When the field for the NCAA Division I women's lacrosse tournament is announced Sunday at 9 p.m. on CSTV, there shouldn't be many surprises. Most of the top teams have been fairly consistent, leaving few on the bubble.
No. 1 Northwestern (16-0) appears a lock for the top seed, having proved itself despite a schedule not as strong as many other top teams'.
"They've earned it," said Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker. "I do think strength of schedule will play some part [in the selections], but they have a solid win over [No. 2] Duke."
At the bottom of the 16-team bracket, a few questions remain.
Hofstra and Syracuse, the apparent bubble teams, will keep a close watch on Sunday's America East final.
If No. 3 Boston University takes the title - and one of eight automatic bids awarded to conference champs - Hofstra or Syracuse could sneak in.
However, both could be left out if Boston University loses, because the Terriers would still make the field along with the conference champ.
Johns Hopkins could secure its fortune with a win at Georgetown on Saturday.
"I'm hoping to have a nice win over Georgetown, so we don't have to stress over it," said Tucker, "but if we lose, our chances are still solid."
As for other local teams, Towson is an automatic qualifier as the Colonial Athletic Association champ, while Maryland and Mount St. Mary's should make the final 16.
The other automatic qualifiers: Northwestern (American Lacrosse), Dartmouth (Ivy), Georgetown (Big East), Temple (Atlantic 10), Colgate (Patriot League) and the winner of Friday's play-in game between Mount St. Mary's (Northeast) and Manhattan (Metro Atlantic) at 2 p.m. in Emmitsburg.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has too few teams for an automatic bid, but Maryland, Duke, defending national champion Virginia and North Carolina should get at-large bids.
Princeton and Penn State, if it beats Delaware on Saturday, likely would get the two remaining spots.
Cardinals go for fifth title
The best kept secret in local women's college lacrosse may be at CCBC-Catonsville, where the Cardinals are about to go after their fifth straight national junior college championship.
The Cardinals (12-1) play Sunday for the Region XX title, but they have already qualified for the four-team National Junior College Athletic Association tournament May 14-15 at Nassau Community College in New York.
Coach Tom Taylor said the key to his team's success has been recruiting. He and soccer coach James Haislip recruit many of the same players, and 10 of them went to the national tournament last fall in soccer.
"The key to success is working with other coaches," Taylor said. "At the community college level, the bottom line is you have to have numbers. Of course, if you have some good players in those numbers, you have a better chance to be successful."
Top scorer Monica Buck has 30 goals and 25 assists, followed by Betsy Lappe (23, 22), Alison Smith (25, 14), Caitlin Caldwell (18, 20), Amie Barcikowski (21, 15) and Kandi Schroeder (18, 16). The Cardinals have scored 199 goals.
The defense has allowed 42 goals - just 3.2 a game.
Anchored by goalie Melissa Seesz, the most valuable player at last year's national tournament, the Cardinals have an aggressive defensive unit in Colleen Delaney, Julie Korrow and Jen Witowski.
Go west, young lady
After South River graduate Jen May decided to head west to first-year Oregon, she wondered for a while whether she had made the right decision.
"As soon as I hung up the phone, I thought, `What did I just do?' I was the fourth girl to commit. We didn't even have a team. I had to cross my fingers that more girls would commit."
Once she joined the Ducks in Eugene, however, May knew she had made the right decision.
"We have an amazing group of girls," said May, the leading scorer for the Ducks (5-10) with 38 goals and nine assists, "and I wouldn't change it for anything. This is my family for four years."
Women's Div. I poll
IWLCA Top 20
The top 20 teams in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Division I poll, with first-place votes in parentheses
No. School Record Points
1. Northwestern (15) 16-0 300
2. Duke 14-3 276
3. Boston University 15-1 269
4. Dartmouth 13-1 257
5. Princeton 12-3 240
6. Georgetown 12-3 226
7. Virginia 13-4 216
8. Maryland 10-6 194
9. North Carolina 13-5 178
10. Penn State 11-4 167
11. Johns Hopkins 10-5 152
12. Syracuse 11-4 132
13. Towson 13-5 122
14. Hofstra 14-4 101
15. Yale 11-6 73
16. Connecticut 11-5 64
17. Delaware 8-7 61
18. Vanderbilt 6-8 43
19. Stanford 11-5 30
20. Penn 7-7 20
Others receiving votes: Temple 16, Cornell 8.
Women's Div. III poll
IWLCA Top 20
The top 20 teams in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Division III poll, with first-place votes in parentheses
No. School Record Points
1. Salisbury (15) 13-0 300
2. Middlebury 12-1 285
3. The College of New Jersey 13-2 261
4. Bowdoin 14-2 242
5. Colorado College 10-1 234
6. Amherst 11-2 228
7. Gettysburg 15-3 223
8. Franklin & Marshall 12-3 194
9. Cortland 14-1 180
10. Williams 11-4 160
11. Washington & Lee 14-3 139
12. Colby 11-5 128
13. Tufts 8-6 101
14. Stevens 15-2 99
15. Wesleyan 7-7 81
16. Union 11-3 75
17. Trinity, Conn. 8-7 70
18. St. Mary's 10-6 41
19. Skidmore 12-3 31
20. Goucher 9-7 22
Others receiving votes: Drew 11, Hamilton 9, Messiah 6.