Through all of the turmoil over the past year and a half, we have finally made it to playoff lacrosse for the WHAC, AAC, and KCAC. There are many scenarios that could play out during the coming weeks as playoff season tends to elevate teams to another level. While there are clear favorites in each conference, there are definitely scenarios that you should be on the watch for.
Indiana Tech Sweeps Every Team with Zero Issue
The Warriors have looked unstoppable all season, and it would not be a shock to anyone if they inevitably end up winning the WHAC. While Indiana Tech’s offense has been lights out all season, the team’s defense and transition game have elevated it to another level. A great example of this is midfielder Khanan Bodley, who currently has 18 goals, 19 assists, and 20 caused turnovers this campaign. On the defensive side, fifth-year starter Jordan Reyes has 43 caused turnovers on the season and has been a nightmare for opposing attackmen. The Warrior offense is going to continue to put points on the board, but their defense must continue causing turnovers and making big stops when it matters. Indiana Tech is the clear favorite to win the WHAC, and it’s not even close.
Lourdes Upsets Indiana Tech
This Lourdes team has been a pleasant surprise over the past few weeks as it continues to find its rhythm. Ever since their nail-biting loss against Indiana Tech, the Gray Wolves have nearly doubled their production on offense, which was the only real concern for the team this season. Lourdes will face Madonna in the first round of the WHAC Tournament, and while I don’t consider this to be a guaranteed win for the Gray Wolves, the team’s ability to overcome adversity has me in its corner for this matchup.
The only real threat I see for Indiana Tech is if Lourdes enters the tournament firing on all cylinders. Do I think it has the capability to defeat Madonna, Indiana Tech, and potentially Concordia in the championship? No, but I don’t think many schools in the nation could live up to such a momentous task. However, don’t be surprised if Lourdes potentially comes out eager for revenge during this WHAC Tournament.
Aquinas Versus Concordia
Having Aquinas as the No. 3 seed in the tournament is questionable to say the least as it never got to faceoff against Madonna with the game eventually cancelled. Aquinas will have no issue with Taylor in the first round but will have to face a deadly Concordia squad immediately after. While the Cardinals have been hot all season, playoffs tend to bring out a different type of beast for those involved. Aquinas is a team that knows what it’s like to compete for a conference and national title, whereas Concordia has not tasted that level of success in years past.
It will be very interesting to see how the team comes back from its loss against Indiana Tech just a week ago. Concordia only beat Aquinas earlier this season by a singular goal that came in the closing minutes of the game. This game truly feels like a coin flip between both teams, but if I had to bet on a victor, I would choose the Saint Bernards for this potential second round matchup.
Reinhardt Walks Through the Tournament
What more do I need to say here? Reinhardt is the best team in the nation and will walk through the AAC Tournament. It has done it before, and it will do it again.
Columbia Brings Home a Title
Columbia is currently the favorite to bring home a conference title and rightfully so. The Cougars have not lost a single game this season, which in and of itself is impressive. While the bottom half of the KCAC leaves much to be desired, the top five teams in the conference made sure Columbia had to earn its wins.
It will be interesting to see how the team handles adversity, especially in a playoff situation. The remaining three teams in the bracket are no joke. In their regular season matches, the Cougars only beat William Penn by two, Benedictine by one, and St. Ambrose by four. The Cougars have earned their record and all the accolades that come with it and potentially can bring home the school’s first conference title in the coming days.
William Penn Upsets Columbia
Columbia has to get through William Penn in order to make it to the conference championship. In their last outing on April 13, the Cougars narrowly beat William Penn by two scores after Penn put up three goals in the fourth quarter. Out of the four teams remaining, William Penn is the least likely team to win it all. Even though Columbia is undefeated, I do not believe this team is without its flaws. William Penn has showed us all season that it can compete in big conference games when it wants to. The future of this team is extremely bright moving forward as this season has already been a huge success for such a young program. There is a scenario in my head where William Penn makes it to the title game, and although the chances are slim, they certainly aren’t zero.
Saint Ambrose versus Benedictine
Saint Ambrose is currently the second-best team in the KCAC and a top-five team in the nation. Its only losses this season came against Indiana Tech and Columbia, with both games being extremely winnable for the Fighting Bees. While Benedictine was absolutely dismantled by Indiana Tech earlier in the season, the Ravens have really turned their season around since then with their two conference losses coming against Saint Ambrose and a one-point game versus Columbia.
In my eyes, Saint Ambrose is the better team right now, but it has one glaring flaw: it hasn’t played a meaningful lacrosse game since April 3. The postseason comes down to momentum and preparation, and I feel Saint Ambrose is missing the preparation. The Fighting Bees’ last three weeks of lacrosse have been against bottom-tier KCAC opponents, which helps their momentum but makes the team less prepared to play meaningful lacrosse come postseason time.
Benedictine learned a lot from its one-goal loss against Cumberlands and has prepared itself by beating a decent Ottawa team in back-to-back weeks. It’s already difficult to beat a team twice, and because the Ravens have the momentum and preparation, my money is on Benedictine this week.
More NAIA Men’s Lacrosse Coverage
For more on NAIA men’s lacrosse, check out the latest Going Offsides podcast dedicated to it as well as last week’s primer ahead of the conference tournaments taking shape.