(Photo by Lance Wendt)
by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Put on a pot of coffee, because this could be a long spring for the selection committee.
With the results we’re seeing pour in on a week-to-week basis, along with the near-certainty of a conference tournament automatic-qualifying upset or two, May 1 could be long night.
On the flipside, it’s fantastic for MCLA fans.
Dominican stunning Santa Clara and Cal Poly absolutely hammering Florida State are just from this weekend.
Throw in Minnesota bodying ranked Arizona and Arizona State teams, and we’re getting treated to a fun show.
There are only a handful of teams from each division that we can say with outright confidence will be in Round Rock as we wind down the predominantly “non-conference” portion of the season.
Now the conferences start jockeying for seeds during the league tournaments, which starts as early April 16 with the opening round of the SELC D-I tourney.
As the bids stand right now, there are nine automatic qualifiers in Division I while there are still some moving parts to be figured out in Division II, which will likely get ironed out on Sunday night when the committee meets for the first time.
Regardless, there will be at least seven at-large bids to be doled out in each division.
It’s no surprise that the committee is meeting now in order to get a jump on who are the teams to watch, but it’s also important to keep an eye out for a squad with a strong schedule that is just lacking a signature win.
(Full disclosure: I don’t watch the committee meetings until Selection Sunday, so I have no ‘inside info’).
It’s a science, and a sometimes inexact one, at that.
The biggest problem is when we get into the “circles.”
You probably have a good idea of what I mean, but for example, this year:
Boston College beats South Carolina.
South Carolina beats Chapman.
Chapman beats Boston College.
The Dominican-Santa Clara-Utah Valley orbit is another case.
They are results that can spin the committee into the ground, and make the process more grueling than it should be.
And there will be plenty more of those coming, especially when we get fully engrossed in the conference campaign.
It’s going to be miserable for the committee, but awesome for us.
— MCLA (@MCLA) March 28, 2022
MY TOP FIVES
1. Brigham Young (9-0) – Great atmosphere in Fort Collins, but Cougs weren’t fazed.
2. Concordia-Irvine (8-1) – Eagles in the SLC top-seed driver’s seat after USC win.
3. Clemson (10-1) – Three games left, and two are substantial: Hokies and Cocks.
4. Minnesota (11-0) – That was a productive little business trip. 3-0 in the desert.
5. Florida (11-1) – Gators spotted ranked Auburn the first four goals and still rallied.
1. Kennesaw State (7-0) – Knock off a Top 20 D-I squad? Not too shabby.
2. College of Idaho (6-0) – Sunday’s game against Utah State should be epic.
3. UC San Diego (6-1) – We can debate Top 5. No debate about Top 10.
4. Utah (3-3) – Take a quick look at the Utes’ losses. They just beat No. 7.
5. Rhode Island (5-1) – Rhodey won’t see a better team than Northeastern all year.
As we talked about in the Weekend Watch, Minnesota had a golden opportunity to put themselves on the map with games against No. 13 Arizona, San Diego State and No. 14 Arizona State.
The Gophers coasted to three wins in three days in the desert and have almost certainly vaulted themselves into the Top 10. Minnesota still has to navigate the rest of the season, which includes a home date against Colorado State, along with the UMLC tournament. Still, if they take care of business, the Gophers may have bought themselves a home seed at nationals.
SLIDES & RIDES
- How should we assess Dominican’s victory over No. 6 Santa Clara? If you look at the last four games, the Broncos have been living on the razor’s edge with one-goal wins over Cal and Utah Valley followed by a three-goal loss to top-ranked BYU and now a two-goal loss to the Penguins. They are always in it.
Honestly, I just feel like this is how this season is going to be. The teams are so competitive that it’ll be a couple of plays along the way that separate a win from a loss. And don’t discount injuries. If you dig through the files, early-season maladies have deprived teams of some very important assets.
In the long run, this wasn’t a WCLL subdivisional game, so Santa Clara still has the ability to qualify for the league tourney. Dominican is also heading into its in-conference stretch with a ton of confidence to keep itself alive for the AQ.
NOTES: It was great to see Washington (Mo.) University make the trip to SoCal to face Loyola Marymount and Biola. The Bears got stung by a string of school-induced cancelations, but they have rebounded and fulfilled their road commitments. Hopefully they can get in the rest of their previously scheduled games, as well…I thought UC Davis might be the top team on the West Coast. It's looking more like it’s UC San Diego at this point…the UCSD-San Marcos game should be a gem.
With it’s win over LSU, Texas A&M has locked up the top seed out of the LSA South. I still think TCU might shock some people…the machinations of the current RMLC D-I standings has Utah Valley in a bind. The Wolverines are a really good team, but an 0-2 start has them looking up at all four conference bids. It's not the end of the world, but at minimum they’ll need to beat BYU or Texas and hope for some help.
- As always, get your nominations for the PEARL Goalie of the Week and the Warrior Player of the Week to [email protected] posthaste.