February 18, 2016

MCLA Notebook: Sierra Nevada Opening Eyes

from staff reports | Twitter

When it comes to recruiting, it’s all about using the best assets to close the sale. And there are all sorts of selling points: academics, facilities, social life, reputation, geography. They are all part of it.

Sometimes you just have to sell the view.

That’s part of Sierra Nevada coach Matt Blamey’s approach to building a program located in Incline Village, Nev., into an MCLA Division II power. While there are certainly other pieces to the puzzle, a large part of his recruiting strategy is based on, as he calls it, “leveraging Tahoe.”

“The pitch I’m giving to our recruits is the area sells itself,” Blamey said. “If you’re into water sports, skiing, snowboarding, hiking or any outdoor stuff, this is one of the best places to do it. With the lacrosse team, they can have the best of both worlds. Live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and play competitive lacrosse. We’ve been pretty successful the last two years and I want to keep that rolling this year.”

As heavenly as Tahoe might be, winning is always the best recruiting tool. Fortunately, the Eagles are off to a good start in that regard, as well. After their probationary season in 2014 when they were ineligible for the postseason despite going undefeated in the WCLL, the Eagles breezed to the conference automatic qualifier to the MCLA National Tournament powered by Under Armour under the direction of Bruce Meierdiercks.

After the retirement of Meierdiercks, in stepped Blamey, who was formerly the head man at Dominican (Calif.). With an opportunity resettle in Incline Village – located on the north tip of Lake Tahoe and an hour from Reno – and take over a program with massive potential, Blamey jumped on the opportunity.

Despite the program and the views, there are certainly challenges for Sierra Nevada, which only sponsored varsity skiing and snowboarding up until three years ago. The smooth sailing in the WCLL was met with the ice-water shower that often comes in the MCLA tourney. The Eagles were convincingly defeated by North Dakota State in the first round of nationals in ’15 mostly due to a rugged 10-man ride.

The Eagles got another tough message this fall.

“Our first fall ball game we went out and scrimmaged Diablo Valley (Calif.) College and they put a whoopin’ on us,” Blamey admitted. “In hindsight, it was the best thing that could happen because the kids had a little bit of an ego and that humbled us.”

So far this season, the Eagles have dispatched Chico State – an MCLA-I school – 9-3, and should be 2-0 heading into the LAX Coaches vs. Cancer event in Las Vegas where they’ll meet No. 2 Concordia-Irvine and No. 12 Cal State Fullerton on March 5-6. Sierra Nevada, currently ranked 13th, will get a good idea what kind of prospects await them in the postseason.

Until then, Blamey will continue build his program, one vista at a time.

The Place to Be

Minneapolis is this week’s destination, as Braemer Field on the southwest side of the city will host a contest between Minn.-Duluth and St. John’s. Prior to this year, this would likely be a scrimmage between teams in different divisions. This season, however, Duluth has joined UMLC Division II, so this contest is critical from a league standings perspective, as well as holding major at-large implications.

No. 5 St. John’s is the favorite going on the latest poll, but No. 15 Duluth is probably painfully under-ranked. The Bulldogs beat Westminster, an MCLA tournament team, on its own field last year and fell just shy of BYU, 10-8, during its 10-2 campaign. The UMLC will be a dogfight all season, and it starts this weekend.

Quick Hits

- The MCLA came perilously close to having both of its defending champions (and preseason top-ranked squads) lose before the first poll came out. Division I Grand Canyon was stunned by Utah Valley in overtime on Feb. 5, and Division II Dayton needed a second extra session to tame Lawrence Tech this past Saturday.

There were certainly similarities between the two games, as both favorites had to rally just to force overtime and both ran into hot goalies. The difference for the Flyers was sophomore Michael Glaser, who completed his hat trick nine seconds into overtime for the game-winner, while also dishing out three assists along the way. Looks like it could be one of those years.

- Concordia-Irvine, which lost to Dayton in last year’s championship game, is having no such difficulties this year. The Eagles have smashed a pair of Division I squads in UCLA (17-8) and Loyola Marymount (21-7). CUI will play NCAA-III Whittier this weekend in a scrimmage before opening the conference slate with San Diego.

- UC Davis, under the direction of first-year coach Frank Resetarits, is off to a solid start. The Aggies knocked off former No. 22 Portland, 14-9, helped by five goals and two assists from Tarek Mousali. Mousali had a 15-point weekend against the Pilots and Humboldt State, earning Commanding Performance of the Week powered by Under Armour. UC Davis is 3-1 overall and 3-0 in Division II.

- Louisiana-Lafayette (4-0) and UT-Dallas (2-0) are off to undefeated starts to the season. Both are eyeing the LSA-II championship this spring…Biola junior Bryce Hummel has nine ground balls through three games, giving him 136 for his career. That marks eclipses the previous program record of Josh Nordstrom…Wake Forest improved to 3-0 with a comfy, 15-5 win over divisional rival Davidson…Dange Wolf currently leads Division II in points per game at 8.00 (11g, 5a in two games).

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