Penn Is In NCAA Championship

2006 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship Bracket

PHILADELPHIA - When the Harvard name went up on the board during ESPNEWS' broadcastannouncing the NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship field, the tension and panic among the Penn men's lacrosse players sitting and watching the selection show was palpable.

It only took seconds for that alarm to turn to euphoria, though, when the Quakers' name went up on the board in the very next matchup. Penn is in the 16-team NCAA field for 2006.

And what a matchup it will be. Penn will meet the defending NCAA champion, Johns Hopkins, in the first roundSaturday at the Blue Jays' Homewood Field. Start time will be 1 p.m.

This will mark the first time Penn and Hopkins have met in the postseason. The winner ofnext weekend'sgame will move on to the quarterfinal round at Stony Brook, N.Y. on Saturday, May 20.

This will mark Penn's 10th appearance in the NCAA Championship event, and the second time in the last three years. However, this year the Quakers have added incentive -- a pair of wins will land them right back in their own home city of Philadelphia. For the second year in a row, the semifinals and final will take place Memorial Day Weekend at Lincoln Financial Field.

It is a huge step forward for a program that was just 2-11 a year ago. This year, the Quakers went 10-3 fortheir best overall record since 1988, and 4-2 in the Ivy League (Penn's best Ancient Eight mark since 1989).

"This is a great day for our program and for our seniors in particular," said Penn Head Coach Brian Voelker, whoenjoyed a standout lacrosse careerat Hopkins and was an assistant coach for the Blue Jays from 1997-2001. "They really set the tone during the offseason that we were not going to have a repeat of last year, and seeing our name come up on the screen was vindication for all the work they have put into this season.

"This is obviously a tough matchup," he continued. "Hopkins has experience in the NCAAs and will be ready to defend their title. However, after the season we have had, I think our guys feel a lot of confidence, and so we hope to see that carry over to next weekend."

Penn is one of four Ivy League teams to make the NCAA Tournament -- in addition to the Crimson, who drew Syracuse in the first round, Cornell is the sixth seed and Princeton is the seventh seed. No other conference had as many tournament teams as the Ivy League.

A total of eight teams were seeded and will host home games next weekend. Undefeated Virginia led the way as the No. 1 seed.