It’s quarterfinals weekend, lacrosse fans! Eight teams — Maryland, North Carolina, James Madison, Boston College, Stony Brook, Florida, Navy and Northwestern — have a shot at making the Final Four at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium next weekend.
The four women’s quarterfinal matchups all take place on Saturday at either 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. It’s really nice that the NCAA is making an effort to stagger the games and make lacrosse more accessible to viewers. Wait, it’s not doing that at all.
Anyway, these games are going to be really good and any of the four could go either way and nobody would be shocked.
Here is a quick schedule for Saturday’s action with all forecasts coming from Accuweather.
No. 1 Maryland (19-1) vs. Navy (18-3) at College Park, Md. (12 p.m.)
- How to watch: BTN2GO
- Game time weather conditions: 69 degrees and steady rain (no t-storms), light winds
No. 2 North Carolina (16-3) vs. Northwestern (15-5) at Chapel Hill, N.C. (1 p.m.)
- How to watch: WatchESPN (ESPN3)
- Game time weather conditions: 74 degrees and scattered rain (t-storms possible), light winds
No. 3 James Madison (19-1) vs. No. 6 Florida (17-3) at Harrisburg, Va. (1 p.m.)
- How to watch: James Madison Athletics
- Game time weather conditions: 69 degrees and cloudy (slight chance of rain), light winds
No. 4 Boston College (20-1) vs. No. 5 Stony Brook (20-0) at Newton, Mass. (1 p.m.)
- How to watch: WatchESPN (ESPN3)
- How to listen: WUSB 90.1 FM
- Game time weather conditions: 53 degrees and steady rain, moderate winds
Here are 10 storylines to follow this weekend:
#1. Can Maryland shut down the Collins sisters?
This is two straight years that Maryland has perhaps gotten more than they bargained for in their home quarterfinal matchup. (Stony Brook being a No. 8 seed last year was, as Dan LeBatard would put it, highly questionable.)
Yes, Navy is a great team with most of its core contributors back from the Final Four Navy squad last year. The Minutemen rolled through the Patriot League Championship (beating Loyola in the title game) then toppled Johns Hopkins and Loyola (again) in the first two rounds of the tournament last weekend.
Maryland should be worried about Julia and Jenna Collins. The two senior twin sisters have combined for 151 goals and 192 draw controls this season. Last season, it was really in the month of May that Navy hit its full stride, and with the play of the Collins sisters, combined with sophomore attacker Kelly Larkin (who ranks third in the nation in points and fifth in assists), this attack is potent.
But Maryland is Maryland. The Terps defense is well-removed from two shaky defensive outings early in the year, in which they gave up 12 and 10 goals to mediocre UMBC and Hofstra teams, respectively, and that defensive unit is coming off perhaps its best defensive showing of the year against Denver. The Pioneers only scored four goals as Maryland senior goalie Megan Taylor saved a remarkable 12 of 16 shots against.
To prevail against the Collins sisters of Navy, Taylor will have to be on the top of her game again.
#2. NU’s duo of Lasota and Nesselbush are on absolute fire right now, but so is UNC goalie Moreno.
Selena Lasota and Shelby Nesselbush combined for 31 goals in two NCAA Tournament games last weekend. Thirty-one. Northwestern’s games against Richmond and Towson were played at a roadrunner’s pace, but the offense was efficient. For Lasota, a redshirt junior, her 17 goals through two tournament games are already only five goals away from the tournament record. Insanity.
North Carolina should feel comfortable with their goalie tasked with stopping this duo though. Freshman Taylor Moreno from Huntington, Long Island has been brilliant for the Tar Heels. Moreno has only started six games this year (having won the job from sophomore Elise Hennessey) and still was named an Inside Lacrosse All-American honorable mention. Moreno has a .556 save percentage this season. In her last three games, since the ACC semis, that number jumps to .591.
Two interesting notes on Moreno: (1) she kicked for the varsity football team in high school; and (2) she split time in goal for Huntington with current Stony Brook goalie (and NCAA goals-against average leader) Anna Tesoriero.
#3. Forget about Apuzzo vs. Ohlmiller for now. The real matchup is Apuzzo vs. McCarthy.
The draw has been the Achilles’ heel for Stony Brook in tournament time in recent years. Two years ago, in a 7-6 season-ending loss to Syracuse, the Seawolves only won 4 out of 15 faceoffs. Said head coach Joe Spallina at the time, “I like to think that if we had the ball seven more times on offense, we’d be up two or three.”
Then last year, in the 13-12 quarterfinal loss against Maryland, Stony Brook only won 7 of 26 draws. After the game, Kylie Ohlmiller said, “I think people who watched this game realized who the better team was. That’s us.”
Will draws limit the Seawolves again?
It’ll be Keri McCarthy vs. Sam Apuzzo in the circle. McCarthy has a Stony Brook program record of 133 draw controls. In one more game, Apuzzo has 138. The two are nearly equal in percentages too; Stony Brook is winning 57.6 percent of draws this season. Boston College has won 60.0 percent.
As Spallina would say, “Win the draw, rule the world.”
#4. Which Florida will show up?
On March 3 of this year, the Florida Gators went on the road and beat North Carolina by seven goals. Heck, last season, Florida played Stony Brook and won by eight goals.
When the Gators are at their best, they play lacrosse insanely well. But they don’t always play at their best. Florida lost games this year to Syracuse and Towson, two top-flight programs, but neither reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Florida’s inconsistency could even be seen within their second round game against Colorado last Sunday. The Buffaloes stormed out to a 5-0 lead on the Gators home field. Then Florida responded with an 8-0 run of its own to take the lead for good.
But like life or a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get with Florida. To beat James Madison, they’ll have to be at their best.
#5. The Terrapins haven’t lost at College Park since March 10, 2012.
Um... good luck, Navy.
#6. Okay, let’s talk about Ohlmiller now. (Murphy too.)
Navy’s trio of Collins, Collins and Larkin has 319 points this season. That total is among the highest in Division-I history for a set of three players, and is also the second-best out of any trio in the nation this season.
Well, Kylie Ohlmiller, Courtney Murphy and Taryn Ohlmiller have combined for 386 points in one fewer game.
As David Vatz (Inside Lacrosse writer, Albany SID and man friendly with America East Men’s Basketball Tournament media) said in a story this week, “ That combined point total is more than 93 out of the other 114 full Division I teams.”
I also wrote a piece myself about the jaw-droppingness of the Stony Brook attack.
Taryn Ohlmiller, upon the most recently reported information, is questionable to play against Boston College. She suffered a lower-body injury against Penn on Sunday.
#7. North Carolina has a LOT of weapons.
Perhaps only Boston College and Stony Brook can match the sheer scoring depth of North Carolina this season. All three starting attackers (freshman Jamie Ortega, sophomore Katie Hoeg and senior Ela Hazar) were named to Inside Lacrosse All-American teams on Friday, and senior midfielder Marie McCool? She’s now a two-time Tewaaraton finalist.
All four have at least 72 points this season. Ortega leads the team with 61 goals, while Hoeg and Hazar are the main feeders, with 45 and 43 assists respectively. UNC ranks second among all remaining teams in assists per game (8.32), trailing only Stony Brook.
#8. It’s really rainy everywhere.
From Chestnut Hill to Chapel Hill, it’ll be rainy. It’s been wet most of the week, so these teams have been practicing in it, but without a doubt the weather will influence the games.
Could be worse?
Dearest city of Buffalo, NY:— Skyler Gilbert (@skylerjgilbert) March 15, 2018
I love you. pic.twitter.com/NRTi2d99ZE
#9. Gaudian and Romesburg will give Florida all it can handle.
After a paperwork snafu last weekend prevented James Madison’s star players from IWLCA Coaches’ All-American honors next month, it was nice to see four Dukes players be recognized on the media All-American list put out by Inside Lacrosse on Friday.
Senior attacker Kristen Gaudian has emerged as a superstar this year. One of five Tewaaraton finalists, Gaudian has been unassisted on 53 of her 64 even-strength goals this season, according to AnalyticsLacrosse. Gaudian also has seven man-up tallies for a goal total of 71.
Beside her on attack, Elena Romesburg is a bona fide goal scorer on her own accord. She has 61 goals this season.
#10. Stony Brook is the only team still in the field to never make a Final Four.
Like their fellow America East team, Albany Men’s Lacrosse, Stony Brook has never made a Final Four and everything is pointing toward this year being the time. It’s Kylie Ohlmiller and Courtney Murphy’s final season, the Seawolves are the only undefeated team in lacrosse, and who can’t help fantasizing about what a Stony Brook national championship at LaValle might look like?
But a wrench was thrown in their Final Four plans, and the Seawolves have to play on the road at Boston College this weekend. It won’t be easy, but Stony Brook is just 60 minutes from school history.