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What I Learned from the NCAA Tournament

Lacrosse Championship

The 2013 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament, which ended last Monday afternoon with Duke defeating top-seeded Syracuse 16-10, gave the Blue Devils their second championship title in four years. What's more, the back-and-forth game had more than enough action to keep die-hard lacrosse fans and newbies on the edges of their seats. Like college games in any sport, the tournament offered that measure of youthful exuberance that even the most polished professional games fail to garner.

Whether you consider yourself somewhere between the decades-old lacrosse fans and the people just discovering the game or if you’re a diehard on either side of the spectrum, there was much to learn from this year’s tournament.

1. Upsets are exciting. College tournaments, in lacrosse and any sport, are all about the upsets. Most tourneys have at least a couple of startling turnarounds. However, watching Duke defeat top-seeded Syracuse after the Orange led 5-0 after the first 15 minutes of the game was exciting to all but the most tried-and true-Syracuse fans. The first round of the tournament was filled with upsets as well. Neither of the teams from the 2012 championship game made it past round one!

2. Brendan Fowler is a faceoff master. The junior All-American from Duke definitely deserved his "Most Outstanding Player" of the game honor after winning 20 of 28 faceoffs during the championship game against Syracuse. Fowler, the leading college faceoff specialist in the country, faced six Syracuse players during the course of the game. None could best him. Amazingly, Duke didn't recruit Fowler to play lacrosse; the New York state native came to North Carolina on his own. The coach says they didn't even realize he was coming to Duke until the end of his senior year in high school.

3. The Atlantic Coast Conference rules. ACC teams have played in 27 of the last 43 championship games and holds 14 titles, including the most recent win by Duke. That tradition is likely to continue. Syracuse, holder of 11 lacrosse championship titles, is joining the ACC in 2014.

4. The game was all about teamwork. Teamwork was the buzzword for the championship game. No fewer than five players scored goals for Duke, including four by Jordan Wolf and three by Josh Dionne. Seven players scored goals for Syracuse.

Lacrosse season may be over for the summer, but the excitement lingers. Congratulations to the Blue Devils for a spectacular tournament victory.