Blogs and Commentary

posted 04.04.2011 at 10.00 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: MCLA Division II

- It's funny how this game works. Just when you think you've got a good handle on a team, it blows that perception right out of the water. That's what happened with No. 6 Davenport's rout of No. 3 Dayton, 15-7. I had the Panthers pegged as a talented team that didn't have the chemistry to be a real threat in Denver. Looks like I'll have to reevaluate.

"We hustled and played with more heart than we have been," said Davenport coach Bob Clarkson. "We're still making some mistakes with penalties and faceoffs, but I can see improvement."

For Dayton coach Charlie Mark, it was the play of Davenport goalie Zach Higgins, who ended with 16 saves, that was the difference in the game.

"The Davenport goalie played great," said Mark. "He consistently stuffed us in close. It was demoralizing. Instead of shooting more, and picking up our pace, we got too careful. We over-shot the ball -- aiming not shooting."

- There are a couple of crucial games coming up in the SELC this weekend when Elon plays SCAD and Kennesaw on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The results don't factor into the conference tournament picture -- the teams are in three different divisions -- but if they could go a long way in determining whether that conference gets two at-large bids to nationals in addition to the AQ.

- Remember last year when Westminster entered the tournament as the No. 10 seed and proceeded to march all the way to the national semifinals? Don't be surprised if history repeats itself. The Griffins will make the tournament against -- you can book that -- but they aren't going to have a great seed after the three-game sweep in St. Paul a couple of weeks ago.

However, they might be rounding into form, and they'll become more grizzled after upcoming games with D-I foes BYU and Utah. Westminny probably won't dip as low as No. 10 again, but they are going to be a miserable quarterfinal draw for some contender.

- Speaking of three-game weekends in St. Paul, they'll be another round of top-drawer Division II action in the grittier of the Twin Cities starting on Friday. Contenders from three different conferences -- Missouri State (GRLC), Northern Colorado (RMLC) and Davenport (CCLA) -- will each take a shot at the three top teams in the UMLL -- St. Thomas, St. John's and North Dakota State.

Some of the teams have more on the line than others. St. Thomas, St. John's and Davenport are Denver-bound, so these are just seed games for that trio. The other three need to make a splash as insurance in case they don't win their conference tournament. If NDSU can bounce Missouri State and Northern Colorado, that might just be enough for an at-large. MoState and UNC need to beat the Bison, as well as stun either the Tommies or Johnnies, to have a realistic shot at an at-large.

- The win over Kennesaw State is a feather in Coast Guard's cap, but I don't see any plausible way the Bears could qualify for Denver without the PCLL automatic qualifier...if St. Mary's wins out, which would mean a win over No. 21 Concordia, wins the non-AQ WCLL tournament, and finishes with a 14-3 record, the Gaels should get a long look from the committee.