(Photo by Bob White)
by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Here we go.
The regular season is in the books and now it’s time to set the table for Round Rock.
We’ve already locked in three teams in each division. St. Thomas, Kennesaw State and Utah have punched tickets in Division II while Brigham Young, South Carolina and Minnesota all have Division I invites.
These next four days will be the calm before the rage of next weekend, when six more Division I save-the-date cards will be doled out along with three in Division II.
This part of the season has just a completely different vibe.
The expectation and desperation are measured in equal proportions depending on where your team sits on the bubble.
So far, the chalk has pretty much held, with the possible exception of a red-hot South Carolina team upending Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Looking at next weekend, Concordia-Irvine (SLC), Virginia Tech (ALC) and Simon Fraser (PNCLL) would appear to be significant favorites to grab the automatic qualifier out of their leagues while the LSA, CLC and WCLL are wider open.
— Gamecock Lacrosse Club (@CocksLacrosse) April 24, 2022
In Division II, Missouri State (LSA), College of Idaho (PNCLL) and UC San Diego (SLC) are sizable favorites in their leagues.
The three remaining leagues don’t have automatic qualifiers, so Rhode Island (CLC), UC Davis (WCLL) and UNC-Charlotte (ALC) are going to have to swim in the at-large pool.
It is in this at-large natatorium in both divisions where the big decisions will have to be made next Sunday.
Every resume will be scrutinized and compared with the other contestants. When there are head-to-head matchups, the decisions get instantly easier.
It’s when common opponents, strength of schedule, travel and other various criterion try to get measured is where the fun begins.
And don’t be fooled: the selection process is no warm bath. There are disagreements galore, which is a good thing.
All of the committee members understand what is at stake, and they take their job very seriously. They take pride in the final product.
What that final product will look like is the real issue. Barring a massive upset, I’ve got a pretty good idea who is going to be in the field – I’ve been doing this for a while at every level of the sport.
What is intriguing this year will be the seeding.
And seeding is huge. As anyone who has been around the MCLA for some time, there are two key ingredients for an MCLA national championship run: depth and seeding.
It doesn’t matter how good your team is, either of those components can be an Achille’s heel.
Alas, we’ve got another week to wait. And it’s going to be a great week.
The best week of the season.
MY TOP FIVES
1. Virginia Tech (12-1) – The Hokies will taper for a bit before the ALC finals.
2. South Carolina (13-3) – The Gamecocks are definitely peaking at the right time.
3. Concordia-Irvine (13-1) – Hard to see anyone giving them problems in the SLC.
4. Minnesota (17-0) – Michigan State gave the Gophers a big scare, but they delivered.
5. Brigham Young (15-2) – Solid rebound for the Cougs after a rough week.
1. St. Thomas (13-3) – Who are we kidding?
2. College of Idaho (9-0) – I’m fascinated by this team. Just gets things done.
3. Kennesaw State (10-0) – Two more workmanlike performances for the Owls.
4. Utah (9-3) – Consider me among the Utes believers after this weekend.
5. UC San Diego (11-1) – If the Tritons win the SLC, they should be a Top 8 seed.
SLIDES & RIDES
- Personally, I think UC Davis, Rhode Island and UNC-Charlotte are all deserving of a bid to nationals. However, without the protection of an AQ, they are all in jeopardy. The D-II field is that deep. This is why eligibility requirements – whether individual or conference – are so important.
- Boston College could be one of the biggest conundrums for the committee if they are in the at-large pool. They played a quality schedule, traveled as far as any team to get games and have significant road wins over South Carolina, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara and Texas. Throw in “quality” road losses to Cal, Chapman and Georgia Tech, and the Eagles have a case.
- There are always subplots during the postseason, but one that always occurs is the faceoff duels. And judging by the numbers and the anecdotes I’m receiving, we’ve got a stacked deck of FOGOs heading to Round Rock in both divisions. And as anyone in lacrosse knows, you can ride a hot draw man to the hardware. Let’s keep an eye on it.
- It’s getting close to the end of the month. Let’s start submitting candidates for the USA Lacrosse Player of the Month for April at the end of the week.
- In addition, USA Lacrosse will be presenting the Godekeraw Award at nationals to the player in each division who blends his play between the lines, in the classroom and in the community. If you have a quality candidate: [email protected].
- As always, get those nominations in for the Warrior Player of the Week and PEARL Goalie of the Week ASAP to [email protected]