May 4, 2009

DaSilva's Bracket Breakdown: Division I Women

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

The 2009 NCAA Divisions I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse tournaments were announced Sunday, with the standard fare of intrigue and drama surrounding the brackets. LMO's Jac Coyne, Matt DaSilva and Paul Ohanian play Monday morning midfielders with post-selection analysis.

Bookmark LMO at www.laxmagazine.com for the most widespread coverage of the NCAA tournaments.


BRACKET

(All first round games Sunday, May 10 at higher seed)

No. 1 Northwestern vs. Massachusetts
No. 8 Princeton vs. Georgetown
No. 5 Duke vs. Virginia
No. 4 Penn vs. Fairfield
No. 3 North Carolina vs. Towson
No. 6 Notre Dame vs. Vanderbilt
No. 7 Syracuse vs. Boston University
No. 2 Maryland vs. Colgate

* Printable Bracket (PDF)

LAST TEAM IN

Vanderbilt

FIRST TEAM OUT

Stanford

SNUBBED?

Stanford rocked the RPI cradle with its win over Ivy League champ Penn on Saturday. It was Stanford's second straight win over the Quakers. Northwestern is the only other team to defeat the Quakers the last two years. In her first year at the Palo Alto, Calif., institution, Amy Bokker has managed to lead a team from tumult to the brink of an NCAA tournament appearance.

But none of it was enough.

Most years, that Penn win puts Stanford in the tournament. But the ACC and Big East gluttons ate up five at-large berths combined. And the committee would have been hard-pressed to give the Cardinal the nod over Vandy, given the strength-of-schedule component - bolstered that the Commodores got to play Northwestern twice in the ALC.

You could make an argument for Maryland as the top seed, considering the undefeated Terps emerged from the ACC regular season and tournament gauntlets unscathed. But c'mon - who in their right mind is going to argue against Northwestern?

BEST FIRST-ROUND MATCHUP

Syracuse-Boston University

These two offenses light up the scoreboard. No stall ball here. BU has some of the most accurate shooters in the nation, led by Sarah Dalton, while Katie Rowan-led Syracuse should have no problem imposing on the Terriers' defense.

UPSET WATCH

Princeton

Georgetown was a victim of its own dominance. As the top seed in the Big East tournament, the Hoyas got a first-round game against Louisville -- which weakened their numbers despite a win - and then lost to Notre Dame in the conference championship. That allowed both ‘Cuse and Notre Dame to leapfrog them for a seed. Georgetown has the playmakers in Molly Ford, Jordy Kirr and Ashby Kaestner -- as good and complementary a trio as any in Division I -- to rock an upset of Princeton. The Tigers are 2-0 against Georgetown, however, in NCAA tournament play.

EASIEST TITLE ROUTE

Maryland

The way the seeds and geographical elements played out, Maryland's first-round opponent (Colgate) is weaker than Northwestern's (UMass). And who would you rather host in a quarterfinal -- the winner of Syracuse-BU or the winner of Princeton-Georgetown? The Terps' path is the easiest.

FIVE BURNING QUESTIONS

Will Hilary Bowen return in time for Northwestern?
Bowen, the Wildcats' star senior attacker, tore her ACL last month and put off surgery in hopes of returning in time for playoffs. It's unlikely Northwestern would deploy her until absolutely necessary, perhaps in the quarterfinals, should the ‘Cats advance. If so, this is a story worth watching.

Which team is most capable of derailing Northwestern?
NU can't be too excited to see Penn in its half of the bracket, considering the recent nip-and-tuck trajectory of the two programs. But anything other than a Maryland-Northwestern championship game has to be a disappointment in this field. They're the only two undefeated teams in Division I, and the athleticism is unparalleled. If there's any poetic justice, the Terps are the only team capable of running with the Wildcats.

Can Notre Dame recapture the final four magic of 2006?
Saturday's gutsy win over Cornell showed a resolve the Irish have lacked since '06. There was no letdown from winning their first Big East championship. The focus is there. Kailene Abt has been the unforeseen element among UND's four 40-plus goal scorers. The Irish are fresh off that conference title. As the brackets bear out, winning the Big East was no small task this year. They are playing with much more confidence than they were when they lost to Vanderbilt (their first-round opponent) back on April 15.

Will the real Virginia please stand up?
There's no questioning the Cavaliers' talent. But their inconsistency this season was perplexing. (Old Dominion? Seriously?) No team came closer to knocking off vaunted Northwestern. UVA lost by one in the teams' April 19 encounter. But then Maryland worked the Wahoos in the ACC semifinals. They have something of a mental edge over first-round opponent Duke in postseason play, however, knocking the Blue Devils out in the NCAA semifinals three times.

Who will Jaclyn Murphy root for in the first round?
Much has been made of the former cancer patient's relationship with Northwestern, and how it launched the Friends of Jaclyn campaign, but former NU assistant and current UMass head coach Alexis Venechanos was integral to launching the effort. Northwestern thumped UMass, 22-5, during the regular season, but UMass has gained confidence from being pushed to the limit in the Atlantic-10.


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