Daily Archives: May 13, 2010

NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship: Analysis From ESPNU On “The Matchups”

1. What was the most surprising conference tournament result?

Hughes: I’m not sure there was a surprise. Hofstra not making its own tournament is a bit nuts to me! It was great to see some good games, including Princeton-Cornell in the Ivy League championship and Mount St. Mary’s-Siena in the MAAC (both were one-goal games). Delaware’s winning the CAA crown was really cool to watch, as the team rallied around grieving goalie Noah Fossner, who lost his mother to breast cancer just days before. It’s astonishing the guts some kids have.

  Jack McBride
Jack McBride’s overtime goal helped Princeton win the first Ivy League tournament title.


Harrison: I don’t think there really was a surprise in any of the conference tournaments. We got to see a few competitive games, which is always good. I would have liked to see UNC make a run at the ACC crown and take some momentum into the playoffs, but I don’t think Virginia’s winning the ACC really surprised anyone.

2. Which is the toughest first-round matchup?

Hughes: Mount St. Mary’s faces the toughest test in top-seeded Virginia. The Mountaineers aren’t alone. Duke has to take on a very stubborn Johns Hopkins team in the first round. The Blue Jays don’t bow out of the NCAA tournament very easily.

Harrison: I think the toughest first-round matchup is the Hopkins-Duke game. Yes, I’m well aware that the Blue Jays have had a down year, but in recent years they’ve had Duke’s number come playoff time. This year, Duke has definitely had a better season, but it’ll be a tough one down in Durham, N.C., this weekend.

3. How much does home-field advantage help?

Hughes: Depending on the team, it could help like crazy. Syracuse, Virginia, Hopkins, Maryland, Hofstra, Duke and Denver are among the places that come to mind when I think of tough venues. Obviously, we all love playing in big stadiums with hostile environments, but when your home field is not one of these top venues, it doesn’t mean as much. It actually could be better to be on the road in these hostile environments to get your blood going.

Harrison: It means everything to have home-field advantage! Sleeping in your own bed, driving your own car to the stadium, going through the routine that you’ve done all season long, and playing in front of your hometown fans is a beautiful thing.

4. This one’s from the readers: Is it time for lax to expand the field of 16?

Hughes: Yes, bring it on. I’d love to see a huge upset — but chances are it’s not happening in the NCAA tournament. A chance to make the tournament will give some of the teams right below the top tier help with recruiting and can grow the game. Right now there are about six teams that are practically guaranteed a tournament appearance every year — what if there were 10 or 12 teams that could say that?

Harrison: Yes! Why not extend the tournament? We’ve got enough talented teams at this point that those first-round games would be a good test. What would be the downside?

5. What’s the most important ingredient for a successful postseason?

Hughes: Senior leadership — or just leadership in general — cannot be underestimated. Harri, can you name a team that dominated that didn’t have a great group of leaders? I believe a hot goalie can win you a couple of games, but he can’t win a playoff. Character, leadership and a never-give-up attitude are the reasons teams win. I remember when Hopkins made its run in ’05 — there was no chance that you guys were going to let the opportunity slip by you. I’d say the same thing about the team my junior year. Last year, both teams in the finals — Cornell and Syracuse — were full of leaders. It was not talent, it was leadership that got Cornell into the finals.

Harrison: I’ve got to agree. A hot goalie can take care of you, as can a great defense, but having a senior class who everyone on the team looks up to and believes in can take you straight to the championship game. I’ve seen it happen a number of times. My sophomore year, when we lost to Virginia in the national championship game, yeah, goalie Tillman Johnson was playing out of his mind, but that Virginia team had great senior leadership in Chris Rotelli, Billy Glading and AJ Shannon (and a few others). My senior year at Hopkins, when we won the title, it was the same thing — nine senior leaders. Clearly, a combination of all the things — goalie play, defense, chemistry, offensive firepower — would be ideal, but I don’t think there is any substitute for senior leadership.

Brett Hughes is the co-founder and vice president of Lacrosse the Nations. You can check out the group’s work here.

Northern California High School Girls Lacrosse: Palo Alto Girls Lacrosse (15-4) To Face St. Francis In First-Ever Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) Championship

 The Palo Alto girls’ lacrosse team will play for the first-ever Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship, get a chance at revenge, and do it all on its home field Saturday after advancing to the finals with an 11-8 victory over visiting Pioneer on Wednesday.

The top-seeded Vikings (15-4) will host No. 3 St. Francis in the title match at 11 a.m. The Lancers advanced with a 17-10 victory over No. 2 Los Gatos in the other semifinal.

Palo Alto and St. Francis have split their league matches this season, but the Lancers won the last meeting, on their field, by one goal.

Palo Alto's Kimmie Flather (11) scored three goals in the Vikings' 11-8 win over visiting Pioneer in the SCVAL playoff semifinals on Wednesday. Photo by Allie Shorin

The Vikings had a good tuneup for the finale by jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first half. Kimmie Flather, Charlotte Biffar and Brianna Boyd all scored three goals while Emily Benatar and Emily Fowler each had a goal and an assist.

The West Bay Athletic League semifinals will be played Thursday with top-seeded Menlo hosting Castilleja and No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep hosting Burlingame, both at 5:30 p.m. The winners will advance to the championship game on Saturday at Palo Alto High at 9 a.m.

The boys’ SCVAL championship match also is scheduled for Saturday at Paly, starting at 1 p.m.


San Diego High School Girls Lacrosse Profile: Westview Girls Lacrosse (11-5) Sr. Middie Rachel Minarovich

When she receives her monthly edition of Lacrosse magazine, Westview High senior Rachel Minarovich is sure to check one section.

Westview High lacrosse player Rachel Minarovich is a top scorer for the Wolverines. John Gastaldo / UNION-TRIBUNE

It’s about trying new things, with an accent on trick shots and plays.

Taking a page from the magazine, Minarovich unveiled a riser shot to score two key goals in a late-season game against Carlsbad. With a downward scoop, she propelled the ball into the net while making a hard shot look easy.

Minarovich, who will attend Fresno State, is in her third varsity season. Yet she still follows the same approach as when she started in the game a year before entering high school.

“It’s so fast, and it’s a running sport, but there’s a lot more to it,” said Minarovich, a center midfielder who leads Westview in scoring. “In this sport, there’s so much to learn and do.”

With many lessons learned, Minarovich has helped the Wolverines enter the San Diego Section’s upper echelon this season. Westview won its first 11 games, including the Silver Bracket title in its own Surf, Sun & Stix Tournament.

“We coaches relate our team all the time to the Lakers, and Rachel’s our Kobe Bryant,” first-year Wolverines coach Aubrey Cline said. “She directs the traffic and is very dependable. When she has the ball, we don’t question her. Also, she always wants to improve and gives 100 percent.”

Minarovich took up lacrosse at the suggestion of her older brother’s girlfriend at the time. After her freshman season on the JV, she qualified for the first of two years on a state team that played in a summer national showcase.

Those tournaments helped Minarovich catch the attention of Fresno State, one of the few Division I women’s lacrosse programs in the West.

“Rachel is aggressive and determined,” Fresno State coach Sue Behme said. “She has the drive to excel on and off the field. I am very excited to see her develop here.”

Minarovich, who played field hockey the past two years, entered this season as one of eight returning players from last spring’s team that lost in the first round of the section lacrosse playoffs.

Date Opponent Result
3/09 at Helix Charter   W, 15-2
3/18 SANTANA   W, 11-6
3/25 at La Jolla HS   W, 11-4
3/30 at Mt. Carmel, CA   W, 11-6
4/13 at La Costa Canyon   L,  10-9
4/14 at Monte Vista, Spring V.   W, 14-7
4/20 at Poway   W, 14-6
4/23 at Torrey Pines   L,  11-9 (OT)
4/27 CARLSBAD   W, 15-6
4/30 LA COSTA CANYON   L,  14-12 (OT)
5/05 at Rancho Bernardo   W, 9-5
5/07 at Poway   L,  11-9
5/11 TORREY PINES   L,  12-9
5/18 at Carlsbad    
Coach: Aubrey Cline

Senior midfielder Holly Haynes and senior attacker Toki Prodnuk help spearhead the Wolverines. Back in goal is senior stalwart Lindsey Warrick, who has bounced back from a broken wrist suffered just before the season started.

Among the top newcomers has been freshman midfielder Sarah Goetz.

“This year we came out ready to go,” Minarovich said. “All of our success is definitely based on our attitude. We work together, and we all know what we’re capable of. We just trust each other.”

Through the middle of last week, Minarovich had 51 goals for Westview, which was 16-3 overall while competing in the rugged Palomar League.

Even though it’s late in the season, Minarovich has been working on a behind-the-back shot just in case she has an opportunity to use it.

In her second season as a team captain, Minarovich willingly shares the tips she’s acquired.

“I like to teach people, and I’m still learning,” Minarovich said. “When I see something, I’ll say, ‘Oh, you should try this.’ When it works, I feel really good that I helped.”

Minarovich’s performance shows she’s on the right page.


Northern California High School Boys Lacrosse: Foothill Falcons Boys Lacrosse (14-4) Defeated San Ramon 19-11 And Can Win East Bay Athletic League Title With Win Over Amador Valley On May 14

On the road at Foothill, in arguably its most important game of the year so far, the San Ramon Valley High boys lacrosse team got the start it was looking for.

But after Chase Miller scored nine seconds into the game and the Wolves built an early 3-0 lead, Foothill (14-4, 10-3 EBAL) took over.

The 19-11 loss was the most lopsided of the year for San Ramon and the 19 goals are the most the team has allowed in at least six seasons.

“You just got to give credit to Foothill,” San Ramon Valley coach Peter Worstell said. “The guys over there got the job done.”

San Ramon had numerous unforced turnovers and Foothill took advantage.

“Without looking at the stats, I’d bet my house we were severally out-groundballed,” Worstell said. “They out-hustled us and we had some mental errors that really cost us.”

San Ramon came into the game with league title aspirations, but will now prepare for Friday’s game against Monte Vista, which lost 11-7 to De La Salle on Tuesday, with an outside chance to share the league title with Amador Valley, Foothill and De La Salle.

For that to happen, the Wolves need to beat Monte Vista, De La Salle needs to lose to California and Amador needs to beat Foothill.

Not likely.

“There’s no motivation needed (to play rival Monte Vista),” Worstell said. “It’ll be another challenge and hopefully we’ll rebound and be a different team on Friday.”

Ross Rudow scored a game-high four goals and Miller added two for the Wolves (14-4, 9-4).

EBAL Title Scenarios

  • If Foothill beats Amador on Friday, it clinches the EBAL automatic berth and at least a share of the league title. A win and a DLS loss means the Falcons are outright league champions.
  • If DLS beats Cal, it clinches a share of the league title. A win and a Foothill loss would give DLS outright title and automatic bid for NCS.
  • If DLS and Foothill both lose, they would be tied with Amador Valley and the winner of the Monte Vista-San Ramon Valley at 10-4.


Foothill 19, San Ramon Valley 11

San Ramon Valley (14-4, 9-4) 4 5 0 2 — 11
(14-4, 10-3) 5 6 5 3 — 19

Scoring: San Ramon Valley — Rudow 4, Miller 2, Worstell, Michael, Weiss, Kline. Foothill — Kacinski 4, Wheaton 4, Benson 3, Dutcher 3, Lambrecht 2, Garcia 2, Schall.

Saves: Krebs (F) 12, Bowlby (SRV) 6