- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

Few surprises emerged in last night’s NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse tournament announcement, but several intriguing quarterfinal possibilities emerged when the 16-team field was unveiled.

All four area teams drew home dates in the first round, which will be played Saturday and Sunday. Three of the top four seeds — No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Maryland and No. 4 Virginia — are ACC schools.

Johns Hopkins (12-0), which recorded the first perfect regular season in Division I since 1999, earned the No. 1 seed for the fourth straight year and has the tantalizing possibility of ending Syracuse’s 22-year final-four streak in the quarterfinals.

Maryland (9-5) earned the No. 3 seed for the third consecutive season. The Terrapins struggled to a 5-5 start, but a late run that included victories over Virginia and Duke in the ACC tournament vaulted them to near the top of the field.

They’ll face Penn State (9-5), a team that has won seven in a row and is coming off a 13-12 overtime victory at Georgetown yesterday.

Virginia (9-3) returns to the tournament after a one-year hiatus. The 2003 champion, which has played only once since April 17, bounced back from last year’s disastrous 5-8 season to earn the No. 4 seed.

“In my case, even though it was a foregone conclusion we would be in the tournament, I was very excited and I sensed the same in our players,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “[Last year] gave us a chance to enjoy ourselves again. I think we’re all excited to be back in the playoffs.”

The Cavaliers will play host to Albany in the first round. The Great Danes (10-5), winners of the America East, are in the tournament for the third consecutive season.

If Virginia advances, it will have a chance to meet fifth-seeded Navy (11-3) in the quarterfinals at Johns Hopkins on May21. The Midshipmen, the only area team to earn an automatic bid, will open the tournament against Delaware (11-5).

Navy, which will make consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time since 1992-94, will meet the Blue Hens for the first time in six years. The teams met every year from 1986 to 1999.

“We are pretty much exactly where we thought we were going to be,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “We thought we could play a variety of different teams, but we had anticipated the possibility of playing the winner of the Towson-Delaware game. We’ve seen Delaware play twice this week and they’re a very good team. It’s going to be a battle, like all the games in the tournament.”

Georgetown (9-4) earned the No. 6 seed and was granted a home game despite losing two of its last three. The Hoyas will play host to Army, which stumbled into the tournament with back-to-back losses to Navy and Ohio State. It should provide an interesting contrast, with the Black Knights’ talented tandem of John Walker and Jim Wagner facing the Hoyas’ stingy defense.

Top-seeded Johns Hopkins will play host to Metro Atlantic champ Marist, which will make its first tournament appearance. Second-seeded Duke meets Great Western winner Fairfield.

In a bit of a snub, Ivy League champion Cornell (10-2) was unseeded and will visit CAA champion Towson (11-4).

Still, it is the quarterfinal matchups that provide the greatest intrigue, particularly the possibility of Hopkins playing host to Syracuse on May 21. The defending champion Orange (7-5) have reached 22 consecutive final fours, a streak that could come to an end against the Blue Jays, who have won 34 straight at Homewood Field. Of course, that assumes Syracuse can win at eighth-seeded Massachusetts in the first round.

Geography was a factor in determining pairings, though three teams will be forced to travel beyond the NCAA’s preferred limit of 300 miles. Both Albany (to Virginia) and Fairfield (to Duke) have significant distances to travel, while Cornell’s trek to Towson is just more than 300 miles.

Committee chairman Jon Hind’s warning last week that RPI and strength of schedule would mean as much as quality victories was borne out in the selections. Delaware, which had an RPI of 15, reached the tournament for only the third time even though its best victory was over No. 10 Towson.

The most notable teams to miss the tournament were Dartmouth and Bucknell. The Big Green (8-4) had an impressive early-season victory over Maryland, but a weak schedule and low RPI (No. 21) cost them their second NCAA bid in three years.

Bucknell (8-5) also discovered a big early win would not be enough to earn a bid. The Bison defeated Navy on March 12, but could not back it up with more quality victories. Bucknell lost twice to Army, including once in the Patriot League tournament. That loss probably ensured retiring coach Sid Jamieson’s 38th and final season with the program would not continue in the postseason.

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