MCLA-2 First Round: Defense is for Suckers
The first round of the MCLA tournament in Denver in the books and it has been a high-flying opening day. Half of the games featured a combined 32 goals or more, including two with 35 total markers. You can call the junior circuit of the MCLA a lot of things, but you have to include the adjective "entertaining" among them.
The two high-scoring games that were quasi-competitive match-ups featured a pair of relatively new teams along with a long-time rivalry.
No. 4 Briarcliffe, in its second year at the tourney, out-gunned No. 13 Hope, making its first visit, 21-14 on the strength of 13 points from Matt Karp (8g, 5a) and 11 more from Jonathan Bonacore (4g, 7a). In the other shootout, No. 10 Westminster upset No. 7 Western Oregon – a team than had beaten the Griffins handily at the beginning of the season – by a score of 20-15. Gian Sexsmith scored five in a relatively balanced effort for Westminny.
The two other contests were routs. Top-seeded Grand Valley State trounced No. 16 Sam Houston State, 25-7, while No. 5 Davenport clobbered last year's finalist, No. 12 Utah Valley, 23-9.
Other than Westminster's win, the only upset in the first round was No. 9 SCAD fending off No. 8 North Dakota State, 10-8. The game was tied at eight apiece with under three minutes to play, but the Bees netted a pair of goals in the span of 58 seconds to pick up the victory.
In the final three games, the seeds held. After a tight first half, No. 3 St. John's pulled away from No. 14 Missouri Baptist, 12-5; Joe Costello scored five goals to lead No. 2 St. Thomas past No. 15 Cal State Fullerton, 17-3; and Dayton outscored North Colorado, 10-4 in the second half for a 14-8 victory.
Four different players broke the double-digit barrier in the first round. Joining Briarcliffe's Karp and Bonacore were Grand Valley State's Jack Dumsa (6g, 5a) and Cam Holding (9g, 2a).
The match-ups tomorrow (Wednesday) will be:
No. 6 Dayton vs. No. 3 St. John's, 1 p.m.