If you’re a college lacrosse fan who lives in Maryland, your odds of a hometown victory of one kind or another are pretty stellar this year. The 2012 NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament opens this weekend, and 3 of the 16 teams vying for the championship are from Baltimore schools. Not only that, but the top two ranked teams — Loyola and Johns Hopkins, in that order — are local. (The University of Maryland is in the tournament, but isn’t ranked in the top 8; this is “not necessarily a bad thing,” according to the Baltimore Sun’s lacrosse columnist.)
The one thing everyone seems to agree on this year is that there are no sure bets. Last year, the Loyola Greyhounds didn’t even make the tournament, and the team started this season unranked; now they’re in the top spot. But for the past five years, the tournament’s number one seed has lost — not even making it to the championship game four of those times. And while there are plenty of powerhouses out there, no one team seems primed to steamroll its competitors. “The lack of a dominant team gives everybody hope,” UVA coach Dom Starsia told the Washington Times. “I think you’d be hard-pressed [to pick a champion], though you may as well take a try at it. If you took 10 chances, you might get one right.”
On Saturday, Loyola (14-1) takes on Canisius (6-7); Sunday, Maryland (9-5) will face off against Lehigh (14-2) in a sold-out game, while Hopkins (11-3) faces Stony Brook (7-9). The tournament’s semifinals take place in Annapolis on May 19 and in Chester, Pennsylvania on May 20; the championship will be decided the following weekend in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Local women’s lacrosse teams are also gearing up for the fight. Third-ranked Maryland plays UMass; sixth-ranked Loyola comes up against the University of Pennsylvania; and eighth-ranked Towson takes on Penn State this weekend.