At a Glance: The NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament Comes to the Heights

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May 8, 2014 by conteconfidential

Boston College is hosting NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament play for the first time this Friday and Sunday at the BC Lacrosse Complex on Newton Campus.

No. 5/6 BC opens play against No. 41 Bryant, which is coming off its first Northeast Conference Tournament Championship at 5 p.m. on Friday. No. 9 UMass-Amherst and No. 10 Loyola play at 2 p.m. that day. The first-round winners square off on Sunday at 1 p.m. with a berth in the Elite 8 on the line.

To get you ready for NCAA play to come to the Heights, Conte Confidential breaks down all four teams in the bracket.

Boston College

Current Record: 13-5 (3-4 ACC)

Players to Watch: Covie Stanwick, Mikaela Rix, Sarah Mannelly and Claire Blohm

BC features two Tewaaraton Award nominees in Rix and Stanwick. They have put up gaudy numbers since they first arrived on the Heights in 2011 as two of the team’s highest profile recruits in program history. This year has been no exception. Stanwick leads BC in points (76) on the strength of 42 goals and 34 assists in 17 games. Rix has the most goals of any player (54) and, adding to that total 15 assists, is second in points.

Rix (First Team) and Stanwick (Second Team) weren’t the only Eagles to earn ACC accolades this season. They were joined by Mannelly (Second Team), who has upped her game after a strong rookie season. The sophomore midfielder is second on the team in goals (43) and third in points (58), both representing career highs.

Co-captain Brooke Blue, who returned to the team as a graduate student after injuries derailed her senior campaign, has had yet another consistent year. The attacker has 47 points, just eight shy of her career high (55 in 2010) and one shy of her total in 2011 and 2012. Senior co-captain Moira Barry has had a resurgent year, totaling 33 goals.

BC has tons of talent in the midfield and on attack. Back on defense, Blohm, a senior who walked onto the team, has quietly had a strong year. Starting in all 18 games, Blohm scooped up 25 ground balls, second on the team only to Rix, and also tied Rix for the team lead in caused turnovers with 13.

Women's LAcrosse

(photo credit: Boston College Athletics)

Bryant

Current Record: 15-3 (7-0 Northeast Conference)

Players to Watch: Lisa Vendel, Haley Bloom, Lauren Descalzo and Brianna Watt

Bryant claimed an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament by topping Wagner, 14-6, in the Northeast Conference title game on May 4. This will be the Bulldogs’ first NCAA tournament appearance in program history. But Bryant is potentially more dangerous than its No. 41 ranking and lack of NCAA tournament experience would suggest.

Four of the top five Bulldogs in scoring are seniors. Vendel, a midfielder, was named the NEC Offensive Player of the Year, while top attack duo Bloom and Descalzo joined her on the All-NEC First Team. The trio accounted for 174 of Bryant’s 329 points this season, a mark just over 52%.

Senior goaltender Watt, who seized starting duties as a junior, picked up All-NEC Second Team honors. She started in all 18 of Bryant’s games, posting a 44.1 save percentage and an 8.76 goals-against average. Also worth noting is that head coach Jill DePetris-Batcheller took home NEC Coach of the Year honors.

UMass-Amherst

Current Record: 18-1 (7-0 Atlantic 10)

Players to Watch: Kelsey Sheridan, Katie Ferris and Sam Rush

UMass is one of the top defensive teams in the country. The team has allowed a meager 6.11 goals per game, which is second in the NCAA. The Minutewomen excel on defense because of their ability to stifle opponents during settled play and force turnovers.

Senior defenseman Sheridan leads UMass in ground balls (43) by more than 10 and also is first in caused turnovers (24). Another defenseman, senior Kelsey McGovern, leads the team in draw controls (53). Meanwhile, freshman midfielder Hannah Murphy, who has only 10 points (6g-4a) and has started five of 19 games, has been effective on draws, sitting second on the team in draw controls (45).

Up front, the Minutewomen are led by a pair of senior attackers who have combined to be one of the most lethal duos in the NCAA: Ferris and Rush. Ferris is first on the team in assists (41) and points (85) while Rush leads the way in goals (65). The pair has accounted for 109 of UMass’ 278 goals this year, almost 40%. Ferris, who has battled chronic Lyme disease since her junior year, was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year for the third time this season.

UMass has plenty of postseason experience. The seven seniors have gone to the NCAA tournament, and captured the Atlantic Ten championship, every year they’ve been on campus. Last season, the Minutewomen won their first NCAA tournament game in 29 years. Expect them to be hungry for another.

Loyola

Current Record: 15-5 (8-0 Patriot League)

Players to Watch: Marlee Paton and Annie Thomas

Like Bryant, Loyola made program history this season by capturing the school’s first-ever Patriot League title in any sport. Loyola, along with Boston University, made the transition to the Patriot League this season. The two newcomers squared off in the Patriot League women’s lacrosse title game, which Loyola won, 18-7, to secure its fourth-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

The Greyhounds bring a Tewaaraton Award hopeful of their own to the Heights in senior midfielder Paton. Paton is one of the most decorated players on this side of the bracket; she has been a Tewaaraton Award semifinalist each of the past three seasons, is the 2014 Patriot League Midfielder of the Year, was named the 2012 Big East Midfielder of the Year and also captured All-American honors twice.

Paton is the only player in the NCAA to be ranked in the top-15 of active career stat leaders for goals, assists, points and ground balls and became the first Greyhound to reach the century mark in six statistical categories. This season alone, she has 75 points (49g-26a).

Thomas, a junior attacker, also has 75 points this season, on the strength of 38 goals and 37 assists. An interesting stat is that junior midfielder Taryn VanThof has 113 of the team’s 255 draw controls, good for just over a staggering 44%. The Greyhounds rattled off 12 wins in a row before falling to No. 2 Syracuse, 14-12, in overtime in their regular season finale.

By Jen Dobias

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