NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
The men’s lacrosse final four was yesterday as Yale, Penn State, Virginia and Duke battled it out for a spot in Monday’s Championship game. The games didn’t disappoint as thousands of lacrosse fans packed Lincoln Finalcial Field for two games in beautiful weather.
Virginia 13, Duke 12, OT. this game started out slow as Duke got out to a 5-2 lead at the half, but Virginia’s effort and determination carried them back into the game in the second half. Led by Alex Rode’s 19 saves, Virginia was able to bring the score within 1 late. Duke had the lead a couple minutes later up two goals but turned the ball over on a clear that allowed Virginia to get the ball back, put it in the net and control the faceoff x for more chances to score. The hops tied it up with 14 ticks remaining. Each team got chances in overtime to win it but Virginia had to wait until midway through the second overtime when Ian Laviano won it and sent Virginia to Monday afternoon.
The late game was also won starting at the faceoff x, as Yale and Td Ierlan gave Yale more possessions in which to work offensively. The bulldogs pulled out to a 10-2 lead after one quarter but penn state led by their young offense fought back into the game for three quarters. Unfortunately Matt Brandau battled back from injury in the second half and had himself a day, finishing with 7 goals in their 21-15 win over Penn State. On the year, the Nittany Lions only lost two games. Both to Yale. They will return most of their team next spring and look to make another run to championship weekend in the process. Yale played the better game, winning faceoffs, getting plenty of stops and capitalizing on scoring chances, something they had a lot of chance to do. Yale will take on Virginia, a pair of teams who haven’t met since 1991, on Monday afternoon.
The Yale-Virginia matchup will be interesting for many reasons. First of all, these two will battle for a national championship. For Yale they defend their crown from last year and for Virginia, they go for their first since 2006. Virginia’s freshmen fo specialist will have his hands full with Td Ierlan, and this alone gives the advantage to Yale. This puts a lot of pressure on the face offs—just as penn state tried to tie up ierlan today—as should Virginia, giving their wings a chance to grab ground balls. When virginia has Conrad out on the wing, a 5050 ground ball can always go their way. As ierlan wins face offs—and he will, Virginia has to get stops defensively early. If Yale runs away with it in the first quarter this game could get ugly. Virginia plays fast but not at the pace Yale can put up goals. Yale needs to capitalize on these offensive opportunities, keeping the ball out of Virginia’s hands. Again with Virginia offensively, they need their big 5 and one more to step up and deliver if they are to find success. Yale was able to hold penn state to 15 goals, and have the ability to hold Virginia to less. Another factor that we might see in play Monday is player fatigue. Virginia played a long tough game, while Yale played the late game, which was very fast paced the entire tome. Weather in philly on Monday is forecast for 83 and partly sunny. Should be 10 degrees hotter on the turf making each teams game today mean a lot more as it comes to fatigue. Can Virginia battle it out every face-off bringing it to a wing battle? Can Yale's offense be slowed down? Can Virginia turn defensive stops into goals? All of these questions will need to be answered by the Cavaliers, who open as 1.5 point underdogs. As much as Yale should be able to take control of this game, I am going to give it to Virginia, because I picked them preseason, I picked them when the tournament started and I am not going to change that now.
Prediction: Virginia 15, Yale 14.