NCAA Lacrosse: Lessons Learned from Sunday's First-Round Tourney Games
On Sunday, four more games took place as the first round of the NCAA tournament came to a close. It was an action-packed day, giving us overtime thrillers and blowouts on a beautiful Mother's Day.
As we look forward to the quarterfinals next weekend, lets take a look at what we learned on Sunday that will help us focus on what to expect moving forward.
Cornell is a force
Cornell took on Maryland in what many thought would be the most contentious and fun-to-watch game in the first round. Instead, Cornell took a hold of the Terrapins and never let go, giving many of us the second half to focus on our moms on Mother's Day.
Rob Pannell finished with seven points in the game and caused huge problems for a Terrapin defense that I thought would play much better against the Big Red attack. Pannell is a multi-faceted offensive player, and Maryland could not keep track of him as he dodged, fed and shot from all over the field.
Steve Mock, perhaps the best off-ball attacker in the nation, found his seams in the crease and exploded for four goals.
Cornell clearly did not expect to be playing Maryland in the first round, but they made the Terrapins look like a team that did not deserve a home game. The Big Red also were not planning on losing in their conference tournament, but the loss added fuel to their fire, and they seem to be playing their best right now.
Rob Pannell is the Tewaaraton Trophy front-runner
Who will win the Tewaaraton Trophy?
Lyle Thompson of Albany may have finished the season with 113 points, but as I said, his season is finished. Rob Pannell put up seven points in the first round, and he will have at least one more game to make his case as the National Player of the Year. He impressed everyone this weekend by making easy work of a stingy Maryland defense and now has an opportunity to go on a national title run.
With Thompson's season done, Pannell now has the stage to himself for the most part. The other remaining candidates, Jojo Marasco and Marcus Holman, do not seem able to truly compete with Pannell or Thompson as the race for the trophy heats up.
If the award were given today, I think Thompson would take it home. However, with Pannell still playing, he has the upper hand and can control his destiny as the tournament rolls on.
Duke always plays big in the tournament
Will Duke make the Final Four?
I thought Loyola might win yesterday's game against the Blue Devils, but then I remembered that it is the NCAA tournament. Duke seems to be a team that plays big when it needs to, and it's now a staple during Final Four weekend.
The Blue Devils played really good defense on their way to a double-overtime victory over the defending national champions yesterday. Their speed on offense also stunned the Greyhounds in the fourth quarter, proving that they are conditioned to play as long as necessary to get the victory.
Look for Duke to get to the Final Four again this year. Why bet against it at this point?
Ohio State is heating up
Ohio State beat up on Towson yesterday, defeating the Tigers 16-6 in a game that I thought would be much closer. The Buckeyes are a talented team that can score on anyone, and now they have the ability to take a huge leap right in front of our eyes. Ohio State represents the growth of lacrosse in America, and its success will only boost that surge of talent that we have seen in the past few years.
OSU looks to be playing better every week and was incredibly impressive in its ECAC tournament run. They may not be a household name yet in the game of lacrosse, but the Buckeyes are moving in the right direction, and another win could give them the momentum they need to make noise on Memorial Day.
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