Welcome to conference championship week.
There’s 10 conferences and 10 conference tournaments. Nine of them get started next weekend, with the ACC holding their championship on Saturday.
Six teams make it, with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds getting a quarterfinal bye. The quarterfinals are held at the site of the higher seed (No. 3 and No. 4). After that, the conference tournament heads to the site of the top seed with the title game on Selection Sunday.
Below is what the tournament looks like, followed by short previews of the teams.
Quarterfinals - Tuesday, April 30 (Hosted by No. 3 & No. 4 Seed)
No. 5 Holy Cross at No. 4 Army West Point, 3 PM, PLN
No. 6 Bucknell at No. 3 Boston University, 7 PM, PLN
Semifinals - Friday, May 3 (Hosted by Loyola)
Lower-seeded quarterfinal winner at No. 1 Loyola Maryland, 5 PM, CBSSN
Higher-seeded quarterfinal winner vs. No. 2 Lehigh, 8 PM, CBSSN
Championship Game - Sunday, May 5 at Noon (Hosted by Loyola)
Lower-seeded semifinal winner vs. Higher-seeded semifinal winner, Noon, CBBSSN
No. 1: Loyola Greyhounds
Loyola has one the best players in the game in Pat Spencer. He might win the Tewaaraton with his ability to be a quarterback of the Greyhound offense. Kevin Lindley is a scoring machine with 56 goals, many of them assisted from Spencer. Chase Scanlan has become a a threat at midfield with 51 points, third on the team. Ryan McNulty and Cam Wyers are studs on defense, and Jacob Stover is one of the best goalies in the nation.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: When you have a probable Tewaaraton finalist, he automatically becomes the guy to watch. But if defenses can shut him off or perhaps players he feeds to like Lindley and Aidan Olmstead, it could mean problems.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: In a freshman class filled with other big-time players, notably on offense, one of the best defensive freshmen is close defenseman Cam Wyers. Instantly covering the top guy on offense, the 6-4 Canadian will get some postseason experience right off the bat.
- LOYOLA WINS IF: Pat Spencer does Pat Spencer things and Jacob Stover locks down the net like he has for most of the season.
No. 2: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Lehigh finished where most people projected to in the Patriot League. But many didn’t expect the Mountain Hawks to get hit with injuries, especially with Andrew Pettit going down with a season-ending ACL tear. But Lehigh has come through and will look to continue playing in May, just like they planned on doing prior to the start of the year.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: With Pettit out, it’s been Lucas Spence’s offense. Even missing some of the season, the senior leads the team with 26 assists and 48 points in 13 games played. Tristan Rai and freshman Tommy Schelling join him with Alex Tumminello up at midfield.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: The defense has suffered some injuries as well, especially Eddie Bouhall. But with Craig Chick leading the Mountain Hawks with 36 caused turnovers, he will need to be depended on a lot more. So will Matt Rimol.
- LEHIGH WINS IF: The defense can thrive with what they have. If Bouhall does come back, that helps a ton as well. The defensive depth needs to allow James Spence to see shots and make the big saves. Conor Gaffney is a 69% faceoff winner and is the best FOGO in the conference. Extra possessions will be big.
No. 3: Boston University Terriers
BU put up a great season for the young program with a 10-5 record. Chris Gray is a point short of 100 and with 50-goal scorer James Burr have become one of the best 1-2 tandems in the country. Speaking of 1-2 tandems, the LSMs of Chase Levesque and Canisius transfer Reece Eddy have also put up strong numbers with over 25 caused turnovers and over 50 ground balls respectively. Joe McSorley is also one of the best goalies in the conference.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: While Burr is scoring goals, Chris Gray has become one of the best attackmen in the country. The sophomore is third in the nation with 6.60 points per game and leads the country with 99 points, six more than second place Pat Spencer. A definite All-American, and perhaps a first-teamer?
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: A total of six Terrier defensive players have at least 10 caused turnovers (Gray and Brendan Homire have 10 CTs as well on offense). Senior Quintin Germain is the top close defenseman on the team and successfully shut down Spencer in their upset win in the regular season with adjacents pinched. A big spotlight will be on him if BU can’t get going on offense.
- BOSTON UNIVERSITY WINS IF: The offense keeps producing points, especially from younger guys like Timmy Ley and Jake Cates, while FOGO Sean Christman can out-win some of the other FOGOs in the conference, mainly Gaffney if a meeting with Lehigh happens in the semis.
No. 4: Army Black Knights
After getting into the top 20, Army West Point has stayed in that top 20 range for the majority of the season. And the two main players are freshmen attackman Brendan Nichtern, the highest scoring freshman in the nation, and senior defenseman Johnny Surdick, who’s fourth in the nation with 31 caused turnovers and tied for sixth with 2.21 caused turnovers per game. Army is third in the country in scoring defense with 8.93 goals per game.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Nichtern has become Army’s top scoring option by a long shot. Nate Jones and Miles Silva are good options, but the freshman’s 39 assists is triple what second place Matt Manown has (13).
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Johnny Surdick is a bonafede All-American. A future pro, the Black Knight is capable of covering the best of the best. Sometimes, he can de-twig the best player on offense.
- ARMY WEST POINT WINS IF: The faceoff unit can win draws or force 50-50 ground balls for their wings. Ethan Barangan has won only 44.3% of his draws. Evan Condon won 31.7%. The Black Knights don’t have a FOGO that can give them those extra possessions. That will help Nichtern and offense share the ball, while Surdick and the defense could get some rest.
No. 5: Holy Cross Crusaders
A team that has been known to be at the bottom of college lacrosse for a long time, interim head coach Peter Burke has turned the program around with a 7-6 regular season record. Four 30-point scorers, three guys with over 20 caused turnovers, a FOGO with a 65% win percentage on draws, and a goalie with an under 10 GAA. The Crusaders have pulled off quarterfinal upsets in the past.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: The top three scorers on Holy Cross are juniors. Kevin Kodzis, Justin Lynskey, and Sean Mullaney are three of the players with 30 points. Mullaney leads the team with 27 goals and 39 points on the balanced offense.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: A guy that has flown under the radar throughout the Patriot League has been Matt Farrell. The senior leads the Crusaders with 33 caused turnovers and has added 53 ground balls to his season total. He’ll be covering the top offensive players in the tourney.
- HOLY CROSS WINS IF: FOGO Dan O’Connell continues his tremendous season by winning 65% of his draws. But that’s only one facet of the game. The Crusaders’ defense stymied Lehigh with 28 turnovers (11 of them caused turnovers) in their regular season finale. They can keep the team in close games, but the offense will need to produce some goals.
No. 6: Bucknell Bison
The last team in the Patriot League Tournament is Bucknell. A year after their tremendous season that fell short of the NCAA Tournament, the Bison have a much different look than they did in 2018. A lot of different faces everywhere, but a ton of familiarity on the defensive side of the ball.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Will Yorke is Bucknell’s lone 30-goal scorer thanks to some early big performances. After being on-and-off for the first few games of the year, Yorke has since balanced out his point production. Same with Tommy Sopko.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Also a junior, Conor Shears has a team-high 23 caused turnovers. It will be up to him, along with fellow All-Patriot League second teamer Bryant Boswell, to stop some of the conference’s top players. That includes Chris Gray and perhaps Pat Spencer.
- BUCKNELL WINS IF: Along with the four players that were just mentioned, there has to be some solid goalie play from a senior, Christian Klipstein. He stopped 15 shots in the team’s upset win over Lehigh a few weeks ago and will need to have similar performances for three straight games if the Bison want to complete a Cinderella journey to the NCAA Tournament.
2019 Men’s Lacrosse All-Patriot League and Major Awards
Offensive Player of the Year – Pat Spencer, A, Loyola
Defensive Player of the Year – Johnny Surdick, D, Army West Point
Faceoff Specialist of the Year – Conor Gaffney FOGO, Lehigh
Goalkeeper of the Year – Jacob Stover, G, Loyola
Rookie of the Year – Chase Scanlan, M, Loyola
The William Lawson Coach of the Year – Charley Toomey, Loyola
All-Patriot League First Team
James Burr, A, Boston University
Chris Gray, A, Boston University
Kevin Lindley, A, Loyola
Pat Spencer, A, Loyola
Brendan Homire, M, Boston University
Chase Scanlan, M, Loyola
Greyson Torain, M, Navy
Ryan Wade, M, Navy
Johnny Surdick, D, Army West Point
Quintin Germain, D, Boston University
Matt Farrell, D, Holy Cross
Craig Chick, D, Lehigh
Conor Gaffney, FOGO, Lehigh
Ryan McNulty, LSM, Loyola
Will Blumenberg, SSDM, Colgate
Jacob Stover, G, Loyola Maryland, Sr., GK
Brendan Nichtern, A, Army West Point
Will Yorke, A, Bucknell
Kevin Kodzis, A, Holy Cross
Lucas Spence, A, Lehigh
Matt Manown, M, Army West Point
Griffin Brown, M, Colgate
Sean Mullaney, M, Holy Cross
Andrew Eichelberger, M, Lehigh
Tom Rigney, D, Army West Point
Bryant Boswell, D, Bucknell
Conor Shears, D, Bucknell
Cam Wyers, D, Loyola
Dan O’Connell, FOGO, Holy Cross,
Teddy Leggett, LSM, Lehigh
Christian McHugh, SSDM, Lehigh
AJ Barretto, G, Army West Point