The four NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament Quarterfinal games were extremely competitive. Three out of the four games were decided by “sudden victory” overtime. This weekend was also one of the best weekends of college lacrosse this whole year. These games were just so offense-dominant that you couldn’t look away without missing a goal. The Quarterfinals
Virginia (#3) Stuns Maryland 13-12 OT
Virginia vs. Maryland was the most controversial game of the weekend, but viewers got quite the contest to watch.
It was a back and forth battle to start the game, but Maryland looked very tough and controlled a lot of the gameplay. The Terps were hustling all over the field and beat the nation’s leader, Virginia, in ground balls during the contest. Maryland’s go-to guys had great games, Jake Bernhardt with 4 goals and 1 assist and Logan Wisnauskas with 2 goals and 2 assists, but the effort was not enough to surpass the ‘Hoos. Anthony Demaio also helped with 4 goals get to a commanding 12-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the game that eventually slipped away.
At that point, many wrote off the Cavaliers, but they went on a 5-0 goal run to force overtime. Senior leader Ryan Conrad led the comeback by starting it off with a man-up goal. That one came at 9 minutes, and 6 minutes flew by without another goal. Virginia was still down by 4 goals with less than 4 minutes to go. Conrad scored another, and then Ian Laviano added to the comeback 20 seconds later while drawing a penalty. On that man up, Conrad netted another after 20 seconds.
Controversy Against the Terps
Then the “big goal that wasn’t a goal.” Michael Kraus drilled the crossbar making the net shake, and the ball flew away out of bounds near midfield. The refs signaled a goal, and there is no replay or challenge call in lacrosse. The Cavaliers took it to overtime and were able to end it very quickly after getting into OT.
Maryland also had a controversial goal earlier in the game that technically should not have been goal where Bernhardt stepped in the crease. So, there were discrepancies on both sides of the officiating; which should be expected. Regardless of the missed calls, in both situations, it was a wonderful game and a spectacular comeback. It will be the first time in 8 years Virginia makes it to the final four, and this ends Maryland’s streak of 5 in a row.
Duke (#2) Defeats Notre Dame (#7) 14-13 OT
The ACC showdown of Notre Dame and Duke that played out for the third time this season goes to the Blue Devils. They finally get their payback for the Irish knocking them out of the conference tournament.
Similar to the first game of the day, Notre Dame had a big 5-goal 4th quarter to force overtime. It was a very even game statistically, and the teams ended up dead even on faceoffs. The comeback kid, Ryder Garnsey, did all he could with a game-high 4 goals and 2 assists; including a sweet diving goal from behind the net. Sadly, Garney’s effort was not enough to take down Duke. The Irish fought valiantly against probably the best defense remaining in the tournament and could not surpass them. Brian Willetts had a hat trick; along with the team-leader in goals, Bryan Costabile, aiding with 2 goals and 2 assists. Their dedicated effort in the fierce rivalry was not enough to finish off the strong Blue Devils.
Overall. it was a great game with lots of lead changes to keep any fan entertained. Duke was led by Cj Carpenter and Joe Robertson, both with hat tricks; and, Joe scored the game-winner in OT to solidify himself as the hero of the game. Nakeie Montgomery was also a big contributor getting 1 goal 4 assists in the Blue Devil victory. Duke rallied around Freshman LSM Wilson Stephenson who was injured in the 4th quarter. We are all wishing him a speedy recovery. Duke goes on to face another ACC foe once more in Virginia.
Yale (#5) Beats #4 Penn 19-18 OT
The Ivy league showdown everyone wanted to see between Yale and Penn did not disappoint. Two top offenses in the nation, and the third meeting between the two teams. Only one goal has decided each of the three meetings this season, and Penn was the only team to beat Yale all season. Penn did it twice but could not make it three straight.
The Bulldogs finished on top this time on a crazy overtime goal to advance back to championship weekend. This game had 14 lead changes and 2 goals in the last 50 seconds of regulation. It was a wild barn burner and one for the ages. It was a fierce battle on the faceoffs as well when two of the best guys in the nation squared off. TD Ierlan, the nations top man, did win the battle by 3 to help secure the win; but, Kyle Gallagher was a very competitive opponent who went on several sprees to force the overtime.
Penn fought very hard, but it is tough to beat a team 3 times in one season; especially the defending champs, Yale. The Quakers had five players score hat tricks, so their goals came from all over. Penn’s leader in points, Freshman Sam Handley, was actually held to only 1 assist.
An “Almost Costly” Error
A late scare occurred when Yale’s coach, Andy Shay, made a big mistake in the final minute of the game that could have cost the Bulldogs big time. Shay called a timeout when he was not allowed to. Yale did not have possession, and it was not a dead ball foul situation; so Shay was penalized. Penn then got the chance to put one in and get to 17-18.
Luckily for Coach Shay, it went to OT and Senior middie Jack Tigh put in his second of the day to win after falling down, losing the ball, and splitting a double team, before burying a shot to win. The great Bulldog attack trio all performed well; Jackson Morrill with 4 goals and 3 assists, Matt Gaudet with 3 goals, and Matt Brandau had1 goal and 3 assists. It was probably the top game of the tournament so far, and Yale now gears up to take on the mighty Penn State.
Penn State (#1) Over Loyola (#8) 21-14
The top dogs of the tournament, Penn State, still reign supreme.
The battle of the two favorites for the Tewaaraton award for the nation’s top player, Grant Ament and Pat Spencer, went down in a blaze of glory. They both had amazing games that really thrilled the crowd. Ament dished out on the day with 1 goal and 8 assists while Spencer knocked in a crazy 6 goals and 5 assists. If Ament helps the Nittany Lions to their first-ever championship, he could get the edge in the super close race. The award could definitely still go to Spencer, but being out the tournament hurts your chances of making more memorable impressions.
Everything was coming from Pat in this game, and no one besides him on Loyola had more than 2 points. A lot of the reason for that was due to Penn State’s great play. Kevin Lindley and Chase Scanlan were both held to 1 goal each for a sad day to end their otherwise great seasons. A disappointing game for the Greyhounds, excluding Spencer, sent them packing. Pat Spencer ends an amazing career at 2nd in all-time points, only 20 behind the great Lyle Thompson.
The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, are a dominant team all over the field. Mac O’Keefe could not be stopped as he put in 9 goals tying the NCAA tournament single-game record. Jack Kelly also had a solid day with 4 goals and 1 assist during the victory. Penn State scored 9 goals in one quarter, which also tied an NCAA record.
The top team in the nation gets a shot at revenge to their only loss this season to Yale. It will be quite the battle and will be a total toss-up.