by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – If you go back into the archives from the 2016 national tournament, you’ll find clips of Louie DeDonatis, then a year after graduating from Grand Canyon, interviewing Lopes coach Manny Rapkin on the sidelines.
Rapkin gives DeDonatis the business during pretty much every interview – stuff that would be quite rude in a vacuum, but is all in good fun between a former coach and player. It made for a humorous running joke.
On Monday night, DeDonatis will be in the visiting box on the Grand Canyon sidelines, coaching one of the most dangerous teams in the country against Rapkin and his alma mater.
And there will be no joking.
Honestly, it’s exactly what DeDonatis has been hoping for.
Get your rest today, because tomorrow night, we bring up the lights on @gcu Stadium for a battle between nationally ranked powers: #15 @BC_Mens_Lax and your top-ranked @GCUlacrosse squad! FREE ADMISSION, SO BE WITH US! #LopesRising pic.twitter.com/IN21musiov
— GCU Club Sports (@GCUClubSports) March 4, 2018
“Returning to GCU and taking on my former team is something I’ve always wanted to do,” DeDonatis said. “I know first-hand the amount of work those guys put in. All the lifts, film sessions, practices and time spent preparing for games. It’s all second to none within the MCLA. They’ve won two of the last three national championships and it’s not by coincidence.”
The Boston College coach undoubtedly learned a lot during his time in Phoenix, but his first season as a collegiate coach still involved a lot of learning moments.
Granted, he was hired late in the game, but the Eagles stumbled to unusual .500 record and were bounced in the PCLL semifinals.
DeDonatis trusted himself, his staff and his players and answered a bad season by ramping up his schedule into one of the toughest in the county. After knocking off No. 6 Arizona State on Friday and Arizona on Saturday, BC is 4-2 and ranked No. 15 in the country (and likely to go higher regardless of Monday's result).
A win over Grand Canyon and DeDonatis is entering Coach of the Year territory, even if it would be a tad bittersweet.
“I have the ultimate respect for that program and everything they have accomplished,” DeDonatis said. “When we get off that bus and step onto that field, I’m probably going to be flooded with a lot of great memories.
“GCU will always hold a special place in my heart. I spent the best four years of my life there and couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’m going to think about all of those things for about a whole five seconds before it will be time to block it out and get back to the task at hand.”
Tough game against a tough team. Glad we got the W.
Monday night we play the number 1 team in the country and the defending national champs in the stadium @GCUlacrosse
CAN’T WAIT!!!!! https://t.co/WL6VU2xRl4
— Luciano DeDonatis (@louie25louie25) March 4, 2018
Boston College is catching a Lopes outfit that is self-admittedly not running on all cylinders. Rapkin has said his offense hasn’t caught up to his defense to this point, but all of the ingredients are certainly there.
With the best faceoff man on the field – if not the entire MCLA – in Griffin Carney and a salty defense, BC has the tools to make life difficult for Rapkin and company.
“This game is about so much more than me,” DeDonatis admitted. “Our team has a chance to go in and knock off the defending champs, the No. 1 team in the country, end a pretty sizable winning streak and really put on full display what we can do and what we’re capable of. That’s the most exciting part for me.”
Rapkin still loves giving DeDonatis a hard time, but there is a high-level of respect for his former player.
“After character, the thing you want most in your players is for them to be motivated winners,” Rapkin said. “Louie is a motivated winner. The first thing he told me when we were recruiting him was that he wanted to get a ring. Lots of guys say that; Louie meant it and was willing to work hard to get it.”
It’ll be an amusing handshake before the game before both Rapkin and DeDonatis gets down to business. There are no friendships or good vibes when the clock starts.
“For 60 minutes on Monday night, I am going to want nothing more than to knock off GCU,” DeDonatis said.
Add one from downtown as the deep snipe continues the run for @GaTechLAX. Jackets up 4-1. pic.twitter.com/2SUbGpI5B3
— Virtually Varsity (@vvlacrosse) March 4, 2018
Georgia Tech Snaps Skid
It’s been a rough week for the Yellow Jackets. It started last Friday when Tech lost a heartbreaker in overtime to No. 3 Chapman and then couldn’t get settled in an 8-5 setback to No. 15 Boston College the following day.
Throw in Friday’s 10-7 loss to No. 22 Florida State and you can understand how things were getting a little frustrated in the ATL.
The Wreck managed to put a halt to the skid by taming Minnesota on Sunday, but it still didn’t come easy. Tech was up 5-1 at the half, but allowed the Gophers back to within one goal on a pair of occasions before pulling away for a 10-7 win.
Injuries are continuing to pile up for the Jackets and things don’t get much easier with Colorado State and Colorado rolling into Hotlanta this weekend. Georgia Tech needed this win.
Cajuns are headed home from Florida humbled, yet our heads are held high as we look ahead to Saturday where we host the Tulane Green Wave (3/10). We learned a lot this weekend both on the field and in our ornithology.
Shout out to @unf_lacrosse for hosting us, and also our fans
— Ragin' Cajuns Lax (@RaginCajunsLax) March 4, 2018
Humbling Weekend for the Cajuns
Louisiana has been sitting in the polls mostly on the strength of last year’s LSA championship and a 3-0 mark in the division. We’ll see if the Cajuns are still in the poll come Wednesday after a rough weekend in Jacksonville, Fla.
Unranked North Florida took down No. 19 Louisiana, 14-4, on Friday and No. 11 followed that up with a 16-9 win on Sunday to send the Cajun back home with some reflecting to do.
On the bright side, these two losses don’t hurt Louisiana at all; it’s all positive. UNF and FGCU might be the two toughest back-to-back games anyone in the LSA plays all season, so the Cajuns are battle-tested and ready for the home stretch. It still won't be easy.
My Top Fives
1. Utah (5-0) – Already pumped their tires. Can’t back off now.
2. Chapman (5-0) – The Panthers SOS is their biggest asset right now.
3. Grand Canyon (3-0) – All of the tough games are on the road after BC.
4. Michigan State (5-0) – Sparty stepped off the plane and still manhandled Cal.
5. South Carolina (8-0) – Florida State has been a nice proxy for the Gamecocks.
1. North Dakota State (3-0) – Logistically, Montana trip will be a nice tournament dry run.
2. Grand Valley State (0-0) – It’s been three weeks since the Lakers had Senior Night.
3. Dayton (1-0) – Flyers going for the rare 4-wins-in-3-days road trip.
4. Minn.-Duluth (2-2) – Sometimes you just have to add Missouri to your Spring Break trip.
5. Fullerton (5-0) – I figure Music City Judgement will bump the Titans. We’ll see.
DIVISION I NOTES: Alabama traveled to Oklahoma and snapped the Sooners home winning streak that dated back to 2013. The Crimson tide is in a rough division to get off in the SELC, but this year they’ll have a fighting chance…judging by the Twitter feeds, Colorado’s overtime win over Virginia Tech was a classic…Western Michigan improves to 5-0 to start the season after a sweep of Tennessee, Ole Miss and Elon…Division I teams to have yet to play a game: Northeastern and St. Could State.
DIVISION II NOTES: San Diego bounced back with a win over UC Santa Cruz to give the Toreros a 1-1 trip to NorCal…congrats to Worcester State, which picked up its first MCLA win by downing Bridgeport, 10-8…get ready to get your D-II on next week because we’ll be ramping up to Music City Judgement. It’s going to be awesome.