(Photo by Gary Mukai)
DULUTH, Minn. – It’s a brisk day at the University of Minnesota at Duluth with the wind howling off Lake Superior, which is just a scant 15 blocks from Griggs Stadium. The Bulldogs aren’t complaining as this is just the sixth true home game in the past four seasons.
Sierra Nevada can relate, as they pretty much have to leave Tahoe until at least late April, and even that’s pushing it sometimes. The Eagles are well-acclimated to cold weather, as well, so you can cross that off your list of variables.
Sierra’s real problem comes with the Duluth defense, which starts with shorty Colin Joyce, is strengthened by long-stick midfielder Michael Radecki and anchored by Blake Nastrom in the cage. Each one of them is a senior and each is an All-American, by the way.
Division II Round I: Sierra Nevada at Minn.-Duluth | https://t.co/cSMIwgacxf #mcla20
— MCLA Tournament '20 (@MCLA_Tournament) March 16, 2020
Toss in Blake Barta – another senior All-American at FOGO – and offensive possessions could be rare and short-lived for the Eagles.
“As with most teams, we’ll only go as far as our seniors take us,” said Duluth co-coach Ben Blaeser.
“I agree,” added co-coach Alex McNamara.
SNC is not deep, but they do have some dangerous weapons to keep Duluth off-balance.
The attack-midfield combo of Sean Kimura and Justin Wadsworth has been deadly this spring while rookie netminder Carter Monahan has been rounding into form, turning away 21 shots in a three-goal setback to UC Davis.
“Really proud of how our kids battle for every ball,” said Sierra coach Chris Rowney. “We’ll have to be sharp against Duluth.”
[*- The coaches didn’t really say this. This is all made up. It’s fake]