While the MCLA can’t quite match the insanity going on in the upper echelons of NCAA DI lacrosse right now, teams are certainly trying to create a similar sort of chaos in the MCLA’s Top 25 right now. So, what can we learn from our descent into madness? More than you might think, actually!
1. The path to the title starts and ends in Orange County
With the national tournament returning to Orange County this year, we might see the trophy stay right there when it’s all over. Chapman has emerged from the SLC pack to dominate the competition. The Panthers started off by making me eat my BYU prediction, and has followed that up with a fantastic come-from-behind win over Stanford and a big win over #10 Oregon in their furthest trip from home so far this season.
Chaptown absolutely looks like the real deal, and they’ve put some space between themselves and their very stacked conference. Credit the Panthers’ offense for their current standing, as 5 separate attackmen have now posted double-digit goals on the season. More importantly, they’ve managed to stifle several high scoring offenses in a row. Few teams could travel to Oregon, play two top-15 teams (Oregon, Oregon State), and win by a combined score of 32-15. Chapman should be the start of any conversation about who will take home the trophy in May.
2. Who wins the RMLC?
This is going to be a fascinating race for the automatic bid. I fully expect the RMLC to send multiple teams to the playoffs, but figuring out who is going to win it hasn’t gotten any easier. I was hot on BYU, even after their loss to Chapman, but that surprise collapse in the second half against Grand Canyon might ward me off. Colorado had my vote next, until a loss to UCSB this week made them look vulnerable. CSU cannot yet be ruled out, as their only losses have come by a combined 3 goals to Arizona and Oregon, both of whom are top notch squads this year.
The three team showdown for the title should definitely be one to keep an eye on, as no squad has the obvious lead in the conference lead so far. I’m struggling to even name a team I think has the best chance to win it. BYU sits just above Colorado at 5th for the highest ranking team, but, despite the higher rankings of those two squads, I’m going with CSU. I hate to go against my gut, which is telling me BYU, but for now I’m going to go with the Rams.
3. Are these polls serious? MCLA edition
Alright, sure, the MCLA poll can be really tough to compile. This has been a particularly odd season for it, as pretty much every team below Chapman and Georgia Tech has beat each other in a round robin that offers little parity below the top two.
With that said, can somebody please explain to me how Boston College is a top 10 team right now?
Yes, they have two big wins, over Grand Canyon and Arizona State, but both came over two teams that are going through down seasons, at least in respect to the history of those two program. That Grand Canyon win looks a bit better this week, but they beat them during the ‘Lopes down stretch. Their two losses, to Georgia Tech and Arizona, both came by 10+ goals. They have one scorer in double digits, their goalie has a solid but not amazing save rate, and really the only elite unit I can find on this team is a very strong group of face-off players. I’m not saying that Boston College isn’t a good team, or that they shouldn’t make the playoffs, but I just can’t figure out what the voters are seeing in this squad that I’m missing.
4. The best offense you haven’t seen yet
Davenport has only recently entered the top 25, and their early schedule hasn’t seen them play the toughest of competition. No biggie because holy cow can this offense score! Sophomore attackman Bryan Larocque leads the nation in PPG, and (excluding Iowa’s Austin Patrick, who has played only one game) he’s followed by teammate Jarred Riley. That’s two Davenport players leading the nation together in PPG. Between them, they have 85 goals and 36 assists. That’s more than plenty of teams have total. The two are averaging a combined 14+ points every single game, which means that they’re outscoring some of the nation’s top offenses.
Yes, there’s the question of their competition level, but I hope that Davenport, a former DII powerhouse, makes a splash and gets to book a ticket to Orange County. This offense is an absolute blast to watch, and getting some national exposure for these guys would benefit both them and the CCLA.
5. The curious case of Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon started off the season as the defending national champions and the preseason #1 team in the polls. Right off the bat, they were taken down by unranked Utah Valley. They followed that up with a narrow win over Cal Poly, which has become a marquee win as the Mustangs have crept up to #3 in the polls and looked extremely strong doing it. After back-to-back home losses to Colorado State and Boston College, the ‘Lopes were basically written off. Well, as much as a team that stayed in the top 15 of the polls can be written off. Then, GCU went to Provo and absolutely dominated BYU, outscoring the Cougars 8-0 in a second half that showcased a Grand Canyon that looked every bit like the team we thought they would be in the preseason.
I have no idea what to think of this team. They’re a true Jekyll and Hyde group; the ‘Lopes are capable of playing like the best team in the country, or playing like an average squad. The polls have risen them to #4, so the voters have faith that Grand Canyon is back. I’m not entirely sold yet, but definitely keep an eye out for Grand Canyon in huge conference matchups with Arizona and Arizona State.
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Offensive Player of the Year: Grant Clifford, Oregon (42G, 11A, 5.89PPG)
Defensive Player of the Year: Brad Lindsay, CSU (10 GB, 1A, UA POTY Honor Roll)
Godekeraw Award: Bryan Larocque, Davenport (52G, 11A, 7.88PPG)
DI Final Four: Chapman, Georgia Tech, Cal Poly, Colorado State
DII Final Four: Dayton, Concordia, St. Thomas, NDSU