There’s lots of talk these days about Final Fours. The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoffs are down to four teams battling for their championships. Go Caps!
But there is another sport moving to the Final Four stage: lacrosse. The NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments are heating up. So this week, let’s go lax to the max.
Maryland double: The big question is whether the University of Maryland men and women can repeat their championships of 2017. They have a good chance. The Terrapins are the Number 1 seed in both tournaments.
The Maryland women are an offensive powerhouse, averaging more than 16 goals a game. Megan Whittle, a senior attack, leads the team with 80 goals in 20 games this season.
Maryland lost only to North Carolina, back in February, 16-15, in overtime. The Terps may get a chance at revenge in the NCAA final. North Carolina is the Number 2 seed in the women’s tournament.
The Maryland men are terrific, too, but they may have a tougher road to the championship. The men’s tournament is packed with rugged teams such as Albany, Yale and Duke. Maryland should not have any easy games in its bracket.
Local games: If you are a lacrosse fan, you are in luck. This weekend you have a couple of chances to see some NCAA games nearby.
On Saturday at noon, the Maryland women will host Navy at the field hockey and lacrosse complex in College Park.
On Sunday, there is a doubleheader starting at noon at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The Maryland men take on Cornell while Duke battles Big Ten tournament champion Johns Hopkins. That’s right: Although Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is a small college, it is such a traditional men’s lacrosse power that it plays with the big boys in the Big Ten.
A growing sport: Not so long ago, lacrosse was an East Coast game, with most of the best teams around New York and Maryland.
While many of the top college teams are still from Eastern schools, teams such as Notre Dame and Denver dot the men’s bracket, while teams such as Northwestern, Stanford and Colorado made it to this year’s women’s tournament.
The growth of college programs is fueled by the growing popularity of lacrosse among kids. More than a million girls and boys play in youth leagues across the country. Recent surveys show the number of kids playing the game grew 10 percent in 2017 and 25 percent since 2012.
So if you are a lax fanatic, keep playing. If you’re not, you might want to check lacrosse out.