Monday Notebook: MCLA Division II
- When I spoke with Bob Clarkson after his announcement that this will be his final year on the sidelines for Davenport, I asked him about expectations for the upcoming game against Division I Michigan State. He didn't want anything to go out to the public before the game, but he was quietly concerned about how his defense would hold up against the Spartans. While Clarkson thought his backline was talented – and helped by two championship-hardened goalies – it is still very young, and that things might get ugly matching up with a very strong MSU offense.
While the DU backline gave up 13 goals against Michigan State, it was in double overtime, with the Panthers narrowly coming up short. "Our defense played pretty good six-on-six," Clarkson said after the game. "I was pleased with our settled play on defense."
The scoreboard aside, this was a win for Davenport, and it should be a very unsettling result for the rest of Division II. The magnitude of the one-goal loss will come more into focus after MSU plays Arizona State in three weeks, but the Spartans are the No. 6 team in Division I, which still means something.
Clarkson was generally pleased with how the game transpired with Davenport rallying from a 7-2 deficit – "We did not give up versus a good team" – but he was also thankful that Michigan State head coach Dwayne Hicks took the game.
"I appreciated Coach Hicks playing us. Several other D-I programs refused," said Clarkson. "Next year when we are in the MCLA D-I, this should be a great rivalry."
- For the second time this season, the SELC has given the entire MCLA a "learning moment." The first occurrence was prior to the season when the former treasurer of the SELC was alleged to have embezzled a considerable amount of money from the conference coffers over a seven year span. This should have been a clarion call for all conference members to double-check the books and make sure everything is copasetic. Trust, but verify.
Last week, Kennesaw State served as a reminder to all of the teams about the importance of keeping up to date with the league paperwork. The Owls started their season with a stunning, 9-2 win over Georgia Tech, only to find out a week later that they actually lost the game, 1-0, because they failed to submit a roster to the conference office – a hard-and-fast rule for the SELC. It's something so simple, that it should never happen. It did, and other teams should take it as a serious reminder that club lacrosse isn't just about rolling a ball onto the field. Programs need to do the little things, or they'll pay the price.
Fortunately for KSU, the reversal of the Tech game, and the subsequent loss to Georgia that has the Owls at 0-2, doesn't mean much. Interdivisional games don't factor into selection criteria, so they are basically glorified scrimmages. Things get real next weekend when they host Washington U. (of St. Louis).
- What do Puget Sound, Central Washington and Oklahoma State all have in common? Well, they each had a 30-spot hung on them this weekend. Southern Oregon welcomed Puget Sound back to the PNCLL after a two-year hiatus with a 31-3 stomping on Friday night while PNCLL bully Western Oregon hammered Central Washington, 34-4, on Saturday. The ugliest score came later on Saturday when Sam Houston State rung up Okalahoma State to the tune of 35-0.
What should we take from these scores? First of all, I'm not one of those who believes Western Civilization is crumbling because a team runs up the score. That's athletic competition, and that's life. To better understand why we are seeing scores in the thirties, it's important to realize the make-up of MCLA Division II lends itself at times to these results. The disparity between the teams is much greater in D-II than in D-I due to a multitude of reasons. I'll stop short of calling it a developmental league – a term that enrages the higher-end D-II teams – but there's a reason Oklahoma State dropped down from D-I this year.
As always, there's only one cure for having 30 goals hung on you, and that's to get better.
- Dayton keeps plugging along. The Flyers blasted divisional foe John Carroll, 22-8 on Friday night. They'll have another tune-up against Walsh next week before the trip to Georgia...that's a respectable win for Appalachian State over D-I East Carolina...what happened to Emory? A 14-4 loss to Georgia Southern? Yikes.