SB Shootout: UC Davis 'Hottest Team Out There'
by Adam Rose | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
Goalie Renee Eligio looks to clear Saturday for Santa Clara, which has asserted its No. 4 preseason ranking with a dominant performance thus far at the Santa Barbara Shootout.
© Dirk Dewachter
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- "This is going to be a
real test," said Santa Clara women's lacrosse coach Brendan
O'Brien, moments before the No. 4 Broncos faced No. 11 Georgia in
WDIA action Saturday at the Santa Barbara Shootout.
His players shot. And scored. A lot.
The 16-6 drubbing dished out by Santa Clara was a squeaker compared to their other games this weekend. The high-octane offense has scored 50 goals in three contests, though perhaps that term is being used loosely. They've only allowed 16.
The Broncos are anchored by a lineup of 10 senior starters,
including Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year Krista
Shaw. After a quiet but effective morning game against Arizona
State, Shaw lit up the evening's stat sheet with four goals against
the Bulldogs. The lone freshman to break the Broncos' starting
lineup, center midfielder Maggie Burke, notched three scores
of her own during the nightcap and showed early signs of a breakout
Two of the Shootout's other marque teams, No. 2 Santa Barbara and No. 3 Colorado, have run the table but are experiencing inconsistency. The Buffs have shown a tendency to start slow and finish strong, trailing No. 5 Michigan at halftime of their morning game by an 8-3 margin. They escaped with a 10-9 victory. The Gauchos have tended opposite by building -- then relying upon -- early leads that taper off in the second half. Despite a 7-2 lead over No. 6 Florida at the break, they needed a clutch save in the final minutes from goalie Jeni Centner to avoid overtime and walk away with a 9-8 victory.
No team turned heads on Saturday like U.C. Davis. The school's reputation in college athletics may involve the nation's "Most Obtuse Cheer" (http://www.ucdavis.edu/spotlight/1006/homecoming_roots.html), but WDIA rivals are acutely aware of the Aggies.
"Davis is the hottest team out there," said Chico coach George Carnes.
"Davis has stepped up and arrived," said Santa Clara's O'Brien, adding that the Aggies should be considered among the nation's elite programs this year.
"They made my kids look slow," shrugged BYU coach Julie Smith. "And my kids aren't slow!"
Besides beating Smith's Cougars 9-7, the Aggies made alfalfa hay of No. 8 Colorado State, 18-4. With two more games, including No. 12 Texas, Davis should be one of the most-watched squads Sunday.
No. 10 UCLA has also had a big weekend so far, with a 12-9 victory over fifth-ranked Michigan, a 15-5 dispatching of No. 19 Pittsburgh, and a late evening 13-7 victory over No. 6 Florida.
The Gators have faced a grinding schedule, which isn't that unusual at this event, but they only traveled with 19 players. After beating BYU in overtime Friday, they started sluggish against UCSB on Saturday. A budding rivalry with the Gauchos spurred them to make that a close game, but afterward they clearly wanted some rest.
Instead, they got the Bruins.
It might be premature to tell if Florida was exposed or just
exhausted. Gator coach Marla Queris said she's now committed to
conditioning, noting that her team will run more in practice if
they want to be running in the postseason. Some of her players
looked uneasy about the plan. "They'll like it come nationals,"
Across the board, coaches and players at the Santa Barbara Shootout seemed excited about the opportunity to test their skills against the WDIA's best. Eleven of the top 12 ranked teams are playing this weekend.
While it's a big opportunity for schools like Santa Clara and Davis to make a statement, for others, it was a chance to finally play outdoors under more conventional conditions. Pittsburgh's campus has been closed due to inclement weather. And even after the tough loss to Davis, BYU's Melissa Nash was all smiles. "Our team loves this because we shovel snow off the field to play [back home]."
That's one conditioning exercise Florida's players won't have to worry about.
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