Best Of Lacrosse - Best Team Breakthrough Finalists
Some teams are at the cusp of greatness for years before finally crashing through and taking it home. Others jump right from the start and force themselves into the conversation. We've got a mix of both of those types in this #bestoflax category, so take your pick and share with friends to get out the vote.
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Best Team Breakthrough Finalists
A second-year franchise, the Hounds got off to a 1-3 start, but kept things together and rallied behind All-MLL selection Matt Danowski, making the playoffs as the No. 4 seed. Not content with a one-and-done, coach Mike Cerino's squad sprang a huge upset in the MLL semifinals on previously unbeaten Denver, then fell by one in the finals to the veteran Bayhawks.
In its fifth Division I campaign, Detroit went 3-9 in the regular season but made the most of a berth in the MAAC playoffs, edging No. 1 seed Marist 7-6 and then topping No. 3 seed Siena in the league final, earning its first-ever spot in the NCAA tournament. Travelling to No. 2 seed Notre Dame for the first round, the Titans nearly had the tournament's signature upset, jumping out to a 5-1 halftime lead and holding a 7-3 lead going into the fourth before the Irish roared back with six unanswered goals in the fourth to advance.
Milton (Ga.) girls
'Traditional hotbed' is not a term you think of when you talk Georgia women's lacrosse, but Milton proved it could stand toe-to-toe with anyone in 2013, taking home the Class 6A State Title for the second straight year and finishing at No. 8 in the final Nike/US Lacrosse Girls Top 25. Six Milton players are headed to Division I or II programs, including South Region Player of the Year Annie Ruland, bound for Southern California.
North Carolina women
No stranger to success, the Tar Heels took it to a new level in 2013, earning their first-ever NCAA championship in dramatic fashion by topping previously-unbeaten Maryland in 3OT for the title. Under Best Women's Coach nominee Jenny Levy and Best Women's Player candidate Kara Cannizzaro, Carolina finally broke through after making four of the last five NCAA semifinals.
The transition from relative unknown to Division III power was a steady one for the Mustangs, who captured their first NCAA championship by beating RIT in a barn-burner 16-14 finish at Lincoln Financial Field. To get there, Coach of the Year finalist Paul Canatabene and his team had to get through rival Salisbury, which had beaten them in two of the three previous times Stevenson had advanced to the penultimate game.