MADISON, N.J. – A total of seven Landmark Conference teams have earned the right to represent the conference in NCAA Division III Tournament play as announced Monday May 10. The first teams will be in action on Wednesday as three teams take part in opening round games. One more will begin competition on Thursday, with the remaining three kicking off competition on Friday.
This spring marks the first time that Landmark Champions earned automatic qualification to the NCAA tournament fields, and another two teams claimed spots in the tournaments as at-large or independents. The conference earned two bids apiece in both women's lacrosse and softball. Landmark women's lacrosse champions The Catholic University of America is joined by Drew University in the NCAA field, while in softball Moravian College earned the conference's automatic bid and Susquehanna University was chosen as an at-large. Goucher College is in the men's lacrosse NCAA Tournament as the Landmark's automatic qualifier, and the Drew University men's and women's tennis teams each claimed the conference title and will be competing in the NCAA field.
The Catholic women's lacrosse team is making its third-straight NCAA appearance after winning the Landmark title for the third-straight year. The Cardinals (12-6) will host Christopher Newport (13-6) in an opening round NCAA match on Wednesday May 12 at 4 p.m. The winner will face Salisbury in the Round of 16 on Saturday in Salisbury, Md. Catholic has reached the quarterfinals in each of the past two NCAA tournaments and began its 2008 quarterfinal run with a win over Christopher Newport. The team played seven matches against teams in the NCAA Tournament field, going 4-3 in those contests. Catholic enters the tournament on an eight-match winning streak, and has outscored foes 138-39 during that stretch.
Drew is back in the NCAA for the second-straight year after reaching the Landmark championship for the second time in as many seasons. The Rangers (10-8) will face off with Mary Washington (12-5) in an opening round match on Wednesday, and with a win would move to a regional in Lancaster, Pa. to face the winner of a match between Washington & Lee and Elizabethtown. It is the third NCAA tournament berth in the past four seasons for Drew with the team earning one victory in its 2007 NCAA appearance. The Rangers have won five of its last six matches entering the postseason and currently rank in the top-50 in NCAA Division III in scoring defense.
Goucher (13-3) men's lacrosse will also get underway with a first-round match on Wednesday when the Gophers travel to face Middlebury at 3 p.m. in Middlebury, Vt. A win would send the team to a second-round matchup with RPI in Troy, N.Y. on Saturday. The Gophers are marking their first NCAA Tournament appearance after earning the program's first conference title with a win over Catholic in the Landmark Championship. Goucher is in the midst of a program-best nine-match winning streak and closed the year ranking 15th in NCAA Division III in scoring defense. Goucher has not allowed more than 10 goals in any of the wins in its current win streak.
Softball action will kick off on Thursday with Susquehanna beginning regional play in a double-elimination regional hosted by Christopher Newport. The Crusaders (32-11) earned the third seed for the regional and will face Frostburg State (28-14) in the opening round at 2 p.m. and then will play again on Friday with a time and opponent to be determined. Susquehanna reached the Landmark Championship game for the second-straight season, and is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance. It has been a record-breaking season for Susquehanna as the team's 32 victories are a new program high and the team also had a program-record 19-consecutive wins midway through the year.
Moravian is a far more regular visitor to the NCAA Tournament as the team is making its 12th tournament appearance in the past 13 seasons. The Greyhounds (30-12) are the second-seed in the six-team regional hosted by Rhode Island College and will face fifth-seed Neumann (26-16) on Friday at 12 p.m. Moravian earned its spot in the field with an automatic berth after winning its third-straight Landmark Championship and is trying to improve on its 26-22 all-time NCAA Tournament record. The Greyhounds have made a pair of appearances in the NCAA College World Series, advancing out of regional play in 2004 and 2007 and have won at least 30 games in each of the past 10 seasons.
The Drew men's tennis team returns to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year hiatus and is the first Landmark men's tennis team to compete in the NCAA Tournament. The Rangers (13-6) will face off against Lycoming (10-2) on Friday in Towson, Md. at a time to be announced. A win would pit the Rangers against host Johns Hopkins in the second round on Saturday. Drew claimed the Landmark automatic qualification by upending Scranton in the Landmark Championship, its third-straight Landmark title and 10th-consecutive conference championship overall. Drew has won nine-straight matches entering NCAA competition and has not dropped more than three points in any of those nine victories.
The Drew women's tennis team is also rolling into the postseason on a win streak as the Rangers have won their last 10 contests including the Landmark Championship which earned them a trip to the NCAA tournament. Drew (12-3) will square off with Western Connecticut State (13-2) on the campus of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. If it gets past the first round Drew will face Carnegie Mellon in a second round on Saturday, with the sectional final to follow on Sunday. Drew enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in 2010 improving its record by seven victories and earning its first Landmark Championship. The Rangers were unbeaten in Landmark play on the year and have no dropped a match since early March.
Now in its third year, this is the first season in which the Landmark Conference has earned automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament. The seven teams competing in the spring championships is the most the conference has had in any season, and Landmark baseball champions Moravian will also be in the NCAA field when those pairings are released next week.