Swezey: The Year Face-Off Went Away
Wednesday May 24th, 2017 4:30pm
(Inside Lacrosse Photo: Dave Anderson)
The NCAA Quarterfinal weekend was marked by several outstanding performances: Towson’s iron clad defensive midfield; Maryland’s precise, sleek sports car of a squad; Ohio State’s witheringly effective black-and-blue offense; Albany’s wonderful positivity even in the face of a 12-goal deficit.
But the performance I kept going back to was Denver junior Trevor Baptiste winning 21 of 22 face-offs in a 16-4 victory over Notre Dame. His dominance was such that, in a span of 20 minutes 24 seconds, the Fighting Irish did not take a shot. That includes their going without a shot for the entire second quarter.
It was Baptiste who was the main talking point on Sunday at Delaware Stadium and the co-talking point, along with Towson, at the MIAA Semifinals on Monday night at Homewood Field.
The question was the same: Have we ever seen anything like Baptiste winning 21 of 22 face-offs, in an NCAA Tournament game, against a team that had been ranked No. 1 earlier in the year? (The Fighting Irish, for what it’s worth, are the answer to the trivia question of which team was ranked No. 1 in the first poll in March; the drinker of that poisoned chalice has not won an NCAA title since 2005, a streak that continues into 2018.)
The excellent NCAA Tournament record book doesn’t appear to include face-offs.
The closest I could find otherwise was from a long time ago. Then-freshman Ned Radebaugh won 20 of 22 face-offs to lead Johns Hopkins over Cornell, 13-8, in the 1978 NCAA Title Game at Rutgers Stadium. Radebaugh helped the Blue Jays to a 50-35 advantage on shots.
And his performance comes with the mother and father of footnotes. One, it ended Cornell’s 42-game winning streak, a steak that still is an NCAA Division I record.
And two, a few months later, a change in the rules was announced that virtually eliminated face-offs from the college game.
REad it all HERE at InsideLacrosse