DI Men’s Rewind: Observations and Analysis of the First Round


DI Men’s Rewind: Observations and Analysis of the First Round

JP Ward scored the game-winning goal in the dying seconds to knock out second-seeded Georgetown.

The opening weekend of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament doesn’t always reserve its most exciting moments for Sunday’s late game.

It’s like that sometimes.

Unranked Delaware’s 10-9 win at No. 2 seeded Georgetown in the weekend’s anchor game not only sealed the Blue Hens’ first quarter-final since 2007. It also continued an intermittent tradition dating back as far as 15 years from upheavals and unforgettable finishes.

The current format – quadrupleheaders on Saturdays and Sundays, all televised in their entirety – dates back to 2007. That year, UMBC overthrew seventh-seeded Maryland to close out the weekend, the seeds of the unpredictability of the lacrosse version of #Pac12AfterDark.

Sunday’s slot produced Syracuse’s losses to Army (2010) and Bryant (2014) as the No. 2 seed. unranked team when they knocked out seventh-seeded Lehigh on the road in 2012.

There was Ryder Garnsey’s hat trick in the pouring rain on his season debut for Notre Dame in 2019 against Johns Hopkins, and Sam Shafer’s last-second tricks to preserve Loyola’s win at Denver in 2021 .

And now Delaware has added another chapter after winning its seventh straight game and further opening up the bottom half of the group with the ousting of a Georgetown group that has spent the entire season in the top five.

Consider the four teams there: Cornell, Delaware, Penn and Rutgers. Cornell owns 13 of this group’s combined 15 trips to the semis, and none of the appearances have come since 2013. One of those four is guaranteed to play on the final day of the season.

To find out who won’t need another late night, though. The remaining seven games of the tournament all start in the afternoon.

A look at highlights from a busy weekend to open this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament:

BEST GAME

Penn borders Richmond

Considering five of the first-round games were decided by at least seven goals, the options were pretty quickly ruled out. And while the Delaware-Georgetown result will be the most remembered game for years to come, Penn’s 11-10 overtime loss to Richmond was highly entertaining and almost turned into an upset almost as big.

After a strong start, Penn settled in for a largely unremarkable performance, and he appeared to be under serious threat after Richmond gained possession in the final minute of regulation with a goal. But midfielder Ben Bedard made a clearing pass and Sam Handley found Ben Smith (with help from Smith’s deft stick) for the equalizer in the crease with 29 seconds left.

It was Smith, a freshman who scored a career-high five goals, who ended things 17 seconds into overtime. The third-seeded Quakers moved within a game of their first semi-final appearance since 1988 while gutting their fifth one-goal win of the season.

NEAR MISS NOTABLE

Saint Joseph pushes Yale

In its sixth attempt to host the Northeastern Conference Tournament, St. Joseph finally fought its way to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks nearly made their first playoff appearance particularly memorable.

They beat fourth-seeded Yale on shots, held a 22-15 faceoff advantage and caused nine of Yale’s 21 turnovers in a frantic first-round game. In short, Saint Joseph’s acquitted themselves exceptionally well in what turned out to be an 18-16 loss that the Bulldogs only recovered in the final 30 seconds.

THE BIGGEST SURPRISE

Delaware knocks out No. 2 Georgetown

What else could it be? The Hoyas followed that up with an 11-game winning streak, and they hadn’t trailed by three since their only loss of the season on March 5 against Princeton.

So when the Blue Hens scored the first three goals, it was a signal that a strange night which started about 50 minutes late due to lightning was not going to be easy.

In the end, the Blue Hens never allowed Georgetown to make the kind of extended run he often did throughout the regular season, and he didn’t panic when the Hoyas went up 9-7. with less than five minutes to go. Delaware was the stable team down the stretch, while Georgetown saw critical turnover and struggled to stay on defense.

Instead of making another playoff breakthrough, Georgetown will be home for Memorial Day weekend, while Delaware or Cornell will at least reach the semifinals.

SURPRISE THAT WAS NOT

Princeton overtakes Boston University

It’s not a blow for the Terriers, who impressed in wins over Lehigh and Army in the Patriot League tournament to earn the first NCAA trip in program history. They probably did enough to make some believe they wouldn’t stop there.

But if there was anyone in the six-team Ivy League contingent that was a good bet to play well this weekend, it’s the Tigers. Missing the Ivy League tournament undoubtedly put them off, and it also gave them a chance to rest and regroup after their defense was shredded by Harvard and Cornell to close out the regular season.

Princeton’s answer was a 12-5 drawout of Boston University, perhaps not with the screaming goal tally of a Rutgers or Virginia this weekend, but dominating early on. Sam English, Christian Ronda and Alex Slusher all scored three times for the Tigers, who earned a rematch with Yale (which they lost 14-12 on March 26) in the quarterfinals in Hempstead, NY

BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES

CJ Kirst, Cornell

All the second did in his NCAA Tournament debut was tie a record first set by Big Red royalty. Kirst scored seven goals as Cornell erased an early four-goal deficit to beat Ohio State 15-8 and advance to the quarterfinals. The two former Cornell players to score seven times in a post-season game? Mike French (in the 1976 title game against Maryland) and Steve Mock (in the 2013 quarter-final against Ohio State).

Ross Scott, Rutgers

The junior forward scored eight goals as the sixth-seeded Scarlet Knights pulled away to an 18-8 loss to Harvard. Scott became the first Rutgers player to score eight times in any game since 2018, and achieved the goal of tying the NCAA Tournament single game record held by Syracuse’s Gary Gait (1988 vs. Navy) , Brown’s Oliver Marti (1992 v Loyola), North Carolina’s Chris Cloutier (2016 v Loyola), and Penn State’s Mac O’Keefe (2019 v Loyola).

TEWAARATON WATCH

Sam Handley, Penn: The midfielder had three goals and an assist, with the assist coming on Ben Smith’s goal in the final minute of regulation time as the Quakers advanced to the quarter-finals with an overtime loss to Richmond .

Connor Shellenberger, Virginia: The most notable player of last year’s tournament picked up where he left off, opening his playoff run with a flurry of four goals and four assists as Virginia pulled away from Brown.

Logan Wisnauskas, Maryland: The steadiest part of the Terrapins’ deep distribution, Wisnauskas clocked in 45 seconds and finished with four goals and two assists as Maryland edged past Vermont.

NUMBER OF TICKETS

2

Consecutive seasons with an NCAA Tournament victory for Rutgers, the first time the program has done so. The Scarlet Knights are 4-10 in 11 all-time appearances, with first-round wins in 1986 (on CW Post), 1990 (Virginia), 2021 (Lehigh) and 2022 (Harvard).

4

Maryland all-timers have scored 50 goals in a season after Logan Wisnauskas hit the plateau on Sunday. Jared Bernhardt holds the school record with 71 goals last season and also scored 51 times in 2019, while Mark Douglas (52 in 1991), Wisnauskas (52 this year) and Andrew “Buggs” Combs (50 in 2001 ) also have 50 goals. seasons for the Terrapins.

5

2 seeds who have lost in the first round since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2003. Georgetown, which Delaware stumbled 10-9, joins 2007 Virginia (also Delaware), 2010 Syracuse (vs Army), 2014 Syracuse (vs Bryant) and 2016 Denver (vs Towson) as the No. 2 seeds to retire before the quarterfinals.

13

Years between NCAA Tournament victories for Princeton, a drought that ended when the Tigers dismantled Boston University 12-5. It was the Tigers’ first playoff triumph since a 10-7 loss to UMass in the first round of the 2009 tournament.

206

Saves for Yale goaltender Jared Paquette this season, sixth-best in school history. Paquette has the most saves of any Bulldogs goaltender since Joe Pilch made 209 in 1999 and is 40 saves behind Tony Guido’s school record of 246 set in 1990.

5,212

Attendance at Yurcak Field for Rutgers’ 19-9 loss to Harvard, the third-largest crowd for an NCAA Tournament first-round game since the field expanded to 16 teams in 2003. Largest first-round crowd from that span was the 6,472 that saw Albany beat visiting North Carolina in 2017.

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