Now that the first round of the NCAA has wrapped up, we can take a look at who moved on, who didn’t, and what to expect this weekend. There are going to be four excellent games as teams are fighting for those four coveted spots at Championship weekend in Philadelphia. Every one of these games is a can’t miss affair since every single one is a rematch of a game from earlier in the season or last year’s tournament. Revenge was the theme of the opening round and it only continues now. Get ready for some more great lacrosse.
Saturday Denver Quarterfinal – Televised on ESPNU
Game #1: Notre Dame vs. Albany 3:00 ET
How they got here: Notre Dame
Notre Dame started slow against Towson, but finished on top with 12-10 win. It was a much closer contest than the #1 seed was hoping for, but the result of moving on to the second round was still achieved. A big five goal third quarter is what would prove to be the difference. Matt Kavanagh and Mikey Wynne were both held without a point and Shane Doss only made eight saves after allowing ten goals.
How they got here: Albany
Albany lived up to their billing and steamrolled Cornell down in Ithaca. Their 19 goals really turned some heads as the Danes avenged their early season loss to the Big Red. This offense was firing on all cylinders while Blaze Riorden finished with 20 saves and a coast to coast goal. This team is talented and motivated.
What to look for:
This matchup was one of the best games in last year’s tournament. Notre Dame scored six fourth quarter goals to force overtime at 13-13. Matt Kavanagh scored the game winner, sending Albany home for the year. Both of these teams know how to play bad games, but only have two losses each. Expect a high scoring affair with both goalies making great plays, lots of transition, and a full highlight reel at the end. What a great game to start the weekend with.
Game #2: Denver vs. Ohio State 5:30 ET
How they got here: Denver
The numbers said Denver’s game against Brown was going to light up the scoreboard. Instead, the Pioneers rode their goalie Ryan LaPlante’s 16 saves to a dominant win over Brown. Although it only went down as a six point win, Denver owned that entire game and never gave Brown a glimpse of an upset. They now travel six miles down the road for the game at Mile High.
How they got here: Ohio State
The Buckeyes scored the biggest upset of the tournament by beating Duke down on the Blue Devils’ home field. It was the first time in 20 years someone had done that in an NCAA game. This was not a case of Duke just having an off day. Ohio State played a great game for a whole 60 minutes and earned that dominant win.
What to look for:
Both teams looked impressive in their wins over teams who should have put up a much bigger fight than they did. Smart money is still on Denver. They’re playing essentially a home game and have been much more consistent than Ohio State all year. That is of course unless you consider Ohio State’s 13-11 win over the Pioneers back in March.
Sunday Annapolis Quarterfinal – Televised on ESPN2
Game #1: Syracuse vs. Johns Hopkins 12:00 ET
How they got here: Syracuse
Syracuse went down by a goal early against Marist, which brought back terrible memories for Orange fans of last year’s loss to Bryant in the opening round. Those memories were erased in a 10 goal run en route to a 20-8 victory. Kevin Rice dominated with a career high nine points and his heir apparent Jordan Evans broke out with five goals on seven shots. This team is officially in “championship or bust” mode.
How they got here: Johns Hopkins
Hopkins got their revenge against Virginia in a rout of 19-7. Virginia hadn’t lost to a non-ACC team all year before this game. Their offense looked like what everyone expected from them before the season and their defense was superb. After having their season all but declared done in early April, the Jays are riding a six game win streak into their third consecutive rematch.
What to look for:
Syracuse won their first meeting in the Carrier Dome 13-10. This was the closest anyone came to the Orange at home this year, so Syracuse will not be overlooking Hopkins. If both these teams played like they did in the first round, this should be a fast, back and forth game. Long-term history aside, Syracuse has won eight of the last nine meetings, so Hopkins is due for a big win. This game is also taking place only 30 miles from Hopkins’ home field.
Game #2: North Carolina vs. Maryland Sunday 2:30 ET
How they got here: North Carolina
UNC was dealt a very tough Colgate team who put up a great fight, but the Tar Heels still came away victorious. Colgate got it within three early in the fourth quarter by scoring four straight goals, but North Carolina closed out the game with four unanswered goals of their own to win 19-12. UNC was one of the few teams who really looked like their normal selves, which doesn’t bode well for any of their future opponents.
How they got here: Maryland
Maryland played in the closest game all weekend, squeezing out a one goal win over Yale. Yale had a game tying shot at the end which was a good goal according to replay, but NCAA lacrosse doesn’t have official instant replay. Maryland won’t want to talk about that play at all and they can’t afford any distractions heading into their game with North Carolina. Yale played a similar style to the Terps, which called for methodical possessions and tough defense. It is the polar opposite of North Carolina’s offense.
What to look for:
Maryland won the first meeting of these teams back on March 21st 10-8 out in California. In their last six games, Maryland has lost two by three goals each and won four by a goal each time. Two of those wins are over teams with losing records as well. This team is in a bit of a slump, which bodes well for North Carolina. UNC hasn’t really played a bad game this year, aside from their Maryland loss. This is a fantastic way to end the weekend.