(Photo by Tim Haslam)
by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Back when I used to cover the small colleges for Lacrosse Magazine, there was a rumor that was constantly circulating in the Division III realm.
Supposedly, Salisbury traveled to Duke for a Fall Ball game back in the day – this is pre-Nifong Frame Job Duke – when the Blue Devils were expected to be the preseason Division I No. 1 team in the country. Salisbury, of course, was the presumptive D-III favorite.
I forget what the final score was rumored to be, but it was the Sea Gulls comfortably. It was the Holy Grail for D-III honks, proving…something.
A journalist friend of mine had heard the legend and decided to pursue it.
He sent an email to Salisbury coach Jim Berkman asking for the details of this Fall Ball game and hoped to perhaps set a time they could get on a call to talk about it.
My buddy received a two-word response from Berkman.
We've put together a few of our favorite highlights from the first half of the @MCLA season.
Obviously, this isn't all-inclusive, so if you have highlights you want to be included in our next round, DM us or send them to email@example.com://t.co/ZN07jD6M6h
— Virtually Varsity (@vvlacrosse) April 2, 2018
I dredge up that story, which still makes me chuckle, because the various MCLA social media outlets were inundated by various entities tagging us with final scores from the Utah-Westminster and Chapman-Whittier contests this past weekend.
I’m not talking about the official program accounts, which we obviously follow, but those with some kind of secondary interest in these scores being publicized.
Rest assured, none of them were.
Why not? See four paragraphs above.
Listen, these aren’t the first scrimmages that MCLA teams have had against NCAA teams. They go back decades and, frankly, NCAA teams are smart to do it. They can get quality competition without giving away anything to their future opponents.
Boston College has played Merrimack and Springfield in the past. Chapman’s showdowns with Ithaca a decade ago were parsed to death. St. Thomas often plays in NCAA-III fall events. Colorado and Colorado State have gone up against Denver. Florida State plays all sorts of NCAA D-IIs in the fall.
They are great ways for the teams to prepare, but they are scrimmages. They will always be scrimmages, and nothing more.
This weekend’s results show both Utah and Chapman “winning” their scrimmages against NCAA competition. I’ll even concede that there might have been a little bit more invested with a pair of in-city quasi-rivalries like these.
Georgia 10. Northeastern 9. Final more highlights on the app! Start filming now @ugalax @MCLA @huskieslax pic.twitter.com/kDGEDHc6e1
— Rapid Replay (@RapidReplay_) April 1, 2018
But there is nothing about these friendlies that will tangibly help either Utah or Chapman accomplish their ultimate goal of an MCLA national championship. Those things can only happen within their conference, division and association.
Are these scrimmages valuable? Certainly. Scrimmages always are, especially for a pair of teams with relatively short schedules (numbers-wise, not necessarily strength). There’s nothing wrong with sharpening the sword when there is no downside.
But If Chapman or Utah doesn’t hoist the MCLA championship trophy while telling you they beat Whittier or Westminster, what will be your response?
* * *
Return of the Rodents
Minnesota started the ’18 campaign ranked No. 17 in the preseason poll and managed to stay in the Top 25 through Week 2 of the poll despite a 2-5 start.
The Gophers might just get back into the mix after a four-week hiatus.
With a 3-0 weekend, including a double-overtime triumph over No. 14 Davenport on Saturday, Minny is back to .500 (6-6). Oddly enough, UMN is 6-4 against D-I competition with nothing on the D-I slate until the CCLA playoffs.
Regardless, Minnesota is now locked into one of the two top seeds in the CCLA – likely the No. 2 seed – meaning they avoid Michigan State until the championship game. If conventional wisdom plays out, the Gophers will have to beat Davenport again if they want a shot at the AQ.
They just might be ranked when they do it.
Huge upset in the @CCLA_Lax. @UMNLacrosse takes down #14 @DU_MLacrosse in double overtime. Here is the game winner, including a clutch UMN save to start the transition. @MCLA pic.twitter.com/5d16TlvAzw
— Virtually Varsity (@vvlacrosse) March 31, 2018
Johnny Come Lately
St. John’s was fading a bit. A stunning, one-goal loss to Northern Arizona in Denver was followed by a wipe-out at the hands of No. 1 NDSU a week later.
The Johnnies had fallen to…gasp!…No. 6 in the country.
SJU righted the ship on Friday night in Maple Grove with a 9-8 win over No. 2 MInn.-Duluth thanks to fantastic defensive play, anchored by goalie Ryan Nelson (15 saves) and a career-high four-point performance from John Hicke (2g, 2a).
The win slots St. John’s as the No. 2 seed in the UMLC West, which means, well, nothing. They could still get any of the three (UST, Dayton, GVSU) East teams in the conference tourney first round and none will be a warm bath.
More importantly, it gives the Johnnies a load of confidence heading into the most important part of the year.
Player of the Month Noms Due
Nominations from MCLA coaches are now being accepted for the US Lacrosse MCLA Player of the Month. Send qualified nominees to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIVISION I NOTES: Washington’s win over Boise State was a big one. There’s only a couple of long-shot scenarios that would keep the Huskies out of the PNCLL tournament at this point…it looks like Florida State and Florida will advance out of the SELC Southeast after the ‘Noles win over Central Florida…the bad news is Northeastern lost two games against ranked teams this weekend by a total of three goals. Good news is they will have their final say in the PCLL…workmanlike effort out of Grand Canyon in handing ASU a 16-9 loss in Glendale.
Hey @Lane_Kiffin were playoff bound taking notes from the football team. Happy Easter!! What shirt size are you we will send u one on us!! #cometothefaU
— FAU Owls Lacrosse (@FAUmenslacrosse) April 1, 2018
DIVISION II NOTES: Florida Atlantic has quietly put together a fantastic season in Boca Raton. The Owls are on a six-game winning binge and have qualified for the SELC tournament…congrats to UC Colorado Springs for winning its first conference game against Fort Lewis…Saturday is the game we’ve been waiting for the WCLL: UC Davis at Sierra Nevada. Should be a gem.