by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
Has a championship ever been lost in February?
There’s probably a couple of examples where you could say an early stumble contributed to the demise of a team, but it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint as the main reason. There’s just too much lacrosse to be played and plenty of ground to be made up to disregard a quality program this early in the year.
That’s why we won’t need any fainting couches this weekend when, in all likelihood, one Top 10 squad is going to pick up a pair of losses.
No. 1 Colorado and No. 10 Colorado State are traveling to the desert to face No. 8 Arizona and No. 9 Grand Canyon. While there could conceivably be a 1-1 split for all the teams, odds are some team is going to take the collar.
And it won’t be the end of the world,
Yes, that team (or teams) will take a hit in the polls and have to regroup very quickly for the remainder of the schedule, but it’s not a tournament death sentence. The same is true for whichever teams loses the No. 3 Virginia Tech versus No. 4 Georgia Tech clash or the No. 6 Minn.-Duluth at No. 3 North Dakota State bout.
This is not to play down the fact that these games are fantastic matchups with plenty of backstory and intrigue. If you can watch any of these contests, you should. I promise they won’t disappoint.
But it’s also not the last you’ll hear of any of these teams, no matter the final scores.
No. 3 Virginia Tech (1-0) at No. 4 Georgia Tech (3-0) – 7:30 p.m., Friday
SELC supremacy is on the line as these two squads square off in Atlanta. The last time the two Techs went toe-to-toe was in the 2015 SELC conference title tilt, with the Hokies walking away with a 10-4 victory. The ranking would have Virginia Tech as the favorite, but the Yellow Jackets’ early-season dominance would put that in question. The Bugs’ offense has come to life this spring, accentuating an already lockdown defense. Are the Hokies ready for that kind of balance with just one game under their belt?
The game will be streamed live HERE.
No. 1 Colorado (0-0) at No. 9 Grand Canyon (1-1) – 7:30 p.m., Friday
The 2015 season ended with these two grappling for the national championship. Now they meet again before the calendar even flips to March. Nothing has come easy for the champs this spring with a stunning overtime upset loss at the hands of Utah Valley in the opener and then a grueling triple overtime win over Cal Poly last Sunday. The one bright note for the Lopes is they will be catching the Buffs in their first game of the season. It wouldn’t be a surprise if these two teams spent a quarter or two feeling each other out. Colorado has to play No. 8 Arizona on Saturday, so we’ll find out a lot about John Galvin's outfit by Sunday morning.
No. 10 Colorado State (0-0) vs. No. 8 Arizona (3-0) – 5 p.m. Friday
With a new coaching staff at the helm, the Rams open up a season filled with a lot of nervous energy. Colorado State missed nationals for just the third time in 19 years last spring. That’s a big deal. Fortunately, the Rams certainly have the schedule to make the tourney – they always do – but do they have the talent to win some key contests? That’s the question facing new head man Ted Fifield and it will be partially answered this weekend. Arizona is a rising star with Tanner Knego in net, so CSU will get a glimpse about what this season holds.
No. 19 San Diego (1-1) at No. 2 Concordia-Irvine (2-0) – 11 a.m., Saturday
Concordia-Irvine has been rampaging through its early-season slate of Division I foes, but now it moves into the all-important SLC-II conference slate. Awaiting the Eagles there might be their biggest obstacle between them and the automatic qualifying bid (Fullerton will have something to say, as well). The Toreros are back in Division II after winning the first to national titles at that level and moving up. They had little success in the stacked SLC-I, but they could make a run at the Eagles. With that said, CUI appears to be on another level so far.
No. 6 Minn.-Duluth (2-0) at No. 3 North Dakota State (0-0) – 5:45 p.m., Saturday
Duluth’s “Welcome to Division II” tour continues with another Top 5 opponent. The Bulldogs passed their first test last week by easing past then-No. 5 St. John’s, but now they tackle the conference favorite in Fargo. The Bison ramped up the level of difficulty by playing St. Cloud in the morning and then Duluth in the evening, but there should be plenty of adrenaline for NDSU to answer the bell. If not, the Bulldogs could quickly become a title contender after three games.
No. 8 Missouri Valley (0-0) at Lindenwood-Belleville (0-0) – 12 p.m., Sunday
The offseason finally ends for Missouri Valley, which has been stinging since May when the third-seeded Vikings were stunned by 14th-seeded Siena Heights at the MCLA National Tournament powered by Under Armour. First up on the docket is Lindenwood-Belleville, a team that started to emerge as a grinding outfit at the end of last year. This will be a good first test for the MVC as it commences its redemption tour.