Rutgers is going to their first semifinal game in program history, and head coach Brian Brecht is the architect behind it all. PIC: Ben Solomon / Rutgers Athletics
Well, it’s safe to say I did not have a great second round. I went a measly 2-for-4, and only got the shoe-ins right. Here’s how I did.
Result: 18-9 Maryland
My Prediction: 12-10 Maryland
Result: 10-8 Cornell
My Prediction: 14-8 Cornell
Result: 11-9 Rutgers
My Prediction: 15-13 Penn
Result: Princeton 14-10
My Prediction: Yale 16-13
I was wrong about Rutgers. Man, oh man. This Rutgers team is good. They're heading to their first Final Four in program history, and it's well-deserved. They've set a program record wins with 15, they've got the most wins over ranked opponents in program history (6), and 3 top-ten wins, including last week's over #3 Penn. Ross Scott is THAT dude, racking up 8 goals in round 1 and a pair of points last week. Colin Kirst has locked it down in goal, and with 6 saves to go until he's ranked #2 on the all-time Rutgers goalie list, you can bet he'll be there to bail out the Scarlet Knights' defense on any given possession. He has quite literally moved mountains for Rutgers this year. This team is SO good.
Maryland is going to run the table. Last year’s championship rematch came in the Quarterfinal last week in College Park. If you’re a Terps fan, it went about as well as it could’ve. A 18-9 victory for Maryland sealed the deal over Virgina, who killed the Terps’ titletown hopes last year. Maryland is not screwing around this year; they’ll take a 16-0 record into Championship Weekend. Logan Wisnauskas is a big reason why…he’s second among active NCAA players in goals, and third in points. He’s got weapons around him, though, as he’s proved to be an unselfish offensive contributor, racking up 40 assists so far on the year. This team is one of the best, most complete teams we’ve seen in a while.
F4 Game 1: Maryland beats Princeton
Maryland already picked off the Tigers by way of a 15-10 decision back in February. Yes, it was only the fourth game of the season and Princeton was still finding its way, but the Terps’ defense ramped itself up throughout the game and limited Princeton to only four second-half goals. A big reason why they won is their faceoff man, Luke Wierman, who went 19-for-27 from the X. If Princeton doesn’t show up with their A-game from the faceoff circle, this could get out of hand quickly.
F4 Game 2: Rutgers beats Cornell
Cornell had a really solid season this year. They come in as the #7-overall seed and a 13-4 record, with losses to 3 Ivy League foes (Brown, Yale, Penn) and Patriot League runner-up Army. Last week, I would've said CJ Kirst and John Piatelli would've carried this team into the title game, but I think they are simply catching Rutgers at a horrible time. But CJ's older brother Colin Kirst will make his life hell in between the pipes, coming in with a 66% save percentage in the first two tournament games. Rutgers looks like a team that's clicking right now, which does not bode well for the Big Red.
Championship: Maryland beats Rutgers
The two Big Ten teams in the tournament meet for a third time this year for all the marbles. Maryland is 2-0 against the Scarlet Knights this year, having outscored them a whopping 34-16 in their two matchups. Make no mistake; they’ll do the same in matchup number three. In both of their previous meetings, Maryland got off to a monstrous start…they scored 6 first-quarter goals in the regular season contest and 5 in the second one. If the Terps have a similar start, Rutgers can pack its bags before they can even settle in. Eliminating UM’s Anthony DeMaio will be key for the Scarlet Knights, who’s scored six times in the two tournament games he’s appeared in.
An omen: Maryland's 2017 National Championship picture at Gillette Stadium. It was their first NCAA title since 1975. PIC: Maryland Athletics