When No. 2 seed Albany and No. 3 seed Yale meet in the first NCAA Division I tournament semifinal Saturday at noon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., a New York upbringing won’t be the only thing shared by their respective head coaches.
The Great Danes’ Scott Marr and the Bulldogs’ Andy Shay spent a portion of their coaching career as assistants for Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, a Severna Park native and graduate who retired after the 2017 season. And Shillinglaw is thrilled to see his former protégés vying for a spot in Monday’s title game.
“Scott has ‘The Dane Train,’ and Andy’s team is probably one of the more athletic Ivy League teams that I’ve seen in a long time,” Shillinglaw said. “You know that both groups are going to strap it up and go at it as hard as they can. It’s going to be an exciting game, and I’m excited for both of them.”
Marr, who met his wife, Traci, via a job at a school close to the university’s campus in Newark, Del., and got married in Shillinglaw’s backyard, said he will always be indebted to Shillinglaw.
“He let me have ideas, and he let me try things, and he let me try to be creative,” said Marr, the Blue Hens’ offensive coordinator from 1992-94. “He really allowed me to grow in those first three years as opposed to going somewhere else and maybe carrying the water or carrying a clipboard on the sideline and not doing a whole lot.”
Shay, whom Shillinglaw described as one of the hardest workers and smartest individuals he has crossed paths with, said he modeled his work ethic after observing Shillinglaw.
“He pored over everything and was very detail-oriented,” said Shay, the defensive coordinator from 1996-99. “I really learned the benefits of preparation. Coach would put 48 hours in a 24-hour day.”
Because of a prior family commitment, Shillinglaw will not attend championship weekend. But he vowed to watch the game on television – even if he won’t choose a side.
“Because I’m so close to both, obviously I’m not going to pick one over the other,” he said. “I just hope that it’s one of those games where it’s a quadruple overtime. It’s a game that’s going to be remembered by everybody. I would rather that it be the championship game, but at the same time, it’s so exciting to see both of those guys bringing their programs to this level and the type of play that both have.”
Shockey rebounds for Maryland
After nearly two months of average production, freshman faceoff specialist Justin Shockey returned to his familiar ways, winning 13 of 19 draws, picking up six ground balls and feeding senior long-stick midfielder Michael Adler for a goal in the top-seeded Terps’ 13-8 victory over Cornell in Sunday’s quarterfinal. Coach John Tillman noted that the Potomac resident is still getting accustomed to the level of competition at the college level.
“I think he’d like to be a little more consistent, but he came up big for us last week,” Tillman said. “He’s had some really good moments, and we have a lot of confidence in him going forward. So I’m really excited for him. He’s a local guy, and we’re hopeful this weekend that he can continue his strong play.”
No comparison for Duke’s Guterding
Now that Justin Guterding is the NCAA’s all-time leader in goals with 207, coach John Danowski was asked to compare the senior attackman to former greats like Matt Danowski, Zack Greer and Jordan Wolf. But the elder Danowski said there is no comparison.
“Justin is a man unto himself,” Danowski said of the Tewaaraton Award finalist, who is also the No. 4 seed Blue Devils’ single-season record holder in points with 104. “He’s a left-handed, stubborn, driven athlete. Obviously, it’s a pleasure to coach all of them, but it’s part of the fun. You can’t compare any of these guys. They’re all different styles, but I think the key is who you’re playing with and when you’re playing with better players, as an attackman, you get bigger numbers.”
Yale not taking rematch lightly
Saturday’s semifinal between the Great Danes and the Bulldogs is a rematch of a game on April 22 that Yale won convincingly, 14-6. But Albany lost senior attackman Connor Fields in the first quarter that day after he aggravated a right knee injury, and Shay intends to make sure his players know they were playing under favorable conditions.
“This is a team that we beat when they were undermanned and they were not only undermanned physically but emotionally when [Fields] went down,” Shay said. “So I think our guys hopefully understand that they’re going to be a tremendous challenge. We got away with one. We feel like we’re the underdog, and we know it. So we have to play that way.”
The Sea Gulls (20-3) are making their 18th appearance in the Division III championship game Sunday at 1 p.m., where they are 12-5 and aiming for their third consecutive crown. Meanwhile, Wesleyan (18-3) will make its debut at this stage of the tournament, which begs the question of whether the Cardinals’ inexperience could be an advantage for Salisbury.
“If that means they’re going to turn it over a few more times, if that means they’re going to make a few more mistakes because it’s their first time, we’ll be glad to take advantage of that because of our experience,” Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman said. “But playing in the games at this level, being there before, knowing the routine, experiencing the emotion are all things that our kids have been a part of. I believe this is our seniors’ 18th playoff game. So they’ve been there before, they know the routine, and now we’ve got to get it done.”
Wesleyan’s NFL backer
Perhaps it is fitting that the Cardinals will clash with Salisbury at Gillette Stadium since that happens to be the home of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a 1975 graduate of the Connecticut school. Coach John Raba said he regularly keeps in touch with Belichick, whose daughter Amanda graduated from Wesleyan in 2007.
“Bill has been a tremendous supporter of our program and a good friend for many years,” Raba said. “If we have a big win, he’ll send me an email, and we kind of go back and forth throughout the year. If there’s a big football win for the Patriots, I usually shoot him a congratulations, and he gets right back to me. So he’s just been a tremendous person just to have in our backyard here. He’s just really positive about not only lacrosse but Wesleyan. He’s the best.”