Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.05.2012 at 10.01 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: MCLA Division I

You'll have to forgive UC Santa Barbara head coach Mike Allan if he doesn't get too excited about the Gauchos upset victory over No. 2 Cal Poly on Wednesday night. He knows all too well that the season isn't determined by one big win.

"Last year, when I was at Towson, we knocked off No. 4 Stony Brook and then went 1-6 after that," Allan said on Friday during his car ride to the Chapman-Boston College game. "It's great to get those wins, but the job is far from over, that's for sure."

Returning to UCSB after trying the NCAA D-I ranks for three years as Towson's offensive coordinator, Allan has the Gauchos at 5-0 heading into Monday afternoon's game with No. 5 BC. Allan said that, in general, he has had a smooth transition installing his systems with the Gauchos.

"I just started fresh, the normal way I would start any season," he said. "I didn't feel like I had to break too many bad habits, there was just some summertime rust. Our sticks were definitely struggling early on, and I wasn't sure whether I was still looking at them from a Division I mindset or it was just whether we had a lot of work to do. I think it always looks that way in the fall."

Allan praised the play of midfielders Taylor Gilbert and Aaron Hemeon. Both transferred into Santa Barbara and have provided solid leadership. They are also among a group of upperclassmen that feel they are running out of time.

"The guys who have been around for a few years kind of lead the team and set the tone in terms of wanting to win right away," Allan said. "There's some urgency with those juniors and seniors. They haven't really had a taste, and so I was glad to step into that. They are a very motivated group."

The MCLA poll will be completed before UCSB squares off with Boston College on Monday at 4:30 EST, so when the rankings are released on Tuesday, the Gauchos are likely to be in the second spot behind Colorado State. Allan treads lightly on the polls at this point, saying the sample size is way too small to worry about such things, but he still wouldn't mind if the Cal Poly win propels the Gauchos to bigger and better things.

"Wednesday night can be a springboard for the rest of the season as long as we learn how to handle success," Allan said. "You can't get too excited about one regular season win, you have to carry that through. Santa Barbara historically has been up at the top of the polls and hopefully it's something that they can get used to."

- One of the surprising scores from the weekend was No. 14 Virginia Tech's domination of No. 19 Florida State, 18-6. While Hokies head coach Joel Nachlas concedes that the 'Noles were missing a couple of key players, he believes his team has a new attitude this spring.

"I think last year we didn't have the confidence," said Nachlas. "Not only that, but we didn't have the depth on defense that we do this year. Last year, we were week on midfield scoring, and we've changed up our offense a bit and I've tried to work with our midfielders to change the attitude, so I think you can see a big improvement in confidence there."

Nachlas knew the Hokies would be just fine on attack with the duo of Matt Giannelli and Kevin Hayden returning. Those two combined for 10 goals (eight from Giannelli) and five assists in the win over FSU. The coach also highlighted the play of sophomore goalie Charlie Blakeley, who transferred from Georgia.

"He made some really key saves early in the game," Nachlas said. "Florida State went out 2-0 at the start of the game. We might have been a little stiff off the bus, but Charlie stepped up and made some really important saves. He really established control of the defense, and the defense played very well."

The win over the 'Noles was the start of Tech's spring trip, which also includes Miami (Fla.), No. 21 Boston University and Indiana over the next week.

- Arizona State head coach Chris Malone has never coached a goalie that has scored a goal in a game. He can cross that off his bucket list after Dylan Westfall went end-to-end against Michigan State for a score in the Sun Devils' 9-8 win over No. 7 Michigan State.

"We knew they would ride us like that, and Dylan asked me all week if he could shoot the ball," Malone said. "I told him he could shoot if no one picked him up."

What was Malone thinking as Westfall got closer and closer to the cage?

"In my head, I was saying, 'Shoot!'"

Sure you were, Coach. Sure you were.

- Too early for a mock Greenville bracket? Well, yes, seeing as not every team has played its first game. Wait a minute. I meant, no. No, it's not too early.

No. 16 Illinois (GRLC) vs. No. 1 Colorado State (RMLC)
No. 15 Duluth (UMLL) vs. No. 2 UC Santa Barbara (SLC)
No. 14 Virginia Tech (AL) vs. No. 3 Cal Poly (WCLL)
No. 13 Buffalo (AL) vs. No. 4 Brigham Young (AL)
No. 12 Clemson (SELC) vs. No. 5 Chapman (AL)
No. 11 Colorado (AL) vs. No. 6 Oregon (PNCLL)
No. 10 Michigan State (CCLA) vs. No. 7 Texas (LSA)
No. 9 Boston College (PCLL) vs. No. 8 Arizona State (AL)

- It's a shame that the Georgia Tech-Clemson game was cancelled on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets were starting to plays some good lacrosse, and the potential for a win over Clemson would have been a nice feather in their cap...Georgia and Pittsburgh ended their game in a 6-6 tie after weather interceded...Texas A&M has a 17-game schedule and 14 of those games are on the road. Tony Scazzero might want to rethink that strategy next year. After winning the first two games of the season (both at home), the Aggies have lost the last eight (all on the road), including getting worked over this weekend in Northern expected, Oregon dispatched Simon Fraser, 20-13. Ducks are just playing for their Greenville seed now...Iowa made No. 17 Illinois sweat. The Illini pulled out a 6-5 win...Boston College had high hopes heading to the West Coast after sweeping their trip to the SELC. Things are not going quite as well, as the Eagles have lost to both No. 4 Chapman (10-8) and No. 2 Cal Poly (10-6).