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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.

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson


This geographic seeding is a joke. Rank the teams from top to bottom and make your two brackets that way. The fact that we can't see a Salisbury-Stevenson final in Baltimore is a mistake. Not to mention a team like Roanoke, which is Final Four worthy, having to potentially climb over Gettysburg, Stevenson and Salisbury to get there. Let's have some balance!

This issue points up one thing that is wrong with the NCAA Lacrosse Championships: Rigging the tournament matchups in an attempt to produce a North-South final, even if it means penalizing teams in one side of the draw with a tougher row to hoe. The NCAA needs to get away from this geographic bias and seeds the teams honestly, a la Wimbledon or the United States Open. Ever since Salisbury beat Cortland State back in March, the top 3 teams in DIII Men's Lacrosse have been Salisbury, Stevenson, and Gettysburg. Cortland has never been higher than 4th. Yet because the framework of the tournament rests on a geographic bias, Cortland gets the benefit of the easier road to May 30 at M&T Bank Stadium, while Salisbury, Stevenson, Gettysburg, and Roanoke receive the privilege of fighting through a much tougher draw. If the Men's DIII teams were seeded honestly, Salisbury and Cortland would be the top two seeds in the South bracket as Nos. 1 and 4, while Stevenson and Gettysburg would enjoy that status in the North bracket as Nos. 2 and 3. To a lesser extent, the same is true with the Men's DI tournament, with an unofficial North-South dichotomy. In this way, in the past, Syracuse often benefitted from a road paved with no bumps on its way to Memorial Day weekend.


"Cortland has never been higher than 4th."

Actually, Cortland's been #1 for a good portion of the season, according to

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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.

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