The NCAA Tournament teams were just announced, and the entire lacrosse community is excited for tournament time no matter what their division of choice. The first games of the NCAA D3 Men’s Lacrosse tournament don’t take place until May 7th, so that gives us a little bit of time to examine the field!
Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan
The Top Seeds
RIT was announced as the top seed in the North, surprising absolutely nobody. The undefeated Tigers have plenty of quality wins this year and remained perfect through conference play. RIT’s explosive offense is led by players like Eddie Kiesa, Allister Warren, and Kyle Aquin. Head Coach Jake Coon also has two capable goalies in Pat Johnston and Anthony DeLeo.
Salisbury, despite their shocking OT loss to Christopher Newport, grabbed the top spot in the South. The Gulls were boosted by their wins against teams like Stevenson, York, Cabrini, and Washington College. Even more impressive is that with such a tough schedule, their only loss was the OT thriller to CNU. Rhett DePol leads the offense and netminder Alex Taylor is always solid. Both of these teams deserved the top spots in their respective regions.
Rest of the Field
Denison, who was also undefeated, was not given the two seed in the South. The Big Red was given the fourth seed, and they’ll play Centre in the first round. This could be seen as a bit of a snub for Denison, given their record, but it can also be argued that their schedule was not strong enough to merit a higher seeding. If Denison wants to prove these doubters wrong, they could potentially face Salisbury in the quarterfinals. A win there and none of the seeding matters.
York! York was a bit of a surprise team at the beginning of the season, taking Stevenson to overtime in the very first game of the year. Now, the Spartans have solidified themselves as a legitimate squad. They will play in-state opponent Susquehanna in the first round, and the winner of that game will play Salisbury.
Endicott was likely one of the last teams that made it into the tournament this year. Despite losing to Western New England in their conference championship, Endicott has a home game against Keene State in the first round, which they earned with a solid season. It’s a “body of work” issue, and not just how teams fared towards the end.
Cabrini is another high South seed. The Cavaliers have had a tremendous season, and this could be the year where they finally go all the way. Cabrini is lead by Corey Elmer, who has 113 points this year. He can shoot, he can feed, he can dodge: Corey Elmer is your defense’s worst nightmare. Speaking of defense, that’s another strength for Cabrini. Poles like Matt Ward, Mac Feinier, and goalie Hank Atschuler have all been solid this year for the Cavs. Watch out!
Stevenson plays Otterbein in the first round this year. The defending champs returned many pieces of last year’s squad, and put together another strong year. Brent Hiken is an absolute animal at the faceoff X, and a big reason for his team’s success. Callum Robinson, a sophomore defender, had another great season as well.
Fun Fact: Robinson is from Perth, Australia. Anyway, Dmitri Pecunes also had a stellar sophomore season. Stevenson won their conference yet again, and looks ready to make a deep run.
Fun Fact #2: This is Otterbein’s first trip to the national tournament in the program’s five seasons in existence. Pretty impressive for the small college just north of Columbus, OH, who went 12-4 this year. Watch them freak out in a video posted by senior midfielder, Ryan Klipa.
Keuka finished the season undefeated, but had a low SOS. Their reward is traveling to Cortland State. Ouch. Up North, Tufts is another team to watch, as is Lynchburg in the South.
If you have read any of my past D3 articles, you may have noticed I’m a huge fan of the Centennial Conference. That being said, it’s disappointing that Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, and Dickinson didn’t get in. This is the second year in a row that F&M has lost in the Centennial Championship. Dickinson had a lot of promise but was unable to fulfill some early season expectations. Gettysburg brought in some great freshmen, but a quarterfinal loss to WAC eliminated them from postseason chances.
Aurora University, who made headlines last year by beating Ohio Wesleyan, is back in the tournament this year. The Spartans went 15-3 this year, and will play Adrian in the first round.
Colorado College will be making their first NCAA Tournament appearance this year. Always great to see new teams make the jump into the postseason. CC has a tough road though, as they travel across the country to play Amherst in the first round.
Western New England pulled off a terrific upset in order to make the tournament by beating Endicott. After losing to Endicott 20-6 earlier in the season, the Golden Bears came back and beat the Gulls to win the big AQ game. That’s a nice end of season run, can they keep it up?