Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.12.2012 at 10.01 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: MCLA Division I

Chapman head coach Dallas Hartley said the biggest challenge for the fifth-ranked Panthers has been dealing with the battle between what he calls, "Harder vs. Smarter."

"We go hard," Hartley said of his 7-2 squad. "Working hard is not our problem. We just have to be a little bit smarter."

Hartley pointed to the average of 25 turnovers per game in the first six contests of the year as proof that Chapman needed to balance the two competing philosophies. Despite the fact that Hartley gives his program a B or B- for a midseason grade, he's content with his guys.

"We're happy with where we are right now," Hartley said. "I think we're on the brink of something really good. We've done a much better job in the last two weeks of really working hard within our system offensively. We're basically starting three new defenders, but I couldn't be happier with how those guys have stepped in."

Hartley admitted that he was worried about a possible hangover from the overtime loss to BYU when it looked like the Panthers were in full control of the game. He was pleased to see the players shrug it off quickly.

"They're resilient. They're college kids," Hartley said. "Crap happens. We watched the tape and got through the bad stuff."

Hartley puts the loss to top-ranked CSU in Oregon – another game where the Panthers gave away a late-game lead – on his own shoulders.

"We kind of jumped in and out of a zone late in the game, and I might have tried to get a little too fancy," he said. "We're learning to stick with our own coaching game plan throughout the game and figure out ways to put these guys in a better position to win. They're still learning to trust me and I'm still learning to trust them. It's a work in progress. We're 7-2 and we lost two games we were ahead in the fourth quarter. We've given ourselves a chance."

In addition to the harder vs. smarter dilemma, trust is another theme for Hartley and his players. That might be the key to finishing the season strong, and perhaps earning an 'A' on the final report card.

"The thing you always hear about Chapman, and I bring this up, is they have a lot of talent," Hartley said. "That's an indictment of me as a coach because I can't put it all together. We need to trust each other not just rely on talent, but that the systems will work for us."

- Chapman's latest victory was a 9-6 win over Colorado on Friday night (the Panthers play Duluth tonight) and it wasn't easy. The Buffaloes scored five goals in the second quarter to keep the game tied at halftime. Hartley said he made some changes at halftime to deal with CU's "circle" offense, and the Buffs only scored one more goal the rest of the way.

The Panthers really didn't know what to expect because the only player he recognized on the roster was goalie Brad Macnee. Regardless of the personnel, Hartley was struck by how hard-working Colorado was.

"I know Coach Galvin from before and his mentality has rubbed off on them," Hartley said. "I told him afterwards that if this wasn't his first game, I'm sure they would have given us a better game. Going into the second half I thought our depth and conditioning paid off a little bit. Colorado can go a long way, and they have a very good goalkeeper."

The Buffs ended up having a rough first weekend. The loss to Chapman was followed on Sunday with a surprising, 6-2 loss to unranked Loyola-Marymount. CU will return to Boulder for a three-game set next weekend against Clemson, Nebraska and Washington.

- We're finally starting to spot signs of life out of Sonoma State. The once dominant program has fallen of the grid over the last couple of years – the Seawolves last tournament bid was in '09 – but Saturday's 11-7 win over No. 23 Chico State provides reason for optimism. More importantly, it gives 'Noma a 2-0 record in the WCLL after the 'Wolves missed the four-team conference tourney last spring.

Doug Carl and his troops aren't out of the woods yet. The WCLL is an extremely deep league this year and remaining on Sonoma's schedule is No. 2 Cal Poly, No. 16 California and No. 17 Stanford. Fortunately, all three of those contests will be in Rohnert Park. Next up on the docket is a three-game spring break trip to Texas, capped off by a contest against the seventh-ranked Longhorns in late March. That's the next big benchmark for this reemerging team.

- Another outstanding weekend for No. Colorado State, beating No. 9 Arizona State, 9-6, and the dominating a good Stanford squad, 15-5...Very impressed with No. 14 Buffalo's ability to open up the season against a seasoned No. 12 Clemson team and still come out with the 9-8 victory. The Bulls beat Georgia Tech, 7-6, on Sunday...No. 15 Duluth made Cal Poly work. The Mustangs won, 9-6, but it wasn't easy, especially with Dawgs goalie Joey Slattery making 25 saves...after getting blanked on Friday night against No. 22 Boston University, Virginia Tech's Matt Gianelli responded with seven goal and three dimes against Indiana. The Hokies won both contests...The game between UCLA and No. 4 UC Santa Barbara was postponed for six hours because of a "Quidditch" tournament being held on the same field. The Gauchos won the game, 7-3...rough Utah swing for New Mexico. The Lobos lost by a combined score of 48-3 to the Utes and BYU...Minnesota is currently 0-3 on its four-game California swing after losses to Santa Clara, Cal and Chico State.