(Photo by Jodi Vosika)
by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – All eyes will on the People’s Republic of Berkeley on Saturday as No. 2 California entertains No. 3 Chapman at 2 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.
It’s an early season dream matchup for fans of the MCLA as, by all indications, this could very well be a Thursday or Saturday matchup in Salt Lake City in early May.
How do the coaches handle a high-powered duel between title contenders? What are the advantages and drawbacks?
For Chapman head man Dallas Hartley, there is nothing to fear about potentially taking a loss to a quality team.
“In my opinion, there really aren’t any cons,” said Hartley, who is in his 10th season with the Panthers. “A February win is great on the resume, especially in-conference, but a loss is 70 days away from playoffs. Realistically, there are more than 15 games left and around 45 practices. Improvement is the name of the game.”
Ned Webster, Cal’s sixth-year head coach, piggybacked off of Hartley’s comments.
“If you're hung up on the short term and winning, then the only con might be that you're simply not prepared or evolved enough as a team for such a big game this early in the season,” Webster said.
“If your big picture goal is to play in May, then there are no cons to playing a tough February schedule,” Webster continued. “These games highlight strengths and weaknesses and make you better.”
What's the MCLA Division I Game of the Week for the period ending Feb. 23? #mcla20
— MCLA Tournament '20 (@MCLA_Tournament) February 19, 2020
That educational component of facing a rugged early-season game is important to Hartley, as well.
“The pros of playing a quality team early is that it gives you a chance to see how your young players and new depth respond in the game, and what kind of leaders you have in your upperclassmen,” Hartley said. “It’s a chance for the players and the coaches to learn.”
Last year’s game between the two teams illustrates the coaches’ point. Cal rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Chapman, 15-14, and both improved over the season to make it to the semifinals (and finals, in the Bears’ case).
South Carolina’s loss at Chapman in early March last year is another example of a good team getting better with an early season setback.
The stakes are still plenty high on Saturday, however.
The coaches have a mutual admiration for each other that creates a dynamic atmosphere that is the result of bringing two competitive individuals and teams together.
“Dallas' teams are always polished, disciplined and well-organized,” Webster said. “Their offense is always pretty, for lack of a better word. Their sticks are pretty. Their sets are pretty. As a defense, you know you're going to have to make a play or a save or withstand a long possession because unforced turnovers are rare.”
“Coach Webster is always fun to go against,” added Hartley. “He’s done an incredible job recruiting fantastic players and coaches that fit his style. He’s even-keeled and a great guy. He knows his group and how he wants to win.”
View this post on InstagramHappy birthday to Head Coach Zach Bosh! #Legendary #FearTheBeard #NDSU #GoBison
A post shared by NDSU Men’s Lacrosse (@ndsumensclublax) on
N.D. IS THE PLACE TO BE…AGAIN
For the second consecutive week, the hub of the Division II world will be in North Dakota as the Peace Garden State hosts another Top 10 throwdown when No. 7 St. John’s visits No. 4 North Dakota State in Fargo.
The Johnnies (0-1) snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bison last spring as then-junior Boone Almquist scored five goals and dished out two assists in the 12-8 victory.
While both teams are basically locks for nationals, there is plenty riding on this game besides bragging rights. With only both teams only having eight D-II games on the docket, every result will feed into the nationals seeding narrative. Anyone who follows D-II knows that a top four seed is almost mandatory to make a run at nationals.
In addition, the winner stays in the hunt for a first-round bye in the UMLC playoffs, which is almost essential to win the conference considering the depth of that league. It should be a good one.
Let’s go to Texas! @TxStateLacrosse hosting @longhornlax 4/2 for their 1st Lace Up game. Helping children who are homeless in San Marcos,TX. We are honored to have you all join the Lace Up family! @MCLA pic.twitter.com/G00Zpr8jKvSLIDES & RIDES
— Lace Up With LAX (@LaceUpWithLAX) February 18, 2020
- After knocking off No. 15 Utah Valley on Wednesday evening, Auburn is emerging as one of the intriguing teams of the young season. The Tigers are now 3-2 with losses coming to No. 9 Brigham Young, 15-7, and No. 7 Florida State, 15-14, in which Auburn held a two-goal advantage heading into the fourth.
More importantly, the Tigers play Florida and Purdue tonight and Sunday, respectively. A sweep and Auburn is almost certainly looking at a national ranking. J.J. Arminio, who has done a fantastic job in his three years with the Tigers, is likely eyeing a bigger prize: the SELC playoffs. As usual, to achieve that, Auburn will need to unseat either Georgia Tech or Georgia. This certainly could be the year.
- Clemson flies to L.A. for two games in two days against UCLA on Friday night and No. 11 Concordia-Irvine the following day. The committee likes those trips…No. 12 Michigan State at No. 6 Liberty is a spicy Sunday matchup…if the weather holds, No. 13 USC at No. 25 Arizona will be streamed live…No. 16 Virginia Tech opens its season at West Virginia on Saturday and at home against George Washington on Sunday. Both are divisional contests.
Like Virginia Tech, No. 22 Boston College has a new coach. How will the Eagles fair against a talented No. 15 Utah Valley outfit?...Jeff Guy returns to the head coaching gig at Grand Canyon and he’ll get tested immediately. The Lopes play No. 18 Santa Clara and No. 5 Cal Poly back-to-back in San Luis Obispo.
View this post on InstagramLittle over 24 hours until we face off with @gamecocklax come watch this top 10 matchup under the lights
A post shared by FSU Men's Lacrosse (@fsumenslacrosse) on
- No. 8 Kennesaw State visits No. 20 UNC-Charlotte on Saturday afternoon with the winner getting a huge leg up in the SELC Mountain…big divisional game between San Diego and UC Irvine with the loser in trouble for the SLC playoffs…UT-San Antonio against Incarnate Word for all the tacos tonight at UTSA.
Georgia TECH's Conrad McEvoy received his @warriorlax Burn 2 head for his Dominant Performance of the Week. Who will earn the accolades this week? Coaches' noms to [email protected] by noon Monday. #mcla20 #dominate pic.twitter.com/IKwjDEblh4
— MCLA (@MCLA) February 21, 2020
- Coaches’ nominations for Dominant Performance of the Week presented by Warrior and PEARL Goalie of the Week should go to [email protected] by noon on Monday. Coaches, also start thinking about nominations for US Lacrosse Player of the Month for February.