After a historic regular season that featured 15 wins in 16 tries and culminated with the program’s third Northeast-10 Conference tournament title – and first in eight years – the Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team has been selected to the 2018 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship, which was announced via Selection Show on Sunday night.
Extending its program record of consecutive trips to the national tournament, Merrimack has now earned four straight bids to the Big Dance and five total in the history of the program. The Warriors reached the national title game last May at Gillette Stadium, where it battled eventual national champion Limestone valiantly, in their only appearance in the NCAA Championship Final. Merrimack reached the semifinal round of the bracket in each of its three other trips (2009, 2015, 2016).
“If there’s anything that last year’s trip to the national title game showed us, it’s that you have to work that much harder than your opponent to even get to Gillette Stadium, and then you have to take that to another level once you’re there,” head coach Mike Morgan said Sunday night. “We’re obviously grateful for our fourth straight selection to the NCAA Tournament and I know how much work we’ve put into this journey from Day 1 of the fall season all the way through today’s NE10 Championship. But this team also knows that this is just the beginning, and we have to continue to raise our game and outwork our opponents, who are all equally deserving to be here at this point. We have our work cut out for us and are excited to have a chance to play for a national championship in the weeks ahead.”
For the first time in school history, Merrimack – owner of a 15-1 record that already ties the school’s single-season win record for the third year in a row – was chosen as the No. 1 seed in the four-team North Region and will face New York Tech in the NCAA Quarterfinals next Saturday (May 12) at Merrimack Stadium (1 p.m.). The Warriors and Bears will be meeting for the second time this year after an exciting season opening victory way back in February, one that saw Merrimack claim by a 16-14 final. It will be the first-ever meeting in the NCAA Tournament between the two regional powers.
The other matchup in the North Region features second-seeded Seton Hill, which qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 after a 16-1 regular season record that included a G-MAC Tournament title, against third-seeded Le Moyne College, which enters the postseason at 15-1 after falling in the NE10 Championship Semifinal against Saint Anselm on Friday. The NCAA’s slight regional realignment moved Seton Hill – and a number of other teams – from the South Region to the North Region, which creates a first-time NCAA Tournament matchup between the Dolphins and Griffins.
The two winners will meet in an NCAA Semifinal matchup the following Saturday or Sunday (May 19-20) at the site of the highest remaining seed. The National Championship will be played on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend (May 27) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and will pit the last two teams standing from both regions against one another for a shot at the title.
The South Region’s four-team field features Lenoir-Rhyne (16-2) against Colorado Mesa (17-2), , as well as Saint Leo (14-2) against Tampa (15-4).
Merrimack posted a 13-1 record in the regular season, finishing second in the league standings with its only blemish being a three-goal road loss at Le Moyne back in March. Since then, have dominated, winning a school-record 11 straight games on the way to their third NE10 tournament title in program history and first since 2010, and their 15-1 record entering the NCAA Tournament already is tied for their single-season school record for victories.
The Warriors will be looking to take the final step on the way to the program’ first national title. They came closer than ever last year after reaching the NCAA Championship Final before falling by three goals to Limestone. Next Saturday will mark the second time in school history that the Warriors will host an NCAA Tournament game and first since 2016.