No. 4 Maryland (10-4) vs. No. 12 Denver (12-4)
Site -- Byrd Stadium, College Park
Time -- 2 p.m.
Outlook -- Second-seeded Maryland, 2-0 in previous games against Denver, has a lot going for it. The Terps are at home, entering their 29th NCAA tournament, are 8-2 in first-round games, and gave up an average of only 6.3 goals against one of the nation's tougher schedules. Their offense has relied heavily on Joe Walters and Xander Ritz, who have combined to score 90 of Maryland's 218 points. But senior midfielders Brendan Healy and Bill McGlone have caught fire together lately to give the Terps more balance. That should be enough to knock off the Pioneers, who are making their first tournament appearance after gaining an automatic bid by winning the Great Western Lacrosse League. Denver went 0-4 when playing on the East Coast, and its upset hopes rest on two factors: its hard-riding, high-pressure defense and the work of senior faceoff man/midfielder Geoff Snider. The team's third-leading scorer, Snider leads the NCAA in faceoff percentage (.695), and he needs to beat David Tamberrino (Loyola Blakefield) to give Denver a real shot.
No. 6 J. Hopkins (8-4) vs. No. 13 Penn (10-3)
Site -- Homewood Field
Time -- 1 p.m.
Outlook -- The fourth-seeded Blue Jays and the Quakers have met 28 times, but never before in the NCAA tournament. Penn, which engineered a stunning turnaround after going 2-11 last year, is coached by Brian Voelker, a 1991 graduate of Hopkins, where he played with Blue Jays head coach Dave Pietramala in the late 1980s and later was a co-captain with current Hopkins assistants Seth Tierney and Bill Dwan. Penn's defense has held nine opponents to single digits, its balanced offense is led by a senior-laden attack, starting with St. Paul's grad D.J. Andrzejewski (26 goals, 13 assists), and the Quakers are 6-0 in games decided by three goals or fewer. Hopkins, in its 35th straight NCAA tournament as the defending national champions, has battled youth, injuries, offensive inconsistency and persistent clearing problems, but the Blue Jays' defense and junior goalie Jesse Schwartzman (Pikesville) have been steady and they enter the postseason with a three-game winning streak - each by one goal. Attackmen Kevin Huntley (Calvert Hall) and Jake Byrne and midfielder Paul Rabil are the go-to guys on offense, but freshman midfielder Brian Christopher has scored in each of Hopkins' past nine games.
No. 11 UMBC (10-4) vs. No. 9 Princeton (10-4)
Site -- Class of 1952 Stadium, Princeton, N.J.
Time -- Noon
Outlook -- The Retrievers are in their third NCAA tournament, and the first since completing a two-year run in 1999. They are playing such great lacrosse right now that pulling an upset to win their first Division I tournament game would not be a shock - although drawing the six-time NCAA champion Tigers on the road is a tall order. Princeton is back in the NCAAs after its first miss since 1989. The Tigers will try to slow the tempo on offense, while their athletic defense - allowing 6.14 goals, third in the nation - will look to force turnovers out of their matchup zone alignment. Princeton would rather keep the game in single digits. It will be interesting to see if UMBC can get out in transition often with an offense that has become balanced and explosive during its 8-1 streak. Midfielders James Hyland (St. Mary's) and Evan Kay (Friends) will probably draw the short sticks, and a big day from one or both of them could spark the Retrievers. UMBC needs to get off to a good start by getting to the Tigers' sophomore goalie standout Alex Hewit early.