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champThe south seems to have the tougher of the teams this year.  Having said that, it’s not a cake walk for any north squad.  Now to business.

-NORTH-

Springfield @ #7 Cortland
Cortland should take this game pretty easily.  The common opponent was WNE who Cortland beat.  Springfield went 0-3 against playoff teams losing to Naz, Middlebury and WNE.  Cortland went 5-0 versus playoff teams beating WNE, Montclair St, Gettysburg, Nazareth and St Lawrence.

Prediction:  Cortland 16-4

#12 Western New England @ #13 Tufts
Tufts crushed WNE earlier in the season 13-4.  Both beat Bowdoin and Bates.  WNE has faced 4 playoff teams going 1-3 with a win over Springfield and losses to Tufts, Naz and Cortland.  Tufts played 6 playoff teams this season going 4-2 with losses to Wesleyan and Middlebury.  The Jumbos had wins over Haverford, Mount Ida, Wesleyan and WNE

Prediction: Tufts 13-6

#18 Saint Lawrence @ #2 Middlebury
Both teams beat Skidmore and RPI.  Middlebury was 2-2 versus playoff teams beating Springfield, and W&L while losing to Wesleyan twice.  St Lawrence was 1-2 against playoff teams beating only Naz while losing to Cortland and Haverford.

Prediction: Middlebury 14-8

Eastern Connecticut @ #17 Wesleyan
In common opponents, Wesleyan beat Trinity and Montclair who beat ECSU and both beat Western Conn and the US Merchant Marines.  ECSU was 1-2 against playoff teams losing to Montclair and Salisbury while beating Mount Ida.  Wesleyan was 5-1 against playoff teams this season with a loss to Tufts and wins over Middlbury (twice), US Merchant Marines and Montclair.

Prediction:  Wesleyan 13-3

-SOUTH-

#11 Denison @ #1 Roanoke
Common:  Both teams beat Lynchburg, St. Marys and Kenyon.  However Randolph Macon beat Denison.  Noke went 2-1 against playoff squads beating W&L and Cabrini while losing an ODAC final to W&L.  Denison was 1-1 against playoff teams losing to Stevenson and beating OWU.

Prediction:  Roanoke 16-12

#10 Washington And Lee @ #6 Gettysburg
Both squads beat Hamden-Sydney in common matchups.  W&L was 2-2 versus playoff teams beating US Merchant Marines and Roanoke while losing to Noke in the regular season and Middlebury.  Gettysburg was 3-3 against playoff teams beating Salisbury, OWU and Haverford while losing to Haverford, Stevenson and Cortland.

Prediction:  Gettysburg 12-10

#14 Cabrini @ #4 Stevenson
Cabrini lost to Lynchburg and Gettysburg and both teams beat Widener in common matchups.  Stevenson was 2-1 against playoff teams beating Salisbury and Gettysburg but lost in the CAC’s to Salisbury.  Cabrini was 2-2 versus playoff teams beating FDU and Haverford and losing to Gettysburg and Roanoke.

Prediction: Stevenson 15-10

#5 Salisbury @ #8 Haverford
Both squads lost to Gettysburg but the Fords beat the Bullets in the regular season and both teams beat WAC.  Against playoff teams, Haverford was 3-2; beating FDU, St Lawrence and Gettysburg while losing to Cabrini and Gettysburg.  Salisbury was 3-2 versus playoff teams by beating Stevenson, Eastern Conn and OWU.  The Gulls were defeated by Stevenson and Gettysburg.

Prediction:  Salisbury 14-7

So if I worked in Vegas, I would definitely not be a handicapper per se.  Picking the games straight up was not a problem as I went 5/6.  I went on a limb with Mt Ida and that limb was definitely cut off.   Hey everyone loves the underdog.

I was stunned to see a couple of the scores in the first round of D3 action.  W&L 6-5 over FDU in OT!  I took a double take on that one.  Mt Ida who I mentioned earlier got a major beat down by Springfield, 21-4.

Here are the rest of the 1st Rd scores if you hadn’t seen them:

Cabrini 17 vs Montclair State 3
Denison 12 vs Ohio Wesleyan 2
Saint Lawrence 14 vs Nazareth 7
Springfield 21 vs Mount Ida 4
Eastern Connecticut 10 vs Us Merchant Marine 9 (OT)!
Washington And Lee 6 vs    Fdu-florham 5 (OT)!!

So the play in games are done and we are now down to business.  Stay tuned for the Round 2 match ups later this week!

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Welcome all to playoff time! Luckily for us here in D3land, we have an extra round of games mid week.  Here is a plain and simple pick’em for these first round games.  We have some really great match ups for the first round as most teams have faced similar opponents and in two cases each other during the regular season.   It’s going to get real tricky to pick these games as the playoffs go on.  In my mind there are 6-7 teams that could easily take the crown this season!   But first they’ll have to make it to Foxboro where I will take the trophy from the winning team and parade around the parking lots like I just won myself!

–North–

Springfield (11-6) vs Mount Ida (13-6)

Both teams are lead by strong offensive units.  They both beat Babson, however Mount Ida only won 8-7 where Springfield topped them 22-6.  And they both lost to Amherst but Springfields was just a wee bit closer.  Mount Ida has an offense that can put up huge numbers in a run and gun game.  If Springfield isn’t sharp this one could be the shocker of the D3 playoffs.

Prediction:  Mount Ida - 13-12 OT

St. Lawrence (12-3) vs Nazareth (11-6)
Earlier this season, St. Lawrence topped Naz 15-10.  Both teams beat Oswego handidly yet lost by large margins to Cortland.  Naz seems to have a better offense from the numbers and the tilt moves to St. Lawrence on the defensive side. It should be a battle to see who moves on to the next round.  The game against each other was pretty early on and both teams have gotten better along the way.  It should come down to coaching.

Prediction:  St. Lawrence - 12-10

US Merchant Marine 11-5 vs Eastern Conn. St. (14-3)
No common opponents played in 2009.  UMM has played 3 playoff teams going 1-2 (beat FDU-Florham 7-6 and lost to Wesleyan and W&L).  ECS has faced 3 playoff teams also going 1-2 (Win over Mt Ida 14-7 and losses to Salisbury and Montclair St).  ECS has just a tad more fire power and will cruise to the win.

Prediction:  Eastern Conn. St. - 13-8

–South–

Cabrini (14-3) vs Montclair St. (13-4)
Both teams dominated in weak conferences but made up for it with tough out of conference schedules.  No opponents in common.  Monclair St. has faced two playoff teams with losses to both Cortland and Wesleyan.  Cabrini has faced 4 playoff teams going 2-2 (Wins over Haverford and FDU-Florham and losses to Gettysburg and Roanoke).  Look for Cabrini’s strong offense to run away with this one.

Prediction:  Cabrini - 16-8

Denision (12-2) vs OWU (10-4)
Due to travel, OWU and Denison get to meet for a 2nd time this season after a Denison TKO in the 1st meeting.  Common opponents; OWU lost to Lynchburg who Denison crushed, both defeated Oberlin, Adrian, Colorado College, Kenyon, Wooster, Wittenburg and Mount St Joseph.  Denison seems to be the better squad this season out in Ohio.

Preditcion:  Denison 15-10

W&L (15-3) vs FDU-Florham (13-4)
The Generals are coming out of the South’s toughest division in 2009.  Common opponents faced; US Merchant Marines beat FDU and lost to W&L, both beat Desales.  FDU is 0-3 against playoff teams (Cabrini, US Merchant Marines and Haverford).  W&L has played 4 playoff team games and are 2-2 with wins over US Merchant Marines and Roanoke in the ODAC finals and losses to Roanoke and Middlebury.  This will be a warm-up for W&L for the following weekend where they will see Gettysburg.

Prediction: W&L 15-6

Here’s what the 2nd RD games would look like based on my 1st Rd picks.  I will update these after the first round of games if any of my picks are in correct.

–NORTH–
*Cortland St. (15-2) vs Mount Ida (13-6)
Tufts (13-4) vs WNE. (16-2)
*Middlebury (13-2) vs St. Lawrence (12-3)
*Wesleyan (CT) (14-3) vs Eastern Conn. St. (14-3)

–SOUTH–
*Stevenson (15-1) vs Cabrini (14-3)
*Haverford (13-3) vs Salisbury (15-3)
*Roanoke (17-1) vs Denison (12-2)
*Gettysburg (13-3) vs W&L (15-3)

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Spring is here!  And now I’m confused.

Gettysburg lost to Haverford, who then lost to Tufts while the Bullets beat Cabrini.  All the while, St. Lawrence lost to Bowdoin then turns around to take down Nazareth.  Middlebury was taken down by a tough Wesleyan squad and Endicott took down Stevens Tech.  The rest of the top squads kept rolling.

What I’m getting at is that it’s anyone’s game this year.

Here are the barn burners for the week ahead.

The Game of the Week
“The Biggest Little Game”:  #5 Ithaca @ #2 Cortland State - 3/20
During my college road trip days, I took a visit to Ithaca for the Cortland v Ithaca football game or “The Biggest Little Game In America” as described by Sports Illustrated.  So this is a big time rivalry game.  I also made a trip to Cortland for a “Block Party”.  That was just an insane day!!

#4 Roanoke @ #8 Cabrini - 3/20
Cabrini is coming off a loss to the lowly Gettysburg Bullets but can rebound real fast if they can take down the high scoring Noke offense.

#15 Western New England @ #12 Nazareth - 3/20
I don’t know what to think of either squad.  Just last week, Naz lost to St Lawrence and Western New England lost to Bowdoin who beat St. Lawrence.  Either way, one of these teams will help things round out the north.

“The 2001 - Natty Champ Game” - #7 Washington And Lee @ #10 Middlebury - TUE 3/24
In 2001, W&L was by far the best D3 team in the South and probably the country. They failed to win the ODAC title which kept them out of the NCAA tournament!  Middlebury went on to win its second consecutive championship, this time over Gettysburg right off the Old Dirty Jersey Turnpike at Rutgers.

This season W&L is surprising everyone.  They’ll try to let the rest of D3 know that they’re back next Tuesday.

The weather shaped up this week at least here down south.  Playing in snow two weeks ago, we saw 60’s and 70’s at least here in the Old Line State.

The biggest story this season so far has to be the two early huge losses that Gettysburg has suffered.  Losing to Stevenson and the 2008 runners up Cortland State isn’t a bad thing, but they way that they got massacred on the battle field is what’s alarming.  The Bullets were able to bounce back with a win against OWU on 3/11.  They have two big match ups this week against Haverford and Cabrini.  Favored so high coming into the season, we’ll see what they have.

Stevenson has made it’s mark early this season with two more wins this week over Ursinus and St. Mary’s.  They look like a team that can put up some points but really haven’t been tested by an offensive heavy unit just yet.  It will be interesting to see how they handle it when the time comes.

There was some preseason hype about Endicott and they’ve started up 4-0.  Some folks are beginning to take notice.  Their offense hasn’t been rolling opponents as predicted, but their defense has been holding teams to low digits.  They face Stevens Tech on Wed 3/18.  This battle should give either team a lift.

Salisbury kept it business as usual by taking one against OWU and Marymount this past week.  The win over Marymount brings their CAC streak to 103 games.  By the time the 4/4 match up against Stevenson comes around, they should be at 105 with an 80+ home and 50+ game winning streaks on the line.  I’m just trying to build the hype up for this one!  Barring any mishaps, this could be the biggest ‘regular season’ CAC game in the history of the conference.  The biggest CAC game to date was the 2001 battle where St. Mary’s took Salisbury to overtime for the second time in the same season only to fall short.   (Salsibury must’ve had some great defenseman to hold off the Seahawks!!!)

This week is kind of quiet in big matchups, but we do have a few key games to keep an eye on.  And by the way it’s tougher than you think to come up with these little slogans for the games!

The Game of the Week
#8 Endicott @ #20 Stevens Tech 7:00 - *3/18

Centennial War:  #11 Gettysburg @ #14 Haverford 3:00
NESCAC Battle:  #4 Middlebury @ #17 Wesleyan 1:00
A Nor’easter:  #15 Western New England @ #16 Bowdoin 1:00 *3/16
A PAFrat Party: #7 Cabrini @ #11 Gettysburg 3:30 - *3/18

Two good ones in Dallas:   St Lawrence either comes out blazin’ saddles or yellow
#18 Saint Lawrence @ #13 Nazareth 7:30 -  *3/16
#18 Saint Lawrence @ #16 Bowdoin 5:00 - *3/18

We are “FULLY” underway now!  This marks the first full week of complete D3 action and there are too many games on the calendar I don’t know where to begin.

Some Key Games This Week:
Do We Got It?: #5 Cabrini @ #11 Lynchburg
The Battle of George: #19 Washington And Lee @ #6 Washington College
First Big Test Up North:  #10 Endicott @ #15 Williams - TUES

Game of the Week: #2 Gettysburg @ #3 Cortland State

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This game will be played on Long Island and not in the frigid Upstate New York air.  Gettysburg has to put Wednesday behind them and focus on the task at had; the 2008 Runners Up.  Its one thing to get beat, it’s another to get a beat down.  I’m sure that Coach Janzyk will have the boys fired up for Saturday.  If not, they could be due for a 5 or so loss season.

On the other side of the ball, Cortland has to prove that they just reloaded and are not going to take a year or two off to rebuild like some expected they would. They have opened up putting up big numbers and it looks as if their offense is running on all cylinders and it’s only March.

Regardless it should be a high scoring battle.  The Bullets pull this one out over the Dragons  and save some face and maybe their season 14-12.

Although it’s quite early here’s a little recap what’s been going on.

1.  The first Major Upset took place on 3/5.
2.  Salisbury is crushing opponents early on…again.
3.  The north is shoveling off the fields and getting started.
4.  The points for the top players have been coming in by the bucket load.

On a side note, with all the hits that Kylor Berkman’s E-Lacrose blog has been getting, it makes me wonder how popular my blog would’ve been back in my days.  But then again weblogs, Myspace and deep fried Snickers weren’t invented yet so I would’ve been writing my posts on locker room walls in hieroglyphics.

We can almost say the season is fully underway.  Once the NESCAC gets going sometime next week, we’ll have ourselves a season here in D3 land.  The action thus far has been kind of slow but games should kick into high gear moving forward.

The game of this past week had to be Stevenson holding onto beat Widener 7-6.  I attended that game and I thought it was kind of sloppy, even in the 2nd half when it all was on the line.  Stevenson relied heavily on holding the ball and playing the clock game.  It worked in their favor but Widener showed some great defensive play in the second half.  I attended the Mustangs tailgate after and that may lead into a new series of blog posts where I review and cover tailgates!  Look for a post about it within a day or two.

The upset or at least a shocker so far this season has to be Mary Washington ousting Hampden-Sydney 9-7.  I don’t think anyone saw that coming after HS had had some hype coming into the season.

Salisbury has answered its critics with vigor by opening up 3-0 and by putting a stamp on their victory over Lynchburg.  This was the first test for the Gulls on their road to 3-peat.  Kylor Berkman looks unstoppable.  I know he put up big numbers against some lower talent, but putting in 4-3 against the Hornets is never an easy task.

This week we have some great match ups.

The Game of the Week: #12 Haverford @ #5 Cabrini
Better Bring Your Mittens:  #18 Western New England @ #3 Cortland State
The Haves or the Have Nots:  #8 Stevenson @ #15 Stevens Tech
Make or Break It Early:  Ohio Wesleyan @ #10 Lynchburg

And don’t forget #2 Gettysburg finally opens up to make their own Championship run at home against Hampden-Sydney on Saturday.

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The Mustang Blog - Part 1

If you’re a lacrosse fan, you know that Division III has it all. Just like Division I, D3 players have just as much on their plate, practice just as hard and strive for the same goals. The differences are limited between the two divisions (heck you can throw D2 in the D3 category) but the two main ones are size and speed. Other than that, Division III offers top notch skills, great team play, excited fans and intense rivalries just like the big boys.

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In an ongoing series of posts, I will try my best not to hurt any feelings and to be as open minded about what to expect where teams stand and the outcomes of big match-ups. This season offers the most parity that we have ever seen due to the growth of the game. Will there be a new champion come Memorial Day weekend? Only time will tell.

Feel free to critique my picks as you’re entitled to your opinion but I think that they’re dead on.

Mark’s Preseason Rankings
1. Salisbury
2. Gettysburg
3. Middlebury
4. Cortland
5. Stevenson
6. Ithaca
7. Roanoke
8. Lynchburg
9. Cabrini
10. Washington
11. Stevens Tech
12. Haverford
13. St. Lawrence
14. Endicott
15. Wesleyan
16. Geneseo State
17. Bowdoin
18. Nazareth
19. Denison
20. St. Mary’s

A Little About the Top 5:
#1: Even though they lost a lot of points, the obvious pick for #1 has to be the Seagulls of Salisbury University. Jim Berkman has been leading the way and the word ‘dynasty’ is the only appropriate term to use for what the Gulls have done the past few years.

#2: If a team was satisfied with being a constant #2, Gettysburg would take the cake. In the 2000’s, The Bullets have made it to two National Championships and have finished with several #2 overall rankings. However don’t think that Hank’s boys are complacent with being thought of as Number Two. They were one goal away from the dance last year and bring back a heck of a lot of talent back in 2009.

#3: They started off the millennium in great fashion winning three in a row and getting knocked out of their forth. They’re always around come May and with a lot returning will surely be back at the dance.

#4:  The Dragons have been on a run lately but slid to #4 due to a lot of graduation. The boys up at Cortland have gotten used to adversity, winning and scoring a lot of goals. Everyone will be eager to see if Cortland reloads or goes into a period of rebuilding this season.

#5: With a school name change, some huge returnees and some key transfers, Stevenson rounds out the Top 5. The Mustangs return this season with a potent offense, great face off and two-way midfielders and a strong defense that will be a year better. Could they top the Gulls in the CAC? That’s their plan. In 2008, they had a little taste of success but they’ll have to win the big games to be considered the real deal.

Behind these rankings are some talented athletes. Each team has their fair share, but these are the guys that will bring their teams to the next level and hopefully to Foxboro this May. Now I’m almost positive that there’s more than just five guys who can be POY, but for time and safety’s sake here they are…

Mark’s Preseason POY Candidates
1. Kylor Berkman: Mid - SR – Salisbury: D3 POY in 2008 & MOY in 2007
2. Richard Ford: Att - JR – Stevenson: A do it all attackman on a high powered offense.
3. Casey Grugan: Att - SR – Cabrini: A great feeder to the inside and can also finish.
4. Tommy Kehoe: LSM - SR – Gettysburg: Super athlete and a momentum changer
5. Zach Furshman: G - SR – Gettysburg: If he plays big; big things will happen for the Bullets

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