John Nichols’ Bear Lax Trax Fax includes NCAA tournament analysis

BLTF 4/15/12


Bears vs. Bears

Just one BvB match up this week:  Bucknell (Sam McDonough) got an 8-3 win over Penn (Will Laco).  Sam won two ground balls in the Bison’s win.

Princeton (Mike Grossman, Jack Strabo, Brian Reilly, and Justin Murphy) picked up a pair of wins, downing Rutgers 13-4 and Dartmouth 21-6.  Justin Murphy got in his first action at the X this week, winning 5 of 10 face-offs versus Rutgers and 7 of 11 against Dartmouth.  Justin also totaled 4 ground balls and one shot for the week.  Jack Strabo scored his 4th goal of the year in the Dartmouth game and scooped up 3 ground balls for the week.

Cornell (Joe Paoletta and Will Joyce) staked claim to being the top team in New York with their 12-6 win over Syracuse.

Maryland (Kellen Miller) got a huge win this weekend as the Terrapins traveled to Homewood Field to take on Johns Hopkins for the 108th time.   The Blue Jays have won the roughly 2/3rds of the time and had home field advantage, but that was not enough to help them win this time.  Maryland scored the last 6 goals of the game to turn a 6-3 deficit into a 9-6 win.

Duke (Josh Offit) continued their mastery of UVA Friday night, downing the (then) #1 team in the nation 13-5.  Josh Offit fired off six shots but failed to cash in on them.  Josh executed a heads-up play, pushing a ground ball out of a scrum to an open team mate to initiate a play that ultimately led to a goal.  Josh’s dad Howard Offit got in the action as well as the ESPNU broadcast team mentioned Howard Offit the All-American faceoff middie from Johns Hopkins.

Last week, we talked about the way things were shaping up in conference standings and the implications of such for bids to the NCAA D-I tournament. (May Madness?).    Here are some of the key conference tilts from the weekend and how the conferences are shaping up for their season-end tournaments (at least based on my best read of the standings and schedules).

Patriot League

Bucknell (Sam McDonough) lost a 9-8 decision to Lehigh.  Sam had 2 ground balls and was credited with 2 caused turnovers.  Navy (Matt Morrison) dropped a 9-6 decision to Army this weekend.   Lehigh, Colgate, Bucknell and Army have clinched the four spots for the tournament which will decided which team gets the league’s AQ for the NCAA tournament.   This week’s games will set the seedings.  Although it is still possible for Bucknell, Army and Navy to end their seasons at 3-3, Navy lost to both Army and Bucknell, so the Middies would be the odd-man out.  This coming weekend, Bucknell takes on Colgate.

Ivy League

Cornell had the weekend off and Princeton beat Dartmouth as previously noted.  These two teams sit atop the Ivy League standings with 4-0 records.  Penn (Will Laco)  kept their tournament hopes alive with a 13-11 win over Harvard.  Cornell and Princeton will face each other on the 28th in what will likely be the game that decides regular season title and top seeding for the League tournament.  So far, only Dartmouth has been mathematically eliminated.    Yale and Harvard have the inside track, but Brown and Penn have a chance.  For a good explanation of the various permutations check out this article:  This weekend Princeton faces Harvard, Cornell plays Brown and Penn takes on Dartmouth.


Denver (Harrison Archer) dropped a 12-9 decision to the undefeated Loyola Greyhounds, Hobart (David Chakola) got a 14-13 win over Bellarmine, and Ohio State (Luke Howard) beat Michigan 12-9.  Loyola, at 5-0 in conference, has the #1 seed locked up for the ECAC tournament.  Fairfield, Denver and Ohio State are currently holding down the remaining 3 spots although there are several scenarios by which various combinations of three of teams from among OSU, Denver, Fairfield, Air Force and Hobart could end up tied at 3-3.  Any 3-way tie scenario which includes Hobart will result in the other 2 teams getting the tournament slots because Hobart has already lost to Denver, OSU and Fairfield.  The upcoming Air Force Academy vs. Ohio State game will either help clear things up or muddy the waters.

Big East

Georgetown (CT Fisher) dropped a 9-7 decision to Notre Dame, putting their post-season hopes in jeopardy.   Notre Dame and Villanova have clinched spots in the Big East tournament.   Syracuse, at 3-1, appears to be in good shape, as well.  St John’s has the league’s fourth best record and holds a tie breaker over 5th place Georgetown.   Georgetown needs to win out against Syracuse and Rutgers and have St. Johns lose to Providence to make the Big East tournament.


In last week’s post there’s a typo which states that the ACC has an automatic qualifier for the NCAA D-I tournament.  That should have read “does not.”  Nonetheless, the ACC will have its league tournament this coming weekend.  Duke and Maryland (Bears vs. Bears!) will meet in the first game and UVA will take on North Carolina in the night cap.  Given the records of these four teams, the strength of their schedules and some big wins, all four of these teams should get at-large bids to the NCAA D-I tournament.

LaxPower Forum Poll

3. Cornell

6. Duke

7. Maryland

9. North Carolina

12. Denver

13. Princeton

18. Bucknell



Tufts (Nick Rhoads and Mark Findaro) picked up a pair of wins, downing Endicott 11-5 on Tuesday and Amherst 15-5 on Saturday.  Nick was 23 of 39 on face-offs for the week and had 13 ground balls.  Mark had 4 ground balls and a caused turnover in the Amherst game.

Gettysburg (Austin Dodson and Wes Lincoln) also got two more wins this week, downing Eastern 10-6 then taking a 13-11 decision from Washington College.  Wes was 6 for 12 in face-offs over the two games and Austin scored a goal in the Washington game.

Dickinson (Marek Laco) beat Swarthmore 14-5.

Ohio Wesleyan (Tommy Minkler) won one and lost one this week.  The Battling Bishops beat Otterbein 12-6 then lost to Kenyon 11-9.  Tommy had 2 goals and 2 assists against Otterbein and one goal in the Kenyon game.

Sewanee (Drew Hayhurst) downed Dallas 23-2.   Drew continues to start on defense for the Tigers, but I suspect the ball wasn’t at his end of the field much in this game.

Washington and Lee (Will Raul) dropped a 10-5 decision to Virginia Wesleyan.

Tournament Outlook

The D-III NCAA Lacrosse tournament includes 28 teams this year.  Eighteen teams are designated conference automatic qualifiers (AQ)—this group is labeled Pool A.  Pool B consists of three teams (of 32 eligible teams) that  either have no conference affiliation or are from a conference with no AQ.  The last group, Pool C with 7 slots, consists of highly ranked teams from conferences which do have AQ’s, but which did not earn their conference’s automatic qualifier slot.  The AQ usually goes to the conference tournament winner and the conference tournament usually includes just the top four teams from the conference.

Here’s how things break down for the various D-III teams with Landon Bears on their rosters:

Ohio Wesleyan (Tommy Minkler) is a member of the North Coast conference, a conference which does not have an AQ slot.  As such, they are in competition for one of the Pool B slots.  Of the 32 schools in Pool B, Ohio Wesleyan is the 2nd most highly ranked.  The North Coast conference will get an AQ slot for the 2013 season.

Gettysburg (Austin Dodson and Wes Lincoln) and Dickinson (Marek Laco) compete in the Centennial Conference, which does have an AQ slot.  Of course, only one team from the conference will get that slot and the others are left to fight it out for a Pool C invitation.  Gettysburg and Dickinson are currently #1 and #3 in the conference, respectively and the two teams play each other on April 28 in this season’s lone D-III Bears vs. Bears match up.

Tufts (Nick Rhoads and Mark Findaro) is in the NESCAC, another conference with an AQ slot.  They can get in via Pool A or Pool C.  Tufts currently is second in the conference (tied with for first with Trinity, but down a tie breaker to the Bantams), but has 3 conference games remaining, 2 of which are against teams currently ranked in the top 5 for the conference.

Sewanee (Drew Hayhurst) is a member of the SCAC conference and can get in via the AQ or as a Pool C team.  Sewanee is currently fifth in the conference standings, but has a higher rating than the team currently ranked 4th so they have a shot at making their conference tournament and then will likely need to win that tournament to make the NCAA D-III tourney.

Washington and Lee (Will Raul) is in the ODAC, which has an AQ.  This conference features several strong teams so the Generals may be on the outside looking in.

LaxPower Forum Poll

5. Tufts

6. Dickinson

13. Gettysburg

Published in: on April 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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