Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.26.2012 at 10.01 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: MCLA Division I

Richmond is in the midst of a lacrosse experiment. It's one of the reasons the Spiders joined the MCLA this year, opting out of the NCLL in search of deeper competition. If the experiment goes the way head coach Glenn Carter is hoping, Richmond may not be in the MCLA for that long, either.

"I got hired in October of 2010 and the idea was Richmond really wanted to do a three-year study of what the feasibility of having big-time lacrosse on campus would be," said Carter, who was previously the coach at Ursinus in NCAA-III. "The board is researching the viability of taking lacrosse to the next level, so right now we're about doing what we do best. The school is really taking a serious look, dotting all the 'i's and crossing all the 't's and seeing where lacrosse will fit at the university."

What are those things the school is looking at?

"I think they wanted to see what kind of fans we would get and what kind of national attention we would get and I think all of those things would be a positive," said Carter. "We get a great amount of fans, especially for a club team. We do as well, or better, as varsity teams in terms of fan support, especially from the students."

So far, Carter and the Spiders have put on a good show. Despite a 15-6 loss to No. 9 Virginia Tech on Saturday, Richmond is 5-1 and still in good shape to make the SELC tourney. Because the Spiders were admitted to the SELC late in terms of scheduling, they don't have the required amount of non-conference games, so it's automatic qualifier or bust.

"That's a little disappointing, but it has lit a little fire for the kids," Carter said. "Our players are now talking about practicing to make sure we win the whole thing. It's a negative that we don't have that opportunity, but it's a positive that it focuses my guys a little more. Let's just play to win the whole thing then."

The fact that the players are taking responsibility for their own direction is refreshing. When Carter first arrived in Richmond, he had to eradicate the 'club mentality' that has a tendency to linger.

"When I got here, it was just a rag-tag club," he said. "Sometimes there would be practice, sometimes not. When I came in here everything became mandatory. Things in the offseason became mandatory and that just wasn't for everyone, which I understand. It's a tough transition. It was tough to do a complete 180 from where you could do whatever you wanted to do, to accountability. I'm pleasantly surprised how many guys hung on. We still have a roster of 34 guys and it's pretty amazing the amount of guys who have stepped up. They see something special here."

The three-year research period for Richmond administrators will likely conclude at the end of the '13 season, meaning Carter will get another season in which to make a bigger splash in the MCLA before a decision is made. And that's just fine with him.

"I love it here," Carter said. "It's just a fantastic place. The academics are great. The resources they give you here are fantastic. The local community has embraced me. The University of Richmond has already become where the younger kids are coming to get better at lacrosse. The community has really welcomed me and my family. I could see being at Richmond for a lifetime."

- Heading to Fort Collins, where no team has won since 2010, and beating No. 1 Colorado State was impressive enough, but the manner in which Cal Poly did it speaks volumes about how dangerous this team is. The Mustangs trailed 5-1 at the half and were getting out-shot 2-to-1, but they came out flying in the second half, tying the score with a 4-0 third period.

After an even fourth, Poly finally captured the win in overtime, 9-8. The 'Stangs had balanced scoring – three players with two goals, three players with one goal – and decent goaltending (10 saves combined between Nick Czapla and Bo Dunnahoo-Kirsch).

Poly has three home games this week – Boise State, San Diego State and then No. 5 Chapman on Saturday – before finishing the season with five consecutive WCLL contests.

- The round robin format produced three 1-1 teams, but of the trio of squads – No. 10 Buffalo, No. 13 Michigan State and No. 22 Pittsburgh – it was the lowest ranked team that had the best showing. The Panthers started off the weekend with a 12-10 victory over the Bulls and then took the Spartans to overtime before fall, 17-16.

At first glance, it doesn't appear that Pitt has the depth of schedule to earn an at-large bid to nationals. However, if they do run the table in the regular season, which would mean wins over Northeastern and Boston College on the road, and then lose in the CCLA finals (likely to Michigan State), a 13-2 record would certainly catch the committee's eye.

At this point, however, the Panthers have to feel pretty good about winning the CCLA automatic bid after their performance this weekend.

- Buffalo's loss to Pitt could be problematic, but with Boston College losing to Northeastern, 6-4, the Bulls still look like the class of the's game against Arizona State is extremely important for Colorado...BYU's 21-11 dismantling of No. 7 Oregon should send a shiver down the collective spine of MCLA-I...pretty strong defensive effort by Georgia to hold Virginia Tech to four goals. Too bad the Dawgs could only score three...Sonoma State is off to a 1-0 start to their Texas trip after beating A&M, 11-5. Texas State and UT remain this week...Indiana surpassed its win total from last year with a 14-13 victory over Marquette.