Monday Notebook: MCLA Division I
- Whether it was the uncharacteristically weak schedule that featured only one game outside of the Eastern time zone or the mildly surprising opening game loss to Texas, Florida State has been pigeonholed as a "pretender" for much the spring. With an 18-1 record, the SELC championship plaque, and a ticket to Denver in hand, it's time to reevaluate that notion.
If one gets caught up in the Left Coast echo chamber, the Seminoles are a teen seed at nationals unworthy of the benefit of the doubt given to all the 'traditional' MCLA powers. It's easy to place FSU in the scrap heap with the rest of the auto-qualifying detritus when judging everything through the prism of 2004. But the 'Noles are located in a second-tier lacrosse recruiting hotbed -- easily rivaling California, Texas and Colorado -- and have a coach who knows how to use the talent.
By all comparative measures, Florida State should be seeded close to, if not in, the double digits at nationals. If a team's ultimate goal is to make the quarterfinals, then that's a problem. But if it has larger objectives, it's of no consequence. I sense Bill Harkins and his crew are shooting slightly higher that the quarters. Because of that, there is a contender out there who is in for a very rude opening round game when they see the Seminoles show up in the bracket.
- When everything wraps up in Denver on May 21, there will undoubtedly be many teams scratching their heads as to how this season actually ended up. I've got to believe that Chico State will be near the front of the list.
In the course of the last week, the Wildcats have waxed UC Davis -- the No. 2 seed in the WCLL tournament -- by a firm, 20-9 count. They followed that up on Saturday by handling conference top-seed Cal Poly, 15-12.
For most teams that would be the sign of a hot squad peaking at the right time. Unfortuantely, Chico has already played itself out of the four-team WCLL tourney (and the rest of the postseason), thanks in most part to a 13-9 loss to Cal at home on April 17 where the 'Cats two 70-point scorers Trevor Stotka (45g, 27a) and Nichols Graham (55g, 15a) were held to a combined five points.
Stotka and Graham are back next year, but with the (potential) graduation of a 15-team senior class, Chico may have missed a huge opportunity.
- The GRLC has gone from the weakest, most boring conference in the country at the beginning of the season to the most fascinating league tournament out of the 10 in the MCLA. Not only are Wisconsin, Illinois, Lindenwood and Missouri all reasonable picks to capture the AQ, but there is the added intrigue of the two "I-AA" schools, Iowa and Kansas, who admirably wear the 'fiesty' label. The best part of it all -- or the worst for those involved -- is only one team will likely be making it to Denver.
- I don't know what it means, and I'm not trying to say there's a conspiracy, but you have to admit that it's a statistical anomaly that the top five goalies in save percentage come out of the SELC...Simon Fraser has eight wins, and three of them featured at least 30 goals...the MCLA selection committee laid an egg last year in an easy field, but I'll be the first to admit that they've got a rough job ahead of them this spring.