by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Super Bowl weekend will technically be the third week of action in the MCLA, but this is really the first time you can hear the creaking of the MCLA machine as really starts churning.
There aren’t a ton of games: between the two divisions there are only 41 contests from Friday through Sunday, which is nothing like what we’ll see in a couple of weeks. Still, the association is gaining some momentum.
It helps that this will be the first window that the Commanding Performance of the Week powered by Under Armour will be up for grabs in both divisions. Coaches should send their nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday morning.
There are several storylines I’m watching this weekend and one is Southern Cal. The Trojans have had a spotty run over the past decade, but this weekend they are making the trip to Dallas for games against TCU (Fri.) and No. 19 SMU (Sat.).
This might seem like small potatoes on a relative scale, but prior to this trip, USC had left California three times -- three! -- since 2011 and two of those were for conference-mandated games. This is a big step for the program.
Even though the Trojans will be underdogs in both games, the spreading of USC’s wings is a welcome sign. A burgeoning Southern Cal outfit is good for both the SLC and the MCLA. Congrats to Dan Moriarty and the boys for making the leap. Safe travels.
According to the Twitter pundits, the Stanford-UC Santa Barbara game is the most compelling contest of the weekend.
What's the most interesting MCLA Division I contest this weekend? #mcla18
— MCLA Tournament '18 (@MCLA_Tournament) January 29, 2018
It could be, I suppose. The Gauchos were among three teams that could be considered the last team out of the 2017 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour, so they have something to prove this year. Stanford needs to rebound in a big way in Brian Karalunas’ second year at the helm.
History is slightly on the Cardinal’s side, as two years ago Stanford opened the season with a 13-9 stunner against UCSB thanks to two goals and a dime from current junior Matt Klein. This is an important game for both squads.
Tulane returns to the MCLA this spring as a member of LSA-II after a bit of a hiatus, and the Green Wave are certainly easing themselves back into the mix with a rather pedestrian schedule. Still, one has to wonder if they can be an LSA contender considering the high school programs represented on the roster.
Bullis (Md.), Lake Oswego (Ore.), McDonogh (Md.), St. Sebastian’s (Mass.), Horace Greeley (N.Y.), Corona Del Mar (Calif.), Westminster (Conn.), Lovett (Ga.), Gilman (Md.) and Lexington (Mass.) are all on the list.
Does it mean anything? No. A team needs the drive and desire to set them apart, but the roster sure looks pretty.
Both Georgia and South Carolina have beefed up their schedules this spring trying to keep pace with the national-level programs in the SELC like Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia Tech. As such, there’s a lot more riding on Saturday's matchup than you might think.
UGA looked like it was just going through the motions last year, but they’ve ramped things up in '18, illustrated by the trip to the desert to play No. 1 Grand Canyon and No. 7 Arizona State on back-to-back days. Non-conference tilts against Colorado State and Northeastern have the Dawgs eating at the grown-up table.
South Carolina follows the Georgia game with a trip to Texas to play SMU, TxState and Tech, but they’ve lined up all the heavyweights in the SELC that are outside of the Gamecocks' subdivision. They will have a chance to make some noise this spring.
The winner of this game is going to have a momentum-building start to the campaign while the other will have to (quickly) regroup.
Texas A&M won last week’s game against Texas State rather comfortably, thanks to six goals from sophomore middie Gavin Planeta and five more from sophomore attackman G.W. Bodden. Now the Aggies have a chance to take control of the LSA South with a win at Texas on Sunday.
A&M has the disadvantage of playing Arkansas on Saturday – the Longhorns play the Razorbacks on Friday – but the Aggies appear to have the depth to handle the back-to-back.
NOTES: Loyola-Marymount bumped down to D-II this year, and opens up this weekend with a pair of league contests. I’m curious to see how they fare…No. 3 Cal shakes off the cobwebs with a tilt against D-II UC Davis…No. 8 Cal State Fullerton takes its first step toward an SLC title by hosting Marymount in a divisional contest on Friday…UNLV is always a wild card in the SLC. Got my eye on the Rebels opener against Claremont…North Florida had a solid return, barely losing to D-I Florida. The Osprey can take a huge step toward the SELC tourney with a sweep this weekend against Charleston and Coastal Carolina.