Morning Jac: Biggest Little Game Today
Two teams will be on a field in Allendale, Mich., this evening for what will be the most important game in its division this spring. I can tell you're already excited. Alas, this contest is occurring in MCLA Division II, the bottom of the collegiate lacrosse food chain.
NCAA Division I looks down at D-II and D-III. The D-IIs and D-IIIs look down on the MCLA. And MCLA D-I programs consider MCLA D-II to be that annoying little brother you have to bring to the movies with your friends because your mom said so.
As such, the average lacrosse fan will say, "Hey, that's dynamite," and roll their eyes if you try to hype an MCLA D-II contest. But the game between No. 1 Grand Valley State and No. 2 Davenport this evening at 5:30 p.m. will one will be worth following. Or, at the very least, finding out what the final score was.
It features two offenses that are loaded with stars. Davenport's Shawn Beer has been a scorer since the day he arrived in Grand Rapids and is complemented by Sam Carlson, Jordy Sayers and Dominic Boggiano. Grand Valley's Cam Holding, who was ranked second in goals scored in all of NCAA Division II last year at Florida Southern before transferring back to GVSU this spring, already has 31 goals in five games, including a 10-goal, 2-assist performance against SCAD on Sunday. He has Jack Dumsa, Jeremy Pouba and Max Bielby as offensive running mates.
Further enhancing this game is the team's residency in the same conference. While they are within different divisions of the CCLA, they have met five times since 2008 and all of the games have been decided by three goals or less. And they came in all types of contests. There was the 19-16 shootout victory for Davenport in '09, and the back-and-forth 11-10 win for GVSU in last year's CCLA tournament. And then there was the 6-5 defensive struggle won by the Panthers in last year's national tournament.
The most compelling reason to follow this game is that it is likely to be the play-in game for the No. 1 seed in Denver this spring. Yes, yes, there are a lot of big games coming. Both teams have to play Dayton at least one more time and Davenport travels to No. 3 St. Thomas in a couple of weeks. However, whichever team has this victory in their pocket will be the undisputed top team in the country and tough to beat down the stretch.
But hey, if you're going to lean on tired stereotypes that MCLA Division II is just a bunch of goofs who can't throw or catch, that's your hang-up. And you're missing out. Tonight's game is going to be a good one, and I'm looking forward to it.
Best & Worst
The best part about today: My son was looking good walking into daycare this morning with his official Ireland rugby shirt (No. 10), which was a gift from my cousins who live in Kilkenny.
The worst part about today: It's St. Patrick's Day and I'm on the wagon. That is all.