With tournament action ready to kick off in the MCLA, lets take a look at some of the lower seeded teams who are heading to Denver trying to shock the world. These teams are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds on their quest for lacrosse glory. Stranger things have happened in the wide world of sports so throw down that mop and broom, Cinderella, it’s time ball it up.
Cinderella Candidate #1
Division 2 PCLL Champion Stonehill Skyhawks
For the Skyhawks, their underdog story started long before the National tournament. After a long season that saw a brutal non-conference schedule and an overall record of only 6-8. Stonehill is peaking at the right time and on their improbable run to the PCLL crown they showed improvement on every level.
The Skyhawks pulled out a one goal win (against the WPI Engineers) behind an eight goal first half and the great individual performance of Colin Lancey, who scored seven goals and added an assist…In the final, Stonehill used two goals in the first and fourth quarters to beat Briarcliffe 4-3 to capture the conference crown…The Stonehill Skyhawks enter the 2009 Division II National Tournament in Denver as a Cinderella story after winning as many games in the conference tournament as they did all regular season and beating two teams who they had lost to earlier.
The Skyhawks’ reward for their inspiring run to the PCLL crown in a #12 seed in the National tournament and a date with #5 seed Northern Colorado. Can a team with a less than .500 record continue their march to an unlikely championship?
Cinderella Candidate #2
D1 LSA Champion Texas Longhorns
With their yearly success in football and basketball, it’s hard to ever imagine the Longhorns as an underdog candidate in ANY sport but in this year’s tournament the slipper fits. Texas faced a tough challenge in the LSA tournament and was tested mightily before they earned a bid to Denver.
LSA Tournament Re-cap from MCLA The Lax Mag:
“Having a number one seed going into the playoffs was a nice confidence builder,” says Texas head coach Noah Fink. In addition, the number one spot gave Texas the opportunity to rest up before taking on SMU on Saturday. Six players encompassed all of the scoring for Texas, led by Charlie Fraser with three goals and one assist, Johnny McKnight with three goals, and Stefan Knipp with two goals. The game ended at 11-9 in favor of Texas, advancing them to the championship game against North Texas.
Sunday’s Championship game was definitely a dogfight, with the first half being low-scoring and hard-fought. Texas stepped up its offense mid-way through the third quarter thanks to three quick goals from previously-injured attackman Tyler Nix. UNT attackman Phillip Johnson kept his team in the game temporarily, but the effort was too little too late for the Mean Green. Undoubtedly, it was Texas’ ability to rack up an eight goal lead early on in the second half that ultimately gave the Longhorns the 16-13 win. Doug Boyer added four goals for Texas, while McKnight added three and Evans Swann racked up two.
Despite being the #1 seed in the LSA tournament and earning their conference’s automatic bid to nationals, Texas is a heavy underdog going into Denver. Even though they earned a conference championship, they received the lowest seed possible (#16) and will arm up to face #1 ranked Michigan in the first round. Their task? Hand the defending champion Wolverines their first loss in 2 years.
The MCLA tournament is always full of surprises and upsets…Where will amazing happen in Denver?
For more LacrosseAllStars coverage of the MCLA National Tournament check out Wheniwasakid’s “Weekend Preview“, “Reaction from Titletown” from Cvas, and Mr. Blue Sky’s “Tournament Storylines and Reaction“
About the MCLA: The Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) is a national organization of non-varsity, college lacrosse programs. The MCLA currently operates with 200+ teams in two divisions, across ten conferences. http://mcla.us
About MCLA The Lax Mag, LLC: MCLA The Lax Mag, LLC is an independent company publishing MCLA The Lax Mag seven times a year. The magazine exclusively covers the schools, players and coaches of the MCLA and is available for purchase online at http://mclamag.com and at select lacrosse retailers.