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It's NCAA Tournament Time for Men's Lacrosse

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"The Crimson in 'da house, oh my god, oh my god."

Syracuse basketball player John Wallace started it during his team's Final Four run, and now the Harvard men's lacrosse team has appropriately borrowed it.

For the first time since 1990 and just the fourth time in the history of the program, the Harvard men's lacrosse team is headed to the NCAA tournament.

At 12:30 tomorrow afternoon in Ithaca, New York, the Crimson (11-2) will battle the sixth-seeded Hofstra Flying Dutchmen (9-4) in a first round game. The winner will play the third-seeded Virginia Cavaliers next weekend for a ticket to the Final Four in College Park, Md.

"This is a tribute to the fine year that we had," head coach Scott Anderson said. "All the kids are very excited to represent Harvard."

That being said, the Crimson enter the game as the eleventh seed, even though they are currently ranked sixth in the polls.

"The seeding is a bit deflating when you work for a position all year and then you are deprived of that in a manner that seems arbitrary," Anderson said of the way that the NCAA selects the first round match-ups. "I don't agree with the system but in this case I don't really care."

Regardless, Harvard is on a huge roll. The team has tallied seven straight victories with four of those wins coming over top 20 opponents.

The winning streak has been highlighted by the excellent play of Ivy League Co-Player of the year Mike Eckert, junior goalie Rob Lyng and All-Ivy first team middie Chris Wojcik. However, the Crimson's success has been due mostly to very consistent play at every position.

"We've been playing well, but we've done that consistently all season," Anderson added. "We have the kind of team that needs to get good efforts from everyone in order to win. There is not a lot of margin for error at any position on the field."

Harvard is not the only team that comes into tomorrow's contest on a bit of a role. The Dutchmen have won four in a row, including a big upset over seventh-seeded John's Hopkins and a shocking 10-9 win over No. 2 North Carolina.

"We have films of most of their games, and they have clearly gotten much stronger as the season has progressed," Anderson said.

Hofstra is not new to NCAA tournament play. The Long Island school has been to the tournament seven times, including a Final Four appearance as recently as 1993.

The Dutchmen play a very conservative, deliberate style on both offense and defense. The loyal Crimson faithful might be reminded of the Notre Dame game when they see the way that Hofstra works the ball around for shots and packs in its defense.

The Dutchmen, like the Crimson, do not have much depth, but they do have one of the nation's best attack. However, Hofstra might be without leading scorer and star Blake Miller, who injured his hamstring last Saturday against North Carolina. His status for tomorrow's game is unknown.

Miller's linemates, Jared Testa and Chris Panos are also both big scorers with potent outside shots. Hofstra's weakness, although not a glaring one, is in goal, where Kevin Johnson is allowing opponents to score almost 13 times per game.

The game, at least on paper, looks to be a very close one. Harvard and Hofstra share four common opponents: Brown, UMass, UNH and Vermont. Harvard won all four of those games while Hofstra went 3-1, losing to Brown early in the year.

In order to win this game, Harvard must work on defense and control the ball on offense.

"We need to create turnovers, get the ball up the field and control it," Anderson added. "We know that they will have long possessions so we need to hold the ball in order to rest our defense."

The player who may be holding the ball a lot for the Crimson will be co-captain Eckert, Harvard's new all-time leading scorer. Last weekend, on the final goal against Dartmouth, Eckert tied the school's total point record and he will most likely break it tomorrow.

"It felt good to get the monkey off of my back," Eckert said.

The Crimson, too, will be looking to get a monkey off its back tomorrow. All season long, this squad has been playing for respect on the national level. With a win tomorrow, it will finally have some.

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