Two losses didn’t stop Virginia from being the one in the NCAA lacrosse tournament.
Virginia, which spent much of the season as the nation’s top-ranked squad, earned the No. 1 seed when the 16-team field was unveiled Sunday night.
Maryland and Navy also earned tournament berths, although both schools will play road games in this weekend’s first round.
A high seed was expected for the Cavaliers (13-2), who stumbled twice last month against Duke but otherwise escaped an arduous schedule unscathed. Virginia owned five victories against at-large selections, including road defeats of Johns Hopkins and Syracuse.
A common trend in seeding and selection was the importance of quality victories and shaky losses. Brown, with its defeat of Cornell, edged out Loyola for the final spot in the field. It also explained why Duke, with losses to Harvard and Maryland, fell behind Virginia and Syracuse.
It’s the third time Virginia earned the No. 1 seed; the Cavaliers lost in the final in 1980 and won the title in 2006.
Virginia will meet CAA champion Villanova (11-5) in the first round Sunday at Charlottesville’s Klockner Stadium. The Cavaliers would play either No. 8 Johns Hopkins or Brown in the quarterfinals in Annapolis.
“I thought there were a couple other teams that would make a similar argument, but it speaks to the body of work over the whole year,” coach Dom Starsia said. “I’m not sure there’s a more challenging thing to do in sports than start as No. 1 and finish up that way.”
Maryland (9-6), one of the field’s final at-large selections, earned its seventh straight postseason berth. The Terrapins own the nation’s second-longest streak behind Johns Hopkins (38).
The Terps’ up-and-down season will continue Sunday at seventh-seeded Notre Dame, the nation’s only unbeaten team. If Maryland advances, it likely would meet second-seeded Syracuse at Hofstra.
“We played in some big venues this season; we played in front of 20,000 and 17,000, and so our guys should be hardened by the process,” coach Dave Cottle said. “Hopefully we’re ready to play smart and disciplined. If we can do that, it improves our chances.”
Navy (11-4) is making its sixth consecutive appearance. The Midshipmen will visit third-seeded Duke (13-3) on Saturday night.
Navy would return to Annapolis to play host to a quarterfinal against the North Carolina-UMBC winner - if it can get past a team that has won 11 of 12.
“We knew that it was a possibility that we were going to have to play them,” coach Richie Meade said. “We have an opportunity. They’re playing great, and they’re very well-coached. But any team we were going to play was going to be good.”
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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