Tournament to field 26 teams in 2013 season
21 August 2012
The NCAA announced that the Division I women's lacrosse championships would be a 26-team tournament starting in the spring of 2013, the first adjustment to the bracket since the field expanded from 12 to 16 for the 2001 tournament. The move reflects the fast-paced growth of the sport at the collegiate level, with over 100 Division I programs set to take the field that year, marking the first time that sponsorship numbers at the Division I level have topped the century mark.
“We certainly applaud this move,” stated Gothard Lane, the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches' Association. “The number of opportunities for women to participate in the sport at the Division I level in colleges has grown exponentially, and the NCAA's decision to expand the post-season opportunities for all of those student-athletes recognizes this shift in sponsorship.”
Since the expansion to the 16-team bracket in 2001, 21 institutions have earned their first bid to the post-season, increasing the total number of schools that have participated in the Division I championships to 48-an increase of 77%.
“It is an honor to represent your institution on the playing field,” said IWLCA President Liz Robertshaw, the head coach at Boston University and a former student-athlete. "To do so in the NCAA tournament by earning a spot through a conference championship or as an at-large selection is an incredible accomplishment, and it is exciting that the NCAA has expanded the opportunity for student-athletes to be able to have that experience.”
The NCAA women’s lacrosse brackets have been expanding over the last couple of years. Since the formation of the Division II tournament in 2001 with a four-team tournament, the 2009 tournament saw growth to a six-team tournament. The Division III tournament has been expanding regularly since its inception as an eight-team tournament in 1985; in 2011 it moved to a 31-team tournament, reflective of the massive growth at the Division III level in those 26 years.
In the 2013 Division I tournament, thirteen conference champions will receive automatic bids to the tournament while the other thirteen spots will be filled with at-large bids. The top eight teams will be seeded in the bracket and will host first- and second-round games. The top six seeded teams will receive byes into the second round and serve as hosts for a neutral-site first-round game May 10. The first-round winners then play at the top-six seeded teams May 12. The teams seeded seventh and eighth will also host, but they will play a first-round game May 10. The quarterfinals are at campus sites May 18 or 19, with the four winners advancing to the NCAA Championship Weekend May 24-26.
Northwestern won its second consecutive national championship in 2012 defeating Syracuse a first-time finalist in the title game.