Monday Notebook: Men's Division III
- Chalk it up to my NESCAC bias if it makes you feel better, but there is no more grueling three-day span than the conference's Friday regular season finale followed by the Sunday tournament first round. The 45-hour window between the end of the regular season and, for many, the completion of the year is as big of a mental challenge as the physical tolls exacted by the closeness of the contests.
Unlike the Centennial Conference, which has a three-day conclusion to its conference tournament, those teams have an entire week between the end of the regular season and the semifinals to prepare. While they can certainly hedge their bets, the NESCAC teams realistically only have a little over a day of prep time.
This quick turnaround between the regular season and the conference tournament is part of the NESCAC president's quixotic goal of minimizing missed class time. While the leaders of the conference have grudgingly given into the eight-team league tournament, they've countered with this Friday-Sunday paradigm followed by next weekend's Saturday-Sunday finish.
While it doesn't necessarily prepare any of the conference teams for the postseason -- there is always at least a three-day (Wed.-Sat.) lag between NCAA tournament games -- it does make for some fascinating theater. This year's quarterfinals featured a No. 7 (Bowdoin) upsetting a No. 2 (Amherst) and a No. 3 (Middlebury) escaping a No. 6 (Colby) in double overtime.
- Now that Dickinson has picked up its invitation to the dance, a pair of Centennial teams must be evaluated as to where they stand in the six-team Pool C realm.
Gettysburg had a No. 7 regional ranking heading into the weekend with only two Pool C teams ahead of it, and managed to defeat one of them (Haverford) on the way to the Centennial finals. Depending on what plays out in the other conference tournaments, the Bullets have to be feeling pretty good about themselves.
Conversely, with at least three Pool C bids in the North (two NESCACs and one E8) accounted for and likely two in the South (Gettysburg, Stevenson) already snagged, Haverford is among a handful of teams with postseason dreams shooting for the last spot. At this point, the Squirrels resume looks to be the strongest, but there are many troublesome possibilities -- Trinity beating Middlebury in the NESCAC semis or Lynchburg upending Roanoke in the ODAC finals, to name two -- out there.
On this Monday, however, things are looking pretty good for the Centennial to get three bids for the second straight year.
- I'll give a shout-out to my alma mater and rookie head coach Justin Domingos. Not only did the White Mules take No. 11 Middlebury to double overtime in the NESCAC quarterfinals, but, more importantly, they won the prestigious Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) championship for the first time since '99. Honestly, I was hoping for a Colby win in order to get a chance to do a profile on Craig Bunker, the best faceoff man in the country.
- Congrats to Cabrini faceoff man Mike Gurenlian for breaking the school's record most wins in a career. He currently has 343 career draws...speaking of the CSAC, William Roerden of Marywood scored his 100th career goal against Shenandoah in the regular season finale...the most bizarre part of Stevenson's 14-2 spanking of Denison? The Big Red actually did a pretty good job at faceoffs, where the two teams were virtually even...Hamilton (11-3) and St. John Fisher (11-4) didn't make their respective conference tournaments...Widener snagged the top seed in the MAC conference tourney after a perfect regular season in league play...Goucher grabbed the top seed in the Landmark...Western New England was unceremoniously dumped out of the Commonwealth Coast tournament by New England College last year. The Golden Bears have another bite at that apple on Wednesday when the Pilgrims come to town for another CCC semifinal.