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Columbia vs Cumberlands: NAIA Weekend Preview

Welcome back to another weekend preview of NAIA lacrosse.  We have another great weekend in store for us. A few conference clashes and a couple big time games featuring opponents who don’t frequently play each other.

Fan Voted Game of the Week

#5 Columbia vs #4 Cumberlands

Columbia College takes on Cumberlands in game two of their road trip through the heart of AAC country. This is a very interesting matchup because this is a rematch of last year’s NAIA National Quarterfinals, which saw undefeated #3 seed Columbia fall to #6 Cumberlands 18-12. The biggest storyline in that game was that no one had an answer for stopping Cumberland attackman Thomas Fogarty who put up 7 goals and an assist. Slowing him down will be crucial for the CC defense.

If Columbia is able to beat TWU decisively and get key players rested, it would be a huge benefit heading into this Top Five clash. 

#1 Reinhardt vs Webber

It seems like we haven’t seen Reinhardt play in quite some time. Their last game was a win against Scad on February 12th. That leads one to wonder if there will be any game rust early in this contest. Webber is definitely in full swing at this point having played 7 games this season.

Expect Webber to be able to put up points in this one. However, I don’t think it will be from Jackson and Kew. This should be the toughest test they have played at close defense with Nuss (1st team All-American), Hollis, and Jacob Pinson all being upperclassmen who have seen a ton of action in their Reinhardt careers. I think the best avenue for Webber to put up points will be from the speedy midfielder Christian Tapia. He has an incredible first step and is very explosive, making him a tough matchup for any SSDM or LSM. 

Another interesting subplot in this game is former Reinhardt faceoff man Hunter Scott being the top faceoff guy at Webber. I spoke with him about facing his former team

“The game this Saturday is obviously a big one for me personally. But this is nothing more than another game on our schedule, and an opportunity for us to showcase what we can do. I would’ve never imagined that I would be in the position I’m in now battling against the colors I used to wear proudly, but the boys in Webber green are ready to go. We’ve trained hard all fall, and continue to do so. This is going to be a dog fight, but it’s just going to come down to my teammates and I doing our jobs. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m ready to get after it this Saturday.“
– Hunter Scott, Webber Faceoff Man

#5 Columbia vs Tennessee Wesleyan

If you asked the common NAIA viewer who was the favorite coming into this one, I’m fairly certain they would take the ranked team to win big. However, I tend to see this being a very tightly contested game.

We knew coming into this season the Columbia offense would still be elite, but we were uncertain how the goalie and defense would look. It’s safe to say Freshmen goalie Bryce Peltier has been phenomenal through his first two career games, racking up 17 & 20 saves respectively. The downside to that is the sheer volume of shots he has faced behind a young defense.

TWU on the other-hand probably has its best team in program history.  A few key transfers and a faceoff specialist in Kyle Gasior, who is currently at over 80% on the year, have the Bulldogs looking like a very tough opponent for any team this year.

#7 Indiana Tech vs #8 William Penn

This game lost a little bit of it’s zest with William Penn falling to conference foe Ottawa earlier this weekv in a tough battle mostly due to their starting goalie being out with an injury. The good news for William Penn is that he should be back in action to take on a very deep Indiana Tech team.

Indiana Tech looks rebound into form after struggling at times in their first few games. This game is important because the WHAC has quite frankly had the KCAC’s number the past few weeks of this season. If the Statesmen rally and pull off the upset, it would not only save their spot in the rankings but also be a big boost to the KCAC as a whole. A few players to keep an eye out for in the one would be Boston Romero and Tim Pennington for William Penn, as well as Andrew Ryan and Josh Bramley for Indiana Tech.