Chalk appears to be the major theme of the NCAA men’s and women’s lacrosse Division I tournaments this Memorial Day weekend. All four of the top-seeded women’s programs have advanced to the national semifinals, while three of the top four seeds on the men’s side have made it to championship weekend.
Of the Baltimore-area schools, only the Maryland women have a chance at grabbing the gold. The No. 1 seed Terps are making their 11th consecutive trip to the final four and aiming for their 22nd title-game appearance and 14th NCAA championship.
The men’s semifinals will unfold Saturday and the final Monday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The women’s championship weekend will take place at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field with the semifinals Friday and the title game Sunday. Here is a look at each of the four semifinals:
Matchup: The road here has been surprisingly bumpy for the Blue Devils (13-4), who edged Richmond and No. 7 seed Notre Dame by one goal each — the latter in overtime. But this marks their seventh trip to championship weekend since 2010. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers (15-3) are making their first appearance at this stage of the postseason since 2011, when that squad captured its fifth NCAA crown. Virginia has given up the fewest goals among the four semifinalists at 11.0 per game.
Player to watch: The Cavaliers’ two-headed monster of junior Justin Schwenk and freshman Petey LaSalla has contributed to a 43-17 advantage in faceoffs and 15 combined ground balls in tournament wins against Robert Morris and Maryland. But LaSalla went 15-for-22 with 10 ground balls in the Atlantic Coast Conference rivals’ regular-season meeting, which Duke won, 12-7, on April 13.
Matchup: The Nittany Lions (16-1) have lived up to their billing as the nation’s most explosive offense, averaging 23.0 goals per game in the NCAA tournament. They prefer to jump on their opponents early, having outscored them by 46 goals in the first quarter. The Bulldogs haven’t been shy about lighting up the scoreboard, either, averaging 19.0 goals in two playoff victories. They are making their second straight appearance in the final four, while Penn State is making its debut.
Player to watch: When Yale tagged Penn State with its only loss, 14-13, on Feb. 23, TD Ierlan won 25 of 31 faceoffs, picked up 22 ground balls and scored a goal for the Bulldogs. A similar performance from the junior would be an effective way to keep the ball out of the stick of Penn State redshirt junior attackman Grant Ament.
No. 2 seed Boston College vs. No. 3 seed North Carolina
When: 5 p.m., Friday
Site: Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field
TV/Live streaming: ESPNews/ESPN3
Matchup: The Eagles (21-1) have flexed their muscles on the offensive end, averaging a tournament-high 19.0 goals in two playoff victories. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels (17-3) have been methodical in outlasting Florida and stymieing No. 6 seed Virginia. Boston College opened the season with a 19-game winning streak before getting upset by North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final April 28. The Eagles are seeking their third straight title-game appearance, while the Tar Heels are aiming for their first berth since 2015.
Player to watch: A pair of Boston College seniors in attacker Sam Apuzzo and midfielder Dempsey Arcenault are finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, but senior attacker Kenzie Kent is perhaps just as valuable as her teammates. She ranks second in the country in total points with 118 and third in points per game at 5.6.
Matchup: The Terps (20-1) have looked like the top-seeded team that they are after posting 17-8 victories over Stony Brook and Denver. But their lone blemish came against the Wildcats (16-4), who stunned Maryland, 16-11, in the Big Ten tournament final May 5. Northwestern earned a spot in the national semifinals for the 12th time, but for the first time since 2014. The Wildcats might be the most battle-tested team left after getting past Notre Dame and No. 5 seed Syracuse by a combined seven goals.
Player to watch: This game will feature three Tewaaraton Award finalists in Terps seniors Jen Giles (Mount Hebron) and Megan Taylor (Glenelg) and Northwestern senior attacker Selena Lasota, but keep an eye on Mallory Weisse. The Wildcats senior goalkeeper outplayed Taylor in the Big Ten championship, making 10 saves to Taylor’s eight.