Playoffs Underway for the Lakers
We haven't officially reached the postseason yet, but if
Mercyhurst hopes to have its name called on Sunday as one of the
four qualifiers for the men's NCAA Tournament, the Lakers have to
treat this week as if the playoffs are underway.
With a 10-2 mark, Coach Chris Ryan's team has put itself in position to likely garner the one at-large selection for the Division II tournament. The three other spots appear to be headed to Limestone (South Region), C.W. Post (Central) and Le Moyne (North), although both Post and Le Moyne still have a little work ahead of them as well this week.
Mercyhurst's toughest test among its two remaining games comes Wednesday, when it faces Seton Hill (6-6) for the second time this year. The Lakers needed a goal with 17 seconds remaining to defeat SHU 10-9 in the first meeting on March 26. The Hurst closes out the campaign Saturday against Dominican (2-12). Both games are at home.
Those two games are among the things the Lakers can control at this point. Two wins, combined with its strong SOS, should seal an NCAA invite and a return to the playoff field for the first time since 2007. With wins in seven of their last eight games, the Lakers have climbed back to third in the latest USILA poll, the same spot they occupied in the preseason poll.
But the rankings don't matter at this point. It's about the games still remaining. And a loss in either game this week opens the window for other at-large contenders like Adelphi (13-2) and Mercy (11-2).
As noted, Post (15-1) and Le Moyne (12-1) also have a little work left this week. Post, the two-time defending national champion, must get past Molloy on Saturday to secure the ECC title and claim the Central Region's bid. Le Moyne, ranked first in this week's USILA poll, is the top seed for the NE-10 Tournament this weekend. With two wins, the Dolphins become the North Region representative.