Men’s Preview — Week 4
02.20.2017 - By Steve Nelson

It seems there’s never a dull moment in the MCLA season when Utah teams are involved — Week 3 saw a preseason No. 1 and defending champ fall to a Utah team for the second season in a row when the Utes opened the season with an impressive 12-9 victory over Chapman. Utah also beat Washington to start the season 2-0. Utah Valley played Boise State close, but a late run by the Broncos was too much for the Wolverines, who fell to 1-2 on the season. BYU also hosted BSU, but with a very different result; the Cougars rolled early and routed the Broncos to put them at 2-0 on the year. The season only gets busier as we head into week 4, which includes the debut of Weber State and an MCLA D-I top-10 matchup.

Schedule

2/20 – Utah @ UNLV – 1:00pm
While the Rebels defeated the Utes 15-7 last season, they’ll see a very different Utah team this time around. Both of these squads are 2-0 on the season so far–the Rebels kicked off the season with a 15-6 beat-down of UCLA and a 13-12 squeaker over Nevada. The Rebs rely heavily on senior middie Blake Day, who does a little bit of everything, and powerful attackman Quinton Eissler, who each average 5+ ppg. Rebel FOGO Justin Proctor is also pulling a phenomenal 89% of the draws at the center X (compared to Utah’s 40%). This bodes well for UNLV against a Utah squad that’s yielding roughly ten goals a game and saving just over 50%; controlling time of possession and getting lots of shots on cage could keep the Rebels in this one.

On the other end of the field, the Utes will be bringing a lot of firepower to Vegas. Utah is scoring an average of 15 goals per contest behind several weapons including the Stout brothers. This against a Rebel defense that gives up nine goals per game, so far, and is saving just over 40% of shots on cage should mean that we’ll see plenty of offensive fireworks this President’s Day.

2/24 – Brigham Young @ UNLV – 6:00pm
Things won’t get any easier for UNLV as they turnaround and host the No. 6 BYU Cougars. The Rebels lost to the Cougars, 14-9, last season, and the Cougs look like they’ve only gotten stronger. BYU’s senior-leaden defense has only given up five goals on the entire season (that’s 2.5 per game). The Rebels should again have the upper hand at the faceoff X, as BYU is a combined 59% on the year. The Rebs will see a second prolific offense this week as BYU averages over 15 goals per game, led by dangerous junior attackman Tanner Johnson. With two solid squads coming to town, this week looks like a tough home stretch for the Rebels.

2/24 – Utah State vs Montana State – 7:00pm
Montana State is an MCLA D-II competitor, so this game doesn’t mean much on paper, but it’s a great chance for Utah State to take another step forward and a good chance for MSU to get some experience for their first game of the season. The Bobcats won this matchup 14-11 last year and bring back their top three scorers, including sophomore phenom Louis Richman who averaged over 7 points per contest last season. MSU also brings back faceoff specialist Jack Pugh who won 59% of the draws at the center X last season (USU’s Austin Doyle is controlling 71% on the season, so far). But MSU does replace a key component with a new keeper this season. The Aggies will look to Albert Hunter and Gary Christensen to test the Bobcats’ new keeper as they tallied three goals apiece in the year’s first game. This game should be a good chance for both teams to find out a lot about their own squads.

2/25 – Brigham Young vs. Cal Poly (@ UNLV) – 4:00pm

No. 2 Cal Poly has a good chance to move up to No. 1 after going 4-0 to start the
season (and No. 1 Chapman losing two games), and this game should be the first real test for BYU. The Mustangs are perfect on the season, but had two close calls — a 5-3 slugfest against Simon Fraser and a 4-3 win over UCSB that resembled an old school SEC football game. However, good teams find a way to win and close games build character, as the sayings go. The Cougars, on the other hand, haven’t really been tested this season; their closest game a ten-goal victory over top-10 Arizona. It should be interesting to see how these teams’ conflicting styles play out on the field.

Poly senior keeper Sean Pihl is saving a very good 79% of shots on cage through four games, which the Mustangs will need against BYU’s potent offense. The Cougars look to have the edge at the center X as Cal Poly is only winning 36% of faceoffs on the year. The Mustangs attack duo of AJ Guralas and John Corbolotti will lead Poly on offense, but they’ll need help to beat the team’s eight-goal average, especially against BYU’s stingy defense. If you’re a fan of good lacrosse, this one may be worth a weekend trip to Vegas.

2/25 – Weber State vs. Montana State (@ USU) – 7:30pm
After unofficial fall and spring seasons last year, the Weber State Wildcats will open their official season as a D-II member of the MCLA’s Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference — the game will be the first official game for Weber State Lacrosse in well over a decade. The Wildcats’ short roster is comprised mostly of Utah natives, including team president Craig Potter at defense, but also boasts some transplants in goalkeeper Nicholas Orme (Flower Mound High School-Flower Mount, Texas) and defender Jeffrey Riensche (Wilson Central High School-Lebanon, Tennessee). No matter how this one plays out, it will be a victory for WSU to have a team this season and to build going forward.

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