NCAA Division I Men's Quarterfinals Preview, TV Guide & More

PHOTO BY DANA GELIN

Justin Anderson and the top-seeded Tar Heels face Rutgers on Saturday.


Welcome to the Gameday Guide.

Every weekend during the college lacrosse season, USA Lacrosse Magazine staff will riff here on the juiciest matchups, trendiest topics, biggest storylines and hottest takes.

As always, check out our TV Listings page for the entire list of games coming up.

GAMES TO WATCH
All times Eastern

Day

Time

Away

Home

TV/Stream

Sat 12 p.m. No. 5 Georgetown No. 4 Virginia ESPNU
Sat 2:30 p.m. Rutgers No. 1 North Carolina ESPNU
Sun 12 p.m. Loyola No. 2 Duke ESPNU
Sun 2:30 p.m. No. 6 Notre Dame No. 3 Maryland ESPNU

No. 5 Georgetown vs. No. 4 Virginia

The first action of the weekend pits the reigning national champions against a program that hasn’t made the quarters since 2007. But the Hoyas are out of detention.

They also don’t look the part of the underdog. 

The Big East champs who blew past Syracuse 18-8 in the first round are led by Tewaaraton finalist Jake Carraway. The senior attackman from Annapolis (Md.) did not receive one of the Hoyas’ two USA Lacrosse Magazine first-team nods (he had to settle for second-team honors with Duke’s Michael Sowers and Army’s Brendan Nichtern). That distinction belongs to sophomore midfielder Graham Bundy and senior Owen McElroy. 

Georgetown placed four players on the All-American list. Virginia had five. Alex Rode was not one of them. But in case people forgot, Rode was the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament in 2019. The senior from Timonium (Md.) reminded everyone with 18 saves to slam the door shut on Bryant’s upset bid this past weekend in the Cavaliers’ first tournament game since they were crowned champs. 

“I probably shouldn't say this on air, but he's a different bird,” Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany said, describing Rode on the ESPNU broadcast after the win. “He's kind of the stereotypical goalie. A little goofy. The pressure can't be too big for him. He really does move onto the next play and doesn't let things bother him.” 

Under-The-Radar Star To Watch: Peter Garno, Virginia 

On an offense that features Matt Moore and Connor Shellenberger, it’s easy to get overshadowed. Yet, the sophomore midfielder’s ability to find the back of the net led Moore to describe him as the team’s best shooter after Virginia’s win over Bryant. Garno has had six multi-goal games this season, including a two-goal outing in the first round. The Cavaliers won all those contests. 

No. 1 North Carolina vs. Rutgers

Rutgers’ dream run continues against the most potent offense in Division I men’s lacrosse. 

North Carolina’s attack is headlined by Tewaaraton finalist Chris Gray, who ranks second in points per game (5.93) in the nation and will have a homecoming on Long Island playing at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. Yet what makes Carolina’s offense so dangerous is its versatility. All of the Tar Heels starting midfielders (William Perry, Tanner Cook and Justin Anderson) made the USA Lacrosse All-American lists. And despite Gray’s lofty production (83 points on 46 goals and 37 assists), seven other players for North Carolina have put up more than 20 points this season. 

While Rutgers heralds its NASCAR style of play, running against the Tar Heels seems like a zero-sum game. After making 17 saves to topple Lehigh, his former team 12-7 Colin Kirst will start in Rutgers’ first NCAA quarterfinal appearance since 1990, when his father, Kyle, was between the pipes. 

The Scarlet Knights are led by their veteran attack unit of Adam Charalambides, Connor Kirst and Kieran Mullins, who combined for 12 points in Rutgers’ first NCAA tournament game since 2004. 

Under-The-Radar Star To Watch: Kieran Mullins, Rutgers

The redshirt senior attackman and captain has scored in all but one game this season. Mullins’ 25 goals and 22 assists, including a three-goal, two-assist day brings his career total to 229 points entering the biggest game of his career with the Scarlet Knights. 







No. 2 Duke vs. Loyola

Duke’s chance to make another Final Four runs through Arlotta Stadium, where the Blue Devils suffered one of its only two losses this season — a 13-8 defeat against Notre Dame. Duke avenged that loss with a 13-12 overtime victory, which gave them a win against every ACC foe. 

The Blue Devils did not require a last-minute effort to get past High Point in the first round. Two-time Tewaaraton finalist Michael Sowers paced the offense with four goals and four assists in his first career NCAA tournament game. 

The Princeton graduate transfer is now three points shy of tying Loyola’s Pat Spencer for second on the all-time on the Division I career points list. Ironically, Sowers has the opportunity to move past the 2019 Tewaaraton winner in the record books against the Greyhounds. 

Two weeks ago, Loyola thought its season was over after forfeiting the Patriot League championship game against Lehigh and the chance at an automatic qualifier because of a positive COVID test. The Greyhounds' rejuvenation, winners of the last five games played, has coincided with senior goalie Sam Shafer’s redemption. 

The USA Lacrosse Division I Men’s Player of the Week, Shafer made a career-high 16 saves against Denver, including a point-blank stop against Alex Simmons to seal the upset of the tournament thus far. Shafer will likely need another memorable performance to give Loyola a chance to slow down Duke’s potent offense with the likes of Brennan O’Neill and Joe Robertson. 

“The way our season has been has been up and down, you can say that about the earlier parts of Sam’s season,” Loyola long stick midfielder Ryan McNulty said earlier this week. “But now, when Sam’s playing great, Loyola’s playing great. It does start with him, and against Denver, it ended with him. We just hope it keeps going like that.” 

Under-The-Radar Star to Watch: Owen Caputo, Duke 

The junior midfielder and son of Duke’s defensive coordinator Ron Caputo has scored 20 goals in 2021 to go with four assists. He notched two goals in each of the Blue Devils last three games. Caputo’s continued production along with other midfielders like Nakeie Montgomery will be vital to take some of the onus off Duke’s attack. 

No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 6 Notre Dame

This should be a Final Four matchup. Instead, because of the way the seeding shook out, we get to see it a week earlier with a spot in East Hartford on the line. 

Despite two comeback efforts in its regular season finale and Big Ten championship game win over Johns Hopkins, the undefeated Terrapins will face its toughest test in the Fighting Irish. While Maryland’s Jared Bernhardt and Notre Dame’s Pat Kavanagh, both Tewaaraton finalists, will surely draw the bulk of the headlines, the contest should be decided, fittingly, on the defensive end where the two programs have built their identities. 

Notre Dame’s unit, which placed all its close defenders and sophomore goalie Liam Entenmann on the USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American lists, ranks second in scoring defense in Division I and has allowed only 8.45 goals per contest. The Fighting Irish held Drexel to eight goals to escape 10-8 in the first round. They’ll try to slow down Maryland’s second ranked scoring offense. 

Maryland’s defense is not far behind and ranks 10th with 9.77 goals allowed per game. Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Nick Grill and USA Lacrosse Magazine second-team All-American selection Brett Makar buoy the unit in front of sophomore Logan McNaney. 

McNaney made his first career start against Notre Dame last season and made 10 saves in a 14-9 win over the Fighting Irish at home. 

Under-The-Radar Star To Watch: Wheaton Jackoboice, Notre Dame

The senior midfielder and Kansas City native who started all five games at midfield last spring has been the most productive offensive threat for the Fighting Irish this year not named Pat Kavanagh. Jackoboice has produced 27 points on 17 goals and 10 assists. The Culver Academy alum tallied a hat trick against Drexel in Notre Dame’s first-round win. 

“I just hope that I can inspire the next generation because there are so many talented athletes in the Kansas City area,” Jackoboice told KHSB Kansas City earlier this week. 

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