Stevenson beat Salisbury by 2 goals in their 3rd meeting of the season in the South bracket.  The teams had split the previous two contests.  The usual suspects for Stevenson got the job done for the Mustangs.  They tend to stand around and iso-dodge a lot but the level of individual scorers that they have is very high.   When they can win the possession game, they are VERY dangerous.  Gettysburg took down Ohio school, Denison by a bunch.  Gettysburg had a rough start to the season [including a game where Stevenson DESTROYED them] but the team now is a totally different monster.  Yanni Peary is a beast on D and the Bullets’ offense has really come around.  I like Stevenson to win this game but I think it will be close.  If the Bullets had 4 poles who were all named Peary, I would pick them but the Stevenson attack is just too potent.

LeMoyne vs. Merrimack Round 3D2 semifinals will also be played this weekend and also features a 3rd meeting between two teams in Merrimack and LeMoyne.  LeMoyne won both games, one quite handily and the other was 6-5.  I have said earlier I think this is Merrimack’s year so I’m going to stick with that even though LeMoyne is playing the game at home and is playing VERY well right now.

In the other semifinal Limestone takes on CW Post and I just don’t think Limestone is in the same class as Post.  I like Post to win this one comfortably in the 16-9 range. Post is my pick right now to win the whole thing and although I like ‘Mack and the Dolphins of LeMoyne, Post is just too solid this season.

On to the big boys of D1! 

#1 UVA takes on #8 Johns Hopkins in Annapolis, MD at Navy’s stadium.  JHU beat Brown by 1 and UVA DESTROYED Villanova but I thought Villanova looked awful so I wasn’t surprised.  This game will be a close one as  UVA tends to struggle at times with a disciplined and physical D, which Hopkins certainly has however, I like the Hop to win this one with faceoffs and long scoring possessions.  THe UVA offense is too scary to try to run and gun with them.

#4 Princeton and #5 Cornell, both of the Ivy League meet on Long Island at Hofstra’s stadium.  These teams match up well and had one heck of a regular season game.  Lately, Cornell has lost some of its bite at the face off square as John Glynn has been accused of using his fingers to touch the ball.  Refs have been looking at his technique very carefully for the last few games and it shows in the results.  All Face off guys cheat but when the ref is carefully watching, it gets much harder to pull it off.  I like Princeton to ride their young goalie, Fiorito to a win over their rival.

Syracuse battles the giant Terp attackIn the other game to be played at Navy’s stadium UNC and Duke matchup for the 3rd time with Duke winning both previous contests.  UNC’s Billy Bitter has 8 goals in the Heels 15-13 win over UMBC but the Duke defense will provide a MUCH tougher challenge.  Manley, McKee and others will prove too much for the Heels as Duke wins the tobacco road rematch by a couplealthough UNC will make it interesting for a good portion of the game.

Maryland will play Syracuse at Hofstra’s stadium in Hempstead for the other northern Quarterfinal.  Cody Jamieson seems to be fitting in well to Cuse’s offense and this means everyone else should be scared.  Jamieson is legit [NJCAA player of the year last year: that’s JUCO for those not in the know] and gives Cuse a true SIXTH option on offense.  Maryland has a good offense but Syracuse has a very good defense led by Sid Smith and an excellent goalie in John Galloway. I like Cuse to roll over Maryland by 5 or more.

It is going to be a GREAT weekend of lacrosse if you’re in Denver, upstate New York, Long Island or a couple places in Maryland.  Get out there, check out some games and live the lax life!

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