MCLA DII, St Mary’s Ousts UC Irvine 16-4

St Mary's Freshman Middie Gavin Cooke

The first game of the year was not what coach Ryland Huyghue wanted for the Anteaters of  UC Irvine.  They went up against St Marys Gaels on Thursday night, in what ended up being a one sided game.I cruised down to Irvine to check out the lax action from UCI.  Finally, something having to do with lacrosse was starting to happen down here.  For awhile it was kind of a dry spell.  Anyway I got to the game late, work killed my hopes of getting there on time.  Irony of course mandated that I find a parking spot as far away from the field as possible, and the game was played on the farthest field from the parking lot.

The evening was crisp and there were a handful of fans out supporting the teams.  St Mary’s was leading by 10 at 13 to 3.  I didn’t get to see the whole progression of the game but it was clear that towards the end UCI was frustrated with the direction the game was going.  St Mary’s racked up three more goals and UCI answered with one for a final tally of 16-4.  You can check the boxes at MCLA for a recap.I spoke with St Mary’s head coach Colin Knightly, and got his feeling about the game.  He said they were settling in really well after two games even though they were coming off an upsetting OT loss to Biola University(8-7).

Coach Colin Knightly

Knightly said,

“The team is anchored by our defense, especially by our captian Henry Graham.  He’s the loudest D-pole out there.  We are returning over 20 guys this year and we have some great contribution from our younger players.  Number 11 Matthew Jaber is really doing well at face off as a freshman.”

I also spoke with Henry Graham, Senior D-pole from Bozeman, Montana.  Here’s a kid with country boy charm and built like a tank leading the defense for St Mary’s.  He’s only been playing for three years! He came to St Mary’s to play soccer turns out that wasn’t working so he picked up a D-pole (smart move.)


“We really wanted to play tonight especially after the devastating loss to Biola last night.  We wanted to run the score up so we could get a lot of our younger guys in for some experience. “

I turned some attention over to UCI head coach Ryland Huyghue, formerly at Cal State Fullerton where the Titans took the SLC DII championship.

Coach Ryland Huyghue

Huyghue said of the game,

“I have a system and the guys need to implement the system”

Huyghue went on to explain that they run a motion offense and once the team gets used to running it he thinks it’ll be hard for any defense to keep up with the Titans.  UCI has a long road ahead but Coach Huyghue is confident.  After all he took  Fullerton all the way to the SLC DII  title game and came out on top.  Another interesting note from our talk was that Coach Huyghue pointed out is he’s the first African American to win a collegiate lacrosse title.  Not too shabby.

Final Word:
Keep an eye on St. Mary’s they have a track record and could be a contender for the WCLL title.  UCI may be there in a year or two  if the motion offense gets moving.

No games for me Friday driving out to Vegas for family extravaganza.  Hopefully back in town Saturday for the Chapman San Diego game, if the weather holds.

Other Quick SoCal Recaps:

  • Cal State Fullerton lost to UCLA 9-14  on the 4th.
  • For some reason UNLV/UCLA stats haven’t been posted yet for the  game on the 5th.

Food For Thought:
Henry Graham of St Mary’s has only been playing three years and is already a captain for the Gaels.  Is defense easier than offense?  Whaddya think? Talk it out in the comments.

About the author: Middie D played lacrosse at BYU under the tutelage of former Head Coach Jason Lamb and Current Head Coach Matt Schneck.  He now lives in God’s paradise of Southern California, more specifically Orange County.  His favorite color is shocking pink, favorite food is candy corns, and likes watching telenovelas.

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  1. As a defender I do think defense is easier if you're an athlete to begin with. To be a decent D guy you only need to be good with your right or left, to be excellent you need right and left. To be good at offense you need both, no question.

  2. Highly doubt that UCI will improve in the next two years unless they do get rid of Ryland and get themselves some players. After watching So Cal Lacrosse for the past 10 years, he is the worst coach I have seen and it shows as just about no coach in the wcll or slc has respect for him. For as much as he credits wins at Fullerton from last year, what I gathered, he was starting to destroy that program internally until school advisors and players intervened and kicked him to the curb it after their season. St Mary's however will surely give UC Santa Cruz a hell of a game come spring time.

  3. I think defense is easier position to fill because it requires less practice dodging and shooting, and a lot of the lacrosse specific knowledge for the position is more organizational and requires less repetition. Knowing how to talk and slide is easier for a good athlete than running off a well timed pick and quick sticking a bounce shot to the top corner. This is just my opinion.

  4. As a former UCI player and CNY native, I found that recruiting kids to play @ UCI who had more than 0-2 years of prior experience was extremely difficult. Somehow in the glory days of UCI lax (Jon Fox's era) that wasn't a problem, but UCI seems to have a natural disadvantage in experience now. Any coach going in there is likely coaching kids with anywhere from 0-6 years of experience, more of them on the 1-3 year side. Half the time is spent teaching catch and throw/basics, the other instituting a complex college lax offense and slide package. Seems destined to fail. UCI needs to get a coach willing to stay (long term) and build the program in both recruiting and the overall system.

    Most importantly the one intangible thing about UCI players is their willingness to play with the odds stacked against them. No matter if they have only been handling a stick for 3 months they go out and give it 100%. They pay their own way, practice hard and often, hustle, and generally play outside their means. I played 6 or so years ago and much may have changed, but regardless of this game's outcome UCI players give 100%. RIP 'EM EATERS!!!!

  5. I wanna congratulate St. Mary´s for having beat UCSC….the 27th of Feb isnt even till tomorrow…but the score is already posted….18 – 0….wow!!!! I don´t know if this is even feasable….UCSC has already the upset of the season beating westminster….oh BIOLA was at that tourney and they weren´t too great!