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William Penn is Legit: NAIA Weekend Recap

Most NAIA programs like William Penn have been pulling out impressive wins over NCAA programs. That trend continued this week as the NAIA had no issue taking care of business against many Division 3 schools.

There are some certainties headed into the regular season. Reinhard will still do Reinhardt things. William Penn is going to make some noise in the KCAC. Lawrence Tech is going to hang with every team they play this year regardless of rank.

With those certainties come questions that have yet to be answered. Hopefully in the coming weeks once every NAIA team begins competitive play, we will have a better gauge of what is in store for this season.

St. Andrews (20) – Point (7) 

In one of our few NAIA vs NAIA games of the weekend, we saw St. Andrews take on Point. This wasn’t much of a contest as St. Andrews took a 3-1 after the first quarter followed up by a 7-1 run heading into halftime.

The standout players for the Knights were junior attackman Sean Greiner (5G, 2A) and freshman midfielder William Nuzzo (6G). Bryan Habick, the new Head Coach of St. Andrews, has to be more than pleased with his first win. However, St. Andrew’s has to be more careful when the ball is in their sticks as they turned the ball over 28 times. That many turnovers against better competition will lead to losses.

Jassiem Josse was again a bright spot for the undermanned Point, scoring 4 of the 7 goals scored. Josse will likely be overlooked for end of the year awards, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a player doing more with less. 

Reinhardt (21) – SCAD (6)

The story of this game revolves around one main character, Dillan Bousquet. If you haven’t heard of Bousquet yet, get familiar. With Gavin Banks graduating from Reinhardt, the reins of the Eagles offense are now in the hands of Bousquet.

The 2021 second team All-American is on record setting pace this season thanks to a strong start against SCAD. Bousquet finished with 9 Goals which was enough to beat SCAD single-handedly, and for good measure he added 4 Assists to go with it. Every opposing coach on Reinhardt’s schedule will need to study as much film as they can and hope to find a way to contain him. 

St. Ambrose (14) – Augustana (12)

Last year’s KCAC runner-up had four losses which were all against the top 4 NAIA teams in the nation including a loss to Keiser in the NAIA Nationals Tournament. St. Ambrose is looking to take the next step to becoming one of NAIA’s elite teams and win some of those tougher matchups.

While we don’t have stats or video from this game, we can infer that St. Ambrose is working on winning some of those tough matchups by battling a gritty Augustana team in a preseason scrimmage. They better hope they worked out all their early season issues as they’ll face Indiana Tech and Taylor on back to back days this upcoming week. 

Mount Vernon Nazarene (22) – Mount. St. Joseph University (8)

In 2021, Mount Vernon Nazarene did not see a lot of success against NAIA competition until a 1 goal win against Taylor in their final game of the season. The Cougars are hoping for a little more success in 2022.

Their first few games against NCAA DIII competition is a sign of hope moving into NAIA play. Earlier in the week, MVNU took down Heidelberg University 11-1, followed up by a win against Mt. St. Joe’s, 22-8. Against Mt. St. Joseph, Johnny Grumney poured in 5 goals on 10 shots leading the team in scoring. The Cougars also had 4 other players score more than 1 goal on the day. They’ll hope to continue this type of scoring for the rest of the season. 

William Penn (19) – Cornell College (4)

An impressive second season for William Penn where they finished 9-8 has started to garner some respect for Willy P headed into this season. With that respect comes some expectations which was evident when the Statesmen were ranked #10 in the NAIA Preseason poll.

In their first action of 2022 season, they took on NCAA DIII’s Cornell College, and they made a statement. They come out firing, outshooting the Rams 60-19. However, what impressed me most about this team was the defense. The defense came out flying around, being aggressive, and creating turnovers.

A little cleaning up in the riding and clearing games could have had this team putting up 25-30 goals. If they can continue with this offensive firepower and defensive intensity, William Penn can compete not only in the KCAC, but also for a shot at the NAIA National Tournament. 

Alma (16) – UM Dearborn (13)

The first of two matchups between WHAC teams and MIAA teams that were featured this weekend featured Alma College and University of Michigan Dearborn. Both teams were predicted to finish in the bottom half of their respective conferences in their preseason polls. This games was a good measuring gauge to how their seasons will actually hopefully play out.

This game belonged to Alma from the start as they started with a quick 4-1 lead. However, whenever the Scots would try to pull away, the Wolverines would have an answer. Dearborn would keep it within a goal or two for the majority of the game until the fourth quarter. Alma eventually pulled away and finished with a 16-13 victory. Middle Quest Bigelow was the catalyst for the Wolverine offense putting in 3 goals. 

LTU (10) – Kalamazoo College (8) 

Last week we saw Lawrence Tech drop a tough one against Grand Valley State. The Blue Devils looked to bounce back against the MIAA’s Kalamazoo College. This was an absolute battle between the two squads.

LTU jumped out to an early 7-3 lead which Kalamazoo cut down to 2 before half time. The 3rd quarter had the makings of a heavyweight bout as both teams exchanged haymakers eventually tying the game up at 8. A pole goal from Wyatt Nedbal gave Lawrence Tech a 1 goal advantage heading into the final quarter.

From there the Blue Devil defense stepped up and caused a ton of pressure which prevented the Hornets from getting into any of their sets and getting anything going. After dishing out 3 assists on the day, Eli Lozinski was able to add a goal for himself, effectively ending the game. 

Tennessee Wesleyan (21) – Lagrange (1)

After a game in which we saw the Tennessee Wesleyan squad put up 22 goals, we saw them follow it up this week with 21 goals. This time the opponent was Lagrange College, a third year program in NCAA Division III.

Again the Bulldogs dominated every facet of the game including groundballs, Faceoffs, and caused turnovers. We may have to wait awhile to see how TWU responds to pressure.

Their next game is against Shorter University, a team that regularly struggles in NCAA DII, on February 16. They square off against University of Michigan Dearborn on the 26th and we will hopefully get a real look at them then.

NAIA Player of The Weekend:

Dillan Bousquet – Attack- Reinhardt – 9 Goals – 4 Assists

Tune in weekly as I recap that past weekend’s NAIA action. Look for more in depth analysis to come as we get more access to livestreams, film, and stats. 

If you crave more NAIA Lacrosse, check out the NAIA Lax Updates podcast on YouTube. Jon Vance and Tucker La Belle give their insight on this past weekend and look forward to next. They also have a great discussion on where the NAIA is headed.