by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – When you have a column (of sorts) like this one, it’s easy to get sucked into a negative vortex.
You’re always trying to point out what could be better or what’s wrong with this or that. You've all read those columnists, sports and otherwise, from big national papers and even some local rags who are always picking at a scab or throwing around dirt.
Looking back on some of my stuff from this spring, I’ve been a nag at times. It gets old quickly, especially when there is so much positive to accentuate.
And I’m not just trying to sell the soap here. The first 55 days of this season have been jammed pack with upsets, overtimes and top-ranked clashes. Friday nights have been particularly entertaining to this point (and the potential is there again tonight).
We’ve got storylines too numerous to list completely.
South Carolina emerging into a national power. Michigan State dominating. One of the most fallow lacrosse states – North Dakota – producing the overwhelming Division II favorite to this point. Duluth finding its groove.
Utah’s swan song. Grand Canyon’s repeat potential. Chapman lurking as possibly the best of the bunch. Concordia-Irvine showing out.
The Top 6 teams in Division II playing for one conference trophy. UC Davis finding its legs. Wake Forest out of nowhere.
And on and on.
We’re certainly not living in an age of parity – that’s a myth at every level of the sport – but we do have a host of teams in both divisions that could conceivably hold up the hardware on May 12.
They each have their own Achille’s heel, but also huge assets. I’m getting excited. And in D-II, the UMLC is going to be an absolute meatgrinder until championship Saturday.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “OK, let’s pump the brakes a little.”
Nope. I’m all in.
In the next 52 days, between now and when the first whistle blows on round one of the Division II quarterfinals at the 2018 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour, there are still so many subplots to be unearthed.
It’ll start with the fields being set for the various conference tournaments, and that’s no small drama.
There is a reasonable chance that two of last year’s Division I national semifinalists barely make their league playoff. And with nine at-large bids in both divisions, the margins are excruciatingly small for teams trying to find a berth..
Then we’ve got the selections, seedings and the glory that awaits in Salt Lake City.
Sure, it’s easy to perseverate on what needs to be fixed and what is wrong. It’s even easier to immerse yourself in the good thing we’ve got going.
Take a bow, coaches and players. You've earned it.
* * *
As mentioned, Friday night’s have not disappointed this spring and tonight’s slate should continue that tradition.
Let’s start in East Lansing where No. 4 Michigan State and No. 14 Davenport tangle to determine not only the frontrunner for the CCLA automatic qualifying bid, but also determining who a leading candidate for an at-large berth.
The Panthers signature win came against BYU, a team that is struggling on defense. Not to take anything away from Davenport, because they have some fantastic offensive weapons, but defense is Sparty’s calling card, so don’t expect a 19-16 outcome.
First one to 10 will take this one down. The game is rumored to be on MSU's YouTube page. Check out their Twitter feed for details.
What is the MCLA D-I Game of the Week for the period ending March 18? #mcla18
— MCLA Tournament '18 (@MCLA_Tournament) March 12, 2018
No. 16 Arizona State continues its non-conference march in Boulder in hopes of snapping its four-game losing streak. If they can split with Colorado and Colorado State this weekend, the Devils should be OK.
No. 14 Northern Arizona had a chance to sniff the Top 10 last week after taking down then-No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, but a stumble against San Diego the next day stopped all the momentum.
Now the Lumberjacks face No. 23 MSU Denver, No. 21 Providence and No. 4 St. John’s in a three-day span this weekend. NAU needs to lock down the first two and then roll the dice against the Johnnies on Friday to stay on course.
Your Friday to-do list:
Come to @popelacrosse to watch great @MCLA lax
Bring NEW shoes for children who are homeless to game & get in free
Enter BIG GREEN EGG raffle
Silently bid on custom painted shafts@GaTechLAX @KSU_MLAX @BufordLacrosse pic.twitter.com/d27cHX5m4c
— Lace Up With LAX (@LaceUpWithLAX) March 15, 2018
No. 9 Kennesaw State might be the only team in the history of the MCLA to go 0-3 on a weekend and move up a spot in the polls. The Owls will take that.
Now they head to Atlanta to face D-I No. 11 Georgia Tech in a game that is raising resources for the Lace Up for Lax charity. Swing by if you can.
Later on Friday, No. 17 Cal will travel to Santa Clara to determine who is going to take charge of the WCLL. The Broncos play at a frenetic pace, which will challenge this Bears team that has lost five of their last six.
Well, well, well. Look who’s decided to join the party! The MCLA season has been in progress for two months now, but No. 24 Northeastern is finally going to crack open the season on Friday night when they host Bridgewater State.
The Huskies late start isn’t really that big a deal. In fact, it could help them. But there is no getting past the fact that the PCLL is kind of stacked this year, so they just need to be ready for league play.
On a bit of a sidenote, the 2018 MCLA season has given rise to the “math guys,” as a couple of sites have come online looking at the association through a more analytical prism.
HUGE congrats to senior attack @georgepertessis on reaching 200 points last Sunday against UC Davis. Oh and did I mention that it’s a school record? George is unstoppable let’s see how many points he can rack up by the end of the season. Also big shoutout to @thespearsjsu for the edit. #becausesports #schoolrecord #seeyouonthefield
A post shared by SJSU (@sjsulacrosse) on
Virtually Varsity has devised an RPI ranking as well as Quality Wins ranking to give a different look at the teams other than the polls. These algorithms get into the weeds a little bit and can be a tad esoteric, even for knowledgeable MCLA fans. Still, if you like numbers, this will scratch an itch.
Also, Redd’s Rankings has come up with an algorithm of its own that also has a game predictor (which seems a little too conservative, but it’s a good time-killer).
Thank you Hunter for everything you were to this school, us individually, and to this program. We love you brother, see you soon pic.twitter.com/kyalZG4In1
— FGCU Men's LACROSSE (@fgcuLAX) March 15, 2018
NOTES: Hot on the heels of North Dakota State making the trip to Big Sky country is St. Thomas, who play No. 7 Sierra Nevada and No. 9 Montana State on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, Bozeman…in addition to playing NAU, St. John’s will square off with No. 23 MSU Denver and No. 21 Providence in Denver…New Hampshire's spring break trip has gotten off to a fantastic start as the Wildcats have already defeated No. 19 Cal Poly and No. 13 UC Santa Barbara. No. 9 Concordia-Irvine is up next...the Florida Gulf Coast lacrosse program is mourning the death of former player Hunter Migedt. Condolences to his family, friends and teammates.