Ramblin’ Wreck’n the Poll
Finally someone held on to the the MCLA Coaches Poll top spot for more than a week. This is a big deal considering that just doesn’t happen for teams in the Southeast. #1 Georgia Tech is rocking and rolling, five wins deep and undefeated. They bested the likes of #10 Arizona State and #15 Michigan State so far, but the road gets bumpier. #25 Davenport and #19 UConn stand before a stretch on the road at #7 Florida State, #8 Colorado, and #6 Colorado State. Yellow Jackets fans shouldn’t stress too much. The starting attack trio is getting the job done. Sophomore Tim Peterson (13g, 12a) leads the the charge, working closely with senior Brian Connolly (14g, 6a) account for nearly 40% of their team’s 68 goals. There’s an entire team effort backing these guys up. Senior face-off specialist Tyler Frost has won an astounding 80% of his attempts, nearly half to himself. Coach Lovic’s crew is working the two goalie system with sophomore Dennis LaCalzi (.714) and senior Mick Baker (.647) and it’s paying off. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Strength in the Southeast
Don’t think that the Yellow Jackets are the only squad making noise in that corner of the country. Four teams are on the Top 25, with another four with a strong case. #22 South Carolina (4-0) is outscoring their opponents 79 to 20, but their strength of schedule isn’t going to catch any eye. It’s #7 (5-0) Florida State getting the attention with wins over #10 Arizona State, #17 Arizona, and #15 Michigan State under their belts. While #20 Virginia Tech (3-3) looms near the bottom of the list, but their losses come only to ranked opponents. Also teetering on the edge, #23 Liberty (2-1) faced a slip up with Michigan State, but have six matchups with ranked opponents on the docket ahead. On the outside, undefeated Florida (6-0) is wreaking havoc on their competition already with 88 goals already in the bank. They’ll have to wait until the final game on their schedule to see a ranked opponent, saving rival Florida State for last. Four other programs have only suffered a single loss, things are going to get interesting come tournament time.
Lone Star Shines Bright
If we’re going to talk about unranked teams that seriously deserve a second look, both Texas and Oklahoma are dipping below the radar with unblemished 7-0 records. The Longhorns have already staked their claim in the LSA South with a 2-0 conference record, while the Sooners lead the North at 3-0. Although neither team has knocked of a member of the Top 25, both squads have cruised by their competition with solid margins.
Oklahoma is atop the entire MCLA with 109 goals, led by senior attackman Matt Hammond’s 43 points. He’s not doing it alone, four shooters are averaging multiple points per game while another six guys are good for at least one. Goaltender Nick is cleaning up on the backend, sporting a .705 average after making 117 saves. Like the Sooners, most of the Longhorns’ scoring has come through a committee effort. Junior attackman Noah Starr has worked in 14 goals and 9 assists, not far ahead of freshman Thomas Hebner’s 19 points and 14 from both senior Danny Koudelka and sophomore Charlie Highum. Senior goaltender Matthew Meaders already has one shutout under his belt and has allowed no more than 9 goals at once, of the 34 that have made it through.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma, they aren’t set to take on any ranked competition through the rest of the season with the way things sit. Texas will get their shot to make headlines the last week of the regular season when they head up to the mountains to square of with two of the nation’s best. Right after they get out of conference play, the Longhorns will meet currently ranked #2 BYU and #9 Utah on back to back nights for a chance to buy some final respect.
Saving the Best for Last
If only we didn’t have to wait until April to start seeing conference matchups in the RMLC. #2 BYU (5-1), #6 Colorado State (4-1), #8 Colorado (3-2), and #9 Utah (3-0) are cleaning up the better half of the Coaches Poll. Like most of the poll leaders, high rankings comes through facing some serious competition. The four programs will face a combined elven ranked opponents before they start to cross paths. CSU and CU will have to go on the road through #15 UC Santa Barbara and #4 Cal Poly, while Utah will meet #10 Arizona State, #5 Cal, and Stanford before the next poll comes around. Expect some movement in either direction based on the outcomes.
Division II is Getting Deeper
The field is getting thicker in Division II with thirteen teams remaining undefeated. While most teams have only made it through one weekend of action, most southern teams are deep in the trenches. In the six games #15 Northern Arizona (6-0) has played, they’ve scored a minimum of 18 goals each time and nothing has been decided by less than 11 points. Four attackmen are leading the Lumberjacks, each with double-digit goals in the books already.
At the top sits defending champions, #1 St. Thomas (2-0) and #2 Concordia (4-1). The only blemish coming to the second-ranked Eagles came to the Tommies just this week. They’ve already made their way through D1 USC, #4 St. John’s (3-1), and #5 North Dakota State (3-2). St. Thomas will continue their reign with confidence, taking down the #2 and #5 teams in their first week. Seeking out the top competition, the entire top ten will continue to exchange punches until playoffs.
Shoutout to #25 College of Idaho for capturing three wins in one week to start their season. The perfect start came from a 43-17 goal differential and earned Coach Gier’s Yotes the first ranking in school history. They’ll get a chance to make an even bigger statement, facing two ranked opponents within the coming month.