Blogs and Commentary

posted 02.06.2012 at 10.00 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: MCLA Division II

- Kennesaw State's win over Georgia Tech last weekend was the talk of the MCLA. When a Division II team beats a Division I program, it automatically triggers images of a David slaying Goliath, which often provokes visceral reactions. I certainly contributed to that optic with last week's feature on the game from the KSU perspective. But what did the Owls victory over the Yellow Jackets really mean?

Short answer? Zilch. While the results are reflected in the overall schedule, interdivisional games in the MCLA are basically scrimmages from a postseason selection perspective. After reading my story, Georgia Tech head coach – and chair of the MCLA selection committee – Ken Lovic emailed me to clarify that point.

"Beating us does NOTHING to help them with an at-large bid," Lovic wrote of KSU's win. "It does help them prepare for the season though, which can be good." [emphasis is Lovic's].

So why would a Division I team bother scheduling a D-II team? As former Marquette head coach and current Sonoma assistant Panchito Ojeda pointed out via Twitter, it's basically a lose-lose proposition. A win is worthless and a loss just makes your program look weak. This is a viable argument, but there a couple of realities to keep in mind, both brought up by Minneapolis-area coach Rob Horn.

First, there can be a debate about whether a ranked D-II team (KSU is No. 21) defeating a mid-level D-I is actually an upset. There are plenty of D-II teams that could stand toe-to-toe with most D-I programs, and the junior circuit has won several games in the past, so is this really that big of a deal? Second, the MCLA covers a wide geographic swath of this country, which often means that D-I and D-II teams that inhabit the same area can create budget-friendly competition.

Interdivisional games aren't going away, even though they don't mean a whole lot. But it doesn't mean we can't enjoy a good underdog storyline once in a while.

- What was Lovic's take on the loss to Kennesaw State?

"Hats off to them on the win," he said. "We lost. No question. I was on the edge of the cliff after the game from a reactionary stand point. After watching the game film, I feel much better."

The Jackets bounced back with a convincing, 14-3 divisional win over Ole Miss on Saturday.

- Over the past two seasons, St. Mary's (Calif.) has posted a combined record of 25-8 – including a 14-4 mark last year – but the Gaels are still searching for their first bid to the MCLA tourney. St. Mary's, ranked No. 20, is hamstrung by the WCLL's lack of an automatic qualifier, so the Gaels must swim in the hyper-competitive at-large pool on Selection Sunday. And although they've had half-decent schedules in the past two years, they've never managed to win a game that would set them apart to the committee.

St. Mary's may have finally done that. On Friday, the Gaels hit the road and defeated No. 14 Cal State Fullerton, which has gone to nationals the past two years out of the SLC, 11-7. Junior attackman Christan Skuce led the offense with three goals and three assists while senior James Plasencia turned away 14 shots in goal. Assuming Fullerton wins the SLC again (the Titans will have to subdue Concordia), this win should prove crucial for St. Mary's.

The next big hurdle for the Gales comes in three weeks when they host No. 6 Westminster, No. 12 Concordia and No. 10 Western Oregon in a six-day span. With a couple of wins during that stretch and St. Mary's will be in the driver's seat for Greenville.

- Davenport head coach Bob Clarkson, who led the Panthers to the national championship last spring, announced he'll be resigning at the end of this season. Clarkson thought his offense would be just fine this year, especially with Jordan Richtsmeier leading the charge, but the close defense will determine how far the Panthers go...Nice win for Reinhardt. The Eagles were 2-9 last year and lost to Emory, 16-4. On Saturday, Reinhardt beat Emory, 13-7...Western Washington has to be pleased with their 16-12 loss to D-I No. 18 Simon Fraser. They won't see too many better teams in D-II this year...Dayton looked pretty good in the 19-6 whitewash of Tennessee Wesleyan...Kennesaw State came back to earth a little bit on Sunday afternoon with a 13-3 setback to Georgia.