Canadians in the NCAA – Playoff Edition

submitted by Jason Donville

Which team are you rooting for?

League play is over, the people responsible for seeding teams in the NCAA championship round have made their calls, it’s time to play “one-and-done” lacrosse. Overall, not a lot of controversy to this year’s selections other than perhaps the absence of Drexel in Division I and Mercyhurst in Division II. For fans of Canadian lacrosse there is no shortage of teams to root for from perennial favorites like Syracuse and Virginia to long-shots like Ohio Wesleyan.  I have my own personal favorites that I will be rooting for but what I really want to see is exciting lacrosse. That said, wouldn’t it be awesome to see a relative long-shot like Stony Brook, Hofstra, Limestone or RIT go all the way on the back of a hot Canadian or two who hails from places like New Westminster, Caledon and Oakville. Let the best team win it all and don’t leave anything in the tank!

 

NCAA Division I – Can a Stony Brook, Denver, Delaware or Hofstra pull off an upset?

There are 16 teams in the NCAA Division I championships and nine have at least one Canadian on their roster. Delaware’s Curtis Dickson (Port Coquitlam), who has scored 62 goals in 16 games for the Blue Hens this year, leads the pack.  Delaware plays #4 seed North Carolina in its first round game and Dickson will need to score in big numbers once again if Delaware is to advance to the second round.  The Stony Brook Seawolves are also heading into the playoffs with two super-high impact Canucks on their roster in Kevin Crowley (New Westminster) and Jordan McBride (New Westminster) who have on a combined basis scored 94 goals, 31 assists, while grabbing 84 ground balls. Besides Crowley and McBride, Kyle Belton (Langley) and Robbie Campbell (Delta) have also had great seasons for the Seawolves, contributing close to 20 goals apiece this season.  As the #8 seed and playing at home, Stony Brook has an excellent chance of advancing to the next round. Stony Brook plays Denver which also features two high impact Canadians in Mark Matthews (Oshawa) and Cam Flint (Georgetown).  Of course, Stony Brook is not the only Division I team on Long Island that features a Canadian laxer or two. The Hofstra Pride boasts several Canadian’s who are no strangers to big games and tend to play their best when the stakes are highest.  Jaime Lincoln (St Catharines) and Jay Card (Caledon) have managed to score 60 goals in total in 13 games and will lead their team into battle against the heavily favored #3 ranked Maryland Terrapins with Adrian Sorchetti (Whitby)and Michael Burke (Caledon East)  expected to play strong supporting roles for the Pride.  At the other end of the tournament are Syracuse and Cornell. Syracuse is lead by Cody Jamieson (Six Nations) and Stephen Keogh (Toronto Beaches), both all-star attacks on a team that seems to feature all-stars at every position.  Jamieson and Keogh have combined for 54 goals in 14 games and take their game to a gritty Army squad which is fresh off its Patriot League Championship. Cornell on the other hand has many Canadians on its roster but it is defenseman Jason Noble (Orangeville) who could very well be a difference maker this weekend. Cornell plays Loyola in the 1st round and this game is likely to be a low scoring affair with the team with stingiest defense likely coming out on top. A quick summary of Division I first round games featuring Canadians in their roster is presented below.

Division II Lacrosse – Hoping for a Dowling versus Limestone Final

For those not familiar with NCAA lacrosse, the Division II Playoff is a bizarrely austere affair with just four teams selected to play for their respective national championship.  Two of the four teams left in Division II feature Canadian’s prominently in their line-ups. Dowling’s offence is lead by John McClure (Brampton) who has scored 58 goals in 12 games and Kyle O’Brien (Whitby) who has scored 28 goals and added 39 assists in 13 games. Backing up McClure and O’Brien is Kyle Rubisch (Brampton) who is arguably the best defender in Division II lacrosse as evidenced by his 34 caused turnovers and 63 ground balls.  The other Division II team to feature Canadian’s on their roster is Limestone. Riley Loewen (Burnaby) has had a big impact on the Limestone program, scoring 28 goals in 13 games – not bad for a rookie! Loewen will get ample support from fellow Canuck Jackson Decker (Port Moody) who has scored at better than a goal-a-game pace this year while Tor Reinholdt (Port Moody) should get some playing time at midfield. From a purely Canadian perspective, I am calling for a Dowling – Limestone Final – see figure 2 if it isn’t obvious why?

RIT Is My Long-shot Pick For The NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Division III Championship resembles the US College basketball format with 23 teams participating and a better geographic spread than either the Division I or Division II Championships. There are five NCAA Division III teams with Canadians on their roster and in the case of three of those teams, Canucks should play a significant role in the team’s outcome in the coming days and hopefully weeks.  Roanoke is one of the top seeds in the NCAA Div III and Matt Quinton (Elora), Richard Lachlan (Port Coquitlam) and Brayden Gerrie (Fergus) are a big part of the team’s success. Quinton has scored 51 goals in 18 games this year and the trio has combined for 88 goals.  RIT is similarly stacked with high impact Canadians at both ends of the field. MJ Kiekebelt (Caledon) and Dan MacCrae (Oakville) are among the best Canadians at the defensive end of the field having amassed 92 caused turnovers and 148 ground balls between them. Of course, some of these guys can score as well with Sean Gilles (Oakville) scoring 46 goals in 18 games and Jordan MacIntosh (Oakville) scoring 33 goals in 14 games.  RIT has been in a lot of close games this year and could be the sleeper team in NCAA Division III. Finally, Ohio Wesleyan is a bit of long-shot to go far in the NCAA tournament but rookie AJ Pellis (Edmonton) will do his best to prove the doubters wrong.

Games to Watch This Week

There are no NCAA lacrosse games to watch this weekend that are close to the Canadian border. In Canada, TV options are limited but for those in the Toronto area who has access to CBS College Sports, which is on channel 160 in my household, lacrosse often appears on this channel either on tape delay or live. Of course, for those who want to watch lacrosse on TV, the Toronto Rock vs. Washington Stealth NLL Championship game will be played on TSN2 this Saturday night at 10:30PM Toronto time. For those Canadian’s in the Denver area, the MCLA Championships are on and Simon Fraser University is there representing Canadian lacrosse.  SFU defeated Florida State on May 11th by a score of 9 to 6 to advance to the final 8 in the MCLA Championship and will play Colorado State on Thursday and if successful will advance to the final four. Go SFU Go! 

Toronto Nationals Home Opener – May 22nd at Lamport Stadium

The Toronto Nationals open their MLL season at Lamport Stadium on Saturday, the 22nd of May, 2010 at 2:00PM. This is OLA day and I expect that the stadium will be filled with kids who are in town for the provincial championships. The Nationals are the defending MLL Champions and feature some of the greatest lacrosse players in the game today including Brodie Merrill, Brett Queener, Sid Smith, John Grant Jr, and Jordan Hall. Hope to see as many of you at the game as possible! Go Nats Go! 

Final Thoughts

The next few weeks will see the NCAA, MCLA and NLL seasons crown their respective champions.  Many players and coaches have been preparing for these next few weeks their entire sporting life.  For those familiar with the Iroquois traditions surrounding the sport of lacrosse, the outcome of lacrosse is not simply to win, but to play in a manner that brings enjoyment to the creator. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, the Iroquois bring a healthy perspective to our sport and  their beliefs suggest that the strength and character of one’s performance is more important than the final score. Only three teams will win NCAA Championships in the coming weeks but there is unlimited opportunity for everyone involved in these championships to play like a champion. Good luck!

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