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Hirbod Azmi checks back in from the sideline.

Our first champion of the weekend was crowned, congratulations to the Cortland State Red Dragons. They defeated Gettysburg College by the score of 9-7. A great game to watch, there was some sloppy play at times but Cortland’s goalie Matt Hipenbecker played a great game which helped Cortland set a school record for most wins and a national championship.

With 2 minutes left in the game I was getting a little nervous because the black clouds were rolling in. you can hear the lightning and thunder but there refs didn’t call the game and I got lucky. Got the game winning picks in and ran upstairs to the press box just in time before the pouring rain.

Im sitting here in the press box watching the C.W. Post VS. Lemoyne game and writing this blog before I get back on the field to take some more picks. Lets hope the rain stops…

Where’s the Love for D2 and D3 Lacrosse?

picture-419

SUNY Cortland celebrates their schools 2nd National Championship

The Division 2/Division 3 Championships had less of a turnout than the D1 semis. This is nothing new. Traditionally during the D2/D3 day, many families when in Balti/Philly would find something to do on their “off” day. Historically the attendance is less than half that during semi-day. Personally I don’t understand why. Traditionally these games are closer and more exciting than the D1 games. But don’t take my word for it:

As one fan, Gary Price put it, “We just finished having a game of pick up lacrosse and mocking the Virginia defense. About the D2/D3 finals, how do you not go if you are a lacrosse fan. They are usually better than the D1 games. There is a lot less substitution and a lot less B.S. It is more pure lacrosse.” This sentiment is echoed by not only other casual fans tailgating during the games, but also lacrosse legend John Grant Jr. He told E-lacrosse, that he prefers the D2/D3 games over the D1 games.

picture-132

C.W. Post celebrates their 2nd National Championship - and first since 1996.

The D2/D3 championships are the epitome of the game. I know, the players might not be as skilled or as developed physically…however they are also not over coached. What I mean by this is that they have the freedom to play a run and gun style. There is also a lot of turnover and transition work. There is more “heart” in their play.

Since 2003, the D1 championship has been decided by 1 goal 3 times. Since 2003, the D2 championship has been decided by 1 goal 3 times, as well as the D3 championship being decided by 1 goal 3 times.

I’m watching the D3 championship before heading out to film more of the tailgate show we do each year. Gettysburg leads Cortland 4-2. I was surprised to see Gettysburg make the final after watching them get hammered by Stevenson earlier in the year, but I really like Hank Janczyk, the Gettysburg Coach, so I am glad he’s in. I can’t root for anyone up here in the press box, but I would root for the Bullets if I did. On the other hand there’s a chance for a total run of the table by upstate New York as Syracuse plays Cornell tomorrow and LeMoyne and Cortland have opportunities to win titles today. Remember that Onondaga already won the JUCO title last week. I’m not from upstate but I wouldn’t mind seeing them take all the titles again, rewarding the blue collar style of lacrosse they play up there.

I predicted Virginia to crush Cornell, but am so glad the opposite occurred. I really think certain sacrifices were made at Virginia over the last two years in the quest for a title that were errors in my judgment. A well rounded team with lots of experience would perhaps been able to recover against Cornell, but the guys with the skills to make that comeback were on the bench as they have been all year. I have nothing against the Brattons, either of them. But, neither has the abilities to carry a team to a title. That was obvious to me years ago when they played U-19 and should not have made that team. There are much better players, in my opinion, riding pine for UVa so that the twins can learn, on the field, things these other kids have known since 8th and 9th grade. This year, I thought UVa had enough talent all around to win anyway, but obviously not. If the Tewaaraton folks were watching I also think Glading is out of the running, as is Duke’s Ned Crotty as far as I am concerned. Enter Cornell’s John Glynn, who dominated Virginia even with an elbow injury. He’s not a finalist for the Tewaaraton award, but his excellent play may end up helping teammate Max Seibald win the award.

Cornell has a history of playing Syracuse tough so that may just be a great game and may even be a Cornell championship, which would be huge for the game and it’s escape from the grasp of the elite teams we see win year in and year out. So while I love the ‘Cuse and have since I was a kid, I want Cornell to win.

A few notes from the event in general. Yesterday, we tried to interview a guy leaving the Cornell Virginia game carrying a huge stuffed bear on his back. But when we caught up with him and asked for an interview after the Cornell win, he refused. No wonder. He was wearing Virginia shorts and shirt and had obviously stolen the bear mascot and was making an elusive exit from the stadium. I am sure that some Charlottesville frat house will be the new home of the Cornell bear. Some small consolation for a loyal fan who drove 10-15 hours to see his team choke.

There’s a guy for CBS College Sports on the field carrying a 50 pound TV camera on his back as he roams the sideline and runs on the field for close ups after goals and such. He will shoot both the D2 and D3 games with that monstrosity on his back. He is my MVP of the event. He just narrowly beats the excellent and friendly staff at Gillette Stadium. For the second year in a row they have performed exceptionally. One friendly employee really helped us out in navigation the complex parking lot to get from one spot to another amidst hectic traffic. She literally drove out of her way to let us follow her to the spot we needed to find. Thanks!

The press food at the D3 championship game is, for the first time ever, better than the D2 semis. I swear the chicken is garnished with leeks. There’s a Tomato and Mozzarella salad. I thought we might wait until San Francisco hosted the games in 2034 to get such fare at a lacrosse game. The pressure is on for Baltimore next year. I am thinking Crab dip and Berger Cookies.

The Patriot Place shopping area was completed in the off-season which makes the whole area a lot more convenient to be stranded for three days. An entire shopping mall and hotel complex now surrounds the stadium and the parking area seems to have doubled.

The only real mess up, from an organizational standpoint happened today, as the Sunday ticket received by all who bought the three day ticket package had the times of today’s games as 1:30 and 4:30 while the games really started at 12:00 and 2:30. The crowd has picked up considerably for the D3 game’s second half, many missing the first as they took their time getting to the venue because of the late start time they assumed was correct. Imagine sitting in a Denny’s eating your egg and bacon skillet while your team is playing without you after 8 hour drive to see the game.

I spoke to John Grant, Jr. and legendary Cornell coach Richie Moran today and they both love the D3 and D2 games. Jr. never goes into the D1 games, preferring the tailgate scene for Saturday and Monday. But he faithfully watches the Sunday games, saying they are just more exciting to watch. Coach Moran and I agreed that it’s the flaws that teams have and the exploitation of them that makes for great lacrosse and often at the D1 level, those are far and few between. It’s like the difference between college and pro basketball. I am addicted to college hoops and hate the pro game for exactly that reason and a couple others.

Yesterday, we passed an area where what looked like a carry on sized piece of luggage had been abandoned on the main concourse of the stadium. An announcement had been made to find the owner but the security around the bag was thick and dead serious, as it should be in a 50,000 person crowd with today’s post-911 sensibilities. So today, there are bomb dogs present at the venue. It feels weird but whatever they have to do for the safety of our community here in Foxboro, is ok with me.

Looks like Cortland is going to beat Gettysburg. It’s now 9-6 with 1:08 left and I am off to start today’s tailgate show. Talk to you tomorrow!

cortlandgettysburg1So the teams are set!  The Cortland State Dragons for the North and the Gettysburg Bullets for the South.  At stake, only the 2009 crown!!!

What a time to have PC issues.  So after burning through my hard drive I am finally back online.  I would’ve had both games wrong in the D3 Final Four so I’m okay with missing out on a post.  One comment stated that I crawled up in a shell after Salisbury lost.  I laughed, but there were some PC issues and a trip to Dewey caused there to be not enough time to get around to the PC issues.

I didn’t see the Stevenson game.  Were they cocky and didn’t think that they had to show up?  From a Stevenson fan, I got a text stating, “Gettysburg is real good.”  So they must’ve shocked the team and all the Mustang faithful.

Cortland has such a young offense and were able to put a stamp on their victory over the Panthers of Middlebury.  I did not see this beat down coming.  Middlebury was loaded with upperclassmen and seemed to have been on a roll, especially after the Wesleyan game.  Regardless of the outcome of this game, they have put in their application to be a great team for years to come and it has been accepted.

The 2009 D3 National Championship Game!!

Cortland beat the snot out of Gettysburg 14-8 earlier in the season, but this is not the same Bullets team as we saw in March.  But it also is not the same Cortland team, this is a finely tuned machine who has come out to play after a lazy mid season.

Gettysburg is 0-2 in D3 National Championship appearances  losing twice to Middlebury in ‘01,’02.

Cortland has themselves a D2 Championship  with a win over Hobart from 1975 and has a 1-4 D3 National Championship record winning in 2006 against Salisbury and two losses to each Hobart and Salisbury.

This will be Cortland’s 4th consecutive D3 National Championship game appearance.  This feat has been matched by 3 other teams (Hobart 12, Salisbury 6, Middlebury 5)

ncaa_2009-logoAttack
Advantage:  EVEN - Cortland is young so their numbers don’t match up to Gburg’s experience.

Midfield
Advantage:  EVEN - Both have a solid first line and SSM’s.

Defense
Advantage:  Cortland

Goalie
Advantage:  Gettysburg

LSM
Advantage:  Gettysburg - Kehoe.

Coach
Advantage:  Even - Hank has the years, but Beville has the recent NC experience.

Overall Advantage:  Slightly to Cortland

Prediction:  Cortland 13-10

I don’t like these mid week games but if you’re going to have more teams, it’s necessary to squeeze it in prior to Memorial Day.  On a little rant here, I don’t feel that it’s right for the D1 teams to have to play 2 games in 3 days.  You prepare for games on Saturday with only a couple during the week over the course of a season.  A fluke injury or crazy weather conditions can cause you a championship.

Okay, rant over.

It’s crazy that 3 out of the 4 match ups have seen each other already this season and that this will be the third meeting between Wesleyan/Middlebury and Salisbury/Stevenson.

Defense is said to win championships and it’s more evident this year than ever.  Roanoke dominated offensively with a pretty weak schedule all season and were taken down handidly by the #2 defense in the land of Denison.  7/8 teams are in the Top 20 defenses (based on GA).  Middlebury is the only one still around still not on the list.

-NORTH-
Western New England @ Cortland

Cortland dominated WNE way back in February.  Has anything changed since then?

WNE’s season was a good one.  With their only losses coming to playoff bound Cortland and Tufts.  Their big wins against playoff caliber teams were against Naz and Springfield.

Cortland started out their season dominating playoff teams like WNE, Montclair and Gettysburg, but then they seemed to take a nap and go through the motions until May came around again.  They lost two tight ones to Ithaca and Geneseo and a feel good win in between to Naz.   But maybe it’s just common now to watch them stampede through the bulk of their schedule.

Attack - EVEN
Midfield - ADV - Cortland
Defense - ADV - Cortland
Goalie - ADV - WNE
Storyline - If You Haven’t Been Watching, We’ve Reloaded

Overall - ADV - Cortland

Prediction - Cortland 15-9

Wesleyan @ Middlebury
The first of two conference rivalries to meet in the Elite 8. Middlebury is 14-2 so far this season with two losses thanks to Wesleyan.  Both games were decided by one goal and the 2nd was a goal infested 15-14 game!

In a comparison of the two, both have senior laden rosters at key positions and both are truly tested after a tough NESCAC schedule.  Take a look at the attack units of these two teams!  It’s tough to point out any flaws except, that 2/3 of Wesleyan’s losses came to weaker opponents (Bowdoin, Williams).

Attack - EVEN
Midfield - ADV - Middlebury
Defense - ADV - Wesleyan
Goalie - Wesleyan
Storyline - “The ‘Stone’ or ‘Spike’ Show”

OVERALL - Slight Edge to Wesleyan

Prediction - Wesleyan 13-12 OT

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-SOUTH-
Denison @ Gettysburg
These two did not face each other in 09.  Both took down OWU (Denison twice) and both teams got beat by Stevenson.  Gettysburg has turned their season around since then so that cannot be the deciding factor.

Against playoff teams, Denison had only played two, the aforementioned OWU and Stevenson games.  Gettysburg faced both of those as well and 5 others losing to Cortland and Haverford, then beat Haverford Cabrini and Salisbury

Attack - ADV Gettysburg
Midfield - ADV Denison
Defense - ADV Denison
Goalie - ADV Gettysburg
Storyline - The Tommy Kehoe Factor

Overall - ADV - Gettyburg

Prediction - Gettysburg 9-8 OT

Salisbury @ Stevenson
No need to compare like opponents in this grudge match.  Having faced similar foe all year and this will be the third meeting, we’re in for a good one.  If Salisbury plays like they did in their first match up, game to Stevenson.  If Stevenson plays like they did in the second match up, game to Salisbury.  If both teams play the way they did when they won…well.

Attack - ADV - Stevenson
Midfield - EVEN
Defense - ADV -  Salisbury
Goalie - EVEN
Storyline - The Battle Behind at X

Overall - EVEN

Prediction - Salisbury 13-10

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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

What a week we had last week.  The #1 team in the land was shot down by the Gettysburg Bullets 11-10 bringing Stevenson to the #1 spot this week.  Stevenson halted Wesley by 1 to pull to the top of the polls.

Tufts keeps on rolling as they defeated NESCAC foe Wesleyan 12-10.  And the new talk of the town is Haverford.  On top in the Centennial Conference after a win over a strong Washington College team.  They lost a real close one against Tufts who is currently ranked #5. With a real strong strength of schedule, the Fords have proven that they’re a team to reckon with.

This week offers some great conference battles that will only rival tournament time.

-Game of the Week-
CAC
#1 Stevenson @ #4 Salisbury
Stevenson may have a short reign over D3 as they play at Salisbury under the lights on Saturday night. On the other hand Salisbury is riding a 105 game winning streak in the CAC…the question is, will Stevenson snap that streak?

NESCAC
#7 Middlebury @ #13 Bowdoin
There’s not much to say about this game except that this rivalry goes back and has flourished over the past decade.  The NESCAC runs deep in the polls with 4 teams in the top 15.

Centennial
#15 Washington College @ #9 Gettysburg 1:00
With Haverford on top, this game is for a home conference playoff game.  Neither team wants to see the other away from their house.  WAC is coming off a loss to Haverford and the Bullets are riding high from last weeks upset.  There will be no love between these two squads.

Commonwealth Coast Clash
#12 Endicott @ #10 Western New England
I’d say that these programs are just sliding throught the schedule unnoticed.  But make sure that you take notice as both will be in the NCAA’s and both will be making it known come May.

SUNY Showdown
#6 Cortland State @ #19 Geneseo State - Wed 4/8
You gotta love the SUNYAC rivalries.  It is a conference full of talented teams.  Heck if you through in the Bing and Albany the SUNY system is total powerhouse in lax.

There were some big games this past week and they surely delivered. I wasn’t too surprised of the outcomes of these last week.  It seems that everything went as planned just like my NCAA Bracket…which I’m tied for 1st place!

In last week’s game of the week, Ithaca defeated Cortland 11-8.  These two squads will meet again sometime in May.  Middlebury made their trip to DC a success by defeating the surprising Generals of W&L 12-10.

Western New England got the best of Nazareth in a 10-9 burner.  That is a big win for WNE who cracked the Top 10 this week in the USILA polls.  And to round out the week, Stevenson continued its winning ways over Lynchburg in a 12-10 victory.

This week doesn’t offer that much in high quality match ups.  They’re all waiting until the weather gets warmer all over D3land. Or everyone’s Waiting for next week’s match up of #1 Salisbury and #2 Stevenson.

Game of the Week
NESCAC Scrap - #12 Wesleyan @ #9 Tufts
The Jumbos have steadily climbed up the polls and Wesleyan brings an extremely stingy defense.

jumbotufts wesleyan

Fightin’ for Home
#14 Haverford @ #8 Washington College
This could very well decide home field for the Centennial tournament.

Preseason Match up of the Year
#16 Gettysburg @ #1 Salisbury
This is first time in a long time that both teams weren’t in the top 5 while facing each other.  It should still be great to attend as Salisbury has their Lax Alumni weekend with a golf tournament on Friday and the honoring of the 1999 National Champions at halftime on Saturday!  I’m so there!!

salisbury-lacrosse-national

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.

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

cortlandgettysburg1

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.

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