December 2, 2010

Destiny Owned: Tigers Thankful for the AQ

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Junior attackman Carson Christman, the Tigers leading scorer last year with 62 points, is returning along with the rest of the attack, helping to make Colorado College the favorite to win the first-ever SCAC automatic qualifier.
© Charlie Lengal

That sigh of relief you heard out of Colorado Springs last June was from Guy Van Arsdale and the collective members of the Colorado College men's program. It was a barely audible exhalation as the Tigers don't have the pedigree to create much of a stir at this point in their current developmental state.

But that sound signaled that Colorado College could be ready to change all that.

This coming spring, the Tigers will no longer be an independent, meaning they won't be tethered to the roller-coaster ride that is the NCAA Pool B selection process.

The Beta Pool has bids reserved for those schools who haven't found a conference or are in one that has yet to reach the seven-team level needed for an automatic qualifier. It was a particularly difficult spot for Colorado College considering its geographic location – it is just one of two (Whittier) Division III institutions in the West – limited its ability to build a dominant schedule.

And then last year it appeared the Tigers had done everything they needed to do with a 10-2 record, including a win over eventual tournament qualifier Wittenberg. But CC was still left out of the mix on Selection Sunday.

"I think we're still trying to figure out how that worked last year where the head-to-head scores get discounted in our case," said Van Arsdale, who is entering his second season in the Springs. "We're happy we can get into the tournament by what we do on the field and not have to rely on other people."

The Tigers will have their destiny in their own hands because of the advent of an AQ bid for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), which will have eight teams – Birmingham Southern, Centre, Colorado College, Hendrix, Millsaps, Oglethorpe, Sewanee and Southwestern – this spring and nine next year with the addition of Dallas.

Whichever team wins the four-team SCAC tournament on April 22-24 will be making its first trip to the NCAA tournament. Colorado College is the presumptive favorite to get that nod, but Van Arsdale plans on using last year's snub to stave off any complacency.

"It's hard to put it behind you when you get stung a little," said Van Arsdale. "What we're able to do is tell our guys, 'Look, don't put yourself in a position now where other people have to decide it for you. We have a way to take care of this ourselves. Let's do everything we can to do that.'"

The Tigers could get a challenge from Birmingham Southern and Sewanee, which both showed some friskiness in '10, but it's tough to believe that CC won't finally get their shot at the tournament this year.

The entire attack, led by juniors Carson Christman (37g, 25a) and Moses Taylor (35g, 24a), returns intact as well as the defense, which has seniors Chris Kolodey and Zach Hoisington leading the way. The Tigers are thin in the midfield, meaning they'll have to lean on junior James Mauk, and CC will also likely be starting a rookie in net, but they should still have plenty to rise above the rest of the competition in the SCAC.

"I think we have some questions, but I like where our talent is," said Van Arsdale. "We are fairly young, but I think even our young guys got a lot of experience last year. We're excited about it."

The Tigers are excited about controlling their own fate for the first time, which should allow them to breathe easier from here on out.

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