by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – The season kicked off last weekend with Citadel’s 5-4 victory over Florida Atlantic in which Bulldogs junior attackman Charles Wilson (pictured at right) led the way with four points (2g, 2a) and Nicolas Gasparro stopped 15 of the 19 shots that came in his direction.
It was a solid start, but this weekend features 14 contests, with five of them being conference openers.
This weekend’s landscape will be dominated by Division II programs, as all five league matchups feature members of the junior circuit. Even the three Division I teams that are in action – Arkansas, UCLA and Washington – will square off with D-II foes.
Saturday’s slate is headlined by conference tilts in the LSA, SELC and WCLL. La.-Lafayette, the defending champions in the LSA and the No. 2 pick in the preseason coaches poll, opens its run to another title by entertaining Rice.
Chin Up! It's game week #CajunNation pic.twitter.com/EWoeHqNrP0
— Ragin' Cajuns Lax (@RaginCajunsLax) January 26, 2017
Wake Forest’s early-season win over Davidson last spring was the difference in the Demon Deacons qualifying for the SELC tourney out of the Northwest division and Saturday’s contest will be equally weighty. UC Davis will hope to prove it’s the biggest threat to Sierra Nevada’s hegemony in the WCLL in the third conference throw-down.
In other Saturday action, newly-minted Louisiana Tech will play its first game in the MCLA, traveling to Dallas Baptist. Washington, which shocked the PNCLL by knocking Simon Fraser out of the conference tourney last year, gets its feet wet with an inter-divisional clash with Portland.
On Sunday, Wake Forest continues its pivotal inaugural weekend by traveling to UNC-Charlotte for another conference clash. The good news is the Demon Deacons could wrap up a berth to the SELC tournament held in Johns Creek, Ga., in late April before we even get to February with a sweep. The bad news is if Wake gets tripped up in one of the games, it’ll need to beat App State on Feb. 25 to get into the postseason.
Sunday also marks the (re)debut of Trinity (Texas) in the Lone Star Alliance. The Tigers will tangle with Texas A&M-Galveston in San Antonio.
Division I UCLA starts its campaign against Long Beach before traveling up the coast in late February to face UC Santa Barbara in the SLC opener for both squads.