(Photo Courtesy of Yale Athletics)
Welcome to week 13 of the college lacrosse season, Y’all!
Believe it or not, the final week of the college lacrosse regular season has arrived and there is still much to be played for as seedings for conference tournaments will be fought for tooth and nail from Friday through Sunday.
The Big Ten Tournament will also get underway this week. A specific preview for that tournament will be out on Friday at lacrossebucket.com.
The midweek slate this week saw three games involving Ivy League teams on Tuesday. Each of those Ivies took care of business with Penn beating Saint Joseph’s in overtime, Brown downing Bryant to keep the Ocean State Cup, and Yale running past Quinnipiac.
You can read a recap of those games here.
There is one midweek game left as Virginia host Lafayette tonight (Thursday.)
Harvard, Yale Meet in Rivalry Game During Crucial Final Week
At 1pm on ESPNU, the Yale Bulldogs will take the field at home against the Harvard Crimson in what is one of two major Ivy League battles this weekend. Not only will this year’s Harvard-Yale contest see the two ancient eight rivals fight for bragging rights, but also seeding in the Ivy League Tournament.
Yale comes into Saturday after a bye week in terms of conference play and off a pair of wins over UAlbany and Quinnipiac last Saturday and this past Tuesday in which Matt Brandau put up a combined 18 points. The Bulldogs have won each of the past two meetings with the Crimson by a combined score of 38-19. However, this year’s game is expect to be much better than those past meetings.
Harvard is coming off their biggest win of the season as they defeated Princeton 19-16 in a contest that saw Miles Botkiss (4G) and Sam King (3G/2A) lead the way for an offense that ended the game with eight different goal-scorers and 10 different point-getters. Kyle Mullin also made 18 saves in the win. The Crimson will be looking to knock off rival Yale in their first meeting of the Gerry Byrne era and first time since 2017.
Elsewhere in the Ivy League, Princeton host Cornell. Both squads are looking to get back into the win column during the final week of the regular season as the Tigers fell to Harvard last weekend and the Big Red fell to Brown.
The aforementioned Bears will face Dartmouth on Saturday as they look to end the season on a five-game winning streak. Penn will face UAlbany in a non-conference contest.
Out of the three Ivy League games this weekend could come eight different conference tournament scenarios as there is currently a five-way tie for first place. Cornell, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and Brown all have 3-2 league records. Penn had a 3-3 record. Dartmouth is 0-5 in league play and is the only team out of playoff contention.
CAA Chaos Continues
As usual, the CAA is one of the craziest and most chaos-filled conferences in college lacrosse all the way up through the final weekend of the regular season.
Towson is the only team who has clinched a postseason berth at the moment and they will face Hofstra. The Tigers don’t have much to worry about as all they have to do is win and they get the No. 1 seed in the tournament. That would also knock Hofstra out of postseason contention.
Elsewhere in the CAA, Delaware, UMass, Drexel, and Fairfield all have 2-2 records in league play. UMass and Drexel will face each other on Friday night while Delaware and Fairfield will play on Saturday. In each of those games, the winner will advance to the tournament. So if Drexel and Delaware win they will join Towson, and vice versa. Where the chaos comes in is when it comes to the seeding, and in particular that fourth seed, as there will likely have to be one or more tiebreaker scenarios addressed.
All in all, there are eight different scenarios that could come out of the CAA this weekend. The easiest of which would be the aforementioned situation where Drexel, Delaware, and Towson all win their games. Fairfield would get that fourth seed as they have the tiebreaker over UMass. If the Minutemen win, as well as Towson and Fairfield, then Drexel would be out with Delaware getting the fourth seed. If the scenario is UMass, Towson, and Delaware winning then Drexel would get in and Fairfield would get left out. If its Drexel, Towson, and Fairfield winning then UMass would get the fourth seed and Delaware would be out.
Those are the easiest scenarios as it is just a simple carousel of teams through those second, third, and fourth seeds depending on how those teams fare this weekend. Where things could get even wilder is if Hofstra defeats Towson as the Pride do have a path to get in. They would need to not only beat the Tigers, but have UMass and Fairfield also win. That would knock Delaware and Drexel out.
Keep your eyes peeled on the CAA this week as the most chaotic league in college lacrosse will come down to wire.
Tobacco Road Part II
For the second time this season, the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels will face off in an in-state, ACC rivalry contest. Duke won the last contest 15-6 in Chapel Hill and now will be looking to sweep the season series against the Tar Heels at home in Durham.
Sunday’s contest will be the first game for the Blue Devils in two weeks as the last time they stepped on the field was Thursday, April 14th against the Virginia Cavaliers in a game where they pulled out arguably their biggest win of the season. Duke knocked off the two-time defending champion 17-8 in a game where Brennan O’Neill tallied eight points (4G/4A) as one of nine different goal-scores and Mike Adler anchored the defense with a career-high 20 saves.
If Duke can put together another complete performance and win this weekend, they not only increase their NCAA Tournament chances but also likely knock out North Carolina off the bubble completely.
The Tar Heels will finish their regular season slate on Sunday and come into what is a crucial game following a 12-5 loss at Notre Dame last Thursday in which Chris Gray was held to just one goal and their faceoff unit, which has been banged up this season, was held to 7-for-20. North Carolina needs to beat Duke on Sunday to have any shot at making it into the NCAA Tournament, and even then they will still likely need some help.
Other Games to Watch
Loyola vs Lehigh (Friday): Almost a year after they didn’t get to play each other in the Patriot League title game, the Greyhounds and Mountain Hawks will go head-to-head in their regular season finale. The Greyhounds are coming off an overtime win over Colgate in which Evan James scored each of the final three goals of the contest and will be looking to finish an otherwise up and down regular season on a high note. Lehigh is coming into Saturday after falling to Boston U. in a defensive-heavy game that gave the Terriers the top seed in the conference tournament.
Villanova vs Georgetown (Friday): The Georgetown Hoyas have run through the Big East thus far, as expected. They now head to Philadelphia for their final regular season contest to face the Villanova Wildcats. With the Hoyas having locked up the No. 1 seed in the Big East and Villanova getting the No. 3 seed, this could be a preview of the Big East title game depending on how the Wildcats fare against Denver, who they fell to by two in the regular season, in the conference semifinals.
Army West Point vs Boston U. (Friday): Boston U. is the Patriot League regular season champions and has run through their conference slate generally unscathed. Entering the third week of this newish-looking and seemingly deeper Terriers’ offense with Matt Hillburn starting at midfield due to Jake Cates’ season-ending injury, how will they fare against this Black Knights program that they have only beaten twice in program history. And a team that is looking to bounce-back after a loss against rival Navy last week.
Hobart vs Mount St. Mary’s (Saturday): From March 1st through April 2nd, the Hobart Statesmen lost four games. Since then, they have turned things around with wins over Wagner, Merrimack, and LIU in NEC play. Finishing the season on Saturday against Mount St. Mary’s, the Statesmen could very well end the regular season on a four-game winning streak heading into the NEC tournament as the likely No. 3 seed. Can the Statesmen get it done?
Syracuse vs Notre Dame (Sunday): Last time these two teams played, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish blasted the Syracuse Orange 22-6. In fact, that drubbing of the Orange in South Bend was the start of what has turned into a four-game winning streak for the Irish that has helped push them into the NCAA Tournament conversation as one of two )or three) ACC teams that could get in along with Virginia and Duke. Notre Dame is coming off that 12-5 win over North Carolina where not only their offense of Pat and Chris Kavanagh, Eric Dobson, Jake Taylor, and others came together but where their defense stood tall behind a 14-save effort from Liam Entenemann. The Irish need a win on Sunday to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive before ending the season against Duke a week from now. Syracuse would love to get their first win since March and end the season on a high note, and in the process possibly ruin the Irish’ tourney hopes.