When the division two women's lacrosse bracket was announced, one of the best teams in the nation was left off of it. LeMoyne was ranked in the top three all year, finished the 2021 season 13-1, with its lone loss coming in the NE10 Conference Tournament Semifinals. That loss was by one goal to rival Adelphia, who was ranked 11th in the country at the time.
It seems unfathomable that a team such as LeMoyne would be left out. The Dolphins beat seven top 20 teams and outscored its opponents 222-85. To make matters worse, the bracket was leaked early. The selection show was supposed to stream at 8:30 p.m. on the NCAA's website. This added insult to injury for the Dolphins.
"We had two strange things happen," LeMoyne women's lacrosse head coach Liz Beville said. "I received a text message from a coach who quickly realized that I was not sure what she was talking about. She was watching something live prior to the 8:30 p.m. time that we thought it was going to be aired. So I was a little bit weirded out with that text, wasn't really sure what was going on. Then one of our players walked into the gym with a screenshot of an Instagram post of the bracket. So that had already been circulated through social media. I didn't think it was real, to be honest.
"I don't understand how that could be out when the show hasn't started. Unfortunately, the NCAA really failed our student-athletes because that show went live. People saw it before. Other players saw it, coaches saw it, parents saw it. So our players had to walk into a gym thinking they knew their future but weren't really sure. It really was not a great experience, to be honest with you. I don't wish anybody had to go through it."
All 12 teams in the field were at-large selections. There were no automatic qualifiers. However, the 12 teams were selected regionally. There were three teams across four regions. LeMoyne was kept out of the field in favor of Roberts Wesleyan, Mercy and Bentley. In the coaches poll, LeMoyne was ranked third, Bentley 15th, Roberts Wesleyan 16th and Mercy 19th. The gap seemed to be large.
The loss to Adelphi, however, seemed to be enough for the committee to keep the Dolphins out. This despite the fact that Mercy and Bentley both had more losses than LeMoyne, fewer wins over ranked opponents, and Bentley had losses that were to teams ranked worse than LeMoyne's.
"I think just complete and utter shock," Beville said. "Disbelief. I'm still learning the division two postseason process and what comes into play when these decisions are made. It's really difficult to sit here and say we didn't prove our worth this year. We were never ranked below third all season. It was either a two or a three in the coaches poll. Then we go through the regular season (undefeated) and we played Adelphi three times. It's extremely difficult to play Adelphi three times. Adelphi was in the top 15 all year and it's extremely difficult to beat a team like that. It's hard to kind of comprehend and understand the rationale that we're being told it could be part of the strength of schedule.
"But a lot of what the division two committee looks at is computer algorithms and numbers. Things like that where you have division one that have coaches eyes, they look at different things, look at the covid impact on different programs. Unfortunately that didn't happen with the division two bracket this year. Not only were we left out but Florida Southern was left out, you had other teams, Tampa, another top 20 team was left out of that mix. Florida is probably the next space where the game is growing, and we didn't have reputation from that area when they were deserving."
Syracuse.com spoke with division two women's lacrosse selection committee chair Dean O'Keefe, who indicated there was no specific criteria where LeMoyne fell short. Rather that the committee looked at the "body of work" in making the determination. It seems that the selections were then somewhat arbitrary if the committee cannot say why other schools were put in with LeMoyne left out.
Regardless of the disappointment in how the season ended, coach Beville will remember this team as a talented, resilient and resolute bunch.
"We really had a great year," Beville said. "Our first game against New Haven, the first 30 minutes was a little bit rocky for us but they really picked it up. We found a way to win all season long. We were in close games, we were in games where we were up by a lot, we were in games where we were down at times and we found a way to win. This team was resilient. They were dedicated. They made tremendous sacrifices off the field to be able to play all 12 regular season games and to put us in good shape to play postseason.
"I'm really proud of this team and everything that they accomplished on and off the field this year. It certainly was not easy starting practices through a computer screen. That's how we started the year was through Zoom sessions and meetings and going over different things. We found a way to come together. I'm disappointed we didn't get a chance to continue because I don't think this team peaked yet."