After two days of opening round MCLA national tournament action at UC Irvine, four teams remain in each division. The Division I Final Four will be an all Western affair with top seeds No. 1 Arizona State and No. 2 Colorado advancing along with No. 4 Chapman and No. 6 UC Santa Barbara. In Division II, the top four seeds – No. 1 Grand Valley State, No. 2 St. John’s, No. 3 Dayton, and No. 4 St. Thomas – all advanced, and all come from the Midwest.
All remaining games will be played at Ernie Chapman Stadium on the campus of Chapman University, with semifinal games on Thursday and championship games on Saturday. Games will continue to be aired live on MCLA.us.
Here’s a look at the semifinal match-ups, and how each team advanced thus far in the tournament.
Division I Final Four
No. 1 Arizona State vs. No. 4 Chapman
In their third meeting of 2014 and the second at Chapman Stadium, the Panthers hope that undefeated ASU’s surprisingly difficult quarterfinal win took a big enough toll on the Sun Devils to be the difference maker this time around. Despite cruising past No. 16 Indiana in the opening round with an 18-5 victory, ASU had to dig out a grinding win over No. 8 Boston College yesterday in a back and forth game that saw the Sun Devils losing at times. Eventually holding an 8-7 lead, ASU staved off a last minute Eagles possession, securing the victory and their fifth consecutive Final Four appearance.
Chapman in contrast had fairly easy wins in both their opening games, only allowing only two goals in each in their victories – a 7-2 decision over No. 13 Northeastern and an 8-5 win over two-time defending champion No. 5 Colorado State.
No. 2 Colorado vs. No. 4 UC Santa Barbara
The Gauchos of UCSB certainly have played the most lacrosse of any team thus far in the tournament, with their first round game against No. 11 Cal Poly going into overtime and their second round game against No. 14 Virginia Tech – who handily beat No. 3 BYU in the opening round’s biggest upset – lasting an outstanding six overtimes. Both games were relatively low scoring, with UCSB beating Cal Poly by a score of 6-5 for the second time this season and a 7-6 marathon win over the Hokies.
The Buffs were also tested in their opening game, down 4-3 against No. 15 Minnesota-Duluth at half. A fourth quarter shutout as well as an overall better second half resulted in an 8-6 victory for Colorado. In the quarterfinals, CU dominated start to finish for a big 13-6 win over No. 7 Michigan State to avenge a one-goal loss to the Spartans back in early March. Colorado and Santa Barbara did not face each other in the regular season.
Division II Final Four
No. 1 Grand Valley State vs. No. 4 St. Thomas
Despite their top seed, it’s hard to tell if Grand Valley State is the favorite or the underdog in this semifinal game. St. Thomas, winners of four of the last five Division II MCLA national titles, won the regular season contest between the two squads back on March 1st. In this year’s national tournament, the Tommies avenged a regular season loss to No. 5 North Dakota State with an 8-6 win over the Bison in the quarterfinals after beating No. 13 Reinhardt 13-6 in the first round.
The Lakers had a bit of an easier second round, taking down No. 8 Western Oregon 13-5, but had a slow start in round one that saw GVSU down 4-3 at half to No. 16 Montana State before a big second half showing led to a 13-8 Laker win.
Grand Valley State and St. Thomas have met twice before in the national tournament: a two-goal Laker win in the 2008 semifinals and a one-goal Tommies win in the 2012 finals.
No. 2 St. John’s vs. No. 4 Dayton
In another Division II rematch, Dayton looks to sweep against St. John’s after beating the Johnnies 9-8 in their regular season game at the end of March. Both of Dayton’s opening round wins were by three only three goals, but the Flyers controlled most of their first round 12-9 victory against No. 14 United States Coast Guard Academy before giving up six goals in the final quarter. In the quarterfinals, Dayton had a closer game against No. 6 Grove City, leading by two at half en route to a 10-7 win.
St. John’s also had a three-goal victory in the first round, with No. 15 Missouri Valley giving the Johnnies all they could handle in the first half to be down by only one at the intermission. The second half was close as well, but St. John’s was able to hold on for a 13-10 win. The quarterfinals fared better for St. John’s, outscored No. 7 Indiana Tech 5-0 in the third quarter to coast to a 13-6 victory.
(This article was also published on MCLA.us)