ECAC: Hobart going from D-1 to D-3

By David Brinch, Collegian Staff

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On April 26, the Eastern College Athletic Conference got some interesting news from a team in its conference.

As of the 2008-2009 academic school year, Hobart will reclassify from a Division I team to a Division III team.

“The changing landscape of collegiate lacrosse” and “the challenges inherent in recruiting talented student-athletes at the Division I level without athletic scholarships” led to the reclassification, according to the team’s Web site.

The Statesmen, along with No. 5 Johns Hopkins (6-5), are the only two Division III institutions competing in Division I men’s lacrosse. However, Hobart cannot offer athletic scholarships, due to NCAA regulations, something that the Blue Jays can give.

Moving to Division III will help bring more recruits and more competitive play to Geneva, N.Y.

Since reclassifying programs are not eligible for the NCAA tournament until two years after they switch divisions, Hobart must request a waiver to qualify to compete in the Division III playoffs beginning in 2011.

This policy was enacted to give time for current Division I-caliber players to graduate, and for the program as a whole to make adjustments to the new Division III rules and regulations.

The Statesmen moved from Division III to D-I in 1995, and competed against Division I programs during its regular season schedule since 1971, when the NCAA first sponsored men’s lacrosse.

Hobart joined the Patriot League as an associate member in 2000, after competing as an independent. Four years later, the conference’s membership policies changed, forcing the Statesmen out of the league. A year removed from the Patriot League, the team joined the ECAC, where it was to compete against No. 4 Georgetown (9-3, 5-1 ECAC), No. 16 Loyola (7-5, 61 ECAC) and Massachusetts (5-8, 3-3 ECAC).

Hobart has fared much better in Division II, III and the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association than in Division I lacrosse.

In 92 seasons under the three divisions, the Statesmen were 624-321-20 with 63 winning seasons, 21 NCAA tournament appearances and 16 national championships.

Between 1980 and 1991, Hobart won 12 consecutive NCAA Division III championships, but they have not seen that success translate in D-I play, going 88-98 since 1995.

They have had three winning seasons since moving up to Division I, and earned four NCAA Tournament bids, including a Patriot League Championship victory, an automatic birth and two at-large bids.

Hoyas get help from underclassmen

Georgetown got a preview of its future this weekend, as it defeated conference foe Rutgers, 13-7, giving the Blue and Grey a second-place finish in the ECAC. Four players from the class of 2010 totaled eight goals and five assists in the victory. Attackman Craig Dowd set a career-high with five assists, while fellow attackman Ricky Mirabito and midfielder Andrew Brancaccio had three goals against the Scarlet Knights (6-6, 3-3 ECAC). Midfielder Chris Schuville also contributed two goals, as eight different players recorded at least one goal, and 13 players had at least one point.

The Hoya offense is effective while attempting to score early in games, recording 130 shots in the first quarter of games this season.

The team will close out its regular season in an ECAC matchup against Penn State on May 3 as the Hoyas look to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

No. 1 Duke, Colgate clinch conference titles

Even though the Atlantic Coast Conference does not grant at large bids to the NCAA Tournament to conference champions, the nation’s top ranked team defeated No. 3 Virginia, 11-9, for its second conference title in two years.

Blue Devils (15-1, 4-0 ACC) goalkeeper Dan Loftus had a career-high 17 saves, earning the Tournament MVP title, while attackman and three-time ACC Conference Player of the Year Matt Danowski recorded a hat trick as well as an assist. Duke defeated the Cavilers, 19-9, back on April 12, and will look to be the top-seeded going into the NCAA Tournament.

No. 15 Colgate won the Patriot League Championship and an automatic bid to the tourney, defeating Bucknell, 13-9, for the program’s first conference championship. The Raiders, who were unranked last week, will also make its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

No. 6 Notre Dame cracked the top 10 this week, defeating Ohio State in its season finale, 17-12. The victory sealed a three-way tie in the final Great Western Lacrosse League standings with the Fighting Irish, Buckeyes and Denver all finishing with 4-1 conference records. ND will be the No. 1 seed at next weekend’s first-ever GWLL tournament, in hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament.

David Brinch can be reached at [email protected]