Salisbury, Stevenson join "Group of Death"
When the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse bracket was revealed late Sunday night, Salisbury and Stevenson learned that they will be playing in the sport’s version of "The Group of Death."
The Sea Gulls, the top seed in the South region, and the Mustangs, the No. 2 seed, are included in a portion of the tournament that is is loaded with six of the top 10 teams in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.
Besides Stevenson, which is ranked No. 1, and Salisbury, which is No. 2, No. 3 Gettysburg is the third seed, and No. 5 Roanoke, No. 7 Dickinson and No. 9 Cabrini are unseeded. No. 14 Denison is also unseeded, while No. 17 Haverford, which upended Gettysburg to capture the Centennial Conference tournament championship, is the fourth seed.
The six top-10 teams have a combined win-loss record of 94-11 (an .895 winning percentage), and when you add Denison and Haverford, the mark grows to 115-19 (.858).
Meanwhile, reigning national champion and North region No. 1 seed Cortland needs to only get past No. 6 Tufts (the second seed) and No. 8 Connecticut College (the fourth seed) to advance to the championship final.
Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman acknowledged the obstacles in the path to playing at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend.
"I’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve had some good draws at times, and we’ve had some not-so-friendly draws," Berkman said. "We’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re going to be a champion, you’ve got to beat everybody. You can’t let it irriate you that three of the top four teams are in the South. It is what it is, and you’ve got to deal with it."
Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene chuckled slightly when asked about the level of competition in the South region.
"It’s a really tough region," he said. "And then you throw in Roanoke and Cabrini and Dickinson, it’s a really, really tough draw. There’s a lot of great games in there and you’re going to have to play your best lacrosse to get through it. Goalies are going to have to play well, and you’re going to have to face-off well. Whoever gets out of this region is going to be one heck of a team."
Berkman pointed out that with such a loaded field in the South, the team that emerges from the scrum to play in the national title game might be battered and bruised.
"The South is definitely loaded, and hopefully, the South doesn’t beat themselves up so bad that when whoever gets there, they haven’t lost all of their edge," he said.