Will the real Top 10 please stand up? We are over a month into the 2017 season in the MCLA, and it still feels like nobody really knows who the top ten teams are.
Yes, we’ve got 3 undefeated squads up there that feel like obvious locks, but, outside of that, we are lost in a chaos of head-to-head matchups.
#1 Georgia Tech survived a scary first half against #19 UConn to once again survive at the top, but the rest of the top 25 descended into an ever-deepening murkiness below them. What happened? Let’s recap…
Top 25 Losses Galore
Six of the Top 15 teams from the week three poll lost between Friday and Sunday alone. This creatiess a mess for the coaches to have to sort out when making the week four poll.
#14 Chapman, who finally got reigning POTY Dylan Garner back from injury, got their first signature win of 2017, knocking off #2 BYU. Former #2 Colorado, now #8, roared back onto the scene, taking down #4 Cal Poly and then #15 UCSB. That same UCSB team knocked off #6 Colorado State, who in turn lost to Cal Poly. #10 Arizona State ruined #9 Utah’s perfect season, and then went ahead and beat #18 UNLV for good measure. #9 Utah also lost to #2 Cal.
Oh wait, we’re not done yet. #11 Oregon was upset at home in overtime by SMU. #19 UConn took out #25 Davenport. Finally, #17 Arizona beat #23 San Diego State, but lost by 9 to #20 Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
If you thought things were confusing at the Top last week, that was nothing compared to trying to create a Top 25 for week four. This week was not kind to Top 25 teams.
Garner Guides Chapman Back
Mentioned above, but first a more in-depth analysis. Chapman looked like an entirely different program against BYU this weekend, taking down the #2 Cougars 10-7. Garner, in his first game of the season, put up two goals and an assist, but, more importantly, seemed to bring a swagger and confidence back to the Panthers that they simply hadn’t had yet this season.
The defense played a lot better in this one too and, suddenly, Chapman looks a lot more like the 2016 edition than the one that lost 3 of its first 4. The Panthers are on a four-game win streak and look every bit a threat to take the SLC autobid again this season. The play of sophomore goalie Zach Rich, who appears to be causing a serious goalie controversy in Chaptown, cannot be ignored either, as the goalie has been playing fantastically in the second half the past few games.
Go for Gold(en)
I harped on this a little bit last week, but it’s annoying me even more this week after watching two teams above them lose: California deserves to be #2. This team is undefeated. The closest margin of victory for the Bears so far has been seven goals, and that was over Chapman.
Cal shelled the Panthers. They stomped Utah. They’re winning by an average of nine goals every single game. With an offense that is scoring 15 goals-per-game and a defense that only allows 5 goals-per-game, the Bears are proving to be a juggernaut on both sides of the ball.
Senior attackman Max McKone, the February player of the month, is posting 4.6 PPG to lead this offense. I don’t know what else Cal has to do to earn the respect of the coaches, but they have my respect. Cal is finally #2 this week, but it should’ve come last week. Respect the Bears.
Ryder’s Games of the Week
#10 Chapman vs #6 Colorado
CU Buffs beat Cal Poly Lacrosse, 5-4, in double overtime. March 10, 2017. Photos courtesy Jeff Denning.
Chapman and Colorado both bounced back super nicely last week. Another big win for the Panthers would get them back into the Top 10 discussion. Another big win for the Buffs could get them back into the Top 5. A lot on the line here.
Prediction: Chapman 11, Colorado 9
#20 Arizona vs #2 California
Arizona is trying to find its way back towards the Top of the rankings. California is trying to prove that it’s a legit title contender. The Laxcats would shoot up the rankings with a win here, but Cal is going to take this one.
Prediction: Cal 13, Arizona 7
#1 Georgia Tech vs #7 Florida State
This one is HUGE. Two undefeated teams. The SELC champs vs their biggest threat to the throne. Georgia Tech got a scare against UConn, while FSU took a weekend off to prepare. I think that extra time off benefits FSU, who could be #1 with a win here.
Prediction: FSU 10, GT 9 (OT)
Ryder’s Theoretical MCLA Ballot
Again, there is no MCLA media poll. However, this is how I would vote if I could, with explanations given.
1. Georgia Tech
3. Florida State
All undefeated. All with multiple Top 25 wins. Given the chaos underneath them, I’d like to reward all three of these guys for still being undefeated. Call me old school, but I think the undefeated teams should be at the top until proven otherwise. I mean, the undefeated teams with Top 25 wins.
4. Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon has one loss, which keeps them a tad bit higher than Colorado. That said, the Buffs are flying back up the polls, after dropping out of the #2 slot earlier this season. These two are a step above the rest.
7. Cal Poly
BYU seems like the best of the two-loss teams. Both of Cal Poly’s losses are by a single goal, but they lost to BYU, so I’m keeping them a spot below the Cougars. Arizona State is such a weird team to place. They have four losses, but all of them are to Top 10 teams, and three of them are by a single goal. They still have three Top 25 wins, and look very much the part of a contender.
9. Boston College
Boston College finally plays this week, so we will get a look at how the Eagles are. Chapman looks back after their win over BYU, but I’m keeping them at the edge of the Top 10 for a week until they have another game to prove it. Oregon State is a one-loss team, but their strength-of-schedule is holding them back from jumping higher right now.
13. Colorado State
UCSB has been competitive in every game except the Cal game. Someone is going to come after me for dropping the Rams so far, but sue me. They have three losses and only one major win, which was by a single goal.
Ute fans, it's Gameday! No. 11 Utah @ Stanford. 8pm MT tonight! Live stream chances look grim so twitter will be your…
Utah’s shine has dropped off with two straight losses, but that Chapman win still looks good and they kept that ASU loss close.
17. Michigan State
UConn looked great against Davenport, and put up a good fight against the #1 team. Oregon has some big wins, but both losses have been to squads that are currently unranked. Michigan State was on a bye this week.
18. Virginia Tech
20. Boise State
Virginia Tech crushed Arizona, but that USC loss hurts. UNLV almost got the better of the Sun Devils, and look good this year. Boise State beat Oregon and then crushed Stanford. They could be a fast riser if they keep it up. Liberty doesn’t really move for me.
22. South Carolina
South Carolina is still undefeated. Arizona got a key SLC win, but then got crushed by VT. Minnesota has had some strong showings, but haven’t quite finished out losses. Oklahoma is undefeated and looking like a potential LSA champ.
Think I messed up on the Top 25? Let me know in the comments, or harass me on twitter. I’m always up for a little MCLA debate!