by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – The South Carolina players, coaches and staff received their championship rings over the weekend. It’s a sharp looking bauble that avoids some of the garishness that has crept into the ring game.
It pretty much puts a cap on the Gamecocks 2019 season – a campaign that expanded the championship footprint of the MCLA into the SELC.
But what’s the true story behind the meaning of the Gamecocks’ rings?
At the micro level, USC’s coronation is the culmination of the five-year plan instituted by James Harkey in Columbia.
At the macro level, this is a story about reaching potential.
And it’s a story that doesn’t end with South Carolina.
While I hesitate to saddle the Penguins with this type of hype, Dominican’s weekend in the desert had a very 2018 Gamecock-ian feel to it.
In fact, it felt very much like the South Carolina trip to the Sunshine State in ’18 when the Cocks obliterated Florida and Florida State on the road, raising eyebrows everywhere.
Dominican out-gunned No. 19 Arizona on Friday, 17-15 helped by a 17-save performance by Cameron Shank and followed that up with the real stunner – a 16-11 victory over No. 7 Arizona State in Tempe.
Much like South Carolina was in the SELC, Dominican has been a second-tier outfit in the WCLL since its move from NCAA Division II back in 2015. The Penguins have had one winning season since making the transition and have never made the postseason, whether it be conference or nationals.
Now they sit at 2-0 with an assured national ranking when the first weekly poll is released on Feb. 19. It’s a massive accomplishment for the program.
Samuel Vogel-Seidenberg deserves much of the credit, although player buy in is ultimately the key ingredient as South Carolina’s ascendancy attests to.
Dominican will face some of the same headwinds that South Carolina faced in the SELC.
The WCLL is a no-joke league that sent three teams to nationals in 2019 and appear on track to do, at minimum, the same.
Still, if this weekend was any indicator of what Dominican is set to accomplish, making the first trip to the conference tournament is well within the realm of possibility.
It was a good weekend for South Carolina. They have their shiny awards around their fingers.
It was a good weekend for Dominican, who now has something to dream about.
MY POWER FIVES (UPDATED!)
This is nothing official or worth publicizing, but these are the top five hottest teams in each division according to the most important determining factor: me. This will be a far more volatile ranking than the coaches poll, but the cream will eventually rise. Don’t get hot and bothered if it doesn’t necessarily reflect any polls.
1. South Carolina (4-0) – Not even close to a hiccup to start the season for the Cocks.
2. Cal (2-0) – Odd to say, but the win over Chico looks better.
3. Cal Poly (2-0) – After one game, the ‘Stangs have a defense looking like 2016 (that’s good).
4. Chapman (1-0) – Panthers checked all the boxes in the UCLA rout.
5. Georgia Tech (2-0) – The BYU win could start to look a lot better during the season.
1. Minn.-Duluth (1-0) – Like last year, the Bulldogs took down D-I Minnesota.
2. UC Irvine (2-0) – The Eaters drop 19 on No. 18 Loyola Marymount. Wow.
3. Montana (2-0) – Solid weekend. Workmanlike.
4. Kennesaw State (0-1) – Owls gave D-I No. 18 Clemson all it could handle.
5. St. Thomas (0-1) – A 10-9 loss to Minnesota on Friday wasn’t all bad.
— Pitt Men's Lacrosse (@pittlacrosse) February 10, 2020
One of the choices in journalism is to either focus on the negative or accentuate the positive. The former tends to sell better than the latter, but this column is (mostly) all love, so we’re going to give propers to Texas Christian and Chico State for their ranked wins this week as opposed to doing a post-mortem on LSU and Stanford.
The Horned Frogs and Wildcats road results – TCU defeated No. 25 LSU; Chico downed No. 24 Stanford – are uplifting because the two victors have been working hard to build something special. These wins are a fantastic affirmation that both are moving in the right direction.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to put TCU and Chico in the same category as, say, the 2018 upstart South Carolina team, but it’s start. The Wildcats host Idaho and No. 17 Santa Clara next weekend while the Frogs entertain LSA heavyweight Texas A&M.
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SLIDES & RIDES
- All in all, it was a triumphant return to the MCLA for UT-Dallas. The Comets took down Oklahoma State and Kansas State, but fell to a gritty MSU Denver outfit. Welcome back…Pitt outscored its first two opponents 36-3. Are the Panthers a CLC contender?...I’d like to hop in a time machine and see what the outcome of the Santa Clara-Cal game would be without the non-releasable penalty to start the second half.
- They played great, but Auburn let one get away against Florida State. Good for the ‘Noles for grinding out the win…Louisiana beating Baylor and losing to St. Edward’s is kind of weird…intrigued by this Washington (Mo.) outfit after a two-goal loss to Mizzou…already looking forward to Georgia-Auburn game. Could be a lot at stake…hate that USC didn’t get to play Clemson because of snow. Trojans should get committee credit for the trip if they are in the hunt.
- QUICK LOOK AHEAD: The Pac-12 Shootout dominates the schedule starting on Friday and running through Wednesday…Minot, S.D., becomes the epicenter of the D-II world as St. Thomas and Duluth from the UMLC go head-to-head with Montana (PNCLL) and Montana State (RMLC) in what will undoubtedly be a chilly contest.
- Remember to get your nominations in for the Dominant Performance of the Week presented by Warrior and the PEARL Goalie of the Week to [email protected] ASAP.