10 Questions at the US Lacrosse WCLA National Championships
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The 2012 US Lacrosse Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates National Championships, presented by Harrow Sports, get underway on Wednesday at the El Pomar Sports Complex. We take a look at 10 questions entering the event:
#1 What factor will the weather play?
After three straight years of intense, but predictable, heat in Scottsdale, Ariz., the teams will have to adjust to Colorado’s unpredictable weather. When this event was held in Denver in 2007 and 2008, the teams saw a bit of everything – heavy rain, bright sun, light snow and even tumbleweeds blowing across the field. The forecast looks nice for Wednesday and Thursday, but could be down into the 50s with rain for Saturday’s championship games.
#2 Is Colorado State the new Cal Poly?
Cal Poly dominated this even in the early years, winning seven straight national championships from 2001 through 2007. All of the sudden, Colorado State has won three of the last four. This year, however, the Rams come in a much different fashion. In 2008, CSU was the underdog, ending Cal Poly’s reign in overtime at what is now Sports Authority Field in Denver. In 2010, CSU entered the tournament as the No. 11 seed and proceeded to pull off four straight upsets to win the championship. Even last year’s CSU squad was an underdog – a No. 6 seed with many younger players. That’s not the case this year. The Rams are the No. 1 seed, have won 11 straight games, and return several key players from last year’s championship team – including tournament MVP Hayley Bernstein.
#3 Is this UCSB’s year?
UC Santa Barbara is no stranger to the favorite’s role, having earned the No. 1 seed in the past. The Gauchos are the No. 2 seed this year, but come in as a very legitimate title contender. UCSB easily handled Chapman 10-5 in the Western Women’s Lacrosse League final – a league that is annually the deepest among the US Lacrosse WCLA structure.
#4 Can Michigan rewind to February?
The Wolverines come in with the number three seed, but own wins over both the No. 1 seed (Colorado State) and the No. 2 seed (UCSB). Both of those wins came during the Santa Barbara Shootout in February. The Wolverines have been solid since then with an 8-3 record, but only one of the recent wins came against a tournament team – Santa Clara on April 1.
#5 Can UCLA repeat the magic?
UCLA entered last year’s tournament as the No. 9 seed, but led by midfielder Morgan Oberstein, the Bruins strung together three upsets to reach the championship game. Oberstein is a senior now, and this veteran team is poised to try and make another run. Their seed? Number 9 again.
#6 Can Texas break through?
Led by one of the nation’s top players, Clayton Crum, Texas has had a banner season. The Longhorns have a 16-5 record and have won nine of 10 entering the tournament. As the No. 7 seed they’ll draw a tough UC Davis team in the opening round – a rematch of a game Texas won 13-12 in late March. Texas, making its sixth trip to nationals, is seeking its first win in the winner’s bracket.
#7 Do Central Florida and BYU have the lucky seeds?
Sixth-seeded Central Florida and No. 11 seed BYU certainly have recent history on their sides. Virginia Tech Club won the championship as a No. 6 seed in 2009, Colorado State won as a No. 11 seed in 2010 and CSU won again in 2011, this team as the No. 6 seed. In other words, the winner of the opening round 6-11 game has won the national championship three straight seasons.
#8 Can Chapman handle the move up?
Chapman went undefeated last year, culminating with a US Lacrosse WCLA Division II national championship. The Panthers moved up to the Division I level this season and have had a very good year with a 13-4 record. They open in the first round against UCLA, a team that it split two games with during the season.
#9 Can Stanford give the Golden State a third straight Division II championship?
Cal won the inaugural Division II championship in 2010 and Chapman won it in 2011, but it will be a tall order for a California team to make it three in a row. Stanford Club enters as the No. 8 seed and will meet top-seeded Towson Club in the opening round. Towson Club reached the Division II championship game last year.
#10 Does experience count?
The Division II bracket is dominated by teams with previous experience in this event. Oakland and SMU are both here for the third straight season, while Towson Club, Utah and Westminster are both here for the second year in a row. North Carolina Club is back after a one-year hiatus, leaving Rhode Island and Stanford Club as the only new entrants in the field. Chapman won last year’s title with no previous national championship experience.