Men's Lacrosse: Ivy tournament brings different atmosphere
The playoff consists of two rounds every year, as only the top four teams from the Ivy Leauge are invited to play. The regular-season Ivy League champion hosts the event and plays the weakest seed in the first round, and the overall winner is guaranteed an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.
For junior attackman Luke Armour, this reward is more than enough motivation to remain focused this weekend.
“Winning the Ivy League Tournament looks like it is our one surefire way to get into the big dance,” he said. “That’s the focus: Win every game so that we can get out of our current situation as a bubble team.”
Regular-season play is still important in determining which teams will enter the NCAA Tournament, but the only way for an Ivy League team to earn guaranteed entry is through winning the conference playoff. According to sophomore midfielder Tom Schreiber, though, the fact that the Tigers will essentially have to start over in their quest for an automatic bid next week does not make their recent title win any less special.
“Winning the Ivy League championship has been a goal of ours all year,” he said. “Winning one was amazing.”
Senior defenseman Chad Wiedmaier agreed with Schreiber’s sentiments regarding the title.
“I wouldn’t say one is more valuable than the other,” he said. “Every team wants to win the Ivy League, but every team also wants to be playing on Memorial Day.”
Occasionally, the tournament has served to unofficially break a tie for the Ivy League title. Though this will not be the case this year, senior attackman Alex Capretta said he appreciates the tournament’s setup for that exact reason. Two years ago, he and his teammates had to share the title with three other teams before going on to win the Ivy League Tournament.
“My sophomore year, we shared the regular season Ivy League Championship and it felt, for lack of a better word, insignificant,” he said. “When we won the tournament [this year], it felt like we actually won something.”
Because every team in the conference faces each other once during the regular season, every game played in the tournament is a rematch from earlier that year. For Wiedmaier, who has already won one Ivy League Tournament, this unique feature of the bracket makes preparation less cerebral and more attitude-based.
“Preparation this week is less about strategy and game plans and more about just being confident and playing fast without overthinking things too much,” he said.
Armour, who was a part of Princeton’s deep postseason run with Wiedmaier two years ago, expressed similar sentiments about trying to keep preparation simplified.
“Preparation is pretty similar [before the tournament],” he said. “We want to focus on what we do, sharpen our skills and get mentally prepared for the opponent.”
Schreiber, who will be entering his first Ivy League Tournament after the Tigers came up short in his rookie season, is grateful for the chance to even compete in the postseason.
“We know this week of practice could be our last, so we are cherishing every practice and getting the most out of each day,” he said.
Schreiber and his teammates will have a chance to prevent that from happening on Friday, when the 2012 tournament begins.