April 25, 2014

McAananey: Keep Your Devices Charged This Weekend

by Eamon McAnaney | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McAnaney Archive

Ohio State can play its way into the NCAA tournament - but it first needs to make the ECAC dance. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)

This is the best part of the year for the lacrosse fan because so many different games affect one team's resume that you need to make sure you have your device juiced to follow all the scores.

Let's take Ohio State, for example. The Buckeyes only avenue to the postseason is to win the ECAC tournament at home next week. That sounds simple enough right? Now if Ohio State wins its next three games, not only is it in the tournament, but should crack the Top 20. Just like that, through the back door, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame and Hofstra add a Top 20 win to their resumes.

Yes, you can drive yourself nuts doing the math and thinking of these scenarios but it sometimes make the most mundane matchup critical so enjoy the action in person and on TV and make sure to have your fingers near the refresh button.

No. 9 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Maryland

Friday, 7:30 p.m. (ACC Semifinals)

The Terps and Irish meet for the second time in a week and there is no arguing that the rematch is much more important to one team than the other. Yes, the Golden Domers resume still crunches tournament-worthy data, but Notre Dame needs a win and need it badly. If you walked out of the Loftus Sports Center with me after ND's 18-9 victory over Virginia on March 16th and told me the Irish would be a bubble team in six weeks. I would have looked at you like you had two heads. How does Notre Dame flip the score on the Terps? They will need a bounce back effort from senior Liam O'Connor at the x as Charlie Raffa was dominant for Maryland in South Bend. Kevin Corrigan also has to receive production from the first midfield group of Sergio Perkovic, Jim Marlatt and Nick Ossello.

How do the Terps handle success? That has been an Achilles heel for this program in recent history. Will Maryland bring the same edge to PPL Park that it brought to Arlotta Stadium? It is a fair question.

UMass at Delaware; No. 10 Hofstra at Penn State

Friday, 7 p.m./Saturday, 1 p.m.

The CAA's narrow-minded decision to ban Penn State from its postseason tournament because the Nittany Lions will be part of the Big 10 next year rears its ugly head again and robs the lacrosse fan of some drama this weekend. If UMass were to win at Delaware on Friday, then Penn State could have taken the field at home Saturday knowing it needed to beat Hofstra to get into the CAA tourney. Instead now the Nittany Lions can realistically only play for a winning season and pride.

"Obviously we were disappointed by the decision because it took away the opportunity to compete for a championship" said fifth year Senior Captain Tyler Travis. "It's hard to say how it impacted our play throughout the year. It's not something we thought about so I don't know if it added pressure or not."

While there was plenty of gossip about who was responsible for the CAA's decision, the Nittany Lions are not using any of that for motivation in this one, maybe. "I don't think we need it. It's a CAA game, it's a league game. It's one last guaranteed opportunity to play against a quality opponent. All I can say is we are really excited to play Hofstra."

UMass is hoping to avoid going from a Top 10 team in March to season over before May. The Minutemen have dropped three straight and have scored fewer than 10 goals in all three, with shooting woes the main problem. Last week in a home loss to Hofstra, UMass scored on just six of 25 shots.

Ohio State at No. 14 Fairfield

Saturday, 1 PM

The Buckeyes will have home field advantage no matter what at the ECAC tournament next week, but the top seed is on the line in this one and that is significant. I don't want to imply that Michigan is an automatic W, but Air Force smoked the Stags two weeks ago in Colorado and was tied with Ohio State 6-6 in the fourth before the Buckeyes scored the game's last two goals... I think it's safe to say that both clubs want to avoid the Falcons in the first round.

Tournament position aside, this could be a monumental day for Fairfield lacrosse since former head coach Ted Spencer will be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame and they will put shovels into the dirt for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rafferty Stadium. The Stags would love for the faithful to celebrate the ECAC regular season title in the league's last year. For that to happen, Fairfield will have to find a way to limit Jesse King. "He's really, really, really darn good", said Fairfield head coach Andy Copelan. "He's an exceptional picker and he plays the two man game as well as anybody. He can pick apart matchups so we have to be patient on D. He's just a great competitor and poised in big time situations."

No. 16 Harvard at No. 13 Yale

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

The venue for the Ivy League Tournament will be determined by the outcome of this one, and since it's all about me, I am very intrigued to know if I am going for the morning run along the Charles or Gorges? Am I bending an elbow post-game Friday at the Bow and Arrow or Dunbar's? Now for the Crimson the difference between staying home and playing Yale again or traveling to Ithaca to meet Cornell is much more significant, as the schools first league title since 1990 is on the line. "We have a huge carrot in front of us", said Harvard head coach Chris Wojcik. "If we want this to be the ascension of the program that we talk about, you don't get a better opportunity than this."

The Crimson defense certainly opened some eyes by limiting Princeton to eight goals and serving Tommy Schreiber a double bagel a week ago. Harvard will need a similar effort on the road against Conrad Oberbeck and Brandon Mangan. "Mangan is a kid that has produced his entire career. He's dynamic and his game has evolved so now he can beat you in several ways", said Wojcik. "Oberbeck is a tough cover. He is big, athletic and has great body control that allows him to get his hands free to shoot. He can shoot around his guy, he can shoot over his guy, and we have to be ready against him."

Eamon McAnaney is an ESPN lacrosse announcer and former Notre Dame lacrosse captain. Check back to LaxMagazine.com for more commentary throughout the college season. For a list of upcoming ESPN and other lacrosse broadcasts, visit LaxMagazine.com/TV.

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