After finishing the regular season with a 13-3 record and posting wins against nine teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the national poll, the second-ranked Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team has earned an at-large selection to the 2017 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Tournament, which was announced via Selection Show on Sunday night.
Merrimack was chosen as the No. 3 seed in the four-team North Region and will face a familiar opponent in second-seeded Le Moyne. For the second time in just over a week, Merrimack will trek west to Syracuse to take on the Dolphins in the national quarterfinals at Le Moyne’s Ted Grant Field on Saturday, May 13, at a to-be-announced time.
Extending its program record of consecutive trips to the national tournament, Merrimack has now earned three straight bids to the Big Dance and four total in the history of the program. The Warriors advanced to the national semifinals in each of the previous two seasons and also qualified for the NCAA Tournament back in 2010 back when only four teams were selected.
“We’re once again grateful for the national committee’s decision to select us to the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season,” head coach Mike Morgan stated. “We feel that we met all of the criteria that the committee would consider when picking the field, and given our strength of schedule and track record against some of the top teams in the country – as well as a historically strong year for the Northeast-10 Conference – I am proud to once again see our name called on selection day. 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.”
The Warriors and Dolphins played an incredibly exciting game in the semifinal round of the 2017 NE10 Championship on Friday morning, one that Le Moyne eventually won in double-overtime. The Dolphins also edged the Warriors in double-overtime during the two schools’ regular season matchup, as well.
The matchup will be just the latest chapter in what has been a years-long postseason rivalry between the two programs. Le Moyne has been Merrimack’s most-frequent opponent in the NCAA Tournament dating back to 2010, as the Warriors will be looking to knock off the Dolphins for the first time in four postseason tries. This will be the first time the two schools meet in the quarterfinal round of the tournament, as all three previous matchups occurred in the national semifinals – including a wild 2015 affair that was decided in overtime.
The other matchup in the North Region features top-seeded Adelphi University, which enters the postseason at 14-3 after falling in the NE10 Championship Final against Le Moyne earlier on Sunday, against No. 4 seed Pace, a first-time NCAA Tournament qualifier. This also marks the first time in Division II history that four NE10 programs have qualified for the tournament.
The two winners will meet in an NCAA Semifinal matchup the following Saturday or Sunday (May 20-21) at the site of the highest remaining seed. The National Championship will be played on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend (May 28) 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 four-time national champion and 2016 national runner-up Limestone against first-time qualifier Wingate, as well as Lenoir-Rhyne against Tampa.
Merrimack posted a 13-3 record in the regular season, finishing third in the league standings while advancing to the NE10 Championship Semifinals for the 13th straight season and 18th overall. Along the way, Merrimack ascended to No. 1 in both major weekly polls for the first time in program history after upending previously top-ranked and undefeated Limestone in late April. The Warriors’ only three losses on the year are against Le Moyne and Adelphi.
Merrimack will be looking to build on the previous two years’ postseason runs, which have featured the first-ever NCAA Tournament win in school history at Adelphi in 2015 as well as the program’s first-ever home NCAA Tournament victory against LIU Post in 2016. The Warriors will also be looking to advance to the national championship game for the first time in school history.--
Mike McMahon has covered Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune since 2006 and he also has been a senior writer at College Hockey News since 2005.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN and you can follow the site @TheMackReports.