by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
We’ve moved into April and the season has just six weeks remaining in it. That means we’re entering that part of the campaign where “Senior Day” is becoming an almost daily occurrence. It’s a ritual that should not be underappreciated, especially in the MCLA.
Those seniors who walk out on the field prior to their final home game (or weekend home game, as the case may be) are not being feted because they are leaving. They are being appreciated for finishing something. Sure, some guys transfer in or start a year or two later, but the guys who play their senior display something special.
It’s a willingness to see a job through to the end.
In the MCLA, you often times have to pay to play the game. And Lord knows that senior spring carries with it plenty of options other than lengthy bus rides and wind sprints. So those guys who are willing to put aside some personal pleasure for the good of a team deserve every ounce of our respect.
May every one of those seniors who walk off their home field for the last time – in a win or a loss – understand the satisfaction of a job well done.
With that said, those seniors also need to know this is not the end. The sport, and the MCLA, aren’t giving them a pat on the head and a fare-thee-well. From a lacrosse perspective, we can always use motivated coaches and officials, whether it is at the youth, prep or college levels.
From an MCLA perspective, we want you to have pride in your school’s program and our organization as a whole. We want you to be able to say, “Yeah, I played college lacrosse. No, it wasn’t varsity, but we treated it like it was and I made friends for life.”
It’s important that you come back for that alumni game. Look around at the top teams in the MCLA and you’ll all notice they have an enthusiastic – and generous – alumni base that both cheers on the team and often times allows those lengthy spring break trips to happen without a raise in dues. Your role, and importance, within the MCLA doesn’t end when your final season ends.
A lot of the seniors who play their final games this spring will go on to do great things. They’ll start a business, start a family or start a youth team. Or maybe all of the above. And as time goes by, their college lacrosse experience will fade from the foreground. And that’s certainly their choice.
Just know that we want MCLA members for life.
No. 4 Grand Canyon (5-3) at No. 12 Arizona State (2-3) – 7 p.m., Friday
Is this a must-win for the Sun Devils? Meh, they’ve got a pretty strong schedule to finish off the season, so a loss to the Lopes wouldn’t be game over. ASU would sure make its life easier if they could win this crosstown rivalry game, however. And it’s not like the Devils aren't competitive. Two of their three losses came by a lone goal, so they should be there at the end against GCU. The Lopes are feeling great after the decisive road win at BYU, and a win over Arizona State would essentially assure that they will get a chance to defend their title.
No. 8 Boston College (4-2) at No. 17 UConn (5-0) – 6 p.m. Saturday
The PCLL heats up with this New England gem, although neither of these teams are in midseason form. Both picked up quality wins at the beginning of March – Boston College beat Arizona State and UConn tripped up Virginia Tech – but have only played one game since, and to a relatively weak opponent. This will be a big step up for both of them. How the Eagles offense can hold up against the Huskies brutally efficient defense will determine how this plays out. BC faceoff man Griffin Carney (83.1 FO%) could play a huge role.
No. 23 Boise State (5-5) at No. 15 Oregon State (6-3) – 1 p.m., Sunday
Depending on the outcome of Friday night’s contest between Boise State Oregon, this could either be a chance for the Broncos to take control of the PNCLL or for the Beavers to keep pace with the Ducks. The story line of this one should be the Boise attack, led by Adam Smith (28g, 15a) and Liam Finn (17g, 21a) up against the Oregon State backline backboned by goalie Nick Widmer (58.4 sv%). Another subplot is one of these teams will be knocked out of the at-large hunt with a loss, so this should be a pedal to the metal game for both.
No. 7 Grove City (6-1) vs. No. 3 St. Thomas (3-0) – 4:30 p.m., Friday
Grove City announced that they will be joining the NCAA varsity ranks in 2018 and the Wolverines’ first game as an MCLA lame duck will be a tester. Not that GCC is any slouch, especially with Player of the Year candidate Daniel Casselli (26g, 25a) leading the offense, but St. Thomas looks as strong, as usual. Granted, all we really have to go on is the 14-7 whitewash of NDSU. Still, that’s an impressive result. Depending on how things shake out this weekend in South Barrington, Ill., this could be a tournament quarterfinal preview.
No. 1 Dayton (5-0) vs. No. 6 Minn.-Duluth (4-2) – 2 p.m., Saturday
Duluth’s move to Division II started out pleasant enough, rolling to three wins to open the ’16 campaign, including a comfortable win over St. John’s. Since then, the Bulldogs have hit some turbulence. North Dakota State downed UMD, 12-9, and last week Minnesota – a team Duluth beat in last year’s season Division I finale, 11-8 – throttled the Bulldogs, 14-5. Now they get the champs. Dayton has been grinding so far this year, but have shown an amazing resiliency. This contest won’t reach 20 combined goals.
No. 9 Grand Valley State (3-2) vs. No. 4 North Dakota State (5-1) –11 a.m., Sunday
The Lakers have been this route before, playing three games in three days, and the first time didn’t go so well. This will be different, however. Instead of going up against a relatively fresh Kennesaw team that resulted in a 17-9 wipeout, both of these teams will be on a level competitive playing field. It’s a relatively small sample size, but if the Lakers crack double digits, they win. If not, they don’t. Goals are never easy to come by against the Bison, but you assume Tim Murray will have NDSU’s potent 10-man ride sized up in advance. This one may come down to conditioning and the deeper bench.