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While three area teams are assured of spots in the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament, Navy is in limbo

Tom Petty sang that “the waiting is the hardest part.” That is especially true for the Navy men’s lacrosse team.

The No. 17 Midshipmen have been waiting since a 10-9 overtime loss to Lehigh on April 27 in the Patriot League semifinals to see if their season will continue – or end before May for the eighth time in the last nine years.

Navy (9-5) will learn its fate Sunday night when the 17-team field for the NCAA Division I tournament is unveiled. Coach Rick Sowell knows his team sits precariously on the proverbial bubble.

“I’m hopeful, but we’ll see,” he said. “There were probably a few things that happened last weekend that put us a little further behind the 8-ball, but it could swing back. You just never know. My feelings at this point are, we have to wait and see what happens.”

Three other area programs can take comfort in knowing they will see their names in the bracket. No. 2 and reigning national champion Maryland, No. 6 Loyola Maryland and No. 7 Johns Hopkins are in strong position to earn a seed and host first-round games next weekend.

On the women’s side, defending national champion Maryland should be among the top three seeds if the Terps beat Penn State for the Big Ten championship Sunday. Towson and Loyola Maryland also have a chance to be seeded in the top eight and host first- and second-round games next weekend if they win their conference championships, the Colonial Athletic Association and the Patriot League, respectively.

Maryland (17-1) has an outside shot to be the No. 1 overall seed, but North Carolina (15-3), with the top RPI in Division I, and Stony Brook (18-0), the only unbeaten team in Division I, are also in the running for the top spot.

Navy, which reached the final four last season, could improve its seeding with a win over Loyola in the Patriot League final Sunday, but the Midshipmen will make the field either way. Johns Hopkins, which lost to Maryland in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Friday, is on the bubble.

The women’s bracket will be revealed Sunday at 9 p.m. on NCAA.com.

For the first time since 2015, the Blue Jays (11-4) captured the Big Ten tournament championship Saturday night by upending the Terps, 13-10, and gained the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

The victory guarantees that Johns Hopkins will earn a top-eight seed and host a first-round game. Before Saturday, coach Dave Pietramala hesitated to buy into any scenario until he saw the bracket, but acknowledged that the team had removed some of the guesswork by defeating No. 13 Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals Thursday.

“What I think we’ve done is we’ve put our destiny in our hands,” he said. “In years past, we hadn’t done that. You go into Selection Day, and you’re thinking, ‘I think we’re in, but what happens if?’ There’s that bit of trepidation. I think what we’ve done now is taken that out and have done what we needed to do with our resume.

“Our hope is that we will have a home game, but stranger things have happened. … We’ve won a couple good games, and we’ve taken it out of the hands of other people.”

Maryland (12-3) was practically a shoo-in for the postseason before Saturday’s loss to Johns Hopkins after boasting one of the nation’s top RPIs all season and quality wins against the Blue Jays, No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 11 Rutgers (twice), the Midshipmen and No. 19 Penn State. The Terps’ only losses came against No. 4 Albany, Johns Hopkins and No. 13 Ohio State, and they are a virtual lock to host a first-round game at Maryland Stadium.

By virtue of winning the Patriot League tournament for the fourth time in five years and the conference’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament, the Greyhounds (12-3) are assured of knowing that they will take part in the postseason. The only mystery is whether they will host a first-round game at Ridley Athletic Complex, where they are 19-5 since 2016.

“It’s in the committee’s hands right now, and obviously we’re going to sit back and watch the games and let this thing play out,” coach Charley Toomey said. “I’d like to believe our numbers are good enough that we warrant a home game. But I’ve been on that committee, and I know they’ve got a challenge this year. So we’ll see where things fall.”

Nerves figure to shadow Navy on Sunday until the bracket is released. The Midshipmen are believed to trail Bucknell, Ohio State and Rutgers for an at-large berth. No. 18 Georgetown’s 8-3 upset of No. 3 Denver in the Big East tournament final on Saturday means there is one fewer at-large spot available.

Sowell is realistic enough to admitt the team could have helped its own cause by winning the Patriot League title. He said the players have been busy with exams this past week, which has been a blessing in disguise.

“I’m sure it’s good that they’re not totally consumed and preoccupied thinking about the NCAA tournament when they have final exams that they’re studying for,” he said. “… The best-case scenario would have been if we had won the Patriot League championship and we would have been in. But obviously, that did not happen. So we’ll have to wait and see.”

Staff reporter Katherine Dunn contributed to this article.

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