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Cumberlands Smacks CUAA: NAIA Weekend Recap

This past week the second edition of NAIA Conference and National Rankings were released. These rankings gave some extra incentive to some exciting out of conference matchups this weekend. After some surprising results from this slate of games, we can be almost certain that these rankings won’t stay the same when the next iteration comes out. However it looks like the only direction Cumberlands may be headed in is up.

Let’s take a look at the outcomes of this weekend’s matchups

#6 Concordia Ann Arbor (7) – #4 Cumberlands (14)

After last week’s exciting Top 10 matchup between St. Ambrose and Indiana Tech, Concordia came into this contest looking follow St. Ambrose did, upset the higher ranked team. However, Cumberlands came prepared to prevent the upset, thanks to a hot start.

Cumberlands outscored the Cardinals 6-0 in the 1st quarter. Dylan Crouch made his case for 1st Team All-American, putting in 4 Goals and adding 4 Assists. Good luck to any offensive player going against Jake Morgan. With another four caused turnovers and five ground balls in this game, he will likely lead the NAIA in both stat categories for defensemen this year.

Sam Bowling had another strong day in goal for the Cardinals with 15 saves. I’m sure as good as those feel, he’d rather his defense prevent him from facing as many shots. CUAA is missing Junior Captain Keshawn Simmons at close defense at the moment so they’ll need some stronger performances from other members of the defense.

This is an impressive win for Cumberlands as CUAA is no easy opponent. If Cumberlands looks this consistent and dominate for the rest of the season, Cumberlands may have some new hardware at the end of it all.

UM Dearborn (5) – Tennessee Wesleyan (16)

When the second iteration of the NAIA rankings came out and TWU was still outside the Top 10, they took some advice from Michael Jordan, and took it personally.

The MVP for the Bulldogs so far in 2022 has been FO Kyle Gasior. In this matchup he went 19-25 putting him at 83-94 and 88.3% through 4 games. When Gasior wins the faceoff he’s also a threat in transition and showed that this weekend by adding a goal in this contest. Dominating the possession battle gives their offense plenty of opportunities to put goals on the board.

Nolan Kelley did his best to keep the Wolverines in this game, scoring 3 times, but he didn’t have much help. Tennessee Wesleyan’s next three opponents are all in the Top 10, so they’ll have their opportunity to get themselves into the rankings. 

St. Andrews (7) – Webber (11)

In the 2022 AAC opener for Webber and St. Andrews, it was a relatively even matchup. It was a competitive defensive battle in the first half. Neither offense was able to generate much in even situations and the first goals for both teams came from man-up opportunities.

The difference maker in this contest was that one team had Chase Jackson, and one team did not. Jackson had 7 total points on the day. The Warriors relied on a strong second half to pull away with a 4 goal win. 

SCAD (21) – Point (4)

In the preseason AAC rankings, these two teams were projected to finish at the bottom of the conference. That shouldn’t be an indictment against them because the AAC might be the toughest NAIA conference this year. Three teams are in the Top 4, and three are receiving votes to be in the Top 10. The other two, are SCAD and Point.

There were preseason rumblings that both teams might not be able to play in 2022. Being able to get on the field and be competitive is a strong push in the right direction for both teams. In this matchup, we saw SCAD play up to their full potential, especially sophomore attackman, Seth Leister, who poured in 6 Goals and added 3 assists. The rest of the Bees were helped out by Jordan Reeves, who assisted 5 goals on the day. 

Taylor (12) – Midland (9)

Those that have been around the game of lacrosse are more than familiar with the phrase, “its a game of runs.” This game couldn’t have been a better representation of that phrase.

Taylor came out strong with a 5-1 lead in the 1st quarter, thanks in large part to 3 goals from Nic Richardson. He would finish with 5 goals on the day. Midland would respond with a 5-1 2nd quarter to take the teams into halftime tied. In the third quarter, the teams would exchange mini runs jockeying back and forth. In the 4th quarter however, Taylor would turn up the defensive pressure, only allowing 5 shots. In contrast, they added 13 for themselves, hitting the back of the net 3 times, making the final score 12-9.

#10 Benedictine (10) – #7 Indiana Tech (14)

Indiana Tech came into this game after a tough loss to a ranked KCAC team. Through the first half of this game, it looked like it would be a similar story two weeks in a row.  After each team put in an early goal, the Ravens would get hot and score 3 in under 3 minutes.

The teams exchanged runs before a couple late goals in the 2nd quarter would give Benedictine a 7-5 lead at half. Not wanting a repeat performance, the Warriors came out hot in the 3rd Quarter and scored 6 unanswered goals, including a pair each from Andrew Ryan and Emmett Coleman. The Ravens would try their hardest to come back, but every goal would be matched by a goal from the Warriors. 

Aquinas (15) – #5 Columbia College (13)

Last week, @LaxNAIA on Twitter, ran a poll that asked who the most underrated team is in the new rankings. With 33% of the votes, Aquinas was voted the most underrated. When the next rankings come out, that will no longer be the case; thanks in large part to this upset of #5 Columbia College.

There’s a lot of good attack lines in the NAIA, but I’m having a hard time thinking of one I’d rather have than Aquinas’ right now. Sweet, Haggart, and Jardis combined for 8 of the team’s 15 goals. Trevor Doren, Tyler Parrott, and John Thomas each poured in a Hat Trick for the Cougars, but they couldn’t keep pace with the Saints’ offense. It seems counterintuitive to say, but even in this high scoring of a game, both goalies still had solid performances. Peltier and Boerigter finished with 17 and 13 saves respectively. 

#7 Indiana Tech (16) – Ottawa (7)

After a strong showing against Benedictine, Indiana Tech turned around and faced Ottawa, another tough KCAC foe. A back and forth first quarter, brothers Samuel and Simeon Bodley, had 3 of the team’s first 5 goals. Andrew Ryan looks like he is starting to play at the same elite level that had him as a 1st Team All-American last year with 4 Goals in this outing.

The Warriors led 10-5 at the half. A 5-0 3rd quarter effectively put an end to the game. The Tech defense held Ottawa to just 10 shots in the 2nd half. In 1st halves so far this year Indiana Tech is being outscored 19-20. In the 2nd halves, they’re out scoring their opponents 18-9. If they can put together complete games, they’ll quickly find themselves back at the top of the rankings as everyone predicted to start the year. 

Webber (15) – SCAD (6)

2021’s AAC Freshman of the Year, Chase Jackson, is quickly asserting himself into the conversation for the best offensive player in the NAIA. Following a 7 point day against St. Andrews, Jackson added another 5 against SCAD. With 27 assists and 3.85 per game, Jackson might have the best vision in the country.

The Webber defense played as a strong unit causing 8 turnovers. After Aquinas’ strong performance against Columbia, it makes Webber’s double overtime loss look a whole lot stronger. Webber who looks to be playing some of their best lacrosse will square-off against No.1 Reinhardt next week. 

#10 Benedictine (26) – Morningside (2)

After tough outings against Quincy and Indiana Tech, Benedictine was able to rebound against an overmatched Morningside squad. This game was never all that close as Benedictine scored 3 goals in the first 5 minutes and 8 goals total in the 1st quarter. Michael Hogan was able to find the back of the net an astounding 10 times. 

NAIA Players of the Week

Offensive – Chase Jackson, Soph., Attack, Webber – 12 points in 2 games

Defensive – Kyle Gasior, Sr., FO, TWU – 19-25 on Face-offs, 75% FO Pct.