NCAA Division 3 Lacrosse Quarterfinals Preview
This wild season of Division 3 Men’s Lacrosse continues this weekend with some phenomenal matchups in the Quarterfinals and potential matchups in the Semifinals. The Division 3 landscape gets even crazier this weekend as all eight teams have to prepare for potentially two games as Saturday’s winners face off against each other on Sunday with a trip the NCAA Championship game on the line. While is it unique to our sport, it definitely gives the teams that participate in events like the Mustang Classic or schedule back-to-back games on their schedules a leg up. One of the best parts about Saturday is that all four games have staggered start times, so you have the ability to catch at least a portion of every game.
The real question of the weekend is can anyone stop Tufts? The narrative since early season losses by RIT and Salisbury is that the Jumbos are the team to beat and based off of their body of work, that would be a good bet to take. Tufts and their trademark offense are scoring at an amazing rate with multiple 100-point scorers. Standing in their way is a Lynchburg team that has never beaten the Jumbos. The other game features Middlebury and RIT which has the potential to be an epic game. Both teams are athletic and can score in bunches.
In the Southern bracket, you have the potential to see Salisbury and Christopher Newport part three, but don’t count out the Dickinson Devils and Washington and Lee Generals. Both teams seem to be peaking at the right time and are looking to show that they are threats to win the Southern Region.
Tufts vs. Lynchburg – Saturday, May 20th @2:00pm
Tufts makes its 13th straight appearance in the Quarterfinals while looking to make its third consecutive and eighth all-time appearance in the Division 3 Lacrosse Semifinals. Winners of three national championships, including one win over Lynchburg, the Jumbos are looking to get another win against the Hornets in the 2023 season. The Jumbos won the frigid early season matchup dominantly and look to do that again against the Hornets, who have come a long way since that matchup in March. Jack Boyden and Kurt Bruun lead the way for the Jumbos offensively and look to add to their 100-point seasons. Both are All-Americans and dominant offensive players that have given teams fits all season. Tufts has the No.1 scoring offense averaging 21 goals per game, and they are second in groundballs per game with 47 a game. Lynchburg is making its 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 11th consecutive. The Hornets feature a balanced offensive approach with ten players who have scored ten or more goals this season. Junior attackman Jake Rust leads the way with 40 goals at the attack, and Riley Mitchell leads the team in points with 32 goals and 27 assists. He can hurt you as a dodger or a feeder so Tufts will have to be on end defensively.
Your 2023 NESCAC Champions!
In a total team effort, we jumped out to an 11-1 lead at half and cruised to a 19-6 win to earn our 5th straight NESCAC Championship and 12th in the last 13 seasons. #RollBos #AttackTheDay 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/ZQzMBtA53D
— Tufts Lacrosse (@TuftsLacrosse) May 7, 2023
RIT vs. Middlebury – Saturday, May 20th @5:00pm
Can RIT achieve the three-peat? Not often are the defending champions underdogs, but in this bracket, many people have put them down as such. They have the talent and ability to win it all, but anything can happen at this point in the season. RIT is making their 26th all-time appearance in the NCAA Division 3 Lacrosse Tournament, having won back-to-back national titles. This is their sixth consecutive appearance in the Quarterfinals as they take on the Middlebury Panthers, who will be a handful for the Tigers. The Tigers are balanced on offense, featuring 11 players who have scored double-digit goals and three players with more than 60 points (Luke Pilcher, Cliff Gaston, and John Morzall). The Tigers can score in bunches and take control of a game in special teams where they are lethal on man-up and nearly unstoppable when clearing. The question will be whether Middlebury can score on the Tiger’s stingy defense, who are giving up less than 8.5 goals a game.
Middlebury is making its 18th appearance in program history and the first since 2016. They have made the quarterfinals 12 times and won three national championships from 2000 to 2002. A historically strong program that has to run the gauntlet of the NESCAC, they have often been on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday but can run with anyone. The Panthers have a four-headed monster that can attack from anywhere. Russell Thorndike leads the way for the Panthers from a goal-scoring standpoint with 44 goals and 21 assists. The group’s distributor is Billy Curtis, who has 41 assists with 25 goals for 66 points.
William Ryan is another 40-goal scorer for the Panthers with 43 goals and 12 assists. Freshman Cooper DeMallie has come in and contributed right away with 31 goals. The x-factor for Middlebury will be in the goal as Freshman Hayden Kern has started every game this season and has a 50.7 save percentage. If he has a solid day, the Panthers have as good a shot as any to get to Sunday.
Salisbury vs. Washington and Lee – Saturday, May 20th @12:00pm
High noon in Seagull Stadium means you can bet Gull Nation will be buzzing as Salisbury looks to get back to the national title game. Standing in their way are the Washington and Lee Generals, who have put together a phenomenal season that includes an ODAC Championship. A classic Southern region battle that will be sure to have some fireworks. Salisbury will enter the weekend with a 20-1 overall record riding a 17-game winning streak. Washington and Lee also ride a double-digit win streak heading into Saturday’s contest with Salisbury. The Generals are 18-4 overall, currently on a 12-game win streak. Record breaker and PLL draftee Cross Ferrara has been crucial for Salisbury. The 2023 CLC Player of the Year and member of the All-CLC First Team, Ferrara entered the NCAA tournament with 97 points on 70 goals and 27 assists. He has since added to that and become the Salisbury all-time leading scorer eclipsing the great Jason Coffman. Jude Brown has also been an absolute monster for the Seagulls finishing the season with 92 points on 32 goals and 60 assists. He can dish, he can score it, and he will be an absolute handful for the Generals.
The Generals are making their first quarterfinal appearance since 2004 and look to take down the mighty Seagulls. The Generals have five players who have scored more than 40 points, and they will be sure to put pressure on the Seagull defense. Hudson Pokorny is an absolute stud on the attack for the Generals and will most likely become a member of the 50/50 club, as he is currently sitting at 107 points with 49 goals and 58 assists. He can put insane pressure on opposing defenses, which opens things up for the rest of the offensive players. Hillis Burns and Joey Allen are also guys that have been big beneficiaries to Pokorny’s game as they both have more than 40 goals this season, with Burns putting up 50 so far. These teams are so evenly matched that it’s insane. This game will come down to possessions and each team’s ability to control the middle of the field at the faceoff game and precisely in the ride. Buckle up; this can be the best game of the day.
Christopher Newport vs. Dickinson – Saturday, May 20th @3:00pm
A game that doesn’t have as much fanfare as the others, Christopher Newport vs. Dickinson features two teams that can quickly come out of this weekend playing for a Division 3 Lacrosse National Championship. Both teams are relative newcomers to the upper echelon of Division 3 Lacrosse but feature excellent coaching staffs and big, strong, athletic players. Coach Thompson has done a phenomenal job at CNU, and Coach Webster has had his team knocking on the door for a long time, so this game has all the makings of an epic matchup. This will be a rematch of a 13-12 thriller at the Mustang Classic that saw CNU come away with the win. CNU has an electric offense with five players totaling over 60 points on the season. With multiple threats on offense, they will be a tough out for the stingy Dickinson defense.
Andrew Cook and Alex Brendes have been explosive for the Captains all season, leading the way from a scoring standpoint with 61 and 56 goals, respectively. Coby Auslander is a do-it offensive player, but he has been the leading distributor for the Captains with 52 assists on the year. The Red Devils have rebounded nicely after three straight one-goal losses earlier in the season and have been paced by a balanced offense led by Skyler Schluter’s 68 points. This game will come down to possessions and the team’s ability to defend transition while winning 6v6 matchups. Expect another close game, as these teams know each other very well. Can Dickinson slow down the Captains’ high-paced offense? We will see on Saturday.