Some people will try and tell you the the play-in game isn’t acccccccctually part of the NCAA Tournament and therefore the show doesn’t really begin until the weekend. Those people must be great at parties. FOR THE REST OF US, the dancing begins today with Canisius hosting Robert Morris. Below are the important links for today, how the teams got to the tournament, and some videos to help get you ready for today’s action.
All the fun begins at 4:00 this afternoon at Canisius. The game will be shown on ESPN3 and you can find the link to the Live Stats page here. Our boy Jack Goods wrote a great preview on the game for The Buffalo News which you can read here.
Canisius College men’s lacrosse was a heavy underdog to even make the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Griffins were the lowest seed in the four-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament, an accomplishment in itself considering the Griffs were picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Two overtime winners later, the Golden Griffins are hosting an NCAA tourney game for the first time. They face Robert Morris at 4 p.m. on Wednesday in the NCAA play-in game at Demske Sports Complex. The winner will play No. 1 seed and reigning champion Maryland in the first round.
”It means the world,” said senior long-stick midfielder Blake Rickan, who played high school lacrosse at Williamsville East. ”I’ve got a lot of friends, a lot of people from high school, a lot of family who are looking to come to the game.”
Canisius coach Mark Miyashita said it will be nice having players sleep in their own beds, but while the Golden Griffins are the home team, they won’t be considered the favorite. Robert Morris has a much higher RPI (19 compared to Canisius’ 49) and beat Canisius head-to-head, 11-9, at Demske on April 10. The teams were tied after three quarters in that matchup, but Robert Morris pulled away with two straight goals in the final 2:10.
How They Got Here
Robert Morris: The Colonials finished the regular season with a 12-4 record and are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 seasons in Division I after winning a thrilling overtime game versus St. Joe’s in the NEC Tournament title game. Robert Morris has flirted with the top 20 throughout the season and they have been one of our favorite teams to follow in 2018.
Jimmy Perkins leads the team in total points (54) & assists (28). He is closely followed in the points total by Matt Schmidt who has 49 and also leads the team in goals (34). RMU’s Tyson Gibson rounds out the top three in scoring with 44 points (21 Gs & 23 As). While Robert Morris has been impressive offensively, goalie Alex Heger has been stellar all season long. Heger has a 60.3% save percentage and he’s given up double digit goals only four times this season.
Canisius: The Golden Griffs finished the regular season 8-8 and are in the NCAA Tournament after winning a wild overtime game over Detroit Mercy in the MAAC Tournament title. The Griffs were down two goals with less than three minutes to play in the MAAC title game, yet were able to push the game into overtime, where Canisius then won it in dramatic fashion.
Canisius is led in scoring by Connor Kearnan, who has been one of the most underrated players in 2018. Kearnan has 80 points on the season (31 Gs & 49 As) and has been a dynamic and integral part of the Griffs attack. While Kearnan is well out in front in points, the next four leading scorers behind him all have at least forty points. Steven Coss has 51 points on the season (23 Gs & 28 As) and Mathieu Boissonneault has 47 points (37 Gs & 10 As) on the year. The top three scorers are closely followed by Carter Stefaniak’s 46 points (36 Gs & 10 As), and Ryan McKee’s 44 points (34 Gs & 10 As). While Kearnan is certainly one of the nation’s best and the focal point of the Canisius offense, it’s definitely not a one-man show at Canisius.
The Kid Chris blessed us with another episode of his podcast, Across College Lacrosse!