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NAIA Lacrosse Conference Tournament Preview 2023

Time flies when you are playing lacrosse! The NAIA Lacrosse season always seems to be too short, and, well, we are at the end of the regular season already and into conference play. One conference tournament is in the books and other conference games have been played, and we also got an announcement from one conference on their end of the season awards. Let’s take a look at the conference awards first for the KCAC.

KCAC Awards

As imagined, Ottawa and Columbia dominated this list. Ottawa had eight players named to the First Team and one other to the Second Team while Columbia had four First Team members and six Second Team players announced. Missouri Baptist ended up with a player on both teams, while Midland got three Second Team members and University of Saint Mary had two players named to the Second Team.

Bryce Peltier from Columbia finished up his stellar sophomore year by being named KCAC Player of the Year and KCAC Defensive Player of the Year. Peltier saved 167 shots on the year with a 63.3% save percentage, which was third overall in the country. His impact on defense was always felt and with him in between the pipes, you always knew Columbia was going to be a tough test.

Vincent DeMarco from Ottawa was named the KCAC Offensive Player of the Year. He finished the year with 45 goals and 21 assists for a total of 66 points and was named the Week 2 NAIA Lacrosse Offensive Player of the Week for this 11 point effort over Missouri Valley.

Finally, KCAC Coach of the Year went to Seth Matlock from Ottawa. He led the Braves to an 8-5 record for the 2023 season, including a perfect 4-0 conference record in route to winning the regular season KCAC title. 


Vincent DeMarcoOttawa UniversitySo.AFenton, Mo.
John ThomasColumbia CollegeSr.ANobelsville, Ind.
Robert RoseberryOttawa UniversitySr.ADenver, Colo.
Derek HowardColumbia CollegeSr.MSylvania, Ohio
Jake NoernbergOttawa UniversityFifth YearMOlathe, Kan.
Dakota LepkerOttawa UniversitySr.MIndependence, Mo.
Mason BoedekerOttawa UniversityFifth YearDRogers, Ark.
Joshua CurvingOttawa UniversityJr.DWest Milford, N.D.
Tanner WhittemoreMissouri Baptist UniversitySr.DKennesaw, Ga.
Peter JonesColumbia CollegeGrad.LSMCary, Ill.
Luke SpellsOttawa UniversitySr.SSMRound Rock, Texas
Jacob VincentiniOttawa UniversityJr.FO/DRAWOmaha, Neb.
Bryce Peltier Columbia CollegeSo.GKEdmond, Okla.


Tyler ParrottColumbia CollegeGrad.AEdmond, Okla.
Reid McDowellOttawa UniversityFr.AOlathe, Kan.
Ethan HoustonColumbia CollegeJr.AColumbia, Mo.
Garrett CarterUniversity of Saint MaryFr.MPleasant Grove, Calif.
Kellen BrechbillColumbia CollegeSr.MRoswell, Ga.
Nick LuedkeMidland UniversitySr.MChicago, Ill.
Caden BlevinsColumbia CollegeSo.DBentonville, Ark.
Tyler RenshawMidland UniversitySr.DLincoln, Neb.
Bryce VigilUniversity of Saint MaryFr.DPueblo, Colo.
Asher ThomasMidland UniversityFr.LSMOmaha, Neb.
Erik SpainColumbia CollegeSr.SSMColumbia, Mo.
Kail MattisColumbia CollegeFr.FO/DRAWLee’s Summit, Mo.
Ashton ScottMissouri Baptist UniversityJr.GKPort Orchard, Wash.

KCAC Tournament

The KCAC finished up their conference tournament as well this week, and did they ever finish it up in style! Columbia College came roaring back in the fourth quarter of the championship game against Ottawa and outscored the Braves 7-0 to win 15-14. Lacrosse is a game of runs, but rarely do you see a run like that in the fourth quarter of a game.

Columbia first had to get past Midland on Thursday, and the Warriors did not make it easy. While Columbia jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first, Midland was only down at the half by one goal. A 5-2 third quarter for Columbia proved to be a bit too much for Midland, even though it was a 4-4 fourth quarter. This was a much better showing for Midland than their first meeting of the year, and Midland has a lot to build off of after this showing. Sayer Leunzi had a big game for the Wariors as he tallied three goals and five assists. For Columbia, John Thomas and Derek Howard each had four goals.

Ottawa came into the tournament with a bit of hope that they could make enough of a case to get into the NAIA Lacrosse National Tournament with maybe a little help from others. They came out strong against Missouri Baptist and beat them 17-6 before heading the to the championship game. In the championship, Ottawa was up 14-7 heading into the final quarter and looked to be making as big of a statement as they could control. 

In the fourth, @NAIALaxTea gave me some insight on what he saw. Columbia just rode the wave of momentum that every lacrosse team hates fighting against. CC was winning the groundballs and faceoffs and just spreading the ball all around the offense to get the best shot, regardless of who it was. In short, it was just a perfect storm of lacrosse and one that shows that any good team that gets hot at the right moment can do something crazy.

For Columbia, Derek Howard score four and dissed out three assists while Ethan Houston also had four goals. Peltier had another strong game with 19 saves on 33 SOG. For Ottawa, DeMarco showed why he was KCAC Offensive of the Year with six goals in total.

Congrats to Columbia College on your KCAC title!

Heart of America Conference Tournament

The first ever Heart of America Conference Tournament kicks off on Wednesday with #1 William Penn taking on #4 Benedictine while #2 St. Ambrose takes on #3 Mount Vernon. This tournament will be a ton of fun as every team in this has the potential, when playing their best, to win it all. And the only thing on the line is a trip to Florida, so high stakes every game!

William Penn just beat Benedictine 16-7 two weeks ago, but I don’t expect to see the same outcome as it should be a lot closer. WP is the season champs, so they are the favorite, but Benedictine will hang in and give a good game.

On the other side is #2 St. Ambrose against #3 MVNU. This is intriguing because MVNU beat St. Ambrose early in the season (when St. Ambrose was #5 in the country) 10-5 and grabbed everyone’s attention. They have had an up and down season, losing games to other top 15 teams like Columbia and William Penn but beating Aquinas and Madonna. Also, they lost to Cumberlands by only three, though their games against Reinhardt and Indiana Tech were blowouts. What I am saying here is if St. Ambrose plays to their best, they will be a tough team to beat and may end up securing that NAIA Lacrosse National Tournament invite. 

MVNU has lost to both William Penn and Benedictine, so if they can knock off St. Ambrose again, then we will be in for some more fun. Again, this should be a fun tournament to see play out!

WHAC Tournament

First, congrats to Concordia for running through the WHAC undefeated and grabbing the regular season title! This conference has been beating each other up, so not losing is an accomplishment in itself. 

The tournament started yesterday on Tuesday the 25th, with #1 Concordia and #2 Indiana Tech each receiving a bye. #4 Aquinas overcame #5 Madonna with little to no issue and moves on to play Concordia. #3 Siena Heights dominated #6 Lawrence Tech and moves on to play Indiana Tech.

The first-round matchups are tough typically tough especially in the WHAC. Siena Heights needed a good win to pad their resume for the NAIA Lacrosse National Tournament, and a first-round loss would have really thrown that into question. On the other side, Aquinas and Madonna have been playing good down the stretch, but Aquinas proved to be the better team in both outings.

With all that said, I think we see the rematch from earlier this year where Concordia made a statement in beating Indiana Tech. Remember that IT is the only team to give #1 Reinhardt a blemish this year, so when they are playing their best, they are hard to beat. However, Concordia only has one loss to Cumberlands by one goal, and they have just been beating everyone in front of them. A rematch of these two teams will be must see lacrosse!

AAC Tournament

Thanks for staying with me this long AAC fans! While the AAC Tournament started last weekend, they played just the first-round matchups, which is really helpful for Webber and Cumberlands as they get a full week of rest before the next games. 

On Friday the 21st, Webber defeated SCAD 24-6 in a dominant performance. 14 players from Webber scored, with Nicholas Cordero and Cade McCarron each recording hat-tricks. Jordan Reeves and Evan Baker each score two goals for SCAD as they end their season. Webber moves on to play their Florida neighbor Keiser, who they just lost to in a one goal in a comeback loss. 

On the other side of the bracket, Cumberlands made sure to secure a spot in the semifinals with a strong 19-9 victory over Tennessee Wesleyan. TWU kept it somewhat within striking distance until the fourth, where UC took over and outscored the Bulldogs 7-3. After a NAIA Lacrosse National Tournament appearance last year, TWU finishes the year 8-7 in a tough conference, with Jackson Lollis scoring three goals. For UC, Christina Vanover was a machine with ten total points, seven of them goals! For UC to be competitive going forward, they will have to figure out the faceoff stripe though as they will face a tough test against Reinhardt.

Next week, we will wrap up the coverage of the conference tournament and look at the potential NAIA Lacrosse National Tournament bracket. The following week, we will announce the award winners for the season along with a preview of the tournament games.

Make sure to send any nominees to @NAIALaxInsider on Twitter!