- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2007

It’s so tempting to look ahead to the quarterfinals of the NCAA lacrosse tournament, since the possible matchups are simply incredible. Duke-Navy in front of possibly 20,000 partisans in Annapolis, or even Duke-North Carolina III. There’s the chance of Virginia-Maryland III, and an encore of Hopkins-Princeton or a rare Hopkins-Georgetown treat.

But to get there, everyone still has to play the first round. Here’s a quick breakdown of this weekend’s eight games:

SATURDAY

Duke-Providence: The Friars are the Metro Atlantic’s sacrificial lamb for the third time in four years, but count on coach Chris Burdick to throw anything and everything imaginable at the Blue Devils. It won’t help the final score, but maybe it will be close for a quarter.

Prediction: Duke 18, Providence 3

Cornell-Towson: The Big Red has unheralded stars everywhere, and a home game against a Towson team that flirted with a tournament snub after losing the CAA final to Delaware. The Tigers didn’t play well from behind in that game, and Cornell will definitely score in double figures behind midfielder Max Seibald.

Prediction: Cornell 13, Towson 7

North Carolina-Navy: Yes, it was all the way back on March 2, and yes, Navy played its best game of the year while Carolina played its worst. But it’s hard to get the Mids’ 19-8 drubbing out of my mind. This one won’t be a blowout, but the improving Tar Heels might have to wait another year to make a final four push.

Prediction: Navy 10, North Carolina 8

Johns Hopkins-Notre Dame: Hopkins is back to being, well, Hopkins, squeezing out tight games after a 4-4 start. The Blue Jays have won five in a row, but could have trouble with talented Irish goalie Joey Kemp. Notre Dame is a bit of an unknown quantity, having not played a tournament team since March 10. Still, it’s Hopkins. At Homewood. In May.

Prediction: Hopkins 11, Notre Dame 7

SUNDAY

Georgetown-Princeton: This one still befuddles me. Georgetown will take a million errant shots, but has the defense to match up to Princeton. The Tigers have coach Bill Tierney, who commands tons of respect even if Princeton only has one final four trip in the last four seasons, and star goalie Alex Hewit. It’s just about too close to call, but don’t expect more than 15 goals total.

Prediction: Georgetown 7, Princeton 6 (OT)

Albany-Loyola: When I wrote about parity earlier in the week, I blithely looked past this game. That wasn’t very smart. This is also a toss-up, and Loyola could help itself a great deal if it can win the bulk of the faceoffs. Albany’s never been seeded, and Loyola hasn’t been to the tournament since 2001. There are so many unknown variables, though a high-scoring game wouldn’t be a surprise.

Prediction: Albany 12, Loyola 11

Virginia-Delaware: The Blue Hens’ best shot will come by winning a ton of faceoffs behind Alex Smith and then holding onto the ball for dear life. Virginia’s aggressive defense won’t want any part of that. Delaware’s cadre of left-handed midfielders will make things interesting, but the Cavaliers hold a significant talent advantage.

Prediction: Virginia 14, Delaware 6

Maryland-UMBC: It’ll be curious to see what Maryland’s Mad Scientist is up to this week. One guess: Trying to shut down the Retrievers’ prolific attackmen. The Doggies haven’t knocked off the Terps since a 1999 victory that vaulted UMBC into the postseason at Maryland’s expense. Don Zimmerman’s team is much better than at the beginning of the season, but maybe not good enough to filch one in Byrd, where the Terps are 10-0 in May under Dave Cottle, the aforementioned scientist.

Prediction: Maryland 12, UMBC 8

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