by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
DALLAS -- Things are looking good for UT-Dallas. Things are looking very good.
Entering just its third full season as a member of the Lone Star Alliance, the Comets have already made one conference championship game appearance and are the preseason pick to take the league in 2017.
Even freshman goalies are talking about the UTD brotherhood.
A little insight from the freshman goalie @John_Scalley #Growingthegame #@LSALacrosse @UTDLAX @MCLA pic.twitter.com/JWWbeK3XEt
— Coach Dex (@LaX_is_Lif3_Do3) October 28, 2016
Camaraderie is always nice, but having a game-changing playmaker like Zain Rehman returning is even better.
The Comets will be breaking in their third head coach in as many seasons as Eric Ruppel takes the reins in 2017 and La.-Lafayette is still the defending LSA champion, but with the conference regaining its automatic qualifier, a trip to the Left Coast could be in the offing.
2016 Record: 11-2
Conference record/finish: 6-1 | LSA Finalist
Head Coach: Eric Ruppel (1st year)
Derek Aguirre -- The first team all-LSA attackman trailed only Zain Rehman in points per game (5.15) for the Comets. Aguirre controlled the ball well at attack, and created positive momentum on the offensive side of the ball.
Zain Rehman -- The LSA Offensive Player of the Year led UTD in total points (38g, 48a) quarterbacking the offense. Rehman was the heart and soul of the offense last year and is expected to provide big things this spring at multiple positions.
Matt Weersing -- He's currently slotted as the starting faceoff man and is looking to up his percentage from last year (61.7). He is boasting a winning percentage near 75.0 from the X this fall.
Chris Driskill -- A second team all-conference pick at close defense, Driskill will continue to be a key member of the back line. He is expected to make a big impact in his final year of play.
Best moment of the 2016 season
Making it to the LSA championship game. This team will be entering its third full season as an MCLA program, and to make it to the championships in its infancy created momentum pushing forward into the new season. To have such a young team take such momentous steps forward in this league can be tough, and these guys did it with no issue.
Biggest challenge facing UT-Dallas in 2017
Our biggest challenge in 2017 will be staying focused throughout the season. Our schedule will be spread out over three months, so keeping the players' momentum toward the expectation of making it back into the championship game will be a test of our mental fortitude.
Why the Comets will be better in 2017
The Comets will be better in 2017 due to our tremendous recruiting done in the offseason. We have several MCLA and NCAA transfers returning to their home city of Dallas and an impressive freshman class that will represent the entire state of Texas. Add this to the fact we lost very few impact players and this team is already showing an increase in tempo and goal production during our fall ball games. With the LSA regaining its AQ, we are focused every day on making it back to the championship game and pushing forward to Orange County come May.
In 2016, we suffered a heartbreaking loss in the championship game. That has been the motivation pushing our upperclassmen as well as the staff to heavily recruit players to Dallas. We have a preseason No. 1 ranking in the LSA for a reason. We built on last year's championship runner-up foundation. We have a few key transfers, and a handful of freshmen who will make an impact on the field immediately. For a team that went 10-1 last season, we should have no issues repeating that success. Our schedule this year will be a great test. This team has been upgraded at every position and I am excited to see what they can do come spring. Our goal will be making it to the national tournament this year, and we have all the talent to do it.