Thursday, May 13, 2010

Everything’s coming up Milhouse, err, Hofstra!

Not pictured: Milhouse's bone dry cuffs!

Turns out my friend was right, or at least half-right: There will be a chance for Hofstra athletics to end this rotten school year on a high note. Maybe even multiple chances.

The Flying Dutchmen lacrosse team did get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and will visit third-seeded Maryland Saturday at noon. There won’t be much gloating here, because a.) I just learned that the objective of lacrosse is to score more goals than the other team and b.) I’m sure there are fans and teams feeling like we did in 2006 and wondering why a team that didn’t even make its own conference tournament gets an at-large bid at their expense.

All I can say, to any Georgetown fans that stumble across this here blog, is we feel your pain, and it’s not our fault. Our AD wasn’t even on the committee, and as such REALLY wasn’t in the room when Hofstra was discussed.

Along those lines, we also learned Towson lacrosse coach Tony Seaman is the anti-Tom O’Connor. After the Flying Dutchmen took away Towson’s margin for error by edging the Tigers 12-10 at Shuart Stadium May 1, Seaman said “…we certainly hope the NCAA committee takes their body of work for the year [into consideration]. Other than the league, it’s been excellent.”

As a member of the Selection Committee, Seaman could do a lot more than just hope the Dutchmen would be considered, and clearly, he lived up to his words when he was given a chance, behind closed doors, to support the candidacy of a team that knocked his own squad off the bubble. An honest administrator from a conference rival on a Selection Committee. What a concept. (Of course, even O’Connor couldn’t have gotten Towson into the NCAA Tournament, as any team with a sub-.500 record is not eligible for the lacrosse tournament)

So anyway, Tony, if the rumors are true and Towson fires you for not reaching the NCAA Tournament, let me be the first to suggest that Seth Tierney finds a spot for you on his staff.

As I noted, I’m a neophyte at this lacrosse stuff, so there will be no BSing my way around previews or whatnot or declaring anything other than it’d be quite cool if Hofstra finally reached the Final Four in a season in which it wasn’t even among the top four of its own conference.

For actual insight into the Dutchmen’s first round game and the NCAA Tournament in general, I highly suggest you check out my man Patrick Stevens’ blog, where he provides excellent in-depth coverage of college lacrosse and has covered six of Maryland’s last seven games.

The men’s lacrosse team isn’t the only one extending the spring season for Hofstra sports. The Flying Dutchwomen softball team cruised to another first place finish in the CAA—the 19th straight season Hofstra has won either a regular season or tournament championship in its conference—and began the CAA Tournament in rollicking fashion yesterday, when Jess Hirschbuhl hit a (I will not use walk-off, I will not use walk-off) game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to cap a six-run comeback and give the Dutchwomen a 7-3 victory over Towson.

The Dutchwomen, who play defending champion James Madison this morning at 10 a.m. with a trip to the championship round at stake, can assure themselves a trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the CAA tourney, but with an RPI in the top 40, an at-large bid is quite possible if they fall short this week.

The most unlikely success story is the most compelling. The baseball team, the unanimous pick to finish last in the CAA, still has a shot at qualifying for the conference tournament as it prepares to end the season with home weekend series against James Madison and Old Dominion. The Dutchmen are 9-9 in the CAA, one game behind our pals at George Mason for the fourth and final spot in the tournament.

The Dutchmen would be in really good shape if the tournament was still a six-team affair, but it was reduced to four prior to this season due to “…the changing economic conditions.” Southern bias strikes again!

Regardless of how the Dutchmen fare, second-year coach Patrick Anderson has overseen a remarkable renaissance for a program that has never finished above .500 in conference play—ever, going all the way back to the good ol’ ECC—and needed to sweep its final series of the season last year against William & Mary just to finish 6-18 in CAA play.

If the Dutchwomen win at least once today (whomever loses the 10 a.m. game plays the winner of the loser’s bracket game in an elimination contest 3 p.m.), then a neat doubleheader will present itself Friday, when the softball championship round begins at noon, two hours before the Dutchmen play James Madison across the street at University Field. Stop by and enjoy a cool coda to an otherwise forgettable year.

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