A journey that began in September with fall ball has culminated with one final weekend for four teams.
The Maryland Terrapins, Albany Great Danes, Yale Bulldogs, and Duke Blue Devils will play for a national championship on Memorial Day Weekend at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough (or Foxboro?), Massachusetts.
The Terps won it all last year after beating Ohio State in the national championship game at Gillette for their first title in 42 years. They don’t have players such as Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock, Dylan Maltz, Tim Muller, or Isaiah Davis-Allen, but a young group of guys led by sophomore Jared Bernhardt and freshmen Bubba Fairman and Logan Wisnauskas join a still experienced group that includes Tewaaraton finalist Connor Kelly, midfielder Tim Rotanz, and goalie Dan Morris. They beat Cornell on Sunday to move on to their fifth straight Championship Weekend appearance.
Albany and their relaxed and talented team are playing in the national semifinals for the first time in program history. They defeated Denver on Saturday in the best matchup of the weekend, highlighted by FOGO TD Ierlan’s even matchup against Pioneers FOGO Trevor Baptiste, each winning 15 draws. Attackman Connor Fields appears to be fully healthy again after missing some games earlier in the season with a leg injury. Tehoka Nanticoke shows qualities that have not been seen by any player in recent memory, or even ever. If you’re watching lacrosse for the first time, you’re going to want to tune in to ESPN2 Saturday at noon to watch this team. You’ll instantly love the sport.
The Bulldogs are back in Championship Weekend for the first time since 1990, when they lost to Loyola in the semifinals. They beat the same Loyola team Saturday in a rain-filled game thanks to a big performance by their defense, highlighted by freshman Chris Fake. Yale might have the best defense out of the four teams remaining in the field, but their offense is also talented, led by Tewaaraton finalist Ben Reeves and Jackson Morrill at attack.
Duke is back in Championship Weekend for the first time since 2014, when they won their second of two straight titles. It’s the first time the Blue Devil senior class is playing on Memorial Day Weekend, led by attackman Justin Guterding, who just broke the all-time record for goals scored in a career in a win over Johns Hopkins on Sunday. Guterding and goalie Danny Fowler have a group of freshmen that have made an impact in recent weeks, including attackman Joe Robertson and midfielder Nakeie Montgomery.
Here’s the entire Championship Weekend schedule:
- Open practices for all four teams at Gillette Stadium, beginning at 9 AM:
- Yale (9:00 AM-10:15 AM)
- Maryland (10:25 AM-11:40 AM)
- Albany (11:50 AM-1:05 PM)
- Duke (1:15 PM-2:30 PM)
- #3 Yale Bulldogs vs. #2 Albany Great Danes (Noon, ESPN2)
- #4 Duke Blue Devils vs. #1 Maryland Terrapins (2:30 PM [or 30 minutes after the end of the first game], ESPN2)
- Winning team press conferences discussing the national championship game:
- Yale-Albany winner (10:00 AM-10:30 AM)
- Duke-Maryland winner (10:30 AM-11:00 AM)
- Division III National Championship: Wesleyan vs. Salisbury (1 PM, NCAA.com)
- Division II National Championship: Saint Leo vs. Merrimack (4 PM, NCAA.com)
- Division I National Championship: Winner of Yale-Albany vs. Winner of Duke-Maryland (1 PM, ESPN2)
You’re going to want to follow College Crosse during this entire week for some high quality coverage. Safe and I will be there beginning Friday morning.