The Reverb: Dessert in the Desert
by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Matt Blamey’s decision to move from Sierra Nevada in Lake Tahoe to Arizona in Tucson really isn’t that complicated.
Despite having a very talented team with dedicated student-athletes at SNC, Blamey was through with the beautiful mountain resort town.
During his time in Tahoe, Blamey and his program had to deal with a pair of springs that broke 30-year-old records for snowfall.
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It was just too much.
“It was unfathomable,” Blamey said. “We literally didn't have a field during the spring for almost the entirety of my time in Lake Tahoe. The snow is what brought me and my family to the desert.
"I don't want to see that white stuff ever again.”
Blamey is a Virginia guy not used to the climate perils like us heartier Wisconsin stock.
There was a silver lining, however. The claustrophobic, snowed-in environs of Tahoe provided Blamey a rough blueprint to handle the last two years.
“Without those really challenging years in Tahoe, I'm not sure I would have been able to deal with the adversity that we all faced through two years of a pandemic,” he said. “You know what they say: A blessing in disguise.”
Despite his first five-year tenure in Tucson getting scrambled by the bat flu, Blamey has found a level of stability this spring. A lot of it hinges on his first group of student-athletes that matriculated in the desert coming into their own.
The Wildcats are 7-2 and ranked No. 13 in the country.
“This is the year that we've been building for,” Blamey said. “It's exciting to see my first recruiting class at Arizona enter its senior season. We have undoubtedly tried to build the program around the guys in this class, both on and off of the field. It's bittersweet seeing their maturation as men while also knowing that our time together is growing so short.”
The time with the senior class is growing short, perhaps, but this graduating senior edition has been an anchor for a program that has flipped the switch from club to virtual varsity.
The level of seriousness required for MCLA programs to evolve from pretenders to contenders requires a massive amount of buy-in, but the payoff is large.
“When I first arrived, it was a bunch of guys – amazing young men – who went to UofA for a multitude of reasons and then they saw that there was a lacrosse team on campus,” said Blamey. “Now we have highly-recruited men who come to Arizona for those same reasons, but lacrosse is one of their top priorities.
“It makes a difference. These guys are making the sacrifices necessary with the hopes of making us a championship contender.”
And now, possibly, comes the payoff.
The Wildcats sit at 3-1 in the SLC with three league contests left along with a slugfest with undefeated No. 15 Minnesota on Friday.
The Golden Gophers would be a nice bounty, but qualifying for the four-team SLC championship is the big prize. If Arizona can find its way to the conference playoffs, it would almost certainly punch a ticket to nationals.
Not having to rely on anyone but themselves makes it even sweeter.
“I've thought about this a lot,” admitted Blamey. “If you look up and down the polls, it really is wide open this year. I've stopped stressing the rankings and am just trying to focus on our schedule. The SLC is a buzzsaw.
“We truly control our own destiny. If we win a few more, we're in. It's going to be a huge challenge for sure, but our guys do understand that we aren't reliant on anyone else. It's solely in our hands.”
Tucson will be the location of the SLC tournament this year.
It’s a tasty little dessert awaiting the Wildcats should they be able to fulfill their potential.
The cherry on top awaits in Round Rock.
MY TOP FIVES
1. Brigham Young (7-0) – Buffs and Rams salivating at upsetting the Cougs next weekend.
2. Concordia (6-1) – No hangover allowed. Gauchos would love a Tuesday treat.
3. Clemson (10-1) – Just three games left, but two are biggies – VT and Cocks.
4. Santa Clara (6-1) – The Broncos are in slowdown mode. Just three games remaining.
5. Minnesota (7-0) – The Gophers’ competition has been a little soft. Things ramp up now.
1. College of Idaho (6-0) – The Yotes get a nice breather before the heavy lifting returns.
2. Kennesaw State (6-0) – I was doubtful of the Owls. They crushed FGCU. I’m a believer.
3. St. Thomas (6-2) – The Tommies are on a nice little vacation, as well. MoState in a bit.
4. Rhode Island (5-0) – Lil’ Rhodey entertains a ranked D-I Northeastern squad. Love it.
5. UC Davis (3-3) – After routing Loyola Marymount, Aggies still undefeated in D-II.
SLIDES & RIDES
- Anyone who had the pleasure of watching the No. 1 Brigham Young vs. No. 2 Concordia-Irvine contest got a treat. Just a great game with a massive of amount of intensity on both sides. We’ll be in for a treat if we get to relive this one in Round Rock in a couple of months. And what a wonderful backdrop.
NOTES: Wake Forest is looking like a monster. I would have liked to see the Demon Deacons make the trip to Alabama earlier, but they appear to be the heavy favorite out of the ALC…much respect for James Madison qualifying for the ALC D-I tourney in their first run in the league…Lone Star Alliance north division is looking like a dandy.
- As always, the coaches nominations for the Warrior Player of the Week and the PEARL Goalie of the Week are do to the [email protected] inbox by noon on Monday. Get your players the respect they deserve.