The first round of the NCAA Lacrosse Championship was filled with surprises, upsets, and lots of subtext – and there’s plenty more on tap as the tourney heats up.
Lehigh at #5 North Carolina - The Tar Heels served notice to the tournament that they are for real, and don’t be surprised if they make it deep into the playoffs. The Tar Heels were outstanding in the goal, and NC effectively dominated an underrated Lehigh in the second half.
UNC faces Denver next weekend
Yale at #8 Penn State – This matchup was a game of two halves. Penn State started the game strong and looked like they were going to cruise to an easy win over the Bulldogs. Coach Andy Shay challenged his Yale team to step it up in the second half, and they responded in a huge way. After halftime, the teams seemed to switch identities. Down 5 to 1 heading in to the 3rd quarter, Yale held Penn State to just two second half goals, and never looked back. The Bulldogs erased Penn States edge by winning faceoffs, and controlling the pace of the game. Except for a meaningless goal with 1:13 left, Yale held the Nittany Lions to just one other goal for the second half.
Yale faces Syracuse next weekend.
Detroit at #2 Notre Dame – This is a game Notre Dame should have dominated from start to finish, but Detroit had different ideas. Inspired play from an underdog squad had them heading in to the 4th quarter with a comfortable 4 goal lead, and a major upset in the works. The Fighting Irish had other ideas, and came out firing in the final 15 minutes. They scored six goals in the period, and were able to escape with a 2 point victory. If they continue being distracted and playing down to their competition, Notre Dame’s season won’t last much longer.
Notre Dame faces Duke next weekend.
Albany at #4 Denver – this was one of the most exciting games of the tournament, at least until the 4th quarter, when Denver managed to pull away for the win. Albany’s explosive Thompson trio (brothers Lyle and Miles, cousin Ty) didn’t disappoint – Lyle was chasing the all-time points lead in NCAA history, falling one point shy, but managed to score 4 goals, with one assist, while shrugging off double and even triple teams to score from all over the field.
The big story here, though, was Denver’s Wesley Berg, who had a career-high 8 goals for the Pioneers. Albany’s ineffectiveness on faceoffs, which Denver’s Chase Carraro dominated by winning 22 of 35, and a few untimely turnovers, doomed their chances of pulling this game out. After securing possession, Denver’s efficient and productive ball control offense kept Albany’s high-scoring attack grounded. Bryan LaPlante and Jamie Faus in goal made a number of impressive stops for Denver, which kept Albany from making this game closer.
Denver faces North Carolina next weekend in the quarterfinals.
Cornell at #6 Maryland
Cornell controlled every aspect of this game to double up Maryland, 16-8 for the win. As expected, senior Rob Pannell and Steve Mock played big for Cornell, with Pannell pulling out a 7 point game, and Mock setting a school record by scoring 2 goals in the span of 5 seconds.
Cornell faces Ohio State next weekend.
Towson at #3 Ohio State
This game played out as expected, with Ohio State extending its winning streak to 7 games with a 16-6 win over Towson. Towson led the in the first quarter 2-1, but after that Ohio went on to overwhelm the Tigers.
Ohio State faces Cornell next weekend
Loyola at #7 Duke
Best game of the weekend. Defending champs Loyola led at halftime 7-4, but the Duke Blue Devils scored four times in the third quarter to knot it up at 8 going in the final stanza. The two teams traded goals before Loyola took an 11-10 lead with 3:34 to go in the game. With just 1:05 left to play, Duke managed to flick the ball in the goal after a mad scramble in front of the goal following a missed shot.
It only took six seconds for Loyola to respond. After winning the faceoff, Loyola’s Burkhart raced toward the Duke goal and scored what seemed to be the go-ahead point. However, a fraction of a second before the shot, Loyola coach Toomey, in a move that will likely keep him up nights for many years to come, called a timeout. This nullified the Greyhound point, and Duke was able to ride out the rest of the fourth quarter, and send the game in to overtime.
The game remained tied after the first overtime, and Duke outlasted Loyola for the win with 1:40 left in the 2nd OT.
Duke faces Notre Dame next weekend.
Bryant at #1 Syracuse
Despite Bryant’s Kevin Massa overwhelming Syracuse on faceoffs (he won 21 of 22 for the game, and set a record for winning faceoffs and ground balls in a season), and jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter, #1 Syracuse was able to weather the storm for an efficient 12-7 win. After the initial four point burst, Syracuse held Bryant to only 3 goals for the rest of the game.
Syracuse faces Yale next weekend
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