by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – In 2015, Stanford rolled to the WCLL championship and stunned Brigham Young in the first round at nationals. It was a fantastic season for the Cardinal, which looked like they might go on a multi-year run of success.
Alas, the MCLA doesn’t always work that way.
Since 2015, Stanford has gone 16-26, losing in the semifinals of the WCLL tourney twice and missing the postseason altogether last spring. All of the program momentum had ground to a halt.
Why? Brian Karalunas’ lacrosse bonafides are unquestioned, but balancing Stanford law school with coaching collegiate lacrosse is no easy double-dip. The academic attrition rate at schools of Stanford’s ilk can be problematic, as well. With a tight roster, just a couple of injuries can change a season.
Game #1 This Friday at Johnson Field vs. UCSB! Come out and support Cardinal Lacrosse! pic.twitter.com/iBfjzL7f9P
— Stanford Lacrosse (@stanfordmenslax) January 30, 2019
Now in walks Paul Jepsen, a three-year starter and captain at Duke, who is looking to bring the Cardinal back to its salad days.
Jepsen is on The Farm after acting as an assistant for archrival Cal for four seasons, where he helped the Bears advance all the way to the national semifinals in ’17. With the academic profile similarities between the two institutions, Jepsen appears to be the perfect fit.
It's obviously unfair to think Jepsen can get everything back on track in a season, but I've got a sense that Stanford is going to be a handful this year. With the high school pedigrees on the roster this spring, it's probably not going to be a talent issue.
A resurgent Stanford would allow the WCLL to regain its stature as one of the true power conferences in the country. No. 8 Cal is the preseason favorite, but the addition of No. 17 UC Santa Barbara bolsters the overall strength. If No. 25 Cal Poly has a bounce-back season and teams like Santa Clara, Nevada, Dominican and Sonoma continue their steady improvement, good things are to come.
For Stanford, it all starts tonight when they host the Gauchos.
Is the Cardinal back? We’ll see.
Broncos Looking to Make Impression
One of the better stories that emerged last year was the improvement of Santa Clara, which qualified for the WCLL tourney after posting an 8-5 (6-1 in conference) mark and drawing the No. 2 seed in the league playoff.
The Broncos appear to be taking it up a notch as they open the season with a weekend road trip to play Arizona on Saturday and then powerful Grand Canyon on Sunday.
It’s an impressive challenge and gives Santa Clara a chance to make a big splash. And Grand Canyon has been susceptible to early season stumbles in the past. Just ask Utah Valley.
This is the progression that growing teams must make. Santa Clara could very well come out of the desert 0-2, but they are raising the bar for their program, which will always pay dividends down the road.
They were elementary school chums at @CalvertSchoolMD and competitors in the Towsontown Rec league coached by their fathers. Now UCSB's Mike Allan and Cal's Ned Webster faceoff 3,000 miles away as head coaches on Saturday in Berkeley. #mcla19 pic.twitter.com/fS8n7WCZBF
— MCLA (@MCLA) January 30, 2019
Keep an eye on the Texas A&M-Southern Methodist game on Sunday. The Aggies are the clear favorite in the LSA, but they are running into a bit of a scheduling pitfall that has taken down many a good team over the years.
Back when I was covering the MCLA for Lacrosse Magazine, I referred to it as the “Double Down.” It’s basically when one team hits the road and plays a pair of games in a weekend, and the two opponents just have a single contest.
That’s what A&M is embarking on this weekend, as it faces TCU on Saturday at 1 p.m. and then less than 24 hours later the Aggies square up against a fresh Mustangs outfit that has tons of talent.
If the games had been flipped and TAMU was playing SMU first, I’d be less intrigued. As is, this is a formidable challenge for the No. 21 Aggies.
MCLA Announces Inaugural Hall of Fame Class | https://t.co/gqkwlVhvdY #mcla19 pic.twitter.com/vdBvdGa7s5
— MCLA (@MCLA) January 28, 2019
It seems rather early to have the biggest game of the season in PNCLL-I, but Saturday features Simon Fraser visiting Oregon in what could be a preview of the conference championship game.
At the very least, it’s a rematch of last year’s title tilt in which the Ducks avenged a mid-season spanking to upset the Clansmen, 12-10.
This will be Charlie Jackson’s first turn as head coach with Oregon, and he might not have a more important game this regular season.
View this post on InstagramLast practice in the books before our first game this Saturday versus Texas A&M. 1 pm Justin Fields. Both sides of the ball looking very sharp. Make sure you come out and support the squad in there home opener! (Swipe left for our stacked schedule)
A post shared by TCU Men’s Lacrosse (@tcumenslacrosse) on
Slides & Rides
Big test right out of the gate for LSU traveling to play Auburn and Bama in a “Double Down”…Seattle University kicks off its MCLA career with a home game against Portland State…No. 8 Kennesaw State visits No. 17 Wake Forest on Saturday…Iowa State travels to Nebraska to see who gets a leg up in the UMLC West...Missouri State coach Dustin Rich announced his resignation in order to care for his two children after the death of his wife. Donnie Curran will step in as head man for the Bears.