by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – It was a year ago today when the craziness began.
You probably remember it. No. 1 Grand Canyon hosted Utah Valley in what should have been a tune up for a Lopes outfit coming off a national championship in 2015.
Instead, it turned into a nightmare for GCU.
Utah Valley goalie Shawn Rowley – who would earn the Commanding Performance of the Week powered by Under Armour for his efforts – made 20 saves and the Wolverines struck in overtime for a stunning, 11-10 victory.
It sent the Lopes into a mini-tailspin that took a month to correct and kept the Wolverines in the postseason discussion well into May. Both of those storylines were very much unexpected leading into the game.
Will the ’17 campaign kickoff with the same kind of drama?
Unfortunately, Chapman doesn’t play until next weekend and St. Thomas has two weeks before it commences its title defense, so no No. 1s are on the docket this weekend. Still, we might get a surprise that lets us know that another wild ride is in the offing.
Speaking of the Commanding Performance of the Week powered by Under Armour, the first set of brand new Command heads will be doled out on Tuesday. Coaches, make sure to send your nominations to email@example.com by Sunday evening.
Weekend Games of Note
No. 10 Arizona at No. 6 Brigham Young, 4 p.m. – Friday
It was 39 degrees for the LaxCats practice in Utah on Thursday night in preparation for this Top 10 throwdown, which likely came as a shock for many of the Tucson boys. It’s supposed to be 39 and raining in Provo for today’s contest – pretty much the most miserable scenario you could think of.
This will be a contrast in coaches, as Spencer Fuqua skippers his first-ever game while Matt Schneck has over 100 wins and a national championship to his credit. Neither of the coaches will be on the field when it matters, however, so this one could be up for grabs.
@MCLA @Cesquivel15 no stream of the game tonight. Sorry guys. Working on getting future games streamed though
— Taylor Redd (@TRedd) February 3, 2017
Texas State at Texas A&M, 7 p.m. – Friday
Keep an eye on this result, as there is plenty on the line. First, the winner will have the inside track on grabbing the top seed out of the LSA South division (yes, we know LSU and Texas are not to be trifled with). Second, whichever squad is victorious will be considered the biggest threat to end SMU’s run as conference champion.
The Bobcats will have to find a way to slow down A&M’s sophomore attackman A.J. Hepting if they want to grab this critical road win.
USC at No. 4 Concordia-Irvine, 2 p.m. – Saturday
This crosstown, interdivisional clash will give us an early read on how good CUI is and their prospects for making another run at a D-II title.
No. 2 Cal Poly at Santa Clara, 6 p.m. – Saturday
The Mustangs jump right out of the gate with a WCLL contest and a trip up the coast. Cal Poly edged the Broncos, 8-3, in last year’s matchup in typical grinding fashion. With prodigal attackman John Corbolotti back in the mix along with a healthy A.J. Guralas, Poly will undoubtedly be looking for a more prolific output.
UCLA at No. 11 UC Santa Barbara, 1 p.m. – Saturday
We’ll get our first peak at the Gauchos, who are my dark horse for this season. UCSB was painfully young last spring and the year of seasoning – plus the bitter taste of their first round rout at the hands of Colorado – should provide benefits. UCLA had to scramble to beat D2 Long Beach in overtime, so an upset seems unlikely here.