The Lacrosse Networkcovers a lot of MCLA games, and when I break down that game film, I often focus on shooting overhand and fundamentals, and how important those two aspects of the game are. But the Union Vs. Whittier game out in California presents a very different style of men’s college lacrosse to analyze, and I’m excited to comment on these two up and coming programs! This is a great example of quality NCAA D3 lacrosse.
Here is a little background on the two teams: Union is looking tough this year and they are 4-1 when you count the recent win 11-7 win over Whittier. Their only loss is to Cortland by the score of 6-4, and Cortland looks like they are a Top 5 team without question. Paul Wehrum has Union improving rapidly. Whittier is trying to get BACK to their former glory, and former player and DIII AA, Brian Kelly, is at the helm. Whittier has focused on bringing in talent, and turning the kids into beasts. The Iron Poet challenge is a prime example of the change going on at the program.
Check out the game highlights below via the Lacrosse Network, and then stick around for my game analysis!
The first thing that I noticed was the play of both team’s keepers, even though the highlights begin with two close goals by Union and another goal on the crease by Whittier. After watching the full video, the goalie play was excellent. Both of these guys were both making big saves, staying big, and eating up outside shots for the most part. The defenses are good at extending and putting pressure on shooters. From the early play in the game it is clear that both teams are going to need to generate shots in tight to score.
This tells me that both teams know their strengths, and both did their homework in the scouting department. Many teams will “test” a goalie from outside early, but both of these teams seemed to go for the crease from the get go, and this points to excellent game planning by both coaches.
Union looked, on average, a little bigger than Whittier, and I really like the handle and vision some of the Union offensive players displayed. Their goalie is truly outstanding and their defense does a good job of swarming and packing it in on dodges. Whittier definitely has some larger players, but more importantly, they have speed and strength all over the field. I remember seeing Whittier play on tape back in the early 2000s and I was so impressed by how fast their defenseman and middies were. And their attack men had SERIOUS handle. Some of the Poet goals seem to suggest that handle is coming back to Cali!
I was pretty high on Whittier early in the year, but was told to simmer down as the Poets were still a year or two away from being an NCAA team, but after seeing these highlights I’m not so sure. I think Whittier could actually make some waves this year! The biggest game left on their schedule is Cabrini, who is sitting pretty at 5-2 and #13 in the country. With only 5 NCAA D3 games left on their schedule (they have 2 MCLA games a D2 game as well), the Poets NEED to keep winning. If they can, they could be making a trip East for some playoff ball a year early.
Union will DEFINITELY be making waves. They have games against RIT, RPI and Ithaca on their remaining schedule, and I think they should go 2-1 or 3-0 in those games. If they lose a game outside of those three, I’ll be shocked. I definitely see the NCAAs in their future, even if they lose to RIT in the Liberty. Oh yeah, I guess RIT is in the Liberty now.
On a somewhat separate note, I love that Whittier is playing Chapman still. They are both NCAA DIII schools in California, and I think it speaks volumes about the Whittier program that they don’t think they are “too good” to play Chaptown anymore. It’s a class move, good for tradition, and will hopefully help Chapman make the jump to NCAA lacrosse. This is no knock on their awesome MCLA team at all, but DIII lacrosse is fantastic, and Chapman would be a great addition!
Big thanks go out to Samir Chaudry of TLN for the highlights!