RALEIGH, N.C. -- As announced in Sunday night's NCAA Division III Tournament selection, the USA South Champion Meredith College lacrosse team will face off with the Merchant Marine Mariners Saturday, May 12, at 1 p.m. in round one action. USMMA captured the Skyline Conference Championship to earn the program's first trip to the tournament, while Saturday marks the Avenging Angels' fifth consecutive appearance.
Meredith (15-4) and Merchant Marine (14-2) will meet at Salisbury University, ranked no. 2 in the latest national poll, to open the tournament, and the winner will advance to Sunday's pairing versus the host.
Led by a full slate of conference honorees, including three-time Player of the Year Carlee Joseph, Rookie of the Year Lilia Cruz, and three-time Coach of the Year Lauren Scott, the Avenging Angels will bring their strong attack backed by a tenacious defense to the field.
Meredith ranks second nationally among all Division III programs in scoring offense and points scored and third in scoring margin. With Holly Hite as the Angels' program leader with 325 career draw controls, including a top-10 season nationally with 150, Meredith sits in second among DIII schools averaging 18.16 per match. Joseph assumed the USA South career records this spring with 371 points and 281 goals scored. Led by Cameron Ruffin, the defense held opponents to less than six goals per game, including a slate of nationally ranked and regionally reputable programs. Ruffin leads the college with 110 career caused turnovers, and the team forced 212 thus far this season.
The Mariners also bring a strong lineup to the field this weekend led by Skyline Coach of the Year Kyle Simensky, in his sixth year with USMMA. Junior Meredith Willard earned Offensive Player of the Year honors, while classmate Jessica Reilly garnered Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Willard leads the team in all three offensive categories with 95 total points, 72 goals, and 23 assists, while Reilly boasts 66 caused turnovers, 100 draw controls, and 84 ground balls.
Follow this weekend's action live HERE.
Prior to the team's Thursday morning departure, the Meredith administration and commencement players will perform a condensed version of the college's traditional graduation exercises, including Class Day, Baccalaureate, and Commencement. Graduating seniors Katie Buckman and Cameron Ruffin will miss the week's events while traveling and competing in their fourth NCAA tournament. Carlee Joseph, a four-year senior and student in Meredith's five-year, dual-degree engineering program, will complete her requirements next spring with degrees from both Meredith and N.C. State University and will also be recognized Thursday with her classmates.
The event is set to take place Thursday, May 10, at 9:30 a.m. in Johnson Hall on Meredith's campus. All are welcome. Watch a live stream HERE.