The MCLA season is underway, and we’ve already had some crazy games. Preseason #1 / defending National Champs Grand Canyon lost their first game to an unranked opponent. Utah beats USC in double overtime on a great fake pass and rip that’s been gaining some traction online.
With lots happening, let’s stroll through the first two weeks of the season and see what we’ve learned so far:
1. The SLC runs through Arizona
Perhaps the biggest shocker of the early season was Utah Valley’s OT win over Grand Canyon in the defending champion’s season opener. The ‘Lopes did not appear to handle the adversity too well, and a fantastic 20 save performance from Shawn Rowley allowed Utah Valley to pull off the upset. With Grand Canyon losing, the SLC looks to the Pac-12 for a potential new favorite.
While nobody can write off Grand Canyon after one game, hot starts from Arizona and Arizona State makes it hard to keep GCU on top for now. Arizona State’s win over Oregon State showed a lot to be excited about for the Sun Devils. Meanwhile, the Arizona Laxcats have shown an incredibly balanced offense to go with their stellar defense, blanking Utah en route to a 3-0 start.
2. Ducks fly back into the spotlight
In a bird battle in Eugene, the Oregon Ducks got the better of the #22 Dominican Penguins. Shockingly, it wasn’t even close. The Ducks dominated every facet of the game on their way to a 22-8 win over their ranked opponent. This is an offense that gained a ton of firepower in the offseason with the addition of former Lincoln HS grads Grant Clifford (formerly of Dominican) and Michael Marcott (formerly of Denver).
I wrote in the preseason that this Oregon team had a chance to be really special if they could find a more consistent offense and a goalie to replace the graduated Austin Lewis. With an explosive offense and a game ball worthy performance from freshman goalie Sam Snider, the Ducks just showed that this season could be a very special one in Eugene. Put the PNCLL on notice: Oregon looks to be back.
3. Be afraid of BYU
BYU is an MCLA powerhouse, and they have been for a long time. Still, it wasn’t unreasonable if you thought that the offense might take time to adjust after graduating Mike Fabrizio, who quarterbacked this offense for the last few years. Instead, the Cougars started the season by scoring 31 points in their first game alone.
Freshman Chris Severson looks like a star in the making as he leads a revamped attack line, and stud LSM Max Neser is second on the team in goals at 5. This team can score settled, in transition, and man up. We’ll see shortly how their Colorado counterparts look, but BYU is showing that the RMLC should run through Provo this season.
4. The LSA picture gets murkier
The LSA was one of the harder leagues to call before the season started. A week and a half in, that hasn’t changed. 2015 champs Texas State have started 2-0, but had to fight back against TCU to get a one goal win. Meanwhile, SMU started out 3-0, including a big win against Texas, but they haven’t provided a truly convincing win yet.
Should the Mustangs keep winning, I like their chances. This is a league chocked full of one loss teams, and nothing so far has shown a clear leader of the pack. This league could be in for a close race the whole way through, but I’m not willing to remove Texas State from the #1 spot in the LSA until someone proves it by beating them.
5. Overrated Aztecs?
San Diego State started off as a top 10 team in the preseason, but their early resume is questionable. The Aztecs are currently 2-1, but neither of their two wins are particularly convincing. The 6-3 over UCLA was a strong defensive showing, but the offense looked anemic at times. They followed that up by getting upset by UNLV (who look strong so far this season, to be fair) and then by only beating DII opponent Northern Arizona 11-4. This is a defense that looks like it could be a contender, but their offense has look disjointed so far.
Sophomore attackman Kevin Leis has been pulling more than his fair share of the offensive weight, having scored 7 of the team’s 17 goals this season, but he’s going to need a lot more help if the Aztecs plan to survive a schedule that still has Colorado, BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, and Grand Canyon to come.
Post Week One Predictions:
Offensive Player of the Year: Grant Clifford, Oregon
DefensivePlayer of the Year: Tanner Knego, Arizona
Godekeraw Award: Max Neser, BYU
Final Four: BYU, Arizona, Virginia Tech, Oregon