Commentary

Time is now for ACC, Patriot teams

North Carolina among several men's lacrosse teams in need of conference tourney win

Updated: April 24, 2009, 2:04 PM ET
By Christian Swezey | Inside Lacrosse

The ACC and Patriot League begin their four-team men's lacrosse tournaments Friday. Here is a capsule preview of the tournaments, including news that Maryland junior attackman Will Yeatman will play against North Carolina. The Patriot League's pressure is on Colgate, Navy, Bucknell and Army to secure the conference's automatic bid and not have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.

All times are ET.

ACC Tournament

Kenan Stadium -- Chapel Hill, N.C.
No. 4 UNC vs. No. 1 Maryland, 5 p.m. | No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 2 Duke, 7:30 p.m.


Championship: Semifinal winners, Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
Tickets: All-tournament pass, $15 adults, $12 youth. Single-day, $10 adult, $8 youth

[+] EnlargeBilly Bitter
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireSophomore Billy Bitter leads UNC with 33 goals this season.

Data: All four conference teams are almost certain to make the NCAA tournament, but there are plenty of intangibles on the line. A historical footnote: No ACC team has won the NCAA tournament without first winning the ACC tournament. North Carolina in 1991 and Virginia in 1999, 2003 and 2006 are the teams that won both tournaments.

North Carolina has not won an ACC tournament game since 1996 and has lost 20 consecutive conference regular-season games dating from 2004. Overall, the Tar Heels have lost 13 of 14 to the Terrapins, nine in a row to Duke and 10 of 11 against Virginia.

The key to reversing those trends lies with sophomore Billy Bitter (33 goals, 17 assists), senior Bart Wagner (29 goals, 5 extra-man offense goals) and junior Sean Delaney (28 goals, team-high 101 shots).

Maryland junior attack Will Yeatman (13 goals, 13 assists) will play after he missed three games with an ankle injury.

The Terrapins have altered their midfield lines. The first unit is seniors Jeremy Sieverts (13 goals), Dan Groot (18 goals, 11 assists) and Jeff Reynolds (10 goals, 48 GBs); the second unit is freshmen Jake Bernhardt (5 goals) and Joe Cummings (6 goals) and senior Nick Ward (3 goals).

Virginia has lost six in a row to Duke dating from 2004; it is the longest losing streak to a single opponent under coach Dom Starsia, according to research by Patrick Stevens at the Washington Times. That includes a 15-10 victory by the Blue Devils earlier this year.

Duke junior attack Max Quinzani has 35 goals on 70 shots after a relatively slow start. Senior attack Ned Crotty has added 36 assists.

Virginia counters with a high-scoring attack of seniors Garrett Billings (32 goals, 16 assists) and Danny Glading (23 goals, 26 assists) and freshman Steele Stanwick (29 goals, 13 assists). Also, senior longstick middie Mike Timms has 30 caused turnovers and 53 groundballs.

Patriot League Tournament

Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium -- Lewisburg, Pa.
No. 4 Army vs. No. 1 Bucknell, 3 p.m. | No. 3 Navy vs. No. 2 Colgate, 5:45 p.m.


Championship: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Tickets: Semifinals, $5 adult, $2 youth. Final, $7 adult, $4 children.

Data: Bucknell junior attack Joe Mele is 25-for-57 (43.9 percent) on shooting this year. He also scored five goals in an 8-6 victory over Army in the regular-season meeting. Junior attack Austin Winter (13 goals, 28 assists) has 39 percent of his team's assists. He is likely to be defended by Army sophomore Bill Henderson, who is coming off a performance in which he held Duke's Crotty scoreless.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Corp
Colgate Athletic CommunicationsColgate star Brandon Corp has had good performances against Navy lately.

Meantime, freshman longstick middie Tim Henderson held Bucknell midfielder Charlie Streep (23 goals), the conference freshman of the year, to one goal in the regular season.

In the second semifinal, Navy junior attack Tim Paul (17 goals, 13 assists) will be a game-time decision. Paul injured his ankle against Maryland on April 3 and has not played since. Senior Bruce Nechanicky (11 goals) took Paul's spot in the starting lineup.

Colgate senior attack Brandon Corp (41 goals, 15 assists) has had a recent upswing in his fortunes against Navy. Corp had three goals and two assists in a 10-9 victory earlier this year and scored five goals in a 12-9 win in the conference semifinals last year. In his career, Corp is 11-for-46 (24 percent) on shooting against Navy.

And he will be a matchup problem Friday. Each of Navy's three starting close defensemen has a strong case for and against guarding Corp.

Senior Andy Tormey (team-high 21 caused turnovers) is the team captain but struggled when defending Corp in the first meeting. Sophomore Tom Mansfield is the fastest defenseman, but his relatively small stature (5-foot-11, 187 pounds) would be a problem against the bigger, stronger Corp.

Freshman Matt Vernam (9 caused turnovers) is the best combination of speed and physical ability. His downside is that he's a freshman playing in a very crucial game. (The likely defender on Corp would have been sophomore Michael Hirsch, but Hirsch is out for the year with a knee injury. Hirsch was an Under-Armour All-American in 2007, and he stripped Corp late in the regular-season meeting to give the Midshipmen a last possession.)

Also in the mix for the Raiders' offense is senior Kevin Colleluori (36 goals), a very strong off-ball player who works well with Corp.

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