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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

St. Marys College Vs. Salisbury University- 2009 Division 3 action - Photos by Barry Morihlatko

I’m a week or so removed from the D3 scene.  Sorry for the absence but it’s make it or break it for some teams starting now. Conference tournaments are underway and will be finished real soon.  I believe that the NCAA Selection show is this Sunday 5/3.

Thanks to all for positive and or critical feedback on the All-Decade team.  Kreiger was a definite miss on my part and deserves a nod.  If I can create a user poll for this team I think I will do that so you all can vote on the Position Players of the Decade and then on a Player of the Decade.

So back to D3land and the big show. I’m a fan of the AQ as it makes conference play that more important.  We saw that first hand this year in the CAC as Stevenson and St. Mary’s defeated Salisbury and almost had them sitting at home while everyone went to the dance.

We have one lock in Salisbury for pounding #1 at the time Stevenson two weeks ago.  No need to worry, the Mustangs will get invited and should be the #2 in the South behind undefeated Roanoke…assuming they win the ODAC.

This week, we have some match ups that will include some fierce inter-conference rivalries.  At stake, a ticket to the dance!

FRIDAY:ncaa_2009-logo
Centennial Semis @ Haverford
Washington College @ #6 Gettysburg 4:00
McDaniel @ #8 Haverford 1:30

Empire 8 Semis
Nazareth @ #3 Ithaca 4:00
Saint John Fisher @ #20 Stevens Tech 4:00

Liberty Semis
Union @ #18 Saint Lawrence 4:00
Clarkson @ Skidmore 4:00

SATURDAY
SUNYAC Finals
#7 Cortland State @ #9 Geneseo State 1:00

NESCAC Semis @ Middlebury
#17 Wesleyan @ #2 Middlebury 12:00
#19 Bowdoin @ #13 Tufts 3:00

Commonweatlth Coast Finals
#16 Endicott @ #12 Western New England 3:00

Middle Atlantic Finals
Widener @ Fdu-florham 1:00

Colonial Finals
Marywood @ #14 Cabrini 1:00

North Atlantic Finals
Mount Ida @ Castleton State 1:00

Skyline Finals
Kean @ Montclair State 1:00

Pilgrim Finals
Wheaton @ Springfield 1:00

Landmark Finals
Scranton @ Us Merchant Marine 1:00

SUNDAY
ODAC Finals
#10 Washington And Lee @ #1 Roanoke

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

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 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

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 04/08/2008

I had a chance to catch my 2nd Salisbury game of the year last Saturday vs. Villa Julie and it turned out to be a nail biter. I saw them play the week before at Gettysburg where they looked really bad for the 1st half, and really good for the 2nd half. This game they looked really good for a quarter (outscoring VJ 6-0 in the 1st) and pretty bad for most of the other three quarters.

For a stretch of the game a lot of Salisbury fans and alumni were thinking this might be the day that lightning strikes; the day that the Sea Gulls lose their first game in CAC history. But in the end the Gulls showed the resiliency they have had all year and pulled out the victory. There were a couple close CAC games vs. St. Mary’s a few years back, but this is the closest Salisbury has ever come to losing a conference game. And this year’s CAC playoffs will be the first year that Salisbury is not a sure thing to win it.

For the third straight game they came from behind to win a close game. Some will argue that this inconsistent play will come back to hurt them; whether it’s vs. WAC in the War on the Shore, or in a potential rematch with Villa Julie, or in the NCAA playoffs. On the other hand you could argue that this will help them win tight games down the line, and give them the confidence to know they are never out of any game. I tend to think these hard fought close games will only help them. They can’t get lazy; they should be hungry to prove they are a better team than some of these scores indicate. And at the very least, these games have been a lot more exciting then most of the games in recent years.

The two biggest factors in this game; sloppy ball handling and passing by Salisbury, and penalties. Salisbury had 11 penalties for a total of 8:00 minutes. Villa Julie scored 6 man-up goals. The refs were calling this game extremely tight, and many of the fouls for both teams should not have been called. But that’s beside the point and certainly not an excuse.

Salisbury’s offense looked good in spurts but overall they couldn’t string three or four passes together the way they normally do. There were a lot of dropped passes, bad feeds to nobody, and weak passes attempted while fading away from defensive pressure. It looked like the Gulls didn’t have anyone who was easily beating their man to generate offense. As a whole the Sea Gulls look like a small team, especially in the middle of the field. They usually make up what they lack in size with great team stick work and shooting. But in this game both aspects weren’t up to their normal standard.

Salisbury sophomore Mike Von Kamecke has been a great offensive weapon the last couple weeks. He really needed to get the ball more this game. He looks like someone who could possibly develop into a Justin Smith type player with his quickness. Villa Julie recognized this and was switching a close defensmen to play on him when possible. This left one of the Salisbury attackmen gaurded by a short stick.

For the Mustangs junior midfielder Greg Furshman looked good and tallied 5 goals and an assist. I’m not sure how many of those came on man-up.

Salisbury played three different goalies in the game, as coach Berkman did not seem happy with the performance of starting goalie Zach Krissoff (who played great in the Gettysburg game) or Mike Petti who went in when Krissoff was pulled. Riley Clark was put in to play most of the 2nd half. The three goalies only had 8 total saves, so it was not a great performance by the goaltending group. To Krissoff’s credit I didn’t think he looked bad enough to get pulled. I think you got to stay with your starter a bit longer. It’s safe to say that all the SU goalie’s confidence levels have taken a beating. This is something Salisbury definitely needs to work out soon.

Salisbury sophomore long-pole #15 Connor Burgasser looked like one of the best players on the field. He was throwing some great checks (although most didn’t dislodge the ball) and looked good on ground balls and clears.

The press release below says there was a crowd of 500, and another article said 1,500. Obviously both are estimations because they weren’t tracking the entrance, but I would put the crowd at more like 2,500. I would guess this is the largest crowd ever to attend a Villa Juile game. The facilities there aren’t setup well. There was not enough seating or standing room for the crowd. Only one side of the field was open to fans; as a result people ended up standing 5 deep in some areas to see the game. Villa Julie’s bathroom facilities consisted of 4 port-o-pottys. Obviously the school is in a bit of a growth mode and the facilities haven’t caught up yet.

However, it was a great atmosphere at the game. A lot of students were tailgating and drinking; which made for a nice lively/obnoxious crowd. Players always love those types of environments. It’s great to hear some heckling from the crowd. Although, the Villa fans really do need to get a bit more creative. Most of their chants consisted of “Salisbury Sucks.” A little more imagination would be nice, but I think this might have been the first time attending a game for a lot of the fans. But I do commend Villa Julie for allowing fans to tailgate. Salisbury has never allowed it.

As an alum, it’s been great to see Salisbury dominate over the past few years. But it’s also exciting to see them in some close battles this year. And it’s also great to know they will be returning a lot of talent next year.

Salisbury certainly has everything they need for another championship run.  Their offense led by Kylor Berkman can put together 3 or 4 goal runs very quickly.  Their defense with a lot of talented poles has proved they can shut down high powered offenses (Gburg) when they play well.  So even though many are waiting for them to fall back to earth in D3, I wouldn’t bet against them making the trip to Foxboro.

Next game: vs. St. Mary’s Friday night under the lights. Should be a good atmosphere, hopefully some students actually turn out.

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