Denver vies to break the Eastern lock on lacrosse (Photo / denverpioneers.com)
While the presence of Bill Tierney's Denver Pioneers in this weekend's NCAA lacrosse Final Four is continued evidence of the sport's westward drift, its power base remains squarely anchored in two Eastern states: New York and Maryland. If Cornell and Syracuse advance to Monday's final (Duke rounds out the Final Four), New York would prove itself the Empire State of the college lacrosse world. At least this year.
Of the past ten NCAA I lacrosse titles, three have gone to one New York team, Syracuse. In the same period, a combined three crowns have been handed to two Maryland teams: last year's champion Loyola and two to Johns Hopkins (2005, 2007). If you add bridesmaids to the mix, Maryland has the momentary advantage; in seven of the past ten championship games the state has had a representative in the final. Last year it had two, as Loyola beat in-state rival Maryland for the crown. New York has sent four teams to the title game.
The difference, then, is in the rosters. Cornell's draws 46% of its players from its home state, while Syracuse draws just over 50% of its roster from New York. A Syracuse-Cornell final would have just under half the field (49%) hailing from the state. In comparison, last year's Loyola-Maryland final had 36% of the players from the Free State, despite the Terps' place as the state's public university representative.
If both Cornell and Syracuse bow out in the semis? No contest. A Duke-Denver final would include 17 New Yorkers and just eight Marylanders.