Just like NCAA lacrosse, the MCLA has a host of teams that are widely considered to be “top” programs. Michigan, Colorado, BYU, Chapman and Arizona State are all currently in this top echelon, along with a couple of other teams, and until recently, I thought Minnesota-Duluth was a fringe member of this group as well. UM-D may still be part of that group actually, but if they are, it means Utah should definitely be considered as well.
Utah destroyed Minnesota-Duluth last weekend 13-5. I’m not saying they dominated the entire game, because I didn’t see it, but score-wise, winning by 8 is destruction. Especially when the other teams only manages 5 goals. Now I can see why Utah would NOT be part of this group yet. They lost to UCSB AT UCSB 13-10 in only their second game of the season. They followed that up with a 12-6 loss to Arizona State only 2 days later. They rebounded with wins over UCLA, Simon Fraser (by 1 in OT) and finally Minnesota-Duluth.
Photo Courtesy UtahLacrosseNews.com
On Friday, the Utes take on Colorado (my pre-season #1) in what will be a really good game for a couple of reasons: 1) Colorado has played Kansas but no one legit in a real game so we get to see how they handle a good team. 2) We get to see Utah play a top team at home again, where they are 3-o in 2011. Utah will have had 4 days to prepare for this game and playing at home in front of a good crowd would be huge. 3) no one will be sneaking up on anyone. Colorado’s season is young but people know they are good. Utah has 2 big wins so far. We know they can play.
While I think Utah is definitely moving up, I still think they have some work to do. Winning on the road still seems to be a challenge for the Utes, but the games they’ve played so far should have prepared them well for future trips out of state. Their schedule still includes a TON of great games with 4 of their remaining games coming against Top 10 teams in Chapman, Colorado, Colorado State and BYU to wrap the season up. They also play Westminster and Utah Valley State, two very strong MCLA Division 2 teams, that will tell us even more about how good Utah really is.
Getting out of the RMLC is going to be very hard to pull off considering the Red Hot Buffs, BYU and CSU all stand in the way, but if Utah can make it through that, they will be ready for anything and battle tested. I’m not 100% sold on Utah yet, but they certainly are interesting and should be a fun team to watch for the rest of the season!