NCAA lacrosse tournment: Maryland draws North Carolina in surprise first-round matchup

May 8, 2011

Two of the four area Division I men’s lacrosse teams earned berths to the 16-team NCAA tournament, the field for which was announced on Sunday night. Both have their work cut out for them.

Maryland (10-4) faces No. 8 seed North Carolina (10-5) in a first-round game on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Virginia (9-5) earned a No. 7 seed and will host Bucknell (14-2) on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The Terrapins are the only ACC team not to have a first-round home game. This comes even though Maryland won the conference tournament in late April and has three wins against top-10 teams.

In determining first-round matchups, the five-person NCAA selection committee is limited to two teams that can travel by airplane. The rest must be within the 400-mile limit to travel by bus. With Notre Dame and Denver earning first-round home games, flights were not available elsewhere.

North Carolina-Maryland “was the one we struggled with the most today,” said Dermot Coll, the selection committee chairman, during the selection show before adding: “North Carolina’s win over Notre Dame on Friday and Maryland’s loss to Colgate on Saturday really kind of impacted the numbers. They were both so close to 8-9. Had Maryland been there [at number eight] we might have been able to avoid that first-round matchup.”

Compounding matters for Maryland are undisclosed injuries to senior Grant Catalino and junior Joe Cummings, the team’s co-leading goal scorers (each has 24). They are questionable to play against North Carolina, Coach John Tillman said; neither played in a 10-8 loss to Colgate on Saturday.

“As we’ve been saying all year, it’s not what you do, it’s what you do next,” Tillman said. “North Carolina is a great team, we need a good week of practice to get ready to play our best game.”

Meantime, Virginia faces Bucknell, which earned an automatic berth after it won the Patriot League. The Bison has six wins over teams that finished in the top 20 in the Ratings Percentage Index.

Virginia scrimmaged Bucknell in February. “They gave us all we could handle,” Virginia Coach Dom Starsia said. “They’re athletic, they ride really well, they are solid [in goal]. . . . It’s not very often that we get to step out of the shadows a little bit [as a number seven seed]. ”

The Cavaliers were idle this past week after an 11-2 victory over Pennsylvania, an NCAA at-large team, on April 30. Virginia senior Rhamel Bratton, a starting midfielder, was suspended for that game and his status for Sunday is questionable. Bratton has 17 goals and five assists this year.

Syracuse (14-1) is the No. 1 seed. It faces Siena in the first round. The winner plays the UNC-Maryland winner.

In the women’s tournament , Maryland (18-1) earned the No. 1 seed and will host Navy (15-5) on Saturday at noon. Navy Coach Cindy Timchal won eight national titles at Maryland, including seven in a row.

Virginia (9-8) also made the tournament and will play No. 3 North Carolina (13-5), also at noon on Saturday. The women’s Final Four is May 27 and 29 in Stony Brook, N.Y. The men’s Final Four is May 28 and 30 in Baltimore. For now, however, the lacrosse world is buzzing about the Maryland-North Carolina first-round game.

“I don’t think anybody had that one on their early docket,” Starsia said. “I am very surprised to see that one.”

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