Both Drexel University and the greater Philadelphia region will be in the national spotlight this weekend as four teams come to town for the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinals. The University of Virginia, the University of Notre Dame, Colgate University and Duke University will put a bid to the Final Four on the line in a pair of matchups May 20 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., home of the Philadelphia Union soccer team.
Defending national champion UVA will attempt to clinch its fifth straight Final Four appearance and its 17th in the last 19 years against Notre Dame May 20 at noon. The matchup features two teams that beat the Dragons by one goal each earlier this season.
Taking the field after them for the second game of the day’s doubleheader will be a matchup between Colgate and Duke. Colgate earned the right to be on the field after coming from behind to beat an undefeated University of Massachusetts team.
Fans who purchase tickets to the games can experience even more of the weekend’s action without any additional cost. Drexel, the official host university for the games, plans on making it a bigger showcase weekend for all lacrosse fans attending.
Ticketholders for the games will be allowed to enter the facility on Saturday by showing their ticket for Sunday to attend each team’s practice and autograph sessions. NCAA posters will be provided for those attending each autograph session, which will make players available for 20 minutes following their team’s practice.
Virginia will kick off the practice sessions with its 10 a.m. practice, followed by Colgate at 11:25 a.m., Notre Dame at 12:50 p.m. and Duke at 2:15 p.m.
Additionally, among Saturday’s festivities is a free youth lacrosse clinic for kids under the age of 15. There will be contests and prizes, and participants will also receive a lacrosse ball that they can use to get the autograph of one of the collegiate players.
Extending the weekend’s festivities to include events beyond just the games is part of Drexel’s initiative to spread the school and athletic department’s branding, especially for young, prospective lacrosse players seeking to play at the collegiate level. Nick Gannon, Drexel’s deputy director of athletics, said the hope is to spread the Drexel branding and get local youth involved.
“It gets more kids aware of Drexel and Drexel sports programs as well as being a player [for recruiting students],” Gannon said. “It creates an awareness that this is a first-rate school and a first-rate athletic program.”
The 2012 Quarterfinals are just the beginning for Drexel’s presence in NCAA lacrosse. The University, in partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles, will host the 2013 NCAA Lacrosse Men’s Final Four at Lincoln Financial Field. This is a result of the NCAA’s current model, which allows the championship site to host the quarterfinals the year before hosting the big weekend. Drexel obtained this right after being selected by the NCAA men’s lacrosse committee, which decides the sites.
Gannon and the University encourage anyone interested in the sport, all Drexel students and all locals to attend the weekend’s festivities. They will be able to take pride in seeing Drexel in the national spotlight.
“They’ll be proud to see the scope of the event, bringing in four nationally ranked teams,” Gannon said. “It’s something to be proud of that Drexel can host an event of this nature and partner with professional organizations.”
Tickets for Sunday’s games are available for $22 at comcasttix.com or by calling 1-800-298-4200.