by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – There are two seasons within each MCLA campaign: the non-league season and the conference season.
This is nothing special to the MCLA. It happens in every lacrosse league and pretty much every sport. Distinguishing the two seasons is important, however.
There is no definitive line in the sand that separates non-league from league season – heck, Stanford opened its year on Feb. 1 with a league game against UC Santa Barbara and there are still non-conference affairs leaking well into April.
For the most part, however, the end of March is typically when teams stop trying to build their at-large resume and start jockeying for the best position from which to win an automatic bid.
Because of how the various conferences handle their automatic qualifiers (if they have one), there is something interesting about each of the races.
On a side note, keep an eye on the Conference Tournament page here on MCLA.us, which will be updated as teams become locked in for the postseason and the times are set.
The conference races are also important for the leagues that will know will get multiple bids because the finish to the league season as well as the conference tournament will help flesh out the seeding.
And, as every savvy MCLA follower knows, seeding is almost as important as making the tournament.
Every game during the MCLA season has its own value and weight, but when we start to see the orange dots to the right of the games, we know things are starting to get real.
How is your team looking for the conference tournament season? Make sure to double-check the eligibility of the players and everything is in line, because we don't want to see you miss out on the best time of the year for a fixable problem.
Coach of the Year
Still another month left in the season, but who would you have on your Coach of the Year shortlist in each division?
A lot of times – especially in the NCAA ranks – Coach of the Year goes to the winner of the national championship with almost no exceptions. I understand that way of approaching it, but for me, the Coach of the Year is often someone who brings his team from off the grid into contention, even if it falls short of a title.
As such, here are my Top 5 for both divisions as we near the start of April:
Brian Barnhill (Utah Valley) – Huge step up for the Wolverines. Time will tell, but they might be the best team in the RMLC.
Casey Connor (Arizona State) – Last year’s struggles seem light years away.
Paul Jepsen (Stanford) – We’ll see how far the Cardinal gets, but they’ll be a tough out now.
Kyle McQuillan (Liberty) – The Flames took the leap this year to contender.
Justin Jenkins (Arkansas) – Razorbacks are looking at a home quarterfinal game for the first time in forever.
Others: Greg Mengis (Santa Clara), Scott Eiseman (New Hampshire), James Harkey (South Carolina), Ned Webster (California), Matt Blamey (Arizona).
Ryan Kelly (Loyola Marymount) – The Lions have been off the grid and now they are looking like a tourney team.
Larry Boehm (UC Santa Cruz) – The Slugs have emerged as a western power.
Alex Gavilla (Kennesaw State) – The Owls have cracked the UMLC code this year.
Joe Venturella (Dayton) – The Flyers struggled last year, but they’re back on schedule in ’19.
Daniel Ryan (UNC-Charlotte) – The wins are stacking up for the 49ers and now they are a postseason threat.
Others: Matt Gier (College of Idaho), Scott Bingham (Utah State), Derek Daehn (St. John’s), Blaeser/McNamara (Minn.-Duluth).
It’s a wrap! Final score 17-10 over @CUILacrosse Thanks to all the fans for coming out. Buffs are off to Texas next week. Good luck and GO BUFFS! pic.twitter.com/kl5xdApZLu
— CU Men's Lacrosse (@CUMensLacrosse) March 24, 2019
My Top Fives
1. California (10-0) – Tough to see any challenges for the Bears before the WCLL title game.
2. Georgia Tech (9-0) – Will spring break slow the Engineers’ momentum?
3. Liberty (9-0) – The clash with South Carolina is a must-see contest.
4. Arizona State (9-1) – Sun Devils have dropped a 20-spot in the last three contests.
5. Chapman (7-2) – Panthers showed their road chops in Colorado.
1. Minn.-Duluth (6-0) – Bulldogs going with a Dayton-Davenport double-header on Sunday.
2. Dayton (6-0) – I'm getting sort of a UMLC Judgement vibe at GVSU next weekend.
3. Kennesaw State (9-1) – Beating Auburn is a nice feather in the Owls’ hat.
4. Loyola Marymount (6-1) – Lions can put a stamp on the regular season by beating NAU.
5. College of Idaho (5-0) – We’ll give the Yotes a turn in the fifth spot with UC Santa Cruz on deck.
@chapmanlax wins in Loveland vs CSU. This is the first time in my 5 trips to CO to go 2-0 vs CU and CSU. Tough place to play! Proud of our men. pic.twitter.com/CJKdptqpPI
— Chapman Lacrosse (@chapmanlaxcoach) March 24, 2019
Slides & Rides
Some outstanding action at the Battle for Baltimore at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, highlighted by the 13-12 overtime victory by No. 11 Virginia Tech over Oregon on Sunday. The Hokies, Liberty and Pitt all looked solid and each team got quality games. I’m already excited for next year’s addition. If you’re team that wants in on the action, contact Virginia Tech coach Tim O’Brien…according to Dallas Hartley, Chapman’s 2-0 weekend in Colorado is the first time the Panthers have accomplished that in Hartley’s five trips to the Rockies…solid 2-1 opening weekend for Kansas. The Jayhawks look like they’ll be in the UMLC tourney...Santa Clara picked up another ranked win by beating No. 19 USC on Friday.
Road wins against Coastal Carolina and Charleston got Florida Gulf Coast off the list as they improve to 2-4 on the season. The Eagles are going to be one of those nasty away seeds at the tourney no one wants to see…UNC-Charlotte’s win over No. 18 Wake Forest should vault the 49ers back into the poll…Kennesaw State rocked D-I Auburn, 16-10. The Owls get more impressive every week.
Make sure to get those nominations for the Commanding Performance of the Week powered by Under Armour and Pearl’s goalie of the Week to firstname.lastname@example.org.