By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If there is a true winner in tonight’s NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse tournament first round battle between Cabrini College and Eastern University – it very well may be the travel budget.
The two schools are literally right across the street from each other in Radnor, adding a neat angle to this match-up. While the neighborhood may be the same for the two programs, their postseason resumes are vastly different.
Cabrini will be making its 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, but head coach Steve Colfer says getting in never gets old. “Every year is its own journey and there’s a new group every year that we coach and it is special for them. We have new players each year with our freshman class, so this is their first opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament so we want to make sure we never take this chances for granted and obviously respect the opportunity we have to get back into the tournament,” he said.
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Steve Colfer:
At the other end of the spectrum, Eastern will be making its first ever tournament appearance, and head coach Kevin Wallace says that makes it a fun time on campus. “It’s been very special,” he said. ” The guys have been thriving off this moment and really taking full advantage of this opportunity given to them. Being a small school and a school of faith, it’s definitely not seen very often and being a school like that, it’s (the season) been a huge success for us.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Kevin Wallace:
15-2 Cabrini comes in as the champion of the Colonial States Athletic Conference. It’s the 12th straight year they have won the CSAC title and Colfer says it is a young group that has really come together. “We set the bar high, but coming in (to the season),” he said. We didn’t think it was going to be a true rebuilding year, because we had a lot of pieces back, but some of our younger guys have really stepped in and played significant roles. I’d say they’ve probably met, or slightly exceeded our expectations.”
13-4 Eastern got into the tournament by winning the Middle Atlantic Conference title and Wallace, who just had the interim tag removed from his coaching title, says this squad really has been pointing to this season for big things. “This is a great group of guys, it’s been building for years now. Previous coach Brandon Childs had been building this program up. This is the group of guys, for the last four years we’ve been building to this point and this was the year for us to go,” he said.
Cabrini and Eastern will get underway tonight at Cabrini at 6:30pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.