April 17, 2012

Tuesday Extras: From LaxMagazine.com Writers

by LaxMagazine.com staff

Bucknell, Colgate, Lehigh and Army are in the four-team Patriot League tournament. The question entering this weekend is who will be the top seed and host those playoffs next weekend?
© Kevin P. Tucker

Each week, LaxMagazine.com staff and writers at games across the country bring you extra opinion, analysis and news that goes beyond what's written in the game stories.

Patriot League Tourney Seeds, Site To Be Determined

Game Story: 'Fantoni's Late Heroics Gives Lehigh Big Win Over Bucknell'

The "Who" has been decided already. The "Where" will be decided this weekend. And if Saturday night's Lehigh-Bucknell contest is any indication (and it very likely is), the Patriot League men's lacrosse playoffs should be quite an event.

With one week remaining in the regular season, Colgate (10-2 overall, 4-1 Patriot), Lehigh (11-2, 4-1), Bucknell (9-5, 3-2) and Army (6-6, 3-2) have clinched berths for the league playoffs April 27-29. The site and seeds will be determined this weekend as Colgate travels to Bucknell on Friday night, Lehigh visits Lafayette on Saturday and Army hosts Holy Cross, also on Saturday.

Colgate will earn the No. 1 seed and host the tournament if it defeats Bucknell. Lehigh will be No. 1 and host if Colgate loses and it knocks off Lafayette. If both lose ... well, that won't happen, will it?

In front of an Ulrich Sports Complex-record crowd of 2,096 on Saturday night in Bethlehem, Pa., Lehigh and Bucknell went toe-to-toe for 60 minutes in a dandy of a playoff preview. Ultimately, the No. 11-ranked Mountain Hawks prevailed over the No. 18 Bison 9-8 as Lehigh's Dante Fantoni scored the game-winner on a whistling shot with 14 seconds remaining.

Bison coach Frank Fedorjaka walked off the field disappointed but confident his team's mistakes are correctable.

"They have tendencies and they scored a couple goals off those tendencies. We need to be tougher. But we were certainly ready for what they did," Fedorjaka said.

Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese was not quite ready to offer his perspective on the upcoming playoffs.

"I'm just happy we're in the playoffs because there are good teams who will be watching. We're excited to compete for a championship but Lafayette is what we're focusing on next," Cassese said.

The coaches may not be ready to look ahead, but we sure are. – MICHAEL BLOUSE

UNC Keeper Maksym Stands Tall

Game Story: 'Wildcats Dominate Second Half to Edge UNC 8-7'

While Northwestern might have won the war, it's important to note that the North Carolina defense certainly won a significant battle on Friday night, holding the Wildcats to their lowest scoring total of the season.

A lot of the Tar Heels' defensive success is due to goalkeeper Lauren Maksym. She made five first-half saves as UNC built a 6-4 halftime lead before falling 8-7. Her high school coach, Shari Campbell of Farmingdale (N.Y.), said Maksym was titled the "human highlight film" by then-Farmingdale assistant coach Tracy Wiener.

"She just has some of the quickest hands I have ever seen," Campbell said. "When she gets comfortable with the defense that is in front of her, she just plays with this aura of confidence."

It's a confidence that extends to her teammates, according to Campbell, who said that the 5-foot-4 goalie defies her diminutive appearance.

"She's not a big girl," Campbell said. "She's a tiny little thing and she's very quiet and unassuming until you get to know her." – JONAH ROSENBLUM

Can UMass Run the Table?

Game Story: 'Are They No. 1? UMass Beats Drexel to Stay Unbeaten'

Yes, UMass is undefeated, which makes it hard to quibble with its co-No. 1 ranking in the coaches' poll (with Loyola) and No. 2 ranking in the media poll (behind Loyola). But this is far from a perfect team.

It wouldn't at all be surprising to see the Minutemen lose at least one game before the NCAA tournament, and it'll be interesting to see just how adversely a loss will affect their seeding, if they're seeded at all.

For Drexel, it's now win the CAA or bust when looking at its tournament chances. Winning the conference isn't out of the question, as the Dragons only lost to second-place Penn State by one and now UMass by two. Five of Drexel's seven losses have been by one goal.

Dragons goalie Mark Manos isn't the most talented keeper in the country, or maybe the conference — that honor could go to Tim McCormack of UMass. But Manos' size certainly seems to alter opposing offenses' shots, which could make Drexel a tough out in the CAA tourney. – CHRIS MASCARO

Denver's Matthews Shut Out

Game Story: 'Loyola Stays Undefeated, Beats Denver on Road'

It's the same almost every week, senior attackman Mark Matthews leads the Pioneers in scoring in most games. But Saturday, something was off.

Matthews had 10 shots in the game, but could not capitalize on any of them.

Stepping up to take the top scoring spot this week was sophomore Jeremy Noble, who netted three goals for the Pioneers in their 12-9 loss to Loyola Saturday.

Matthews was not the only one struggling to finish on his shots, as the Pioneers shots vastly outnumbered their goals in the contest against Loyola.

"[Loyola's] got good short-sticks, good long-sticks, three decent defensemen and a very good goalie, so you've got to work for the goal, and 38 shots and you only get nine goals, that's not helping us," Denver coach Bill Tierney said about the missed shot opportunities.

The Pioneers fell to 7-4, 3-2 ECAC, as the Loyola improved to a still perfect 11-0, 5-0. – ALEX PROIETTI

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