by Lucas Ailport | MCLA.us
MISSOULA, Mont. – Tournament time is here, and Oregon, the two-time defending conference champions, will look for another title defense as it enters the Division I Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League (PNCLL) tournament as the No. 2 seed.
Washington, ranked No. 23 nationally, will be the No. 1 seed in the four-team tournament to be held on April 27-28 at the University of Montana. The No. 3 seed will be Boise State followed by Simon Fraser at No. 4.
There is no automatic qualifying bid for the winner of this year’s PNCLL tournament, however, all four teams will be in contention for an at-large bid for nationals, which will be held in Salt Lake City form May 6-11.
No. 1 Washington Huskies vs. No. 4 Simon Fraser Clan - Saturday, 4 p.m.
Simon Fraser (3-5, 2-3 PNCLL) managed to finish the season off with two divisional wins to help the Clan secure the fourth seed in the tournament. Simon Fraser defeated Idaho 12-4 and Oregon State 14-10.
Washington (7-3, 5-0) will not look past Simon Fraser because the last time these two teams played it went to overtime. The Huskies crawled back from a five-goal deficit to secure a 10-9 win on March 15.
“I think it will be a dog fight, and we just need to come out with a higher tempo than last game,” Washington coach Jack Cerchiara said. “They play really hard, fast and always field a challenging team.”
Although undefeated in conference play, Washington didn’t walk through the conference competition this year. Every conference win was well earned by the Huskies. Washington managed a 12-11 win over Oregon and a 12-10 victory over Boise State. The Huskies dropped a game to No. 13 Arizona, 10-7 earlier in the season.
Simon Fraser will have trusty goalkeeper Tej Grewal to help keep the Clan in the game. Grewal recorded 21 stops in the overtime loss against the Huskies, and finished the season with 132 saves, averaging 16.5 a game.
Freshman attackman Mark Yingling has been the spark on offense for the Clan, finding the back of the net 16 times with five assists in seven games played.
The Huskies have two 20-plus goal scorers on this year’s team. Senior attackman Drew Boyd led the team with 22 goals and 15 assists while sophomore Jackson Reid added 21 goals and six assists.
The winner of this game will play the winner of the late semifinal between Oregon and Boise State.
No. 2 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 3 Boise State Broncos – Saturday, 7 p.m.
The two-time defending PNCLL-I champions managed to sneak into the No. 2 seed after finishing with a conference record of 4-1 (6-5 overall). Boise State will look for some redemption after a 14-9 loss to the Ducks on April 12 in Boise.
The Broncos (8-5, 3-2) will try to avoid an 8-1 first half run by the Ducks to stay in the game. Boise State scored eight second-half goals, but couldn’t dig itself out of the hole it dug earlier in the game.
“We had a slow start mixed with some sloppy play early on, and Oregon picked it up quicker than we did,” Boise State coach Adam Smith said. “We have to come out, play fast and execute our game plan from the get-go.”
Both teams faced tough competition this season. Both teams dropped a game to No. 23 Washington – BSU lost 12-10, Oregon lost 12-11. The Ducks faced No. 3 Liberty and lost a close one 14-12 on March 23. The Broncos were defeated 12-11 by No. 16 Utah Valley on March 16.
Oregon averaged 10 goals a game during the regular-season. The Ducks offense is led by two 40-plus point scorers in attackman John Finnegan and midfielder Austin Olsen. Finnegan, a junior, leads Oregon with 44 points (27g, 17a) and Olsen has 42 points (29g, 13s).
For the Broncos, freshman midfielder Chase Underhill is a well-balanced playmaker who racked up 45 points (23g, 22a). Senior midfielder Kolten Rosin picked up 52 ground balls en route to scoring 26 goals (along with eight assists) on the year.
The championship game will be on Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m. All games can be live streamed at Grizlax.com/video.