Welcome to conference championship week.
There’s 10 conferences and 10 conference tournaments. Most of them got started yesterday, with the ACC holding their championship on Saturday. The Patriot League got their conference tournament started on Tuesday. We’ve also previewed the Big Ten, MAAC, America East, CAA, NEC, SoCon, and Big East Tournaments.
Four teams makes the conference tournament at Columbia University in New York City. Nothing special with the format of this tourney.
Below is the tournament schedule, followed by short previews of the teams.
No. 1 Penn vs. No. 4 Brown (Friday, 6 PM, ESPNU)
No. 2 Yale vs. No. 3 Cornell (Friday, 30 minutes after the first semifinal, ESPNU)
Ivy League Championship (Sunday, Noon, ESPNU)
No. 1: Penn Quakers
Probably the biggest surprise in college lacrosse has been the emergence of Penn. After an 0-3 start, the Quakers won their last nine games including big wins over Cornell and Yale. With plenty of senior leadership, Mike Murphy’s squad looks to send them off into the sunset and make Penn history.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Despite all of the seniors, one of their best players is a freshman. Midfielder Sam Handley was an obvious choice for conference Rookie of the Year with a team-high 22 assists and is tied with Adam Goldner with 53 points. Handley adds another dimension to the Quaker offense.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Heavily underrated, but still talented. Mark Evanchick is Penn’s top defenseman assigned to guard the opposition’s top attackman. He was an All-Ivy First Team choice even though the numbers in the box score don’t show a lot.
- PENN WINS IF: Kyle Gallagher continues to dominate at the faceoff X while the defense holds offenses down in terms of goals. If it wasn’t for TD Ierlan to Yale, Gallagher’s transfer to Penn may have been the most impactful transfer this season.
No. 2: Yale Bulldogs
The defending national champs look ready to make another run at Championship Weekend. The offense might be different with Jackson Morrill leading the way with freshman Matt Brandau contributing as well on attack. The acquisition of TD Ierlan has helped mask a lot of Yale’s problems.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: With Ben Reeves graduated, the majority of the offense runs through Jackson Morrill and his high IQ. He’s got a team-high 35 assists which is more than double Joey Sessa’s total of 17 to go along with 67 points. No other Bulldog has over 50. He will be counted on more than ever in the next few weeks.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: The defense hasn’t been as dominant as it was a year ago. Chris Fake is still a first-team defenseman, but the resurgence of junior Aidan Hynes has been very impressive. He leads the team with 18 caused turnovers covering the No. 2 option for the most part. I was a fan of his when he was a freshman. He saw limited time as a sophomore and started that year injured.
- YALE WINS IF: The offense can get going and Jack Starr is more consistent in goal. He has a 48.5% save percentage this season and was pulled early from the Brown game.
No. 3: Cornell Big Red
Cornell is in a similar situation like they were in a year ago. This time, the urgency to win isn’t as bad as when they won the Ivy League Tournament. They’ll certainly be an at-large team but could be a dark horse with Chayse Ierlan becoming the goalie the team needs.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: To no one’s surprise, Jeff Teat is still the guy to watch. He probably won’t be face-guarded as he was last season, but the junior does have some more support with an underrated Clarke Petterson and an even more underrated John Piatelli at attack. They all have at least 62 points.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Cornell doesn’t have a very good defense but have recently gotten a boost with Brandon Salvatore moving down from long stick midfielder. He’s recorded two or more caused turnovers in six of his last seven games and gives the Big Red some aggressiveness.
- CORNELL WINS IF: They can steal some faceoffs and play solid defense. They’ll more than likely get torched at the faceoff X but they’ve dealt with that before. If Ierlan can keep them in games and Teat gets his offensive personnel going, don’t be surprised with another Ivy League title for the Big Red.
No. 4: Brown Bears
Despite not being in the top 20 at all, the Bears are once again back in the Ivy League Tournament. It’s a team that hasn’t really gotten any spotlight but the Bears have a good amount of younger talent ready to make an impact.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Brown’s top five scorers are all scheduled to return. That’s a good thing to have. The Bears are led on attack by Luke McCaleb with 34 goals and 22 assists, both leading the team. Also keep an eye out for freshman Darian Cook and sophomores George Grell and Ryan Aughavin to deliver as well.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Another young guy that will make a big impact is freshman defenseman Andrew Geppert. He’s tied for the team lead with 14 caused turnovers with 23 ground balls on the year. He will have to play like a junior or senior this weekend.
- BROWN WINS IF: The Bears’ younger players play like veterans that have been to Championship Weekend. Guys like Alex Santangelo, Carson Song, and Michael Panepinto were all on that 2016 Brown team that fell short against Maryland in the semifinals. Lean on their experience and leadership this weekend.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: TD Ierlan, FOGO, Yale
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Sam Handley, M, Penn
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Murphy, Penn
First Team All-Ivy
Jeff Teat, A, Cornell
Michael Sowers, A, Princeton
Jackson Morrill, A, Yale
Sam Handley, M, Penn
Tyler Dunn, M, Penn
Jack Tigh, M, Yale
George Baughan, D, Princeton
Chris Fake, D, Yale
Mark Evanchick, D, Penn
Brandon Salvatore, LSM, Cornell
Ryan Bray, SSDM, Cornell
John Daniggelis, SSDM, Yale
TD Ierlan, FOGO, Yale
Reed Junkin, G, Penn
Second Team All-Ivy
Adam Goldner, A, Penn
Clarke Petterson, A, Cornell
Simon Mathias, A, Penn
Ryan Aughavin, M, Brown
Jake McCulloch, M, Cornell
George Grell, M, Brown
Connor Fletcher, M, Cornell
Fleet Wallace, D, Cornell
Andrew Geppert, D, Brown
Aidan Hynes, D, Yale
Robert Mooney, LSM, Yale
Jake Stevens, SSDM, Princeton
Kyle Gallagher, FOGO, Penn
Phil Goss, G, Brown
Kyle Anderson, A, Harvard
John Piatelli, A, Cornell
Jon Donville, M, Cornell
Peter Rizzotti, LSM, Dartmouth
Jonathan Butler, D, Harvard
Kyle Thornton, D, Penn
B.J. Farrare, LSM, Penn
Steve Cuccurullo, FOGO, Harvard
Chayse Ierlan, G, Cornell