No Duke, Virginia or Syracuse, yes college lacrosse’s Final Four has a different look this Memorial Day weekend. While the NCAA semifinals may be missing some of the usual suspects there will be plenty of traffic on North bound I-95 with Maryland and Johns Hopkins in the hunt. Top seed Notre Dame will meet Denver in the opener Saturday at 1:00.
Denver was down 7-1 to Ohio State but the Pioneers responded with a 9-0 run to down the Buckeyes 15-13 in the NCAA Quarter finals in Denver. Coach Bill Tierney’s Pioneers will make their fourth Championship Weekend appearance in the last five years. Among Denver’s leaders are Wesley Berg who broke both Denver’s career goals and career points records. The senior enters the game with 247 points and 180 goals. Sophomore Maryland transfer Connor Cannizzaro set the DU single-season points record. Bill Tierney won 6 NCAA championships at Princeton has his time come at Denver?
Notre Dame is in the Final Four for the second straight season, the Irish advanced to Philadelphia with a 14-10 win over Albany in the quarterfinals. If this rematch is like the game earlier this season it should be a dandy. Notre Dame dropped an 11-10 overtime decision to the Pioneers in Denver on March 7. Notre Dame will be facing a ranked opponent for the 12th consecutive game Saturday. The Irish are 9-2 this season versus ranked teams. Notre Dame won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title in 2015 (4-0) in just its second season in the conference.
Johns Hopkins has a chance to write to a Cinderella story this weekend. The Blue Jays were an ugly 4-6 in April when they found a way to grind out a double-overtime home win against Penn State, they haven’t lost since. Facing elimination game after elimination game Dave Pietramala’s Jays have rattled off 7 straight wins including a 16-15 quarterfinal victory over 2-seed Syracuse last weekend in Annapolis. This will be Hopkins’ record 29th appearance in the NCAA Semifinals, under Pietramala they’ve won four of their last five semifinal games. No teams has more momentum than Hopkins who have a chance to turn what looked like a horrible season into their first national title since 2007 in Baltimore.
Maryland and Hopkins are meeting for the 113th time in a series that dates back to 1895. These teams have had some epic battles in the best rivalry in college lacrosse, throw in a championship game prize and away we go. The Final four is getting to be a habit for John Tillman and the Terps, they’ve made it to the semi-finals 4 of the past 5 years but haven’t been able to finish the run with the big trophy.
Junior midfielder Bryan Cole had a career-high four goals to lead 6th-seeded Maryland to a 14-7 victory over 3rd-seed North Carolina Sunday afternoon in the Quarterfinals. Maryland (14-4) has a top ranked defense that will try to contain an explosive Hopkins offense. Maryland’s last national title came in 1975.
NCAA Lacrosse Semifinals (Philadelphia)
1-Notre Dame Saturday 1:00
4-Denver ESPN 2
6-Maryland Saturday 3:30
Johns Hopkins ESPN 2
Monday 1:00 ESPN 2