College Lacrosse: Conference Championship Weekend
As the college lacrosse season moves into May, now begins the final race to see which 17 teams will hear their name called into the NCAA tournament, which will begin play next week. A few of the top teams took hits last weekend, as the Big Ten was in their final weekend of play, and the ACC tournament semifinals took place in North Carolina. 38 teams remain in play for bids qualifier into the NCAA tournament, 17 will make it. 9 will qualify after winning their conference tournament, 8 will be given automatic qualifiers. Sunday is selection Sunday, and anything can happen between now and then. It is win or go home at this point for 21 teams. Who will get in, who will be left out?
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
ACC Championship – Saturday May 4th, 2PM
#4 Virginia will take on #8 Notre Dame in the battle of the top two teams in the regular season. After a closer than expected game against North Carolina last weekend, Virginia started off fast, went on a nearly 30 minute scoring drought, and came back to win by 1 over the Heels. UVA will need to decide their starting goalie this week. After their win against the Dukies last weekend, Notre Dame has more or less secured their spot in the NCAA tournament field. This weekend will determine whether they have a home playoff game. They have been playing complete lacrosse lately, and look like they can make a deep run.
Prediction: Notre Dame 11, Virginia 9.
Thursday, May 2nd
Albany vs Vermont, 4:30PM
Vermont beat the Danes for the first time since 2011 earlier this season. Vermont’s youth has showed stretches of maturity, and also signs of weakness. They lost to Penn by 2 on Saturday. Albany dropped their final game to Stony Brook and a chance to host the tournament. Sitting at 5-8, they still have a chance. Tehoka Nanticoke is a big time player, and will show up for this big time game.
Prediction: Albany 12, Vermont 11.
Stony Brook vs UMBC, 7PM
The Retrievers snuck into the tournament after beating Hartford. They have struggled mightily this season, while Stony Brook skated through the America East with only one blemish to Hartford. Playing in front of their home crowd, they should not disappoint.
Prediction: Stony Brook 14, UMBC 5.
Championship – Albany vs Stony Brook
In a lightning delayed game on Saturday, Stony Brook held off Albany, something I do not see them doing once again if they play each other. This slowed Albany’s run and Stony Brook was able to hold on. Albany is not the same team without their graduating seniors and TD Ierlan, but I see them getting the AQ here.
Prediction: Albany 11, Stony Brook 10.
Thursday, May 2nd
#1 Penn State vs Rutgers, 5PM
This game is a rematch of last weekend, as Rutgers kept it close throughout, and Penn State prevailed by a single goal. Even as gritty as they are, I don’t think Rutgers has what it takes to take down the #1 team in the country. They are bolstered by their tough defense, but losers of only one, Penn State has a deep run in them. Expect it to start this weekend.
Prediction: Penn State 17, Rutgers 12.
#5 Maryland vs #16 Hopkins, 7:30PM
“The Rivalry” part II. Hopkins won the first in College Park last weekend in dominant fashion. Battling from down early, they went up 12-7 and never looked back. Maryland shot well, but didn’t shoot enough. Hopkins saved two shots all night and still got the victory. Coach Tillman is surely drawing something up this week to generate more offense. Hopkins is in a good spot to win one of the last at-large bids, and a win or two this week would help their cause.
Prediction: Hopkins 15, Maryland 14.
#1 Penn State vs #16 Hopkins
In upset fashion, Hopkins will take down the number one team in a week that gives them three top-10 wins. They will make the NCAA tournament and have a home game at Homewood field. The band will be louder than ever, and Hopkins will have bounced out of one of their worst years recently to surprise many in the last week. They were counted out lately, but they are still in it. Penn State will suffer their first loss since late February moving into the NCAA tournament. But Hopkins is in. This upset pick will shake up the bubble teams.
Prediction: Hopkins 14, Penn State 13.
Thursday, May 2nd
#17 Georgetown vs Providence, 6:30PM
Providence skated in after a crazy win over Villanova last weekend. They will play the Hoyas in a game that was decided by two goals just about a month ago. I think Georgetown is a dark horse in the Big East and can give the conference a run for their money. They are 11-4 and lost to Loyola by only two. Denver might be a test for them but they will get by Providence.
Prediction: Georgetown 14, Providence 8.
#14 Denver vs #20 Villanova, 9PM
This game is essentially played to see who might get the last at large bid to the NCAA tournament. Denver has had its ups and downs this season, while so has Villanova. Denver has more talent, and a defense that has basically only been torn up this year by Sowers.
Prediction: Denver 15, Villanova 13.
#14 Denver vs #17 Georgetown
Denver will avenge their 1 goal loss to Georgetown earlier this season in shutting them down offensively. Denver has the ability to make games low scoring, and with Ethan Walker and Colton Jackson leading the offense, they will be able to score goals in bunches.
Prediction: Denver 15, Georgetown 8.
Thursday, May 2nd
#13 Umass vs Drexel, 5PM
The Umass defense will prevail in this game, leading the minutemen to the CAA championship. Although playing some close games, they usually keep the opposition to under 10 goals. In a game like this, Drexel might have some trouble against the young offense Umass has.
Prediction: Umass 14, Drexel 7.
#12 Towson vs Delaware, 7PM
Our hometown Tigers also have a chance to snag that last at large bid, and it starts this weekend against Delaware. Towson has only lost one in the last month, and their offense seems to be surging when they needed it most. They put up 14 on the Blue Hens two weeks ago, who says they cant do it again. Towson needs their midfield to step up against Delaware like they did two weeks ago.
Prediction: Towson 15, Delaware 13.
#13 Umass vs #12 Towson
Although the Tigers were once ranked #1, Umass and their dominant D will hold the Tigers from winning the CAA and take another one from Towson this year. In the last game, the Umass goalie stepped up, making 17 saves. Umass will earn the AQ.
Prediction: Umass 13, Towson 9.
Friday, May 3rd
#3 Penn vs Brown, 6PM
Penn ran away with the Ivy League early in their wins over Yale and Cornell. This will not be as big of a test as the championship will be for them. Whether it is Cornell or Yale, the Ivy championship will be a good one on Sunday. Penn will get their 10th straight win on Friday and play for the AQ.
Prediction: Penn 15, Brown 8.
#2 Yale vs #9 Cornell, 8PM
Cornell was able to survive Michael Sowers, but what will Yale’s three headed monster do to them Friday night. Last time these two played, Yale won 16-11. The big question is what role Td Ierlan will play at the X. Cornell will be efficent on offense, and I think this will be a high scoring affair, but Td Ierlan’s impact might give Yale the opportunity to play a make it-take it game and run away with it.
Prediction: Yale 18, Cornell 14.
Sunday, May 5th
#2 Yale vs #3 Penn
In one of the most thrilling finishes to a game the college lacrosse world has seen this year, what will its second episode entail. Both of these teams will make the tournament, but Penn’s magic might run out in this one. Yale has been a dominant team all year, and again their youthful attack and Td Ierlan will control the game.
Prediction: Yale 16, Penn 14.
Thursday, May 2nd
Quinnipiac vs Detroit Mercy, 4PM
My two frontrunners both sit at 5-2 in conference. Detroit is losers of its last two after finishing MAAC play, while Quinnipiac has lost three of five. These two played in the middle of March, with Quinnipiac taking the victory 12-9. Detroit will bounce back and take this one.
Prediction: Detroit 14, Quinnipiac 10.
Marist vs Canisius, 7PM
The Red Foxes sit at 6-1 in conference with their only blemish to Detroit early on. Marist took care of business against Canisius this past weekend, winning 10-8. This could be closer than many seem, and it depends on Marist winning the FO battle. Their young offensive talent has made mistakes but is deep.
Prediction: Marist 11, Canisius 10.
Marist vs Detroit
This was a close one in late March, where Quinnipiac rallied for a four goal run to win it in the fourth. The defenses were locked in earlier this season, but this may be a different game as both teams know each others strengths and weaknesses.
Prediction: Marist 9, Detroit 7.
Thursday, May 2nd
Mount St Mary’s vs Robert Morris
The hosts, sitting at 5-1 in conference will take on a Robert Morriss team they beat by three in March. Robert Morriss has been on a tear of late, averaging almost 16 goals a game in their past six wins. It will take another offensive effort like this to knock off the Mount, as when they played last, the scoreline showed 14-11. Crazy to think that a team who was once 1-7 has a chance to make the NCAA tournament. I see their momentum knocking off the team from Western Maryland.
Prediction: Robert Morris 17, Mount St Mary’s 14.
Hobart vs Sacred Heart
This game was also close in the regular season, Hobart taking it by 1. The top of this conference is all knotted up, with three teams sitting at 4-2 in conference. These are two of them. Hobart played with Cornell earlier this season, and lost big to Cuse. Sacred Heart features Max Tuttle, one of the more prolific scorers this season. Tuttle didn’t play in their last contest, and I think he is the difference.
Prediction: Sacred Heart 14, Hobart 11.
Robert Morris vs Sacred Heart
Max Tuttle will again show up big for Sacred Heart, as they look for their first NCAA tournament appearance. The defending NEC champs in Robert Morris have been in these games before, but being the biggest game in Sacred Heart history, they will show up to play this weekend.
Prediction: Sacred Heart 16, Robert Morris 15.
Friday, May 3rd
#6 Loyola vs #19 Army, 5PM
Even with Pat Spencer scoring 7 points the last time these two met, the game remained close, as Loyola won by 4. Army has an outsanding D that is gritty and tough, and if they were to shut down Spencer, the outcome of this game will be closer. I don’t see Loyola blowing a semifinal game in a conference where they have been so heavily favored to do huge things. Army is coming off a big win over Holy Cross, but their tank runs empty here.
Prediction: Loyola 15, Army 12.
Lehigh vs Boston U, 8PM
Lehign beat Boston by two in the regular season, and it is one of the reasons they get two extra days rest in the postseason. After that win, the Mountain Hawks have struggled, losing four of five, and despite the extra days rest and the defense that has been playing great all season, I think Chris Gray, the Patriot League player who became the first ever to score 100 points in a season will be too much.
Prediction: Boston U 12, Lehigh 9.
#6 Loyola vs Boston U
With the Terriers playing their third game in six days on Sunday, they will be tired and sore. They beat Loyola in a huge upset in early April, 18-11. With an outstanding offensive effort and shut down of Spencer, Boston has what it takes. I think Loyola will find a way to make Spencer a key role in this game, taking the Patriot League crown and advancing to the NCAA tournament. Boston will have to test their luck in the at-large pool, which will be tough for them.
Prediction: Loyola 12, Boston U 10.
Thursday, May 2nd
High Point vs Jacksonville, 5:30PM
High Point is winners of their last three by only three goals. They last played Jacksonville in March and lost on the road. The biggest February surprise has quietly only lost two games all year. The Panthers are dangerous with Asher Nolting playing attack. They need wins to make a statement going into the NCAA tournament and this will be the first one.
Prediction: High Point 11, Jacksonville 8.
Air Force vs Richmond, 8PM
To win this game, Richmond’s offense needs to show up and play. Battling against Air Force’s stellar D will be a tough task. Last time these two played each other, Richmond generated 13 shots on goal and Air Force scored 14 times. After a slow start, Air Force has been 8-2 and will give the Panthers a run for their money in the title game.
Prediction: Air Force 15, Richmond 10.
High Point vs Air Force
The Panthers will return to their February ways, and Asher Nolting will take over this game. The sophomore who already has 82 points on the year will show why he is one of the best in the country.
Prediction: High Point 14, Air Force 12.
Predicting the NCAA Tournament Field:
Automatic Qualifiers (10):
Notre Dame (ACC)
Albany (America East)
Hopkins (Big Ten)
High Point (SoCon)
Denver (Big East)
At Large Bids (7):
Maryland (Big Ten)
Penn State (Big Ten)
Sam Kuhn currently is the graduate assistant for the men's lacrosse program at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio and is working to complete his Masters of Business Administration in 2020. Sam graduated from the College of Wooster in 2018, where he received his Bachelors Degree in English and played lacrosse as well. In his four years, Sam was a two time All-NCAC selection, a first team All-Region selection in 2018, and surpassed 100 goals for his career, one of seven members in program history to do so. Sam has interned with Inside Lacrosse, and wrote for the sports section of The Wooster Voice. Sam is looking to pursue a job in sports journalism or a related field upon graduation in 2020. Sam hails from Towson, MD where he grew up and has three younger brothers, two of which play lacrosse currently in college.