The upcoming NCAA D-III sports season will look a bit different than usual due to the ongoing pandemic, which brought an end to multiple winter championships in March, along with numerous spring sports seasons.
Yesterday the Division III Administrative Committee approved the recommendation from the Division III Membership and Championships Committee to allow its various members to compete in fewer contests than usual this upcoming school year – 33 percent less than normal, to be exact – so they can be eligible to contend for a national title.
The reduction of contests will allow each institution to remain in compliance to compete for a championship but also provide flexibility for athletic departments when it comes to scheduling to “seeking relief in the form of waivers.”
“We hope that a reduction in contest minimums will provide flexibility to our member schools as they work to reopen during what is a very uncertain and complex time,” said Tori Murden McClure, the chair of the committee and Spalding president, in Friday’s release. “We understand this won’t fix everything for everyone, but we believe it is the right move at this time and we will remain flexible moving forward.”
The flexibility will certainly help schools when it comes to reopening – it is possible some schools could start earlier or later like a slew of Division I institutions announced this month, including Notre Dame and Syracuse University.
Football teams, including those here in New England, would only need to compete in five contests this fall to be eligible to compete in the NCAA D-III postseason while basketball teams will need to play 12 contests.
As of now, it appears fall championships will occur, but those plans could be altered due to the coronavirus (Covid-19).
There is nothing better than a rivalry, especially on the gridiron. And we have quite a few here in New England, but which one is the best?
Well, we think this list features the best rivalries – 10 to be exact – but if you feel we missed a game (or two), let us know by leaving a comment below. All ideas are welcome!
1. Harvard University vs. Yale University: Hands down, this is the best New England college football rivalry. And while some may think Amherst-Williams belongs in this spot, Harvard-Yale is just as important as The Biggest Little Game in America. The Bulldogs needed two extra sessions this past year to edge the Crimson, 50-43, to claim the 136th edition of The Game. Harvard captured the 2018 meeting, which was played at Fenway Park.
2. Amherst College vs. Williams College: As mentioned above, Harvard-Yale, Amherst-Williams are the two of the best rivalries in New England, but there is nothing better than being in the stands in Amherst or Williamstown in early November to watch this game. The Ephs won their last meeting against the Mammoths by a score of 31-9 and finished their 2019 campaign with their best record under head coach Mark Raymond.
4. Maine vs. New Hampshire: The Black Bears may have won the first-ever meeting between these two programs, but the Wildcats have been rather successful since that initial games, especially these past few years. New Hampshire beat Maine twice in the last three seasons, including last fall in their season finale. The winner of each matchup claims the Brice-Cowell Musket, which is named after the former head coaches of the two programs.
6. Coast Guard Academy vs. Norwich University: “The Little Army-Navy Game” is always a must-see, must-watch affair in September, October, or November. The two teams, who entered their previous meeting with identical 2-0 records, first met in 1929. The winner claims “The Mug,” which was donated by The Day with the first award being presented at the conclusion of the third meeting in 1931. Coast Guard currently leads the all-time series, but the Cadets won the most recent contest last September, thanks to an impressive second-half comeback.
7. Dartmouth College vs. New Hampshire: This may not be the most well-known rivalry to current football fans (and players), but the Big Green and Wildcats have met quite a few times over the past few decades. In fact, the first-ever meeting between Dartmouth and New Hampshire occurred in 1901 with the Green and White claiming a 51-0 victory. The two teams last met in 2016 but will meet again in 2021.
8. MIT-WPI: Sure, WPI’s longstanding rivalry may be RPI, but from an in-state (or in-region) opponent, it has to be MIT, right? The Engineers of Cambridge won the first six meetings – both MIT and WPI initially met in 1888 – but since 2001, the Engineers of Worcester have won six of seven contests. The two teams began playing against each other every year since 2015. Last fall, MIT snapped WPI’s six-game winning streak by securing a hard-fought win in double-overtime. The victory was MIT’s first against WPI since 1900.
9. Endicott College vs. Western New England: This always seems to be a must-see, must-follow contest, no matter the records. But for the past few years, this has been the de-facto conference championship game. The Golden Bears have won two of the last three meetings while Endicott captured the 2018 meeting. The win over WNE in 2018 provided Endicott with its sixth victory at home against its rival while snapping the Golden Bears’ 25-game conference winning streak.
10. Southern Connecticut vs. University of New Haven: The Elm City Trophy has resided in New Haven these past few seasons, but the Owls did make things interesting last October. The Chargers have won 24 of the 31 meetings in this series and will attempt to continue its recent momentum against the Owls when they visit West Haven, Connecticut later this year.
Tufts University’s Beau Wood (No. 18) netted the game-winning goal for the Jumbos against Bowdoin College in the 2012 NESCAC Championship game. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan)
By Matt Noonan
The month of May, in my opinion, will always be associated with the sport of lacrosse.
It is a month that features a slew of college tournaments and championships to NCAA postseason runs that concludes on Memorial Day weekend.
But while the sport of lacrosse, as well as other games, remain sidelined for the moment, memories of games covered, including my first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament Final, is on my mind. And it is hard not to think back to that gorgeous day – May 6, 2012, to be exact – when Tufts University outlasted Bowdoin College, 9-8, in double-overtime.
At the time, I didn’t know much about lacrosse. I thought it was hockey on grass – maybe basketball, too – but it was a sport I grew to love from watching a talented Tufts team (and program), which had won its first-ever national championship two years earlier against Salisbury University.
I got my first glimpse of these Jumbos in mid-April of 2012 when Tufts rolled past Amherst College, 15-5. It was an impressive win.
Mike Daly, who was the coach of the Jumbos, told me neither he or his coaching staff anticipated his team was going to beat Amherst by ten goals on this particular afternoon. Instead, Daly, who is currently the head coach of the Brown University men’s lacrosse team, told me that his team “just put together a pretty complete effort today.” And that effort would certainly be on display weeks later when I covered Tufts’ dramatic win over a Bowdoin, which would conclude its 2012 campaign in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.
Bowdoin was a good team. They had scored some impressive conference wins in 2012, as well as some important non-league victories against Keene State and Springfield College. They beat Wesleyan University in the NESCAC quarterfinals before knocking off Trinity College in the semifinals shortly after Tufts topped Connecticut College.
Tufts had beaten Bowdoin prior to their championship meeting – the Jumbos topped the Polar Bears, 15-7, in Medford, Massachusetts, which made me think the young men who wore the powder blue, brown and white jerseys that day would duplicate that performance on the same field. But I was wrong.
Instead, I, along with fans and friends of each program, was treated to an amazing back and forth affair that saw Bowdoin erase a two-goal deficit during the final minutes of the fourth quarter to force not one, but two extra sessions.
Tufts had a chance to win the game in the first overtime but neither Nick Rhoads and Beau Wood were able to deposit their attempt past Bowdoin’s, Chris Williamson. Bowdoin would also have a chance to clinch the victory but watched Conor O’Toole‘s shot sail wide of the Tufts cage.
So, with the score still knotted at 8-8, we quickly advanced to a second overtime period. And like many, I wondered which team would score that game-winner? Would it be Bowdoin, since they seemed to have all the momentum, thanks to back-to-back fourth-quarter goals by Keegan Mehlhorn and Will Wise, or Tufts, which had not located the back of the net since the final seconds of the third quarter?
That question would be answered during the sixth and final period when Tufts scored on its third attempt of the session with 1:50 remaining. Beau Wood fired home the game-winner after receiving a pass from Geordie Shafer. And once the ball slipped past Bowdoin’s Chris Williamson, the Jumbos rushed the field to celebrate a hard-fought yet exhilarating win.
Indeed, the Jumbos did end it, but not until they forced their second turnover of the second overtime.
Tufts would advance to the NCAA semifinals two weeks later but saw their run toward a national title conclude against SUNY Cortland. The Red Dragons, which beat the Jumbos by a score of 12-10, would end up losing in the finals to Salisbury, who had beaten Tufts in the national title game one year earlier.
Sure, it was disappointing to see a team you had covered fall short of winning the ultimate prize, but I knew eventually this team (and program) would celebrate a championship in the future. And that they did. Tufts would win a pair of titles in the coming years, including their second national championship against Salisbury in 2014. They would also make a third-straight appearance in the championship game in 2016 but lose by one goal to the Sea Gulls of Salisbury.
Tufts will return to the title game again soon. But for now, I consider myself lucky to have covered and chronicled their various campaigns these past few years through NoontimeSports.com. I will always be thankful for the time both Mike Daly and his players provided me after the three contests I covered in 2012 and will continue to look back on this time fondly. I was a young journalist (and blogger), but also someone that wanted to learn more about a sport that I had only played once in my life. And because of Tufts, I am now an avid lacrosse fan, as well as a high school and middle school official here in Massachusetts.
I miss watching and covering games, especially on gorgeous days like today, but I do know better days are ahead for all of us, and they will certainly include exciting and dramatic one-goal victories.
The NCAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Panel, which is led by Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline, shared its “Resocializiation in Sports” plan which considers multiple factors with getting student-athletes back on the field from federal recommendations to data and science to input from experts that “puts the health, safety, and well-being of student-athletes and the needs of the membership first.”
“It is also important to take into consideration that there will not be a quick, single day of re-emergence into society,” Hainline said in this afternoon’s release, which can be found on NCAA.org.
“We will re-emerge in a manner that recognizes COVID-19 will be around until there is an effective vaccine, treatment or both. That is why resocialization should be rolled out in a phased way that helps assure sustained low infection spread, as well as aids in the ability to quickly diagnose and isolate new cases.”
As Hainline noted and outlined in the nine-step process, for colleges and universities to be successful with getting their teams and student-athletes back on the field, they must have plans in place for testing, temperature checking, contact tracing, and isolating. Schools would also need an ample amount of protective equipment.
Dan Dutcher, who is the vice president of NCAA Division III, provided some insight into this plan on a brand new “Noontime Nation” Podcast, which can be heard on both iTunes and Spotify.