Tag: Liberty League

Noontime’s D-III Lacrosse Championship Predictions

Middlebury College’s Emma White and the Panthers defense has been a unit to watch this postseason. (PHOTO COURTESY: Will Costello)

By Matt Noonan

The time has come to crown not one, but two NCAA Division III lacrosse champions.

This weekend, six teams – four women’s and two men’s – will contend for the ultimate prize of a national championship.

But before the games commence, it is time to share my picks – well, more my thoughts, to exact, as to who I think will win this year’s titles.

Let’s begin with the four teams competing for the women’s national championship in Salem, Virginia.

NCAA D-III Women’s Semifinals & Championship Predictions

Middlebury College over Gettysburg College: It’s too bad this matchup had to occur in the semifinals – it would have been great to see both teams square off on Sunday in the championship.  

This weekend will be the last time Carol Cantele and Barb Jordan will pace the Gettysburg sidelines – the Bullets enter the last weekend of the season with a 13-game winning streak.

Cantele credits the opponents her team faced two months ago to prepare her squad for a challenging postseason run, which began with an extra session win over Roanoke College in the second round.

Jordan Basso is the player to watch on Gettysburg – the sophomore attack from Rye, New York leads the Orange and Blue in goals (65) and points (101).

Middlebury was idle last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but their championship momentum from 2019 has remained with the Navy Blue and White, which is seeking its eighth title in program history, as well as its third crown since 2016.

The Panthers’ defense has been a unit to watch this postseason. They have limited its three postseason foes to six goals or less, and have received a major boost from goalie Annie Enrietto, who has turned aside 21 shots in her team’s last three contests. She denied 11 shots on Sunday during her team’s second meeting of the season with Colby College.  

Jennifer LaRocca and the TCNJ women’s lacrosse team scored back-to-back wins last weekend over Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jimmy Alagna/TCNJ Athletics)

Tufts University over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ): TCNJ’s path to championship weekend wasn’t an easy one.

The Lions had to beat three teams, including Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland in back-to-back games last weekend, which is not an easy task. But perhaps their wins over the Red Dragons and Sea Gulls will provide TCNJ with enough momentum to beat Tufts, a squad that has ended the Lions’ last two postseason trips.

Like TCNJ, Tufts enters its semifinal matchup with a great deal of momentum, which began after the team’s last setback to Amherst College in April. After losing to the Mammoths in overtime, the Jumbos have been on a roll, winning their second-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament crown while scoring three impressive postseason wins.

Perhaps the Jumbos’ most impressive win of the postseason came on Sunday evening as Tufts converted seven of 12 free position goals against Franklin & Marshall to clinch its third trip to the semifinals since 2019.

Last season, the Jumbos came close to winning their first-ever national title but saw their hopes dashed by an extra Salisbury tally by Delaney Hill. Tufts would respond, netting three-straight goals in less than two minutes, but its final marker by Caroline Walter concluded the Jumbos’ comeback.

The loss to Salisbury, along with an extra session defeat to Amherst might be enough motivation for Tufts to find a way to beat TCNJ for the fourth time in the last three years.

Middlebury over Tufts in the 2022 NCAA D-III Title Game: Get ready for an all-NESCAC championship.

Middlebury and Tufts almost met in the title round three years ago when both teams appeared in the national semifinals. But Tufts saw its season conclude against Salisbury, which would then fall to Middlebury in the championship.

So, let’s try this again.

Middlebury beat Tufts earlier this spring by seven goals, thanks to a four-point (three goals, one assist) effort from Jane Earley, along with a hat trick by Susan Rowley.

Tufts would win the next meeting by one goal when the two teams met in the NESCAC Championship earlier this month. The Jumbos’ defense highlighted the win, especially at the very end as the unit denied a pair of free-position attempts by Hope Shue.

The Jumbos’ 9-8 win over the Panthers snapped Middlebury’s 42-game winning streak, which began with a 16-1 victory over Springfield College on March 8, 2019.

Since falling to Tufts, Middlebury has looked impressive. They tallied 22 goals in back-to-back games against SUNY Geneseo and the University of Chicago, before relying on its defense to slow down a Colby squad that had produced 33 goals in back-to-back postseason contests.  

While Tufts’ run to the national semifinals has been exciting – and yes, impressive, too – it just seems like their luck or momentum will disappear in the third meeting with Middlebury, which seems determined to conclude its current campaign with some hardware.


NCAA D-III Men’s Championship Predictions

Ryan Puglisi and the Union College defense shined last Sunday against York College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clara Lodice)

Union College over Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT): Who doesn’t like an underdog story?

Union may not be the favorite, but it seems as if many within the D-III world are pulling for the Dutchmen to win their initial national championship.

The Dutchmen have enjoyed an impressive season, winning 18 of 20 contests with perhaps their most exciting wins occurring last weekend over Gettysburg College and York College. Both wins were exciting but also proved this year’s Dutchmen can win a championship.

For Union to complete its storybook season with a title, they will need to find a way to slow down an RIT squad that has produced 20 goals or more in four postseason contests this spring.

The Tigers won their first-ever championship last year by outlasting Salisbury in double-overtime.

RIT has beaten Union in its last 20 meetings, including an NCAA Tournament clash in 2019. The Tigers won both meetings last spring, including an 11-9 victory in the Liberty League (LL) semifinals.  

Marley Angus highlighted RIT’s one-goal win over Union last month as the senior midfielder concluded the game with four goals, two assists, and two ground balls. Keaton McCann led Union with five goals on eight shots.

McCann has been a player to watch on Union this postseason. The senior attack from Briarcliff, New York has recorded three goals or more in four contests while netting the game-winner last Saturday against Gettysburg.   


NCAA D-III Championship Weekend Schedule

WLAX D-III Semifinal: Middlebury vs Gettysburg on Saturday, May 28 at 12 p.m.

WLAX D-III Semifinal: Tufts vs. TCNJ on Saturday, May 28 at 3:00 p.m.

MLAX D-III Championship: RIT vs. Union on Sunday, May 29 at 1 p.m.

WLAX D-III Championship: Middlebury/Gettysburg vs. TCNJ/Tufts on Sunday, May 29 at 3:30 p.m.

All three women’s games will occur in Salem, Virginia while the men’s championship will take place in East Hartford, Connecticut.

Union College Men’s Lacrosse Excited To Compete For A National Championship

Peter Burns and the Union College men’s lacrosse team will compete for its first-ever national championship on Sunday against RIT. (PHOTO COURTESY: Betsy Matthew/Union Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

“We’re going to the national championship,” said Union College men’s lacrosse coach Derek Witheford.

“It feels good to say.”

Witheford and his Dutchmen should feel excited about competing in this Sunday’s NCAA Division III championship where they will square off against Liberty League (LL) foe Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  

The two teams met earlier this spring with RIT snapping Union’s 10-game winning streak with a 14-13 victory.

Unlike RIT, Union has never won nor appeared in a national championship, but they will certainly be ready to contend for a title as the Dutchmen will arrive in Hartford, Connecticut with a great deal of momentum following two hard-fought wins last weekend.

Union needed a pair of late tallies to seal a quarterfinal win last Saturday over Gettysburg College. Kieran McGovern tied the game at 13-13 before Keaton McCann buried the game-winner with nine seconds left.

On Sunday, Union jumped out to a 6-1 advantage before relying on its defense to fend off a second-half surge to defeat York College, 11-8. Dan Donahue turned aside 16 shots to secure his 17th win between the pipes.

Said Witheford, “Top to bottom, we played pretty stout defensively. And Dan saved the shots that he should of, and he definitely stole some, as well.”  

Added Donahue, “I can’t say enough about the defense. They allowed me to see good shots from 15, 16-yards (out) and that’s probably the best I have seen them play and I can’t thank them enough.”

Donahue, along with the defense, will be tested on Sunday against an RIT team that has scored 20 goals or more in four postseason contests. The Tigers topped Tufts University, 26-15, in its semifinal after beating Bowdoin College one day earlier in the quarterfinals.   

Since 2005, RIT has beaten Union in 22 of 24 contests with Union’s last win over the Tigers occurring in 2008. The Tigers beat the Dutchmen in the 2019 NCAA Tournament (10-9), as well as last season in the Liberty League semifinals.

RIT is the defending champion – they beat Salisbury University last year in double-overtime and seek their second title in program history.

Brian Davis, a senior midfielder that transferred to Union after being redshirted at the University of Delaware, is excited to compete against the Tigers once more with hopes of Sunday’s meeting ending with a victory for the Dutchmen.

“I got word (shortly after our game with York concluded) that we’re playing RIT, and three of my seasons have been ended by RIT, so (hopefully) it’s a storybook ending,” said Davis.

“We’re super-excited to be there.”

Sunday’s championship between Union and RIT will commence at 1 p.m. Fans can watch the game on NCAA.com.

Noontime’s Five D3 Men’s Lacrosse Teams to Watch in April

Cross Ferrara and the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team have won 11-straight contests this spring. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brad Boardman)

By Matt Noonan

We’re a few days into the final month of the regular season for NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse, which seems hard to fathom. But luckily, there is still plenty of lacrosse to be played – don’t worry, the season is not over yet!

However, I believe there are a few teams – may be more than a few? – that we should certainly keep our eyes on down the stretch and possibly next month once the postseason begins.

Yet, before we look too far down the road, allow me to share the five teams I’ll be watching this month.


Salisbury University: I believe the Sea Gulls are the best team in Division III. But that’s my opinion.  

Salisbury secured 23 first-place votes for this week’s United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) D-III Top 20 Poll after capping the second month with three big wins over Colorado College, Whittier College, and Stevenson University.

Their most recent matchup with Stevenson was a challenging one, which saw the Mustangs outscore the Sea Gulls, 5-3 in the third quarter (Salisbury led 9-4 at the break).  

The Sea Gulls will certainly be challenged over the next few weeks with upcoming matchups against a pair of ranked teams, including Christopher Newport, which secured the second position on this week’s USILA Top 20 Poll after checking in fourth one week ago. Neither team has dropped a game this spring, so their matchup next Saturday, April 16 could feature a pair of unbeaten squads.

Christopher Newport: The Captains looked impressive in their last outing, beating Williams College by a score of 15-2.

The non-conference meeting with the Ephs was highlighted by a career-high 18 saves by Zac Hanway. Andrew Cook tallied six goals, which is the most any member of the team has recorded against a nationally-ranked opponent.

Christopher Newport will compete later today against Southern Virginia University before turning its attention to Salisbury, along with the University of Mary Washington and Colorado College.

The Captains have scored five wins this season against nationally-ranked foes and will certainly look to continue their momentum over the next few weeks.

Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears head into this evening’s meeting with Bates College riding a nine-game winning streak.

Bowdoin has won five New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchups, along with a pair of regional victories over Babson College and Western New England.

I believe the Polar Bears are the best team in the NESCAC, however, I am interested to see how they do against Tufts University later this month. But given the way they have played these last few weeks; I find it hard to see this team losing its current momentum down the stretch.

Keep an eye on Will Byrne, a sophomore from Darrien, Connecticut, that tied the school’s single-game program record with 11 points (five points and six assists) last month against Western New England.

RPI: The Engineers have certainly bounced back following a 12-9 setback to Williams last month with a pair of wins, including a 13-12 victory last weekend against RIT.

Cooper Urban concluded his team’s meeting with the Tigers with three goals and three assists while Joseph Perry recorded 23 saves.  

The win over RIT provided RPI with the top spot in the Liberty League (LL) with a 3-0 record (the Engineers currently boast a 9-1 overall record).

RPI has certainly been on my radar this spring by commencing its current campaign with seven-straight wins. They will certainly face some challenges down the stretch, beginning next Saturday with a big matchup with Union College.

Union College: The Dutchmen have scored some impressive wins thus far, including recent victories over Middlebury College, St. Lawrence University, and Tufts.

Their next three matchups will certainly tell us more about a team that I believe can compete for both a conference crown and national championship.

Union will visit St. John Fisher College this afternoon (face-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.) and RIT this Saturday, April 9.

Keep your eyes on goalie Dan Donahue, who was recently named the Liberty League’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this spring.

RIT Looks To Continue Its Early-Season Momentum Against Stevens

RIT’s Quinn Commandant registered seven points last Saturday against York College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Rich Barnes)

By Matt Noonan

It’s been a few months — well, close to a year since RIT men’s lacrosse celebrated its first-ever national championship (the Tigers outlasted Salisbury University in double-overtime last May).

And as expected, the winning ways have continued for the Tigers, who have not lost a game since falling to Williams College in the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2019.

RIT’s momentum has continued over the last few weeks with impressive non-conference wins recently against Nazareth College (25-9) and York College (16-9).  

The win over the Spartans — the program’s third-straight since win against the Green and White — was highlighted by a seven-point (three goals and four assists) effort from Quinn Commandant, a senior attack from Rockwood, Ontario, that has tallied 10 points in two contests. Commandant also recorded one caused turnover and a pair of ground balls in his team’s third win of the season while Luke Pilcher led all scorers with five goals.

Drew Hutchison, a senior goaltender from Otonabee, Ontario, turned aside a season-best 16 shots to pick up his third win between the pipes.    

RIT’s win against York was impressive. The Spartans entered the non-conference meeting with some early-season momentum from back-to-back wins against Arcadia University and Washington and Lee. But now, the Tigers will look to continue its early-season momentum against Stevens Institute of Technology on Wednesday, March 9.

The face-off between RIT and Stevens is scheduled for 5 pm. eastern.

RIT and Stevens have only met once with the Tigers beating the Ducks in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2018. A win on Wednesday would provide the Tigers with not just their second win against the Ducks in program history, but their 22nd consecutive victory dating back to a 17-4 win against Ohio Wesleyan University on February 15, 2020.

Following a visit to Stevens, RIT will cap the week with a trip to Collegeville, Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 12 to compete against Ursinus College.  

RIT is one of five Liberty League (LL) squads to win three games thus far — as of early this afternoon, the Tigers are one of four squads to boast a perfect record.

RPI has also enjoyed a successful start to its 2022 campaign with the Engineers winning five-straight contests. RPI will host MIT this Saturday.

Union College has won three games and will look to score their fourth-straight win against a New England foe tomorrow when they visit Williams. The Dutchmen recently beat Springfield College by a score of 14-7.

Ithaca College and William Smith are two of three Liberty League women’s squads to begin their season with back-to-back wins. The same could be said for Clarkson Universitythe Golden Knights recently edged SUNY Cortland this past weekend by a score of 11-10, thanks to Sydney Roderick (two goals and three assists) and Julia Lavarnway (three goals and one assist).

Last Saturday’s win marked the first time the Golden Knights were victorious against the Red Dragons, a team that had won the last four meetings.

Clarkson will attempt to win its third-straight contest on Thursday when they visit SUNY Canton.

Checking In On The D3 Football Coaching Carousel

Dan Swanstrom will be returning to the University of Pennsylvania after spending five seasons as the head coach at Ithaca College. (PHOTO COURTESY: University of Pennsylvania Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

The football coaching carousel never stops, especially in NCAA Division III.

As noted, both this morning and over the last few days by D3Football.com, three schools, including Ithaca College, will be looking for a new head coach to lead their respective program onto the gridiron this fall.

Dan Swanstrom, who guided the Bombers to 32 wins and 11 losses in five seasons, is returning to the University of Pennsylvania as the Quakers’ new offensive coordinator. His final day at Ithaca College is next Monday, January 31.

Penn head coach Ray Priore announced Swanstrom’s hiring on Monday and is excited to welcome back his former quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator that helped the Quakers share a pair of Ivy League crowns in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s great to have Dan rejoin the Penn Football Family after leading Ithaca to great success over the last years,” Priore said in a statement on Monday. “He returns with a tremendous work ethic, an incredible amount of football knowledge, and a passion for the game.”  

Swanstrom inherits a Penn offense that ranked last in the Ivy League in touchdowns (24) and points (191).

In his final season at Ithaca, the Bombers won eight of 10 contests, including five of six Liberty League (LL) matchups. Ithaca concluded its campaign with a heartbreaking defeat to SUNY Cortland in the 62nd meeting between the two schools last November.

According to D3Football.com, this year’s Cortaca Jug Game between Ithaca and SUNY Cortland will be played at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, November 12.

“I can’t put into words how special my time at Ithaca has been,” said Swanstrom, via D3Football.com. “I would like to thank the players, coaches, and fans for the cherished experiences and the meaningful relationships.”

Swanstrom isn’t the only one making a transition from Division III to Division I as it was announced yesterday that Chris Wilkerson, who guided the University of Chicago for the last nine seasons, has been named the new head coach at Eastern Illinois University.

Wilkerson, who is an Eastern Illinois alum, guided the Maroons to an 8-2 record last fall, including a 7-2 mark in the Midwest Conference. UChicago’s offense shattered numerous single-season records while halfback Nicholas D’Ambrose placed second in the nation with a school record of 1,714 rushing yards.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the head football coach at UChicago for the past nine seasons,” said Wilkerson, via athletics.uchicago.edu. “I want to thank all the players and coaches for their commitment and passion for Maroon football.”

North Central will also have a new head coach — the school’s athletic director Jim Miller recently announced Brad Spencer will be taking over for Jeff Thorne, who recently accepted the offensive coordinator role with Western Michigan.

Thorne will reunite with Western Michigan coach Tim Lester as the two coached together at North Central under Jeff’s father John Thorne.

As the head coach of North Central, Jeff Thorne guided the Cardinals to the school’s first-ever championship in 2019. They fell short of winning their second title last month against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.  

Other coaching changes/notes: