Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.19.2012 at 10.00 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: MCLA Division II

Davenport played St. Thomas and North Dakota State over the weekend and lost both of the games. With the losses, the Panthers have established that they are clearly pretenders and will be lucky to make it past the quarterfinals of the MCLA tournament. Frankly, the DU offense looked out of sorts and there seemed to be something missing with the chemistry of the team.

Yup, those were the storylines last year after Davenport traveled to St. Paul, Minn., and lost to the Tommies, 11-8 and then followed that up with an 11-10 setback to the Bison in early April. That weekend dropped the Panthers to 10-4 and things weren't looking good.

Anyone remember how that season turned out?

History repeated itself this past weekend as DU fell to both UST, 9-8 in overtime and NDSU, 8-7 at the St. Louis Invitational hosted by Missouri Baptist.

"In the first game, I thought we played pretty well and St. Thomas was a good team," said Davenport head coach Bob Clarkson, who guided the Panthers past the Tommies in last year's national championship game. "We were both playing pretty well for mid-March. North Dakota State played very well defensively. We scored eight goals and two of those were in the last minute and a half, so we only scored five goals in the first 58 minutes of the game. We were struggling on offense and we usually don't do that. We're healthy and we aren't missing key players. It was just a matter of lots of turnovers and I thought we came out a little flat."

The oddest part about the offensive struggles is Clarkson thought that it would be his defense that would be the wild card this spring and the offense would carry the load.

"It shows how little coaches know sometimes," said Clarkson, with a small laugh. "The defense has played well. Even against [MCLA-I] Michigan State, our defense didn't play badly. Holding St. Thomas to nine goals and today holding [NDSU] to eight? The defense played fine. Just offensively we weren't able to get it done."

Just like last year, Clarkson isn't panicking. But he's not exactly thrilled, either.

"Last year, we went up to Minnesota and then it worked itself out," Clarkson said. "This year, I hope we're able to get our act together, but you never know if it's going to work itself out. I know we have the capability; it's just a matter of putting it together."

- Just like she did in Denver, Mother Nature felt the need to butt into proceedings at the St. Louis Invitational. Most of the Saturday games were scrubbed because of lightning or the threat of it, meaning a manic finish on Sunday. Davenport waited around from 12:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the fields in anticipation of playing North Dakota State, but it didn't go off until Sunday morning. St. Thomas managed to get in its three games in (all victories), but that was about it.

If there was another winner in St. Louis other than the Tommies, it was definitely Kennesaw State. Even though the Owls weren't able to play their game against Northern Colorado on Saturday because of the weather, they managed to play a NDSU squad coming off its Davenport victory, and posted a 6-4 victory. For a team that has had a turbulent start to the season, it's a major triumph for Kennesaw, and one that could resonate on Selection Sunday.

- Westminster vs. Utah Valley used to be a must-see event, even if you couldn't see the two teams because of snow. Now? Well the 18-3 beatdown administered by the Griffins on Saturday likely means the post-Kevin Perkins era at UVU may be a tough one...Western Washington, which was magically left out of the poll this week, downed Western Oregon, 13-10, to establish itself as the likely rep from the PNCLL. Regardless, it's definitely a one-bid league...I'm not sure if Northern Colorado has the defense to earn a return trip to nationals...a tip of the cap to Wheaton senior Drew Isaacson, who has 59 saves in two games, including a 32-stop performance in the win over Judson on Friday...Dayton has to be pleased with the 17-13 victory over Briarcliffe even though it's probably more goals than the Flyers would like to give up.