Monday Notebook: MCLA Division II
- At the beginning of the year I posited that St. John's was going to be more of an offensive team than its typical stingy defensive self. It made sense with what the Johnnies lost and had returning, but it turned out to completely wrong. That became clear when St. John's upset blood rival St. Thomas in the UMLL championship game.
SJU is the same team you've known for years, but without the familiar names on the backline. I know that St. John's coach Derek Daehn believes that sophomore Mike King is the best goalie in the division, and Daehn has aptly molded a defensive unit comprised of two juniors, a sophomore and five rookies into another lock-down group.
The Johnnies have allowed double-digits just three times this season. There was the opening 11 goals to St. Olaf in a 19-11 romp, the 10 to Davenport in early April, and the dozen allowed to St. Thomas in a 12-3 loss two weeks ago.
While the defense is still the backbone, the offense is dictating SJU's success. In back-to-back losses to the Tommies and North Dakota State two weeks prior, St. John's scored just nine total goals. In victories against both of those teams this past weekend in the conference tourney, the Johnnies netted 26. The reasons for the success aside, the "other" sainted UMLL squad has established itself as a contender.
- As if the Division I component of the GRLC wasn't a big enough mess, Washington (Mo.) University's 12-11 victory over Missouri Baptist has made a meal of the conference's junior circuit. While there is still plenty of dead weight participating in the playoffs, WashU, MoBapst or State could now all easily walk away with the GRLC berth to Denver. That makes it tough to predict, however it does make the GRLC more intriguing than half the other leagues.
- There are a lot of attributes shared among the 19 members of the CCLA, but parity is not among those. Three of the quarterfinals results featured scores of 27-3 (Grand Valley over Butler), 27-4 (Dayton over Walsh) and 25-2 (Davenport over Aquinas). If there is a bright side, the fourth game -- a 19-17 win for Hope over Indiana Tech -- will have to be included in "Game of the Year" consideration.
In that Hope-Tech game, Eric Weber had nine goals and three assists in the winning effort. Weber has 95 points (60g, 35a) so far this season, and will put those numbers up against Grand Valley State's Cam Holding (84g, 22a), who is currently leading the division in points, on Friday when the two teams meet in the CCLA semifinals.
- SCAD won a hard-fought game against Elon to win the SELC. What's Elon status? While the Phoenix don't have any major wins (unless you count Kennesaw State, but that's a stretch), the MCLA does have a hankering for "close losses," and Elon has a couple of those. In addition to playing the Bees tight, Elon lost to Dayton by a goal and Davenport by four. I think they get the nod at this point...Sam Houston State dispatched St. Edward's, 14-1, in the LSA finals to make a return trip to Denver...if things play out perfectly, the SLC still has a chance to send two teams.