It's a season of surprises in women's college lacrosse, as evidenced by some of the teams we will see in the Final Four from Foxborough, Massachusetts starting on Friday. Boston College and Navy shocked the lacrosse world by advancing, while traditional powerhouse Maryland will face Penn State.
Both games are intriguing for a number of reasons. Maryland has been a dominant force for most of the past decade, while Navy upset the defending champs North Carolina to advance. Meanwhile, Boston College defeated USC, the second best defensive team in the nation, by putting up 20 goals to advance to its first-ever Final Four.
Penn State knocked off Princeton to get to the Nittany Lions' second straight Final Four appearance.
Penn State vs Maryland
Friday, May 26 at 5:00 PM Eastern
Maryland comes in as the favorite, but Penn State has also made an impressive run. The Lions knocked off the fifth-ranked Princeton Tigers in the quarterfinals to advance. Tied 11-11 late in the game, Penn State scored three straight and pulled away with a 14-12 victory.
Meanwhile, Maryland rallied after trailing Stony Brook by as much as four in the second half to advance, after rolling past High Point.
Maryland remains a strong team year in and year out, and are heavily favored to win the tournament. The nation's only undefeated club is in its 28th consecutive tournament appearance, an NCAA lacrosse record.
The question is, how can Penn State compete with that?
On April 20th, the Nittany Lions came close in a 16-14 defeat that proved that they could play with the Terps. Nadine Hadnagy and the Terps' defense is going to look to shut down a Lions offense that is led by Steph Lazo, as well as a 69-goal-scorer in sophomore Madison Carter.
Navy vs Boston College
Friday May 26 at 7:30 PM Eastern
Navy shocked the world to upend the Tar Heels and end up in this sport, but the Eagles also stunned USC. The Trojans, who did have to travel to Boston College, had never allowed more than 20 goals in a game, and that's exactly what the Eagles managed to score. The BC offense has been on a tear, with 20 goals in their past two contests, and double digit goals in each playoff game. Led by Kenzie Kent and Sam Apuzzo, Boston College are the favorites.
Navy, however, shouldn't be overlooked.
The Mids took down Loyola, nearly an improbable feat in the Patriot League, after barely edging past Lehigh. Since then, Navy has been the Cinderella story of the postseason tournament. Averaging nearly 16 goals per game, the Mids offense has been as dynamic as the Eagles, and it should be an offensive shootout.
Ingrid Boyum has kept the ball out of the net, while Morgan Young and Julia Collins have led the way on offense. Head Coach Cindy Timchal has taken Maryland to 12 final fours, but this is her first at the helm for Navy.
While the other game might have the star power, this contest might have the most intrigue of the entire final four, through all divisions.
The NCAA women's lacrosse semifinals air on ESPN3, with the championship game airing on Sunday at 11:00 AM Eastern on ESPNU.
Photo credit: Navy WLAX/Twitter