by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – During their stint as coaches at La Costa Canyon, Dallas Hartley and Jesse Foss built one of the most powerful dynasties in the annals of California high school lacrosse.
From 2003 through 2010 with Hartley as the head coach and Foss as his top assistant, La Costa Canyon made eight appearances in the CIF championship game, winning four titles. LCC contests became must-attend events for both lacrosse fans and collegiate coaches alike.
In 2010, Hartley left the Mavericks to pursue another quest: bringing a championship pedigree to Chapman – a mission accomplished last year. Foss stayed on as head coach with LCC and continued the success, winning three more championships with the Mavs.
This season, however, Foss graduated to the MCLA, taking the reins at San Diego State in hopes of getting the program to the Promised Land. To get there, Foss and the Aztecs will have to go through Hartley and the defending champions.
On Saturday, the old coaching partners will stare each other down from opposing boxes for the first time as they begin their quest for the same trophy this spring. Despite defending champion status, Hartley knows the Aztecs won’t be intimidated when the Panthers visit for the 4 p.m. game.
“Jesse preaches and expects hard work,” Hartley said. “He expects his teams to outwork the opponent and prepares them well for what they want to do and what the other team will try to do. He surrounds himself with good coaches, as well.”
On Foss’ staff are two former LCC players that played for both of them along with two former LCC coaches that Hartley knows well. Foss and his staff hold Hartley and his assistants in the highest of regards, too.
“There is no coach that I respect more than Dallas Hartley,” Foss said. “Dallas brings amazing energy and cares about his players. He has a great understanding of the game and gets the most out of his kids.”
Obviously, Chapman enters Saturday’s contest as prohibitive favorites. Undefeated ring-wearers tend to do that. Foss gets it, and knows this is just an early step in a long journey.
“With this being our second game of the season, our biggest challenges will come from our sideline and not Chapman's,” he said. “We are still very early in the learning process and getting better every day. Can we be efficient in our clear? Can we avoid unforced turnovers? Can we battle for ground balls? How do we handle being up or down?”
When the game is over, Hartley and Foss will shake hands and perhaps share a brief embrace – an affirmation that their work together at La Costa Canyon will always be part of their shared narrative.
“We both take a lot of pride in the success of LCC's players, past and present,” Hartley said. “We both still live in the community and want the best for the program.”
And in terms of their friendship, the outcome of the game is irrelevant.
“I would much rather be coaching alongside Dallas than against him, but that's not how things worked out,” Foss said. “As far as the game, it has no bearing [on our friendship]. It is Chapman versus SDSU, not Hartley versus Foss.”
No. 15 Florida State at No. 8 Arizona State, 7 p.m. – Friday
Did the fact that the Seminoles only left their home state for two games play a role in FSU not getting a shot at the nationals last year? It was certainly one piece of the puzzle. Instead of pouting about it, however, Jerry DeLorenzo and the Noles did something: they scheduled this trip. They are already scoring points with the committee playing two Top 10 teams on the other half of the country, regardless of the outcomes.
ASU presents as stiff a test as FSU faced all last year, but the visitors should be well-prepared despite it being the season opener. Florida State scrimmaged three in-state NCAA D-II schools, including tournament qualifier Tampa, allowing them to hit the ground running. The Sun Devils have seen it all before – up-and-coming programs hoping to make a name for themselves off ASU. They’ll be ready for whatever the Noles have in store.
No. 11 UC Santa Barbara at No. 14 Cal, 1 p.m. – Saturday
This feels like one of those games that the committee will be pointing at when they fill out the 16-team field. Both teams have the schedules and conferences to survive a loss, but this is going to be a very big chip in the winner’s pile come May.
This game is expected to be streamed live HERE.
Texas at Texas A&M, 7 p.m. – Saturday
The Aggies took care of the defending South champions Texas State last weekend, and now A&M can essentially assure itself the No. 1 seed out of the South with a win over Texas. The Longhorns were untested in a 19-0 rout of North Texas, so the Aggies present their first challenge of the campaign. UT fell off the grid last year, but a win here would put them back in the mix.
No. 12 Oregon State vs. No. 25 Sonoma State, 2:30 - Sunday
There’s a mini version of a WCLL-PNCLL Challenge going on at Dominican this weekend as Oregon State and Washington travel to the Bay Area to tangle with the Penguins and Sonoma. The Beavers-Seawolves contest on Sunday is the meatiest of the bunch. Much like the UCSB-Cal tilt, the result of this one could resonate on the selection committee call.
No. 19 San Diego at No. 23 Cal State San Marcos, 2 p.m. – Saturday
This is a spicy little SLC-II game featuring a pair of teams hoping to make a run at Concordia-Irvine’s supremacy in the SLC South. The Toreros won comfortably last year, 12-5, but Teddy Hicks has been building the Cougars into a formidable outfit.
What's the MCLA D-II Game of the Week for the period ending Feb. 12?
— MCLA (@MCLA) February 8, 2017
No. 12 Fullerton vs. No. 14 Southern Oregon, 3 p.m. – Saturday
This early season gem will tell us a lot about both teams. Fullerton continues its quest to regain control of the SLC from Concordia-Irvine, and beating SOU in this neutral site game outside of Sacramento will show the Titans are at least in the mix for an at-large bid. The Raiders have to prove they are not one-hit wonders, especially with the loss of outstanding goalie Connor Kelley to graduation.
Western Washington at Western Oregon, 6 p.m. – Saturday
Not too long ago, this game was a preview of the PNCLL Division II championship game. Now, for the first time in quite some time, neither team is ranked. Times have changed in the conference, for sure, but there is still no clear-cut favorite (with all due respect to Southern Oregon). Whoever walks away from this rivalry game will have to be considered among the biggest threats to the Raiders’ crown.
No. 25 Missouri State vs. No. 12 Palm Beach Atlantic, 1p.m. – Sunday
Missouri State's postseason fate lies with the GRLC automatic qualifier, but good for the Bears making the trip to Hotlanta to meet PBA – a team with designs on returning to nationals. Trying to contain Sailfish senior middie Greg Swanson, a true Player of the Year candidate, will be a huge challenge for MoState.