Thursday Wrap: Conference Semifinals Deliver Plenty of Drama

PHOTO COURTESY OF VILLANOVA ATHLETICS

Matt Campbell's goal with 20 seconds left held up as the game-winner in a wild finish, as Villanova upended Denver 15-14 in the Big East semifinals in Washington, D.C.


This is May Madness.

Eight conferences staged semifinals Thursday. Among the 16 games were nine decided by two goals or fewer. Two went to overtime, one on a buzzer beater.

Three teams stand on the precipice of their first NCAA tournament appearance — two in just their fourth year of existence. One of them will have to go through its coach’s former team to get there.

AMERICA EAST
Burlington, Vt.

Semifinals:

(3) UMBC defeated (2) Binghamton 7-6
(1) Vermont defeated (4) Albany 17-7

Championship Game:

(3) UMBC vs. (1) Vermont – Saturday, 12 p.m. (ESPNU)


Defending America East champion Vermont continues to run roughshod through the conference. Thomas McConvey scored seven goals to lead the Catamounts to a 17-6 win over Albany.

Vermont, which has not lost since mid-March, will play UMBC in the conference final Saturday. The Retrievers advanced on the strength of a defensive effort in which they allowed a season-low six goals in a 7-6 win over Binghamton.

ASUN
Huntsville, Ala.

Semifinals:

(1) Utah defeated (4) Bellarmine 12-11 (OT)
(2) Robert Morris defeated (3) Air Force 9-7

Championship Game:

(2) Robert Morris vs. (1) Utah – Saturday, 2 p.m. (ESPN+)


Tyler Bradbury broke free of a double team to score in the last second of regulation, then Josh Stout found Jordan Hyde on the corner to win it in overtime, as Utah came back to beat Bellarmine 12-11.

The Utes, one of the aforementioned fourth-year programs, are making their first-ever postseason appearance. They’ll play Robert Morris, which defeated Air Force 9-7 in Thursday’s other semifinal, in the ASUN championship game Saturday. Utah coach Andrew McMinn spent 10 seasons at RMU.

BIG EAST
Washington, D.C.

Semifinals:

(3) Villanova defeated (2) Denver 15-14
(1) Georgetown defeated (4) Marquette 15-5

Championship Game:

(3) Villanova vs. (1) Georgetown – Saturday, 4:30 p.m. (CBSSN)


Denver scored five unanswered goals, but its fourth-quarter rally fell just short as Villanova upset the Pioneers 15-14. Matt Campbell’s goal with 20 seconds remaining held up as the game-winner.

At the time, it looked like insurance, especially considering Denver went man-down due to a slashing penalty by Malik Sparrow on the play. But Casey Wilson scored shorthanded off the ensuing faceoff to pull the Pioneers within one. Alec Stathakis won another draw, but Jack Hannah’s shot was block as time expired and the Wildcats held on for the win.

Villanova will be next in line to try to stop the Georgetown buzzsaw. The Hoyas eased past Marquette 15-5 in the second semifinal and are gunning for their fourth straight Big East title. In line for the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, Georgetown’s average margin of victory during its 10-game winning streak is 8.6.

BIG TEN
College Park, Md.

Semifinals:

(1) Maryland defeated (4) Johns Hopkins 16-11
(2) Rutgers defeated (3) Ohio State 12-10

Championship Game:

(2) Rutgers vs. (1) Maryland – Saturday, 8 p.m. (BTN)


There will be no bid thieves out of the Big Ten. Top-ranked Maryland ensured that, handily defeating rival Johns Hopkins for the second time in 12 days.

Logan Wisnauskas had four goals and three assists in the top-ranked Terps’ 16-11 victory, their fifth in a row over the Blue Jays.

Rutgers, meanwhile, likely locked up an NCAA tournament home game with an impressive 12-10 win over Ohio State in a battle of two teams ranked inside the top 10 of the Nike/USA Lacrosse Division I Men’s Top 20.

The Scarlet Knights got hot at the right time, scoring the last three goals of the third quarter and the first three of the fourth quarter to turn an 8-6 deficit into an 11-8 advantage.

Mitch Bartolo scored four goals, while Ross Scott and Ronan Jacoby each added a hat trick in the win.

Jackson Reid scored a game-high five goals and Skylar Wahlund made 21 saves in the loss for the Buckeyes, who have a compelling NCAA tournament profile but would become a bubble team if Villanova manages to knock off Georgetown in the Big East final.







COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia

Semifinals:

(1) Delaware defeated (4) Drexel 19-6
(2) Towson defeated (3) UMass 18-10

Championship Game:

(2) Towson vs. (1) Delaware – Saturday, 2 p.m. (LSN)


The top two seeds advanced easily in the CAA semifinals, as top-seeded Delaware defeated Drexel 19-6 and second-seeded Towson beat UMass 18-10.

The Blue Hens are in the CAA championship game for the first time since 2011 after setting conference tournament records with 19 goals and 32 points Thursday. Mike Robinson scored six goals and JP Ward had four goals and four assists in the blowout win.

The Tigers were buoyed by a six-goal third-quarter run and a seven-point performance from Nick DeMaio (five goals, two assists).

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Semifinals:

(1) St. Bonaventure defeated (4) Siena 12-10
(3) Manhattan defeated (2) Marist 13-12 (OT)

Championship Game:

(3) Manhattan vs. (1) St. Bonaventure – Saturday, 10 a.m. (ESPN+)


What’s not to love about the MAAC?

Come Saturday, Cinderella will have a name. St. Bonaventure could clinch an NCAA tournament berth in just its fourth season or Manhattan could get back there for the first time since 2002.

The Bonnies advanced with a 12-10 win over Siena, avenging their lone conference loss of the regular season. Brett Dobson made a whopping 27 saves and Jackson Rose scored six goals for St. Bonaventure, which was winless in its first two seasons and 5-5 last year.

The Jaspers erased a three-goal deficit and upended host Marist 13-12 in overtime. Liam Walshe scored eight goals and Kyle Gucwa deposited the game-winner with 3:45 remaining in overtime.

NORTHEAST CONFERENCE
Philadelphia

Semifinals:

(1) Saint Joseph’s 11, (4) LIU 10
(3) Hobart 21, (2) Bryant 5

Championship Game:

(3) Hobart vs. (1) Saint Joseph’s – Saturday, 1 p.m. (Front Row)


Hobart made the loudest statement of the semifinal slate, scoring an NEC tournament-record 21 goals to beat Bryant 21-5.

Derrek Madonna tied his career highs with six goals and eight points. Goalie Kevin Holtby (13 saves) and long-stick midfielder Frank Imburgia (three caused turnovers) highlighted an impressive defensive effort.

The Statesmen, who have won five straight, will play conference leader Saint Joseph’s in the championship game Saturday. The Hawks held off a late LIU rally to advance with an 11-10 victory.

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE
High Point, N.C.

Semifinals:

(1) Jacksonville 13, (4) VMI 5
(2) Richmond 12, (3) High Point 11

Championship Game:

(2) Richmond vs. (1) Jacksonville – Saturday, 12 p.m. (ESPN+)


Richmond extended its streak of conference championship game appearances to eight, defeating host High Point in a taut, back-and-forth thriller. Luke Frankeny scored five goals and Lance Madonna deposited the go-ahead tally with 1:07 remaining to lift the Spiders to a 12-11 victory.

Richmond meets Jacksonville, whose emergence as a top-10 ranked team has been one of this season’s biggest stories, for the SoCon title on Saturday. The Dolphins, who beat VMI 13-5, are looking for their first conference championship and NCAA tournament appearance.

HOW THE TOP 20 FARED

No. 1 Maryland defeated Johns Hopkins 16-11
No. 2 Georgetown defeated Marquette 15-5
No. 3 Rutgers defeated No. 8 Ohio State 12-10
No. 7 Jacksonville defeated VMI 17-5
Villanova defeated No. 14 Denver 15-14
No. 18 Richmond defeated High Point 12-11
No. 20 Saint Joseph’s defeated LIU 11-10

FULL SCOREBOARD

Delaware 19, Drexel 6 (CAA)
No. 2 Georgetown, 15, Marquette 5 (Big East)
Hobart 21, Bryant 5 (NEC)
No. 7 Jacksonville 13, VMI 5 (SoCon)
Manhattan 13, Marist 12 (OT) (MAAC)
No. 1 Maryland 16, Johns Hopkins 11 (Big Ten)
No. 18 Richmond 12, High Point 11 (SoCon)
Robert Morris 9, Air Force 7 (ASUN)
No. 3 Rutgers 12, No. 8 Ohio State 10 (Big Ten)
No. 20 Saint Joseph’s 11, LIU 10 (NEC)
St. Bonaventure 12, Siena 10 (MAAC)
Towson 18, UMass 10 (CAA)
Utah 12, Bellarmine 11 (OT) (ASUN)
UMBC 7, Binghamton 6 (America East)
Villanova 15, No. 14 Denver 14 (Big East)
Vermont 17, Albany 7 (America East)

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