WASHINGTON — Something Terp, something new, something Greyhound and something blue.
Four area schools head to Quarterfinal action this weekend in Providence, Rhode Island and Columbus, Ohio for the right to participate in Memorial Day Weekend’s Final Four in Philadelphia. This weekend’s mix involves a team of destiny, an upstart facing huge odds, and a defensive duel in a different battle of the beltway (albeit the one in Baltimore).
12 p.m. Saturday in Providence: #1 Maryland (15-2) vs. #8 Syracuse (12-4)
The Terps have won 14 straight and appear to be on track to capture the school’s first National Championship since 1975. Led by junior attacker Matt Rambo (35 goals and 22 assists) and a defense that ranks sixth nationally (7.76 goals against), this is the best team in coach John Tillman’s tenure. And the former Harvard mentor has had a knack of getting the best out of his teams in the tournament. Since coming to College Park, Tillman’s Terps are 4-0 in the quarterfinals (including a 6-5 upset of top-seeded Syracuse in 2011). The Orange are a deceptive four-loss team, with three of their defeats coming in overtime. Since switching goaltenders from Warren Hill to Evan Molloy, Syracuse has won 7 of 8 (the lone loss coming in overtime at Cornell). Penalties will be pivotal — as Maryland’s third-in-the-nation, man-down defense will have its hands full with the Orange’s fifth-rated, man-up attack, but the Terps have more than a good chance to exploit a less than effective Syracuse man-down defense (61st nationally).
2:30 p.m.: Navy (11-4) battles #5 Brown (15-2)
The Midshipmen are fresh off an upset of #4 Yale while the Bruins enjoy a little home-field advantage (the Ivy League school just happens to be located in Providence). Chalk this up as a classic matchup of unstoppable force against immovable object. Can the Midshipmen defense (#2 in the nation at 7.13 goals per game) contain the number one scoring team in the country, with the Bruins averaging over 16 goals per game? Brown boasts three of the top eight goal-scorers in the nation in Dylan Molloy, Kylor Bellistri and Henry Blynn … while Molloy leads Division I Lacrosse in assists per game. The Mids’ man-down defense also leaves a lot to be desired — rating 53rd out of 68 D-I schools. Goalie John Connors, you will deserve your postgame rubdown after being peppered with shots all day. Did we mention Connors’ counterpart Jack Kelly leads the nation in saves percentage? Navy fans may have picked the wrong week to stop drinking coffee.
2:30 p.m. Sunday in Columbus: #7 Loyola of Maryland (13-3) vs. Towson (15-2)
The Battle of Baltimore-area schools takes place roughly 400 miles away from the Charm City. While the Greyhounds outscored Duke in the first round, the Tigers upset defending National Champ and #2 seed Denver thanks to a defense that allows the fewest goals in the country. Their test this week is Loyola’s Pat Spencer — the freshman ranks third in Division I in scoring with 33 goals and 46 assists. Towson’s Tyler White is the only goalie to allow fewer than seven goals a game … and the redshirt-senior also ranks 11th in saves percentage. Loyola freshman Jacob Stover would rank third in goals against average and second in saves percentage if he had played enough minutes to qualify. Stover will have one eye at all times on Towson sniper Joe Seider (35 goals and 135 shots lead the Tigers).