posted 04.23.2012 at 10.00 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: MCLA Division II

The low point was 2007. Washington University, a school with nearly impeccable lacrosse demographics and prime location in the burgeoning St. Louis metroplex, failed to play the season. Where would this program go?

Five years later, the Bears look like their going to Greenville.

It wasn't easy. Wash U. went 1-7 in the rebound year of '08. But then Tom Schmidt, a former player at St. Louis University High School and local prep coach, took over the reins. From there, the Bears have only gotten better. It was four wins in '10 then an 11-2 season last spring when Wash U. lost to Missouri Baptist in the GRLC finals.

"It was a disappointing loss to Missouri Baptist to end the season," admitted Schmidt. "Coming into this year, we knew what we had mostly freshmen and sophomores, with a couple of seniors. But once we got to the fall and realized what we were going to have, we really thought we were going to have a pretty good season."

Schmidt was right.

The Bears are 9-2 and have already dispatched the team that would most likely derail their bid to the nationals – MoBap. Wash U. is doing it with a blend of players, and very few from the local area.

Sophomore middie John Metz (22g, 6a) is a transfer from NCAA Division II Pfeiffer (N.C.) while rookie Jack Barrow (32g, 4a) is from Connecticut and classmate Jeremy Fridling (16g, 18a) is from D.C. The Bears top player, Dan Fleisher (35g, 24a) "wouldn't start at a Syracuse, but could make their roster," Schmidt said. "He's very quick, very shifty and he does a really great job for our offense."

Not many people outside of the GRLC's geographic footprint likely know about Washington University, but that may change if the Bears can make in an impact at nationals. With a lacrosse friendly school that draws from all over the country, the nightmare of 2007 could get erased completely in about a month.

- We're getting to the point in the season where we can formulate a short list of player of the year candidates. There are a lot of solid options out there, but these are my top four at this point. There is no huge frontrunner like in years past, meaning one of these four – or perhaps another contender – will emerge by the conclusion of the tournament.

* Jack Dumsa, Grand Valley State: Even without Cam Holding around, he's still making his teammates better. He's the engine of the Lakers' machine.

* Kevin Gause, St. Thomas: A physical close defender who's not afraid to go coast-to-coast (4g, 3a), Gause is the Tommies anchor.

* Jordan Richtsmeier, Davenport: The schedule is a lot stiffer this year, so the numbers aren't quite as prolific, but Richtsmeier is one of the top quarterbacks around.

* Gian Sexsmith, Westminster: A premium finisher for the Griffins who also has the knack for setting up his teammates in key situations.

- SCAD is one of the better teams in the nation. There's really no arguing this. The Bees are ranked No. 7 in the country, have a 9-3 record and have key wins over Davenport and Briarcliffe. There's just one thing.

SCAD failed to qualify for the SELC league tournament.

Because of the intricacies of the tiebreaking rules, Florida Gulf Coast and Palm Beach Atlantic (which pounded SCAD, 21-14 earlier this year) earned the top two spots in the SELC Southeast division, bouncing the Bees. Will the selection committee accept SCAD into it's Top 16 when the Bees couldn't crack the Top 8 of it's own conference? It's a sticky question.

Normally, I'd be leading the chorus of those dismissing SCAD from contention, but the Bees are more of a victim of tiebreaker formulas than actual results. They are clearly the best team from that conference, so to eliminate them out of hand would be a disservice to the MCLA. I think the committee will feel the same way.

That probably won't sit well with the rest of the MCLA, especially those teams hoping to grab one of the at-larges. If SCAD does, in fact, receive an at-large bid, that means a conference that was almost certainly going to be a one-bid league (when SCAD won the tournament, which they almost certainly would have) turns into a two-bid conference, hosing the rest of the division.

One of the talking points for the next general meeting might be to clarify that teams that don't make their own league tournament are automatically disqualified from advancing to nationals. Until then, SCAD will probably be in Greenville.

- Does the CCLA have enough juice to push a fourth team through to the national tournament? Most definitely, but who are the candidates. Indiana Tech has played the type of schedule that will draw the attention of the selection committee, but Hope might be the best choice...Gonzaga had its undefeated season ended last Sunday by Division I Washington State, 13-6...Montana State is an intriguing team, but it looks like the Bobcats will have to grab the RMLC AQ if it wants to head to Greenville. There just aren't any key wins.

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