By Matt Noonan
Another busy and exciting weekend of NCAA Division III lacrosse has officially arrived with the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) set to crown a men’s lacrosse champion.
The six-team tournament, which began last Saturday with a pair of quarterfinal matchups will resume later today with two semifinal contests with the winners advancing to Sunday’s championship in Danville, Kentucky.
Top-seed Centre College, which won all its league matchups this season, is two wins away from capturing its second-straight league title.
The Colonels will welcome Rhodes College to campus this evening with a face-off scheduled for 7 p.m.
Centre beat Rhodes earlier this month by a score of 11-4. Will Hubbs highlighted the win with four goals – he also scooped one ground ball – while Ridr Knowlton located the back of the net twice. In addition to the Colonels’ offensive output, Centre’s defense limited Rhodes to just one goal in two periods while pitching a shutout in the opening frame.
Since beating the Lynx, the Colonels have won two more games, beating Hendrix College (13-10) and Sewanee (16-9).
Centre has not competed in nearly two weeks, but perhaps the extra rest could help the Black and Gold, which captured its first SAA Tournament title since 2014 last spring when they beat Rhodes.
“It’s good in a sense that we get a little time to rest, recharge, and get healthy,” Centre coach Grant Zimmerman said, via CentreColonels.com.
Rhodes has won two of its last four contests, including its SAA quarterfinal tilt with Berry College last weekend. The Lynx topped the Vikings, 19-10, and enter tonight’s semifinal matchup riding a two-game winning streak.
Coach Dave Zazzaro’s Lynx have won just four games this season but have faced some challenging competition that could help the Red and White attempt to claim its first postseason crown since 2018.
The other SAA semifinal pits Sewanee visiting Birmingham-Southern College with a face-off scheduled for 4 p.m. (ET).
Birmingham-Southern enters today’s semifinal match riding a four-game winning streak, which included an end-of-season victory over Rhodes.
Reid Harrison secured the two-goal (14-12) win over the Lynx by netting his second tally with 22 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, which halted a three-goal run by Rhodes.
Like Centre, Birmingham-Southern has not competed since April 14, so it will be interesting to see if the squad’s momentum remains with the Panthers, which saw its bid toward an SAA crown conclude last April in the conference semifinals.
The Tigers of Sewanee have won six games this spring and defeated Hendrix in its opening-round matchup last weekend. Luke Valentine led Sewanee with four goals and one assist to go with three ground balls and one caused turnover. Davis Gillenwater notched a hat trick and Phelps Thomas stuffed the stat sheet with five points on three assists, two goals, and one ground ball.
All three student-athletes will be players to watch today in an important matchup with the Panthers.