Women's DIII Notes: An Early Bracketology Look
|If Gettysburg can stay strong and finish well in the Centennial, it could find itself with a Pool C invite. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)|
So much depends on automatic qualification when it comes to the Division III women's lacrosse tournament, so Bracketology is sort of a fool’s errand. But let’s try anyway since we're about a month out of the selection for May's action.
A record 36 D3 teams will reach the NCAA tournament this season, 24 of which will be handed out before Selection Sunday thanks to automatic qualifiers from winning their conferences. That leaves 12 spots up for grabs, four from Pool B (independents and leagues without AQs) and eight from Pool C (at-large teams from the AQ conferences).
The automatic qualifications should take care of everyone from defending NCAA champion Salisbury (CAC) and whoever wins the NESAC (Amherst?) to perennial tournament team Endicott (Comm. Coast) and upstarts like Augustana (Midwest).
The final 12 spots will be on the line in games throughout the next month.
First, Pool B. The vast majority of Pool B comes from the fringes of the lacrosse world -- the SCIAC has traditionally sent one or two of its squads from its SoCal base. It also includes true independents from the east and the strong Landmark Conference, which doesn’t have enough teams for an AQ. Making things easier for the rest of Pool B is the fact that the NJAC finally has an automatic bid, so TCNJ and Rowan are no longer independents.
Colorado College beat Occidental and Chapman, so the Tigers are likely the first Western team in. There’s a good chance they’ll host the best California team (right now Occidental) in the first round. The Landmark Conference champion, Susquehanna or Catholic, should earn one of the other bids. That leaves Centre, which is dominated the SAA, or a second West Coast team like Redlands to earn the final spot.
Pool C is trickier, because there are a ton of contenders and some spots already locked up. The second place team in the Centennial Conference (either Gettysburg or Franklin Marshall) can make plans to be playing in May, as should the second place team in the CAC (York). The NESCAC should get at least two, and more likely three or four, at-large bids. Even assuming the NESCAC sends just three addiotnal teams, which seems low, that would leave just three spots realistically up for grabs.
The SUNYAC is stronger than its ever been, but the league may beat each other up so much that they get only send one, or zero, at-large bids from a loaded group that includes Geneseo, Fredonia, Brockport and Oneonta. Meanwhile the two-team race in the Commonwealth Conference, where preseason favorite Stevenson and Lebanon Valley should go down to the wire, could further complicate things.
And what of the NJAC, where the Top 5 teams are a combined 39-5 with conference play finally getting ready to roll? Montclair St., Rowan and Richard Stockton all have cases for postseason play, even if they can’t beat TCNJ.
And, of course, if a strong team like Washington and Lee (ODAC), Ithaca (Empire 8) or RPI (Liberty League) is upset in its conference tournament, it could further alter the at-large landscape. But here’s a guess at what it will end up looking like:
Pool B: Colorado College, Occidental, Centre, Catholic.
Pool C: Gettysburg/F&M (Centennial 2), Middlebury (NESAC 2), Trinity (NESCAC 3), Williams (NESCAC 4), Colby (NESCAC 5), York (CAC 2), Geneseo (SUNYAC 2), Montclair St. (NJAC 2).
Franklin & Marshall (9-2) at TCNJ (9-0), Friday 6 p.m.
This one won’t affect bracketology, both teams are certainly headed to the NCAA tournament. However, TCNJ, which has not allowed a goal in more than two games, could head into the bulk of its NJAC schedule (and next week’s showdown with Salisbury) with even more confidence if it can pull this one out. Only two of the Lions wins have come by fewer than 10 goals. As for Franklin & Marshall, a win would give the Diplomats an edge heading into the Centennial season, since TCNJ got by Gettysburg in overtime two weeks ago. Franklin and Marshall defeated TCNJ, 10-7, last year in Lancaster.
Elizabeth Ludlow, Amherst: The senior out of Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) High School, delivered the winner with 3:35 remaining in regulation as the Lord Jeffs stunned Middlebury, 11-10, on Saturday and rocketed into the No. 3 position in LM’s rankings.
Mel Modrick, Lebanon Valley: The senior from Leesport, Pa., scored six goals, including the 100th of her career in LV’s 13-10 victory over Alvernia on Wednesday. It was the eighth straight victory for Lebanon Valley, which is unbeaten in Commonwealth Conference play.
Lauren Pigott, TCNJ: The senior from Northern Burlington (N.J.) High School, had two goals, two ground balls, five draw controls and two caused turnovers in Saturday’s 18-0 victory over Eastern and followed that up with four goals, two assists, four ground balls, four caused turnovers and six draw controls in Tuesday’s 19-0 blanking of Ramapo. Pigott also led the charge for the Lions defense, which did not allow a shot in either game.
No. 8 Trinity (8-2) rallied from a three-goal deficit with less than three minutes remaining to clip Bowdoin, 9-8, on Saturday. Caroline Hayes scored the winner for the Bantams, who visit Middlebury next weekend. Bowdoin (4-4) had its own major comeback in its next game, rallying froma four-goal halftime deficit to defeat Bates, 6-5, in overtime. Lindsay Picard forced the extra frame by scoring with 3:13 remaining in regulation and Dana White delivered the winner in overtime.
No. 2 Cortland (8-0) crushed Geneseo 15-6 on Friday, to give coach Kathy Taylor the 100th victory of her career. Cortland followed that up by blowing past the other Red Dragons, from Oneonta, 17-7, on Tuesday. Emma Hayes-Hurley put up seven goals in the two victories. Cortland visits No. 4 Middlebury next week.
No. 17 Ithaca (4-4) earned what could prove to be a crucial nonleague victory by taking down Union, 12-11, on Tuesday. Ally Runyon scored the winner with 4:31 to go. The Bombers are the early favorites in the Empire 8, but as the last two seasons have proven, you can never have too many nonleague victories on Selection Sunday.
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