Morning Jac: Let's Light This Candle
Finally, the season is upon us. I no longer have to endure press releases about scrimmage "victories" or listen to preseason banalities about "reaching the next level" this spring. It's about to get real.
Yes, yes, I know that Division I has been playing for a week, and certainly last night's Virginia-Loyola overtime game was a thrilling way to set the bar in that division. However, the season doesn't officially get started until Division II and Division III get rolling.
At least for me, anyway.
Originally, the NCAA's middle child wasn't scheduled to start until tomorrow with a six-game slate, but because weather.com is predicting the apocalyptic meteorological event known as a "wintery mix" on Saturday, the game between Florida Southern and Pfeiffer in Misenheimer, N.C., has been bumped up to this afternoon. And at 2 p.m., no less.
As far as kickoff games go, this is a pretty good one. Both teams have aspirations to crack the four-team tournament field in the South, and the winner will be in a pretty nice spot. For a week, anyway.
The Division III season will be commencing today with the rarest of lacrosse spectacles: the doubleheader.
Dave Neff will lead his Carthage squad down from Kenosha, around the Windy City, and then up to Motown for a double-dip against Calvin (11 a.m.) and Albion (8 p.m.). And this will actually be the first of two twinbills for the Redmen, as they'll square off with both Dubuque and Illinois Wesleyan on April 12.
From a tournament selection perspective, playing a doubleheader does nothing for Carthage. While the game against Albion – a program that feels it is ready to take Adrian's mantle as the top team in the MIAA – will be good for the résumé, Calvin will likely hurt it. The Knights, who are in their second varsity season after transitioning from the MCLA, are still building under Joel Kamstra, and won't provide much strength to the schedule.
So why do it? Neff said he just likes to get games for his players, and sometimes that means doubleheaders, especially if he wants to maximize a six-hour bus ride. Fortunately, the teams will have the use of the field house at Detroit Country Day School in order to avoid the minus-10 degree wind chill expected today.
So here we are, on the precipice of another season. The offseason talk is over. Optimism is about to give way to reality. Let's light this candle.