Weekend Watch: Time for a Shootout
by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
When does 10 + 4 = 1?
From an MCLA perspective, this equation will be satisfied on the campus of UCLA over the weekend when 10 programs from four different lacrosse leagues – the SLC, WCLL and PNCLL and RMLC – shed their lacrosse affiliations and unite under their schools’ traditional conference, the Pac-12.
Ten of the 12 institutions – Oregon and Colorado were unable to attend – will play a game on both Saturday and Sunday on the Bruins’ Westwood fields. It’s the Pac-12 Shootout’s ninth season and the sixth at UCLA, making it one of the longer-running MCLA in-season events.
The Pac-12 has picked up significant lacrosse notoriety of late with the conference announcing the sponsorship of women’s lacrosse in 2018 after Arizona State made the announcement it would add varsity women. This triggered Lacrosse Magazine to start dreaming of what a varsity Pac-12 men’s league might look like.
The Pac-12 boasts some of the most recognizable universities in the country that would increase the stature of the varsity lacrosse world. But that Pac-12 is doing well even without the letter jackets. Four of the teams competing at the Shootout are ranked in the MCLA Under Armour preseason poll and a fifth, Colorado, is ranked second. Six traditional Pac-12 programs qualified for the MCLA National Tournament powered by Under Armour last spring.
As such, there are numerous intriguing games this weekend, including No. 12 Oregon State versus No. 5 Arizona State – a game that will be part of the SLC Game of the Week package – No. 24 California against No. 11 Arizona and Oregon State matching up with No. 13 Stanford. The entire schedule is below.
It’s great that there are some out there interested in the future of Pac-12 men’s lacrosse at the varsity level. Although it seems unlikely anytime soon, this really shouldn’t be cause for concern. If you take the time to see what’s going with the traditional Pac-12 conference programs, you can see that the product is already worth following.
Pac-12 Lacrosse Shootout
Saturday, Feb. 13 – UCLA Intramural Fields
Washington State vs. USC, 9:30 a.m.
Utah vs. Stanford, 10:30 a.m.
Oregon State vs. Arizona State, 12 p.m.
California vs. Arizona, 1:30 p.m.
Washington vs. UCLA, 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 14 – UCLA Intramural Fields
Arizona vs. Utah, 9:30 a.m.
Washington vs. California, 10:30 a.m.
Oregon State vs. Stanford, 12 p.m.
Arizona State vs. USC, 1 p.m.
Washington State vs. UCLA, 2:30 p.m.
UNLV (1-0) at No. 8 Brigham Young (1-0) – 1 p.m., Saturday
At first blush, a Rebel squad boasting just 16 rostered players would seem like a recipe for disaster going against the waves and waves of personnel that the Cougars can throw at them. Don’t fall into that trap, though. Darren Gagnon’s ironman squad may be thin in numbers, but as No. 9 San Diego State found out last weekend, UNLV is fat on talent. One possible marquee matchup will be the Rebels’ burly midfielder Eric Jones (6-foot-2, 180-pounds), who dropped six points on the Aztecs, against BYU’s All-American long-stick middie Max Neser.
No. 22 Dominican (0-0) at Oregon (0-0) – 3 p.m., Saturday
Dominican is now street-legal for the postseason after an apprentice season in ’15 upon joining the MCLA from NCAA Division II, and the Penguins start their drive for prominence against a Ducks squad looking to rebound from a 2-10 campaign. Both teams will have new coaches searching for their first wins, which will undoubtedly ratchet up the intensity on both sidelines. Keep an eye on Dominican’s Cody Bernstein, who is a tough cover out of the midfield.
Auburn (4-0) at Florida State (0-0) – 4 p.m., Saturday
How ‘bout them Tigers? Auburn is 4-0 after demolishing Oklahoma, 20-10 on the backend of a double-header, and the Sooners were a couple of goals away from the LSA finals last year. Now we really get the word on this whole War Eagle thing with a trip to Tallahassee. This will be the Seminoles second game (they open with Alabama on Friday night) of the season after an 8-5 campaign last year. The callow attack combo of sophomore Peyton Smith (16g, 6a) and rookie Spencer Wilson (17g, 5a) is killing it for the Tigers, but FSU junior Tucker Schwarz – a transfer from Merrimack – would have been a Player of the Year candidate in NCAA Division II before his departure.
No. 1 Dayton (0-0) vs. Lawrence Tech (0-0) –10 a.m., Saturday (at Detroit)
The champs awaken from their offseason slumber for a trip to Motown and a divisional clash with Tech. The Flyers haven’t played the Blue Devils in at least a decade despite residing in the same conference (granted, CCLA-II is a large group), but this will be a good indicator for Dayton as they commence their repeat project. The Flyers get a break after this one and then it’s a stretch of highly competitive games pretty much the rest of the way.
No. 6 Western Washington (1-0) at Simon Fraser (0-0) – 7 p.m., Saturday
The Vikings survived their test against rival Western Oregon, thanks in part to the performance of Alexander Rabin, but now they have to take on the Division I Clansmen, who are currently ranked No. 20. A loss won’t hurt WWU, just like it didn’t last year when Fraser won 10-7 and the Vikings still appeared in one of the national semifinals. This will be a bellwether game as to what the ceiling is for WWU this spring, however.
St. Gregory’s (1-0) at Oklahoma (1-1) – 12 p.m., Sunday
The Cavaliers are in the unenviable position of being the favorites to win a conference championship in a league that doesn’t have an automatic berth (LSA-II). As such, they need every single chip in their stack when they throw their résumé in front of the committee in early May. That includes recording upset victories against Division I opponents like Oklahoma. The Sooners made the LSA-I playoffs last year and, even though they went 1-1 on their Alabama trip, they would be a feather in SGU’s cap.