By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/15/09
The Ivy League will hold playoff tournaments to determine the league’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division I tournament beginning in 2010, Executive Director Jeff Orleans announced today.
The regular-season champion will host the four-team tournament each year.
“I think it’s exciting for the girls to be able to play in a tournament format,” Penn coach Karin Brower said. “I played in a conference (Colonial Athletic Association) that had a championship tournament and it was a fun experience.
“I’m glad we’ll get the opportunity to do it. It is something that every other conference does, and we are very pleased to add it to ours.”
Brower’s Quakers won their second straight Ivy League championship last year and fell to four-time champion Northwestern in the NCAA finals. Brower believes the tournament will help the Ivy League teams improve their strength of schedule and prepare them for the NCAA tourney.
“The basis of why we wanted one is to help our strength of schedule and RPI ranking,” she said. “A couple of teams last year really benefited from having a conference tournament when they got (to the NCAAs.)
“When you have a strong conference – which the Ivy League is – and you play strong teams, even if you lose, it can help. Hopefully this will help us get maybe two or three teams in the (NCAA) tournament.”
Orleans said the tourney will eliminate the problem of co-champions in the regular season.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to showcase our very strong men’s and women’s lacrosse teams,” said Orleans. “And we’re also pleased that we can avoid deciding our automatic bid recipient through a tiebreaker formula if we have regular-season ties, as often has been the case.”
Penn men’s coach Brian Voelker also believes the tourney will be a boost to the Ivy League season.
“I think all the coaches are excited to have an end-of-year tournament,” said Voelker, who enters his seventh season with the Quakers. “We agreed unanimously that this was the best way to put ourselves in a position to get multiple teams from the league into the NCAA Tournament. It will be a great weekend for the players and an opportunity to showcase the best of the Ivy League.”
The Penn men have gone 6-7 each of the last two years, after earning NCAA bids in 2004 and 2006. The Quakers have also finished in the top four of the Ivy League five of the last six seasons.
The women’s inaugural tournament will take place Friday, April 30 and Sunday, May 2 of 2010, while the men’s tournament will be played on the Friday and Sunday of the regular season’s final weekend (May 7-9, 2010).