The Southern Showdown will take place Saturday afternoon at KSU Stadium.
The fifth-annual event will pit the men’s programs of North Carolina and Massachusetts in a 1 p.m. game featuring two teams ranked in the top 15 of the preseason Division I coaches’ poll.
North Carolina, which has won five NCAA championships, is fourth in the country, while No. 12 UMass went 15-1 last season and has made the NCAA tournament four of the past six seasons.
The Tar Heels and Minutemen both won their first regular-season games last week.
Saturday’s game will feature two of the best senior attackmen in the country — North Carolina’s Marcus Holman and Massachusetts’ Will Manny. Both players were nominated last season for the Tewaaraton Award given to the nation’s top player.
“With two highly ranked teams, this is like an early playoff game,” said Sorrel Coulson, founder of the Southern Showdown. “We don’t get much Division I lacrosse in Atlanta, so a game like this is a big deal.”
The Showdown is one of men’s games being held at KSU Stadium this season. On June 7, Major League Lacrosse’s Rochester Rattlers and Boston Cannons will face off in a regular-season game. That will be the first MLL game played in Georgia, and it will serve as a test for the league as it contemplates expansion.
The Showdown spent the last two years at McEachern’s Walter Cantrell Stadium. Last year’s game attracted nearly 7,000 fans as No. 6 UNC defeated No. 20 Penn State 14-10.
This year, the event has moved to KSU Stadium, which houses the Owls’ women’s soccer and lacrosse programs.
“It was really a no-brainer to move the game to KSU,” Coulson said. “The stadium is one of the best we’ve seen. It’s perfect for lacrosse and gives us options for suites and amenities we couldn’t get at other places.
“We’ve averaged about 7,100 people for the Showdown the past three years, and this stadium seats 8,300. For lacrosse fans, this is like a season kickoff event. It’s a great environment for lacrosse people who don’t get to see it that often.”
Other activities are also planned, including sponsor giveaways for children and a 3-on-3 tournament open to all ages.
“There are three different age groups competing in a bracketed-type tournament, and the semifinal winners will have a chance to compete against each other on the field at halftime,” Coulson said.
The 3-on-3 tournament will take place from 8-10:30 a.m. on the practice field just behind the stadium,
Tickets for the college game are available online at www.theshouthernshowdown.com, or by calling (770) 794-7810. General-admission tickets are $15, with reserved seats ranging from $25-$45.