As the lacrosse season begins, men’s college teams across the nation look to make the trip to M&T Bank Stadium for the 2014 National Championship game in Baltimore. With over 12 national championships, between men’s and women’s, the state of Maryland has become a national powerhouse when it comes to the sport of lacrosse, especially at the Division III level. Let’s take a look to see which men’s and women’s programs could make an appearance in the NCAA tournament this coming spring.
The defending national champions, Stevenson University Mustangs, hope to bring yet another national championship to Owings Mills this spring. Coming off of a 9-8 overtime victory over former CAC rival York College in their home opener, the Mustangs traveled to Syracuse, New York to face RIT in the Carrier Dome this past Saturday. This game was a rematch of last year’s national championship game where the Mustangs defeated the Tigers, 16-14. RIT didn’t let history repeat itself as they defeated the Mustangs in a 15-14 overtime victory. Stevenson hopes to hold on to their No. 1 ranking as they face Nazareth, Cortland, Lynchburg, Tufts, Roanoke and in-state rival Salisbury on their way to Baltimore.
The women’s team of Stevenson University is trying to make history of their own as they enter the 2014 season. Ranked for the first time in the program’s 20-year history at No. 20, the Mustangs hope to make an appearance in this year’s NCAA tournament after missing out of last year’s tournament despite finishing the 2013 campaign with a 16-2 record. Stevenson stumbled, however, in their home opener against Gettysburg falling to the Bullets, 15-6. Stevenson looked to improve their record this past weekend against the defending national champions, Salisbury. Despite being tied up 3-3 at the break, the Mustangs couldn’t complete the upset falling to the Seagulls, 8-6. The women will look to keep their national ranking before traveling to Florida this spring where they will face Nazareth, Ohio Wesleyan and Dickinson.
The men’s team hope to make it back to the national spotlight after falling short of their goal of winning an 11th national title in 2013. The Seagulls were ranked at No. 5 in this year’s preseason poll and have since moved up a spot to No. 4 after defeating Greensboro, 14-3 and No. 11 Lynchburg in a thrilling 14-13 win. The CAC Conference runner-ups will face familiar opponents on their way to the tournament including Stevenson, Widener and “War on the Shore” rival, Washington College.
Two-time NCAA National Champion (2010, 2013) Lady Gulls will strive to make it a third in this 2014 season. Defeating Roanoke in convincing fashion by a score of 17-2, helped secure a No. 1 spot for the second week in a row for the Salisbury women. In 2013, the Seagulls ended their season with a 23-0 record and a national championship after defeating Trinity, 12-5. Standing in the way of another Seagulls perfect season is No. 2 ranked SUNY Cortland, No. 3 Trinity, No. 5 Franklin and Marshall and No. 7 The College of New Jersey.
The Shoreman of Washington College made a mark in 2013 as another dominant power in the world of lacrosse. Defeating Salisbury in the annual “War on the Shore” rivalry game and Colorado College in the NCAA Tournament are some of the highlights they hope carry over into this season. A No. 9 ranking will help build the Shoreman’s confidence as they will face four 2013 NCAA tournament teams in five non-conference matchups. Beginning this stretch is rival Washington and Lee followed by CAC Champion St. Mary’s and Frostburg State.
Following a 13-5 record a year ago and reaching the Centennial Conference Tournament in their last three seasons, the Shorewomen will try and make a run deep into the postseason. This season the women will face five teams that were ranked in the top 20 in preseason polls and five NCAA tournament teams. Their season will kick off with a matchup against the Profs of Rowan University, who appeared in the NCAA tournament last year, on March 1st.
The defending CAC Champions, first in the program’s history, will look to repeat as conference champions and make it back to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. The Seahawks, who are ranked at No. 16 in preseason polls, defeated No. 8 Roanoke in their season opener by a score of 12-8. The men will have pretty tough competition en route to earning another NCAA Tournament berth facing No. 5 Dickinson, No. 9 Washington College and No. 4 Salisbury.
The women of St. Mary’s College are hoping to improve on last year’s record of 8-10. The Lady Seahawks will face tough competition if they hope to make it back to the CAC Semifinals, where they fell last year to eventual national champion Salisbury. The women began the 2014 against Washington & Lee where they fell, 16-6. Upcoming for the women are match ups against McDaniel, Virginia Wesleyan and Washington College.
NOTRE DAME OF MARYLAND UNIVERSITY
The ladies at Notre Dame of Maryland University finished their 2013 season a win above .500 and hope to continue their winning ways leading into their 2014 campaign. The Gators open up at home against Stockton College on March 1st. They will then travel to Dover, Delaware to face Wesley College and then come back to Maryland to compete against Hood College in Fredrick.
Last year, the Green Terror finished the season with a 5-11 record. It wasn’t the best year for the men’s team, but they are hoping to learn from their experience and continue to be a contender in the Centennial Conference. The men fell, however, in their season opener to Mary Washington, 12-7. They will face some pretty familiar opponents such as Salisbury, York and Haverford.
Making it to the ECAC Mid-Atlantic Championship Game was one of the major highlights for the women of McDaniel last year. Coming off an 11-9 record, the Green Terror will once again fight for a spot in the Centennial Conference postseason. The women open their season at home against St. Mary’s College under the lights on March 26th.
Rebuilding and getting better is the mindset of the Hood College Blazers coming into the 2014 season. After a disappointing 2013 season, the men hope to improve and learn from last year. Hood will face quality opponents in Rosemont, Bryn Athyn, and Gwynedd Mercy. They open up their season on a three game road trip to Rosemont, Shenandoah and Marymount before returning home to face Salve Regina.
The women of Hood College will once again face a tough schedule playing in the MAC Conference. Facing teams like Stevenson and Messiah will be a challenge, but Hood hopes to hold their own amongst the best. With convincing wins over Waynesburg and Lancaster Bible last year, the ladies hope that will continue this season. Hood women open up away against Lancaster Bible on February 26th.
Falling to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in the Landmark Conference semifinals was hard for the Gophers of Goucher College last May. Picked to finish first in the conference, they hope to make this the year of the Gopher and capture another conference championship. In their first game of the year the Gophers led No. 9 Washington College at the break, but couldn’t finish and dropped the upset by a score of 16-7. The men will face Gettysburg and Randolph-Macon before heading up the road to Westminster to face McDaniel.
Goucher women started off the 2013 season strong going 6-2, but it was conference play that hurt them the most. The women are hoping to get their first conference win in two years and this year they could do so facing two new opponents joining the conference, Elizabethtown and Merchant Marine. The women defeated Bridgewater in their home opener and will now face Rowan on Tuesday, February 25th.
FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
A year ago the Bobcats of Frostburg State were ECAC finalists and will ride this wave of success into this season. A tough schedule, however, will stand in their way as they face four NCAA Tournament teams and two ECAC tournament participants. The men were scheduled to start their season on February 15th against Catholic, but weather didn’t permit that. The men trounced DeSales by a score of 12-3 in their home opener. They will now head to Virginia for a matchup against Shenandoah on February 26th.
Last year’s 5-11 season is something the women of Frostburg hope to improve on this season. A conference that has three nationally ranked teams and three teams that reached the NCAA semifinals last season will be a challenge for the Bobcats, but something that they look forward to. The women didn’t start on the best foot as they lost to Allegheny in their season opener, 16-10.
As this season begins, hopefully, one of our very own Maryland men’s lacrosse teams will be making the trip to M&T Bank Stadium to play for that coveted national championship on Sunday, May 25th.