Midshipmen Sent Back to Tobacco Road to Face Third-Seeded Duke
After missing the last two NCAA Tournament appearances, senior Bruce Nechanicky will lead the Mids next weekend.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Making its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the 12th-ranked Navy men’s lacrosse team is headed back to Tobacco Road for a third straight year but this time it will face third-seeded Duke in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Div. I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament. ESPNU will televise the Saturday evening contest between the Mids and Blue Devils live from Koskinen Stadium beginning at 7:30 pm.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and children and may be purchased online at GoDuke.com or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 1-877-375-DUKE.
Navy, who is making its 26th NCAA Tournament appearance, was the first team to guarantee itself a spot among the NCAA Tournament field after beating Bucknell in the Patriot League Tournament a week to ago to earn the league’s automatic bid. Its the fifth time (2004-05-06-07-09) in the last six seasons that the Midshipmen have punched their ticket into the NCAA Tournament by way of winning the Patriot League Tournament. A year ago, the Mids were forced to wait until Selection Sunday before learning they had earned an at-large bid.
The Mids own a 16-25 NCAA Tournament record and while Navy has never won an NCAA lacrosse title, it does have 17 USILA National Championships to its credit. The Mids are 6-6 in opening-round games and 3-2 since the field expanded to the 16-team format in 2003. Navy is 0-2 in championship games, losing to Maryland, 20-13, in 1975, and to Syracuse, 14-13, in 2004.
Along with Cornell, Navy has made the third most consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances behind Johns Hopkins, who is making its 38th straight tournament, and Maryland, who will play in its 10th straight tourney.
One would have to turn the pages back a quarter of a century to find the last time Navy had received an invitation to the Big Dance in six consecutive years. The NCAA held its first men's lacrosse championship in 1971 with Hall of Fame coach Willis Bilderback leading the Mids to a semifinals appearance against Maryland (L, 10-7) in the eight-team tournament. It was the first of 12-consecutive NCAA Tournament bids Navy would receive under Bilderback (2 trips) and Dick Szlasa (10 trips).
“We haven’t played Duke for some time, but we’re excited for the opportunity to go down to Durham and play against a very talented Duke team,” said Navy head coach Richie Meade, who owns a 5-6 record in NCAA Tournament contests. “Duke is one of the most athletic teams in the field and they create a great deal of offense when they get the ball off the ground. I think this is a game where faceoffs will become a very important part of the game.
“John (Danowski) and I have been friends since high school and I have a great deal of respect for him. He’s done a great job with the Duke program.”
The third-ranked Blue Devils, winners of seven in a row and owners of a 13-3 overall record, will make their 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Duke made previous trips to the postseason in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008 and owns an all-time tournament record of 14-12. The Blue Devils have reached the national semifinals four times (1997, 2005, 2007 & 2008) and advanced to the championship game in both 2005 and 2007. Duke enters the 2009 postseason having won eight of its last 11 national tournament games.
Duke won its third consecutive ACC Tournament championship last weekend in Chapel Hill with wins over Virginia and North Carolina. The 2009 campaign marks the fifth season that Duke has posted 13 or more regular season victories (16 in 2008, 14 in both 2005 & 2007 and 13 in both 1999 & 2009).
Navy owns a commanding 24-9 series advantage over Duke, however, the Blue Devils have won each of the last six. Additionally, the two programs have not met since 1999, when the Blue Devils dealt the Mids a 9-4 loss in Durham. Next Saturday’s contest will mark the first time the two teams have met in postseason play.
The winner of the Navy-Duke game will play the winner of the UMBC-North Carolina (6) contest in one of the two quarterfinal games played at Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on May 17. The other quarterfinal will feature the winners of the Brown-Johns Hopkins (8) and Villanova-Virginia (1) games.
The 2009 NCAA semifinals and National Championship are set for May 23 and 25 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
The 16-team field includes seven conference champions with automatic qualification - American East Conference (UMBC), Colonial Athletic Association (Villanova), Eastern College Athletic Conference (Massachusetts), Great Western Lacrosse League (Notre Dame), Ivy League (Princeton), Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (Siena) and Patriot League (Navy) - with the rest of the field selected at large.
2009 NCAA Tournament
First Round -- Saturday, May 9
Brown at (8) Johns Hopkins, 12 noon
UMBC at (6) North Carolina, 2:30 pm
Hofstra at (5) Cornell, 5 pm
Navy at (3) Duke, 7:30 pm
First Round -- Sunday, May 10
Maryland at (7) Notre Dame, 12 noon
Villanova at (1) Virginia, 2:30 pm
Massachusetts at (4) Princeton, 5 pm
Siena at (2) Syracuse, 7:30 pm
Quarterfinals -- Saturday, May 16 at Hempstead, N.Y.
Massachusetts/Princeton winner vs. Hofstra/Cornell winner
Maryland/Notre Dame winner vs. Siena/Syracuse winner
Quarterfinals -- Sunday, May 17 at Annapolis, Md.
Brown/Johns Hopkins winner vs. Villanova/Virginia winner
Navy/Duke winner vs. UMBC/North Carolina winner
### Go Navy ###