Friday, May 30, 2008

State of Lacrosse

I wanted this post to be about how great the state of Maryland is at lacrosse. We had five local teams in the tournament of 16: Hopkins, Maryland, Navy, Loyola, and UMBC. We had a team that upset higher ranked teams in the first round. (Navy over UNC) And we even had a team beat top ranked Duke to make it to the finals. (Hopkins) All of this led to a final match-up, not of the top two ranked teams, but of two most accomplished teams. Hopkins and Syracuse both had nine national championships heading into the final game. And the obvious end for this story was Johns Hopkins winning and declaring themselves a true lacrosse dynasty by winning three times in the last four years and holding the record for the most national championships

But alas, it was not to be. Instead, Hopkins got outplayed. It was actually hard to watch. Syracuse out ran, out shot and out scored them. Every once in a while Hopkins would rally and the hope would well up. Maybe they would finally start playing the way they had on their eight game run to the championship game. But then Syracuse would come back harder and beat them back down.

Now I'm not a lacrosse expert. I grew up in Maryland, so I have basic knowledge about the game. Mostly I know that lacrosse players tend to be hot and think they're hot shit. (Lacrosse does keep them in great shape, but I like to stick to runners.) I don't pay much attention to the sport until the tournament. And then mostly just because I like to cheer on University of Maryland in all sports. And because last year the finals were in Baltimore and since Hopkins was able to beat Duke and crush their Cinderella story last year in the finals it was fun. (Yes, I'll admit it, I always want Duke to lose, be it in basketball, lacrosse or synchronized swimming.) But this year the finals were in Foxborough.

Again, I'm not expert. But I'd be willing to bet that most people in Massachusetts have never seen a lacrosse game. Why did the finals move from Baltimore, home to one of the most storied lacrosse teams and several tournament participants. Apparently, Cornell wanted the finals to be closer to them. Unfortunately for them, they lost to a Ohio State in the first round. Now, who knows if the Hopkins-Syracuse game would have turned out differently if the game was played in Hopkins home city. Maybe it would have given them that extra edge they needed to bring home their 10th title, maybe not.

Maybe its unfair to have the championships in the same place every year. But really, with almost a third of the teams coming from that state, shouldn't the NCAA be catering to the place that has arguably the most fans. Shouldn't the championships be held in a place where kids grow up with fiddlesticks in hand? Shouldn't they be at a place where every bar in the area has the lacrosse finals on at least half of their TVs. No one would suggest moving the finals to Ohio because Ohio state made it this year, so why New England. Bring the finals back to their home. Bring them back to Baltimore, or at least Maryland.

Maybe, I'm a little biased and just want them to be close to where I am. And sure, I might just want the Maryland teams to have a better chance of winning in the final rounds. And its possible, I just enjoy having the city overrun with eye candy for a long weekend. But whatever, what fan doesn't want this. I wanted my happy ending for Hopkins. And now, I'll have to wait until next year for them to tie the record again. (unless of court Maryland wins, which would be even better) But personal feelings aside, Maryland is the home of the most lacrosse power houses, bring the finals back.