April 20, 2012

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Ten to Watch: ACC Tourneys On Tap, Postseason Nears

by LaxMagazine.com staff

The ACC men's and women's tournament champions will be decided, while other conference regular seasons end or near their conclusions this weekend. Our picks continue.

In the event of ties, we're listed alphabetically by last names. All times Eastern.

Follow the weekend's action here at laxmagazine.com.













Last Week   6-4  6-4  6-4 5-5 4-6 5-5
4-6 6-4 5-5 4-6
5-5 2-8
Overall 
 60-30
59-31
 58-32
57-33

54-36

54-36
53-37

53-37
51-39
51-39

48-42

47-43
W:BC-UVA UVA UVA UVA UVA UVA BC UVA BC UVA UVA

UVA

UVA

M:MD-DUKE

MD

DUKE

DUKE

MD

MD

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

DUKE

MD

DUKE

MD

M:COL-BUC

BUC

COL

COL

COL

BUC

BUC

BUC

BUC

COL

COL

COL

BUC

M:UNC-UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UVA

UNC

W:ND-GT

GT

ND

GT

ND

ND

ND

GT

ND

GT

GT

ND

ND

M:DEN-FAIR

FAIR

DEN

DEN

DEN

DEN

DEN

DEN

FAIR

DEN

FAIR

DEN

FAIR

M:WAC-SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

SAL

W:FLA-NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

NW

FLA

NW

NW

NW

NW

M:HOF-MASS

MAS

MAS

MASS

MASS

MASS

MASS

MASS

MASS

MASS

MASS

MASS

HOF

M:ND-NOV

ND

NOV

ND

ND

ND

ND

ND

ND

ND

NOV

ND

ND


WD1: No. 17 Boston College (8-7) vs. No. 11 Virginia (10-5), Noon Friday

ACC Tournament Quarterfinal at Durham, N.C.

Virginia needed a rally to defeat BC, 12-10, on March 31. The Eagles had a rough shooting day in Charlottesville (23 shots, only 14 on the goal), which they'll need to improve upon to advance in the ACC tournament. They have the advantage at the draw thanks to Brittany Wilton (58 DC) and Kristen Igoe (43 DC). It's do or die for fifth-year senior Kristen Igoe, who needs a win to keep her team's season alive, and just four goals to break Boston College's all-time scoring record. The midfielder currently has 159 goals for her career.

MD1: No. 8 Maryland (7-3) vs. No. 7 Duke (11-3), 5 p.m. Friday

ACC Tournament Semifinal at Charlottesville, Va.

A rematch of last year's ACC Tournament championship game — an 11-9 win for the Terrapins — Duke and Maryland enter Friday's weekend opener coming off their biggest wins of the season. The Blue Devils upset then-No. 1 Virginia at Klockner Stadium in a dominating performance last Friday, while Maryland put the defensive clamps to upset in-state rival Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field. For all of Duke's recent success against Virginia and North Carolina (26-2 since 2006), it has lost six of the last 10 against the Terps. Maryland took the W in the March meeting 10-7, as Niko Amato made nine of his 14 saves in the final quarter and Drew Snider scored a hat trick. But that early-season contest won't have much impact Friday.

The Blue Devils feature three of the ACC's top four goal-scorers — Josh Dionne, Rob Rotanz and Jordan Wolf — and score an average of 11.71 goals per game, while Maryland's fast-sliding defense led by long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt allows just 7.6. The storyline, though, will focus on other aspects: Can Duke junior goalie Dan Wigrizer stay hot and play like he did against Virginia? Lacking a superstar scorer and using a by-committee approach, will Maryland generate enough offense?

MD1: No. 13 Colgate (10-2) at No. 18 Bucknell (9-5), 7 p.m. Friday

The Patriot League regular season comes to end and with that brings games with implications for the site and seeds of the league's postseason tournament. Colgate earns the top seed and the right the host the Patriot playoffs by beating Bucknell. If the Raiders don't win, Lehigh is the top seed regardless of its result against Lafayette on Saturday afternoon. In any potential ties, Lehigh has the tiebreaker. Bucknell can finish anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4, and Army can only be the third or fourth seed. There's a lot to be decided. Friday night's nationally broadcast game on CBS Sports Network is only the start of figuring it all out.

MD1: No. 9 North Carolina (9-4) vs. No. 4 Virginia (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday

ACC Tournament Semifinal at Charlottesville, Va.

North Carolina and Virginia will tussle for the second time in less than two weeks, meeting in the nightcap of Friday's ACC Tournament. Carolina kept it close with the Cavaliers until halftime of the April 7 contest, but reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Steele Stanwick sparked a 6-0 Virginia run to make it 10-4 after three quarters, and the Wahoos won 15-10. Since the last time these teams met, Virginia lost its title as the nation's top-ranked team after dropping a 13-5 decision to Duke, while the Tar Heels used a 5-1 fourth-quarter run to beat Hofstra 12-9.

North Carolina has won four of its last five games, and despite early-season inconsistency, might rank among the most dangerous teams entering postseason play. With Marcus Holman running alongside freshmen Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey, the Heels' attack has meshed, and R.G. Keenan enables them to control possession. Virginia has lost two of its last four games — both at home, ranked No. 1 — and against Duke posted its lowest single-game scoring output since 2009. But there's no containing the Cavaliers' attack for extended stretches; it's only a matter of time before Marc Van Arsdale's unit is clicking.

WD1: No. 7 Notre Dame (10-2) at No. 15 Georgetown (8-5), 1 p.m. Saturday

Expect a high-scoring game -- both teams average more than 14 goals per game offensively and have struggled defensively. Irish goalie Ellie Hilling has been on a hot streak lately, though -- she made 13 stops in a 12-11 win over Vanderbilt. Redshirt sophomore attacker Lindsay Powell has become the Irish's leading goal scorer with 37g. Lots of thoset goals come off assists from Maggie Tamasitis (18g, 48a). Sophia Thomas has emerged as the Hoyas' top scorer (32g), but Georgetown's attack is relatively well-distributed with four players scoring 20-plus goals.


Special guest star Brittany Mallory, two-time captain of the Irish's NCAA runner-up basketball team, has recently walked onto the lacrosse team. The 5-foot-10 defender, once a two-sport standout at McDonogh (Md.), is best known for hitting a pair of three-point shots in OT in Notre Dame's upset of UConn in the (basketball) final four. She also recorded one draw control in the Irish's 16-9 (lacrosse) win over the Huskies last week.


MD1: No. 10 Denver (7-4) at No. 17 Fairfield (10-2), 1 p.m. Saturday

The latest NCAA RPI report has the host Stags at No. 13 and the Pioneers at No. 15. You get a feeling that secondary criteria will come into play come NCAA tournament selection time, one of which is head-to-head match-ups. So yeah, this is a pretty important game for both teams. Fairfield is 4-1 at home this season, while Denver is just 2-3 on the road. Stags goalie Charlie Cipriano has the hot hand, coming off a 16-save performance in a win over Air Force. Ryan LaPlante, the Pioneers' freshman goalie thrust into action since Jamie Faus went down with a torn achilles, has been surprisingly good. His stats (8.17 GAA, .552 save percentage) compare favorably to Faus' through five games.

MD3: No. 17 Washington College (8-3) at No. 1 Salisbury (15-0), 1 p.m. Saturday

Salisbury has a release on its website outlining the details of the Sea Gulls participation in the "Lax for Leukemia" game, which will happen this Saturday. It's a great thing that the program is doing - raising awareness and money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the National Marrow Donor Porgram. At the bottom of the release is a quick paragraph, led by this sentence: "This year's [Lax for Leukemia] game will coincide with the War on the Shore game as Salisbury takes on Washington College in a battle for the Charles B. Clark cup."

There used to be a time when the WoTS was a stand-alone event, with the tension and excitement far too great to share with another storyline, no matter how good the cause. However, with nine straight wins by the Gulls dating back to a 17-12 win in 2003, there's not much drama with this contest lately. Might as well put it to good use.


Consecutive win No. 10 appears likely, but there is a glimmer of hope that this rivalry could come out of hibernation. Washington College is back in the polls and is once again a threat in the Centennial. It may be a couple of more years until this game is once again a toss-up, but the Shoremen are moving in the right direction.

 


There are still more trophy games in football (Old Oaken Bucket, Little Brown Jug, etc.) than lacrosse (Kraus-Simmons trophy), but the spring sport is starting to catch on. Two of my favorites are still in their formative years: the Doyle Smith Cup, born in 2006 and awarded to the winner of the Hopkins-UVA game, and the Charles B. Clark Cup, awarded since 2004 to the winner of the annual Washington-Salisbury game. Dr. Charley Clark, who played and taught at Washington College and coached at both schools, is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and was a noteworthy figure in the history of the game in the state of Maryland. It's quite fitting that the man who helped to establish the lacrosse tradition at both schools is now, himself, part of that tradition.


WD1: No. 5 Florida (14-2) at No. 1 Northwestern (14-0), 2 p.m. Saturday

Florida hasn't loss since an overtime setback to No. 2 Syracuse on March 3. Northwestern hasn't loss since being shocked by Johns Hopkins on April 16, 2011 – which happened to come two days after Florida had stunned the Wildcats. Northwestern bounced back to beat Florida in the American Lacrosse Conference tournament later in the season, but it was by just a goal. Can the Gators hang again? While Northwestern is a perfect 14-0, they've been pushed to overtime by Syracuse and Ohio State and beat North Carolina by just a single goal. Florida has the nation's top scoring offense and the top scoring defense, but holding the Wildcats down is a tough task. If Florida is going to win on the road (Northwestern hasn't lost at home since 2010) expect some fireworks in a high-scoring affair.

MD1: Hofstra (6-6) vs. No. 1 UMass (11-0), 5 p.m. Saturday at Foxborough, Mass.

The Minutemen have never been ranked No. 1 in the country, sharing the honor with likewise undefeated Loyola in this week's USILA Division I poll. With a victory over the Pride they can clinch the CAA regular season championship, plus the top seed and home field advantage in the conference playoffs. Hofstra, currently tied for fourth place in the CAA, had North Carolina on the ropes in Charlotte last weekend but coughed up a fourth quarter lead in a 12-9 loss. The Pride has had a tough time closing out games, with four one-goal losses, three of which came in overtime. UMass leads the all-time series 19-17, with 10 games being decided by one goal. It will be an uphill battle for a young Hofstra team against the veteran Minutemen who boast the nation's No. 2 scorer in Will Manny (32g, 23a), the No. 2 goalie in Tim McCormack (6.02 GAA, .652 save percentage) and a two-headed monster on faceoffs in Anthony Toresco (64.1 percent) and Greg Rushing (62.3 percent) that will keep each other fresh against the Pride's grinder John Antoniades (55.1 percent). All aforementioned UMass players are seniors.


We've seen what the No. 1 label has done to teams in recent weeks. No. 1 Virginia loses to Johns Hopkins, No. 1 Hopkins is out-played by North Carolina, No. 1 Virginia gets beaten by Duke. So it begs to wonder: What will UMass do with the target on its back? Four of Hofstra's six losses were one-goal games, so the Pride play everyone close. But I'm sticking with the Minutemen until given any reason not to.


MD1: No. 5 Notre Dame (9-1) at No. 11 Villanova (8-4), 5:30 p.m. Saturday

Both teams are 4-0 in the Big East and are qualified for the four-team conference postseason May 3 and 5 at Villanova. The winner here has the inside track at the top seed. In the history books, Notre Dame has won 10 of the last 11 meetings, dating to 1995. But that last loss came the last time they played at Villanova, 9-8, in 2010. Notre Dame won 12-8 last season in South Bend. This year, the Irish's defense has been great, allowing an average of 5.6 goals per game, the lowest number in the nation. They're on pace to break the program-record 6.19 goals against average set in 2009. Villanova, meanwhile, averages 11.0 goals per game while allowing 10.0. Jack Rice has a team-high 26 goals and senior attackman Kevin Cunningham has 17 goals and 18 assists. Notre Dame needed a second half comeback to beat Georgetown a week ago, but second-half domination has been their trademark lately, outscoring opponents 23-4 in final two quarters of the last three games and 46-27 in all second halves this season.


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