Nov. 6, 2012
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Lafayette made history as the first-ever Patriot League team to earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Field Hockey Tournament. Now, the Leopards try to pull off another first against an opponent that has knocked the Patriot League representative out of the NCAA tourney five times.
The Leopards, ranked No. 13 in the NFHCA Poll, will face No. 6 Maryland in the NCAA Tournament First Round on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Storrs, Conn. The winner will move on to the second round on Sunday at 2 p.m. against the winner of Saturday's other semifinal pitting No. 4 Connecticut and No. 12 Northeastern.
Lafayette will be the sixth Patriot League team to face Maryland in the NCAA Tournament. The Leopards were the first to do so when they fell 6-0 to the Terps in the inaugural NCAA trip for a Patriot League team in 1999. Maryland has also won first-round games against Fairfield (2001) and American (2009), and defeated the Eagles in the second round in both 2004 and 2005.
Lafayette and Maryland have comparable results against common opponents this year, each beating American and Rutgers but losing to Princeton. While the Leopards are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999, the Terps are in the field for the 25th time and 18th in a row.
Patriot League NCAA Tournament Notebook
THE TOP FIVE @PATRIOTLEAGUE NOTES
*Lafayette makes the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.
*The Leopards the first-ever Patriot League team to earn an at-large berth.
*Lafayette lost 6-0 to Maryland in its last NCAA trip in 1999.
*Patriot League teams are 0-5 against the Terps in the NCAA Tournament.
*Lafayette's Deanna DiCroce is second in League history in points and third in assists and goals.
Leopards Try to Break Patriot League's NCAA Skid
It's been seven years since a Patriot League team won in the NCAA Tournament, a streak Lafayette will try to put an end to on Saturday. Patriot League squads have lost in the first round in the past four trips, all by American. League teams are 2-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, and 2-7 in the first round.
A First Since 2001
It is just the third time that someone other than American is representing the Patriot League in the NCAA Tournament. Fairfield made the trip in 2001 in addition to Lafayette in 1999.
Lafayette Aims to Turn History vs. Maryland, ACC
Out of the nine trips to the NCAA Tournament for Patriot League teams, eight have ended at the hands of an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Prior to American's 3-2 stroke-off loss to Connecticut in 2010, the Patriot League had gone down to an ACC squad in each of its appearances. In addition to losses against Maryalnd in 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2009, American fell against Duke in 2003 and Wake Forest in both 2006 and 2008.
Senior Stars Lead the Way
If Lafayette is able to pull the upset, it will likely involve contributions from a pair of standout seniors. Deanna DiCroce is second in League history in points and third in assists and goals, and is enjoying an outstanding final year with 18 goals and 15 assists. Emily Valeo has set a Patriot League record with 46 assists in her career, and her 18 assists this season stand second in League history.
NCAA Tournament First Round - Saturday (Storrs, Conn.)
No. 13 Lafayette Leopards (17-2, 5-0 PL) vs. No. 6 Maryland Terrapins (16-5, 3-2 ACC), 2 p.m.
No. 13 Lafayette takes on defending champion and No. 6-ranked Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Field Hockey Tournament on Saturday at 2 p.m....The Leopards are the first Patriot League team to earn an at-large berth into the field, and play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999...That appearance came against Maryland, who beat the Leopards 6-0 and are 2-0 all-time against Lafayette...Maryland is making its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance and 18th straight...The teams share three common opponents, each beating Rutgers and American and losing to No. 2 Princeton...The winner will play at 2 p.m on Sunday against the winner of Saturday's first matchup, No. 4 Connecticut against No. 12 Northeastern.
Lafayette The Leopards won their second consecutive Patriot League title in dramatic fashion, beating Colgate 4-3 in overtime in the semifinals on Nov. 2 before rallying for a 2-1 overtime win against American in the championship on Nov. 3...Deanna DiCroce was named Tournament MVP after scoring both goals in the championship victory...DiCroce is in the top three in League history in career points, goals and assists, and leads the conference with 51 points this season...Emily Valeo is the Patriot League all-time leader with 46 assists, and tops the charts with 18 this season...The Leopards are among the national leaders in both goals scored and goals against average...Lafayette fell to No. 2 Princeton 6-0 in an NCAA Play-In game on Tuesday, but still made it into the field with the first at-large berth out of the Patriot League...Lafayette's resume features wins over three conference champions, including NCAA Tournament participants Drexel and Albany.