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2019 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinal Previews: What you need to know

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The winners go on to Philadelphia for Championship Weekend.

Craig Houtz/Penn State Athletics

We’re onto the quarterfinals!

The Men’s Division I Tournament got started last weekend with all the seeded teams but Towson advancing in the first round. All games are on ESPNU and each day’s doubleheader of games begin at noon.

For some, it could be the final games of competitive lacrosse ever. For others, it’s a chance to extend their college lacrosse seasons and time with their teammates.

While reading, check out our quarterfinal NCAA Tournament preview edition of the College Crossecast. And get caught up with all the first round games from last week here.


SATURDAY GAMES AT HEMPSTEAD

Maryland vs. #3 Virginia (Noon, ESPNU)

Once former ACC rivals, the Maryland Terrapins and Virginia Cavaliers will meet for the first time since 2014 when they were both members of the ACC. They will renew their rivalry next season. UVA has won 13 of the last 18 meeting against the Terps, including the 2011 National Championship, which Virginia won and was the last time the Wahoos played in Championship Weekend.

First Round Recap

Maryland (defeated #6 Towson 14-13 in OT): Easily the best first round game was the Terps’ comeback against Towson on the road. Down by as much as four goals and by one late in the game, Jared Bernhardt sprang into action. Literally and figuratively. He registered a pair of goals and an assist in the win, all of which came in the fourth quarter. His second goal forced overtime with three seconds left. Kyle Long delivered two great feeds on the game-tying and game-winning goals and finished with a goal and four total assists.

Virginia (defeated Robert Morris 19-10): It was a career night for many of the Cavaliers in their rainy win over the Colonials at Klöckner, especially for two seniors. Mikey Herring finished with a career-best six goals while Ryan Conrad recorded his best goal-scoring performance with five goals. Just alone, those two outscored the entire Robert Morris offense. Matt Moore, only a sophomore, racked up a career-high seven assists and nine points in the win over the NEC champs. FOGO Justin Schwenk went 22-of-28 on faceoffs with eight ground balls. His 22 wins were the most in an NCAA Tournament game for the Cavaliers.

Players To Watch

Maryland: Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas are up there are an elite one-two duo in college lacrosse. Bernhardt is a Tewaaraton Finalist and Wisnauskas is Maryland’s all-time leader in points as a sophomore with 75. Wisnauskas might be the better player on offense out of the two. Give credit to Danny Dolan as well for his 15 saves in the OT win. He was the recipient of a huge jumping hug from the game-winning goal scorer Louis Dubick after the win on Sunday.

Virginia: Virginia’s high-powered offense will give Maryland’s defense some fits. Whether the ball is in the stick of Moore, Conrad, Herring, Dox Aitken, Michael Kraus, or Ian Laviano, the Cavaliers have plenty of weapons at their disposal. All six are experienced offensive players that are certainly ready for a stage like this.

Freshmen To Watch

Maryland: Long is the rookie who’s having the best tournament right now. His final two assists came at a very vital time from behind the cage despite being a midfielder. His eight goals and 13 assists makes the converted attackman someone to really watch the rest of the way through. Brett Makar has started every game on defense this season with three caused turnovers and 21 ground balls on the year. He will need to play some of his best games of his rookie year to keep Maryland in games.

Virginia: The starting six recorded all but two of Virginia’s points last Saturday with freshman Jeff Conner dishing out two assists. He now has 12 points on the year (4 Gs, 8 As). Freshman Cade Saustad is part of the starting defense, and FOGO Petey LaSalla has been Virginia’s top option at the faceoff X but only went 2-of-4 last weekend against Robert Morris. LaSalla and Schwenk make up a good 1-2 punch on draws to combat with Austin Henningsen and Justin Shockey.

Keys To Victory

Maryland: With Bernhardt, Wisnauskas, Long, and Anthony DeMaio, the focus will be on defense. We know Virginia has a fast-paced, all systems go type of offense. Halting any transition, especially from Conrad, will help slow things down as well as containing matchups. Roman Puglise will have a huge roles as a shortie, as well as long poles Thomas O’Connell, Nick Brozowski and Matt Rahill.

Virginia: Whereas Virginia’s offense is up-tempo, Maryland’s offense is more methodical. They aren’t in a huge rush to put some shots on cage, and won’t be afraid to drain as much time as possible if they’re leading late. Defenders need to help out Alex Rode in goal, and also continue to scoop up ground balls. UVA leads the nation in ground balls with 41.82 GBs per game. It’s the fourth time a Lars Tiffany-coached team led the country in that category.


#7 Notre Dame vs. #2 Duke (2:30 PM, ESPNU)

It feels like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Duke Blue Devils have seen each other a lot. And they have. This will be their 20th meeting this decade, meeting twice in every season except in 2012 and now this year when this game will be their third get together of the season.

First Round Recap

Notre Dame (defeated Johns Hopkins 16-9): The return of Ryder Garnsey was the big story in this game as the senior finished with a hat-trick and an assist. But the breakout star of the game was sophomore Morrison Mirer who finished with a game-high four goals. With Garnsey in the mix, the Fighting Irish had four players finish with at least four points for the first time all season. Those 16 goals were an NCAA Tournament record for Notre Dame. The defense held Johns Hopkins to less than 10 goals for just the third time all year.

Duke (defeated Richmond 12-11): Outside of a slow first quarter start and nearly giving up the lead in the fourth, the Blue Devils looked good. Especially at midfield with Brad Smith (2 Gs, 3 As) and Nakeie Montgomery (3 Gs, 2 As). Something about the postseason and Montgomery.

Players To Watch

Notre Dame: Bryan Costabile and Brendan Gleason are still two of the big guys to watch. But with Garnsey in the mix, it adds an interesting situation at attack. Connor Morin was still in but I didn’t notice a ton of Brian Willetts. Their defense is still the same with Arden Cohen and Hugh Crance being the main guys and Matt Schmidt is in goal. Charles Leonard can win draws and isn’t afraid to run down the net and score. He had a goal and an assist against Hopkins.

Duke: Unless otherwise, Nakeie Montgomery is a player to watch moving forward in the postseason. It’s one game sure, but his other best games have come in the postseason. He didn’t have a stellar sophomore regular season. Smith back at midfield helps the Duke offense, which needs guys like Joe Robertson and CJ Carpenter to step up. We already know about the two studs on defense in JT Giles-Harris and Cade Van Raaphorst.

Freshmen To Watch

Notre Dame: Starting midfielder Quinn McCahon was one of those four golden domers with four points in Sunday’s win. With Garnsey in the fold, there wasn’t a ton of Griffin Westlin. On defense, LSM Jose Boyer has racked up 10 caused turnovers in his first season of college lacrosse as one of the two long poles alongside Eric Restic.

Duke: The three freshmen of Garrett Leadmon, Wilson Stephenson, and Jordan Ginder were quiet in the Richmond win. Leadmon only had a shot and a turnover and the lone offensive starter to not record a point. Stephenson and Ginder were minimal in their reserve time on the field. Ginder could be looked upon if Brian Smyth doesn’t get off to a good start against Charles Leonard at the faceoff X.

Keys To Victory

Notre Dame: Leonard has dominated Duke on faceoffs in both meetings this year. If he does again, that makes Notre Dame’s task a little easier to pull off the upset. Offensively, get the midfield going. Last week against Richmond, Duke allowed 23 of their points (12 out of 18) to Spider midfielders. The Irish also need to continue to make sure they execute like they did in the ACC semifinal and be solid on defense.

Duke: Contain the midfield, especially when three of Notre Dame’s top scorers from a week ago were midfielders. Garnsey coming in makes it a little tougher for the Blue Devil defense to guard. As for the offense, drive possessions from the midfield with Montgomery and Smith guiding the way.


SUNDAY GAMES AT EAST HARTFORD

#8 Loyola vs. #1 Penn State (Noon, ESPNU)

This is the game of the weekend right now on paper. Grant Ament and Pat Spencer are the two best college lacrosse players in the country, and the winner might have an inside edge to win the Tewaaraton Award as college lacrosse’s MVP. They are both elite feeders and have plenty of support on offense.

First Round Recap

Loyola (defeated Syracuse 15-13): Down 12-8 in the third quarter, the Greyhounds went on a 7-0 run to take control of the game late en route to a two-goal win over the Orange. Pat Spencer broke the all-time NCAA career assists in the process (and got a Sportscenter treatment in the process). He finished with a hat-trick and six assists on the day and goalie Jacob Stover made 17 stops.

Penn State (defeated UMBC 25-10): The Penn State offense was on fire, per usual. And they won their first ever NCAA Tournament game! Eight points from Grant Ament and seven each from Mac O’Keefe, Dylan Foulds, and Jack Kelly with the latter scoring a career-high six goals. But the defense was slow to start, giving up four goals against the UMBC offense. They tightened up later on, especially thanks to a big day at the faceoff X by Gerard Arceri who went 25-of-27.

Players To Watch

Loyola: Once again, Spencer is the guy to watch. But there’s more than just him. Whether it’s Kevin Lindley or Aidan Olmstead at attack, or if it’s Chase Scanlan, P.J. Brown, or John Duffy at midfield. The Greyhounds offense runs through Spencer. Defensively, Stover mans the cage and is protected by guys such as Cam Wyers and LSM Ryan McNulty.

Penn State: Just like Loyola and Spencer, Ament is the guy to watch. But Penn State’s offense has guys like O’Keefe, Foulds, Kelly, Nick Spillane, and TJ Malone that are playmakers when they have the ball. Colby Kneese is not Stover, but he’s definitely a reliable netminder for the Nittany Lions with Chris Sabia and Nick Cardile manning the defense.

Freshmen To Watch

Loyola: On an experienced team like Loyola, Chase Scanlan is the lone freshman impact player. The midfielder had a pair of goals and one assist in last weekend’s win over Syracuse. He’s still the number one threat up top, but Brown and Duffy could help him get open a little more.

Penn State: Malone is still Penn State’s top rookie option in the midfield, but keep an eye out for Jack Traynor as a depth option as well. He had a goal as well in the UMBC win.

Keys To Victory

Loyola: With a high-powered offense like Penn State, it will be a big task for the Greyhound defense. They need help protecting Stover in goal. Wyers, Paul Volante, and John Railey will need to keep the Nittany Lion attack tight and McNulty guarding the top midfielder. Bailey Savio may have a tall task against Arceri and perhaps Jake Glatz.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions don’t have the defensive edge, especially in goal. Loyola’s midfield is an underrated aspect of the offense with Spencer garnering the headlines. LSM Tommy Wright and the rest of the defensive midfield needs to stay as focused as their close defense brethren. Penn State has faced solid goalies before (Max Edelmann comes to mind), so a very good shooting day is necessary.


#5 Yale vs. #4 Penn (2:30 PM, ESPNU)

Speaking of conference foes that have met three times this season, look no further than the Yale Bulldogs and the Penn Quakers. They met two weeks ago in the Ivy League Championship with the Quakers taking that game after taking the regular season meeting in triple overtime. Yale and Penn are second and third in terms of scoring offense. It will be the first time in program history Yale plays an opponent three times in the season.

First Round Recap

Yale (defeated Georgetown 19-16): The Bulldogs got off to a fast start against Georgetown with a nine-goal first quarter. Thanks to TD Ierlan’s NCAA record 31 faceoff wins and a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter, Yale countered a career performance by Daniel Bucaro for the close win. Matt Brandau scored four goals and assisted on another against win brother and Hoya goalie Chris Brandau, while Jackson Morrill (3 Gs, 2 As) and Lucas Cotler (1 G, 4 As) also had five-point afternoons. Jack Starr made 16 saves.

Penn (defeated Army West Point 13-8): Similar to Yale, the Quakers got off to a fast 5-0 start before holding on to win. A big part of that was also faceoffs thanks to Kyle Gallagher going 22-of-25 with 21 ground balls. Simon Mathias led the offense with four goals and an assist while Adam Goldner and Alex Roesner each registered hat-tricks.

Players To Watch

Yale: The addition of Ierlan has masked some of Yale’s problems this season. He plays a huge part of Yale’s strategy and helps the offense gain plenty more possessions. And with those possessions, guys such as Morrill, Brandau, Matt Gaudet, Jack Tigh, and Joey Sessa can convert to goals. On defense, can Chris Fake rebound after last week’s performance guarding Bucaro?

Penn: The Quakers have benefitted from having a ton of senior leadership this season. Guys such as Mathias, Roesner, Tyler Dunn, and goalie Reed Junkin have played vital roles on the squad since their arrival in the 2016 season. Now with a group that also includes Goldner, Gallagher, Mitch Bartolo, Sean Lulley, and Mark Evanchick and Kyle Thornton on defense, Penn looks to get back to Championship Weekend for the first time since 1988.

Freshmen To Watch

Yale: After I mentioned Brandau only started once this season last week, Brandau got his second start in the Georgetown win. He’s got 57 points on the season, still behind Morrill’s 81, but should still be a big factor on offense in the third meeting against the Quakers.

Penn: Even though he only recorded a goal and an assist in the win over Army, midfielder Sam Handley has been one of Penn’s top offensive options. He’s tied with Goldner for most points with 60 and leads the Quakers with 25 assists. Dylan Gergar adds some support with a 20-point campaign of his own. On the other side of the ball, LSM BJ Farrare has been one of the best defensive rookies this year with a team-high 17 caused turnovers and isn’t afraid to get some action on transition. He recorded an assist on a Mathias goal last Saturday.

Keys To Victory

Yale: It should be an offensive battle for sure. Ierlan hasn’t been stellar against Penn’s Kyle Gallagher all season. Gallagher’s been similar to Conor Mackie last season when Ierlan was at Albany. If Ierlan can get a larger edge on faceoffs and the defense can shut down the Penn offense for four quarters, expect the Bulldogs to be going back to Championship Weekend.

Penn: The Quakers have beaten the Bulldogs twice this year, but it’s usually hard to beat a team three times. It’s possible, and Penn hopes to do just that. The faceoff battle is bigger than it was in the first two meetings with the stage being higher. The defense with Evanchick leading the way needs to contain Yale’s diverse attack.