"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
As I've noted previously, the Michigan Wolverines have earned the #1 overall seed in the MCLA National Tournament, another step on their quest for an unprecedented 3-peat National Championship.
The full MCLA bracket follows, with a preview of Michigan's first-round opponent, the Texas State Bobcats. A look at the whole bracket (with predictions!) is after the jump. One quick note: Though the semi-finals and finals will be broadcast on Fox College Sports, if you want to catch Michigan's early-round games, you can vote on the Collegelax.us forums for them to be webcast (and no, I don't feel guilty about encouraging you to vote, as there's already a fairly obvious BC ballot-stuffing initiative).
For an interactive-ish bracket (a phrase which here means "you can click to see individual teams' schedules and players), visit MCLA.us.
Texas State Preview
Tuesday May 11, 4PM MDT, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Denver CO.
Record: 12-3 (4-1 Lone Star Alliance). LSA Tournament Champions.
Rankings: #18 MCLA LaxMag, #18 Prodigy, #23 LaxPower.
Common Opponents: None
Previous Meetings: None
Schedule. Playing in the Lone Star Alliance isn't any way to endear yourself to pollsters, and the Texas State Bobcats found that out the hard way. Thanks to a weak non-conference schedule, the only ranked team they faced all year was Texas. They split with the Longhorns, losing 12-10 in the regular season, but turning the tables for a 12-10 victory in the LSA tournament to earn a bid to the MCLA Tournament - and rob Texas of theirs.
Texas State picked up non-conference wins against the likes of LSU, Missouri, and Cal, while losing to Stanford and Loyola Marymount outside of the LSA. They finished 12-3 overall, with a 4-1 LSA record. They made the MCLA Tournament by winning the LSA Conference Tournament.
Personnel. As the #2-in-command in the LSA (think Michigan State in the CCLA), the Bobcats landed a number of players on the All-Conference teams. Making the first team were Attack Matt Malcolm and midfielder MIke Zdonczik. On the second team, midfielder Chad Henning, defenseman Jesse Herrmann and goalie Asa Spain represent Texas State. Attack Harrison Parr, midfield Robert Jones, and defense Raul Santiago were all-conference honorable mentions.
Coach Chris Park was the LSA Coach of the Year. Henning was the league's faceoff specialist of the year, and Malcolm shared player of the year honors with Texas's Johnny McKnight.
Analysis. Though the Bobcats ran up some impressive scores this year (23-5 against LSU, 15-7 against TCU), the competition in those games was very weak. Nearly every team that Texas State played this season outside of Texas would have been in the worst 3-4 squads that Michigan faced. Quality of competition is important.
The Wolverines have performed better than Texas State, and against much better competition. There's a reason this is a game between the 1-seed and the 16-seed. Michigan should get on the board early and often on the way to a big win.
There might be times that it seems like Texas State is having the best of Michigan, or that the Wolverines aren't running on all cylinders, but that shouldn't be the story of the game. When they need to turn it on, Michigan will do so, and get much more than they need on the way to a 22-6 victory.
Bracket Breakdown and Predictions after the jump.
With a thrilling comeback win over Michigan State yesterday, the Wolverine lacrosse team once again captured the CCLA Conference Championship and the #1 overall seed in the MCLA National Tournament.
Those who follow me on Twitter already know how frustrated I was during the CCLA championship game yesterday. Michigan was committing awful turnovers, the Spartans were getting easy chances (and converting some that weren't so easy), and it was a generally dismal game. Halfway through the third quarter, I didn't think Michigan had a chance to win.
Something funny happened, though: Michigan started playing like, well, Michigan. A three-goal deficit late in the third turned into a big Michigan rally. The momentum carried the team through the final quarter on the way to a 13-11 victory.
Tournament Offensive MVP Trevor Yealy notched three goals and freshman Thomas Paras (who I thought should have won the MVP award, given his two goals yesterday and eight-point effort against Miami) put in a pair, while Clark McIntyre had two goals with an assist. Both goaltenders played a half, with Mark Stone struggling through the first, and Andrew Fowler making a couple key saves to spark the team in the second half.
Credit goes to Michigan State as well. Their goalie, Dean Hall, was named the tournament's Defensive MVP, and deservedly so. When Michigan threatened throughout the first half, Hal managed to keep them off the board more often than not. He gave his team a chance to win, just as he did when Michigan and MIchigan State faced off just over a week ago.
Michigan State proved, if nothing else, that they belong on the same field with Michigan, which is good for Michigan in the long run. The Spartans absolutely deserved to make the MCLA Tournament field. Which brings me to...
At the conclusion of all the conference tournaments yesterday, the MCLA selection committee hammered out the field for the tournament to determine the national champion. I unfortunately didn't manage to get one last bracketology post up before the real bracket came out, but them's the ropes. Your field:
- Michigan (CCLA Champ)
- Colorado State (RMLC Champ)
- Arizona State (SLC Champ)
- Chapman (SLC)
- Minnesota-Duluth (UMLL Champ)
- Oregon (PNCLL Champ)
- Florida State (SELC)
- Brigham Young (RMLC)
- MIchigan State (CCLA)
- Simon Fraser (PNCLL)
- Colorado (RMLC)
- Florida (SELC Champ)
- Illinois (RMLC Champ)
- Cal Poly (WCLL Champ)
- Boston College (PCLL Champ)
- Texas State (LSA Champ)
Michigan is the #1 overall seed for the third consecutive year. They'll face off against #16-seed Texas State in the first round on Tuesday, May 11th in Denver, CO. Should they be fortunate enough to win that game, a second-round matchup against BYU or Michigan State (two of the Wolverines' biggest rivals) awaits. If they get through that game, which is no guarantee given the hard-fought nature of the wins over Michigan State this year, the semi-final and final games will be televised(!) on Fox College Sports.
I'll have a thorough preview of the Texas State Bobcats in the days leading up to the first-round game. Congratulations to the team on its conference championship, and Go Blue!
This Saturday the #1 ranked Michigan Lacrosse team will take on their instate rival at 7PM at East Grand Rapids High School as part of the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic. Tickets are $6, and gates open at 5:30. Defending Division 2 state champions East Grand Rapids will take on Division 1 reigning champs Birmingham Brother Rice at 1PM as part of the festivities. For more, check out the EGR lacrosse page.
Michigan has an 19-1 record all-time against Michigan State. For the past four seasons, the Wolverines and Spartans have closed the regular season with the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic, with the venue alternating between Grand Rapids and Birmingham each year.
In the 2006 regular season, #1 Michigan defeated #22 Michigan State 14-8 at Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids. The Spartans would get their revenge in the CCLA tournament, however, coming away with an 11-10 win in which they were dominated in every aspect except the final score.
The 2007 season would bring a sweep of Michigan State, with a 14-6 victory at Birmingham Seaholm High School in the regular season and a 10-3 domination in the championship game of the CCLA tournament at Kings High School in Mason, Ohio. In that game, now-senior faceoff specialist David Reinhard won 5-of-6 draws, and Anthony Hrusovsky notched two goals and an assist. [Ed: full preview after the jump.]
[Ed: Spring report coming this afternoon. I have to decrypt some stuff.]
The longest win streak in the history of the MCLA ends at 49. Michigan coming out of the weekend with a 1-1 record on the road wasn't a surprise, but the way they did it certainly was. The undefeated and seemingly-invincible Wolverines were run off the field by reeling Colorado for three quarters before staging a furious comeback that fell just short. They recovered against #2 Colorado State a couple days later and will likely maintain their #1 ranking.
Only able to check the score of this game on the UmichLacrosse Twitter feed, it sounded like the Wolverines were getting run off the field on Friday night in every way. In actuality though, they were the more dominant team in every way except the scoreboard. Michigan had 48 shots to Colorado's 33, nearly doubled them up in groundballs, and cleared the ball at a higher rate. In addition, David Reinhard won nearly 70% of the faceoffs he took.
So what was the difference? Michigan wasn't getting good looks at the cage early in the game, and wasn't forcing Colorado's goalie to work quite as hard as Mark Stone. Only seven Wolverine shots in the first half were on the goal, and though three of them went in, Colorado scored six before the break, while forcing Stone to make five additional saves.
The third and fourth quarters, Michigan had more effective offense, but Colorado's Bradley Macnee came up huge in the cage throughout the third, while his teammates gave CU an insurmountable 11-5 lead going into the fourth. Though a late Wolverine rally would bring the final score within a pair of goals, they were unable to finish the comeback, and lost for the first time in nearly three years.
Nobody knew exactly how Michigan would react after a loss, because it hadn't happened in quite some time. In fact, nobody except the seniors on this team had ever lost a game in maize and blue(!). It's no surprise that a John Paul-led squad would be able to turn that adversity into motivation against a top-notch opponent, as the Wolverines came right back with a comfortable 10-6 win over previously-undefeated #2 Colorado State.
Michigan was able to turn yet another dominant statistical performance into scoring production, breaking a 5-5 three-quarter tie with a dominant 5-1 fourth quarter for the big win. Eight different Wolverines scored, with Trevor Yealy and David Rogers both notching a pair. Stone came back from his shaky start against Colorado to stop 15 shots while only allowing 6.
The Colorado loss seems to have been just what this team needed. They had been sleepwalking a little too much in previous games, and destroying their air of invincibility could re-energize them for a Nationa Championship run. If the CSU game is any indication, that may be exactly the case.
What it all means
[…after the jump. That's how you tease, baby.]
The Michigan Men's Lacrosse team took on a pair of in-state (and in-conference) opponents this weekend, squaring off against Western Michigan Friday night, and Central Michigan on Saturday. As is often the case against weaker opposition, the Wolverines took no prisoners, pounding both teams. I was only able to make it to Friday's game, the that report will be in a little more detail.
In front of a packed house at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, the Wolverines struggled to start the game. Though they finished the first quarter with a 7-3 lead, expectations are a bit higher against lower-tier CCLA squads. Michigan responded with a strong second quarter, outscoring the Broncos 11-1, while taking 11 shots to the Broncos' 3, winning 10 of 12 faceoffs, and holding Western to 3/7 on clears.
Freshman goalie Conor McGee took over for Mark Stone after the break, but the second half was no different, as Michigan continued to dominate, putting up 11 goals, while holding Western Michigan to just one - the first score of the half. The half was not as high-scoring as the first two quarters, as Michigan was content to keep the Broncos from scoring, and dominate possession of the ball - as well as try a number of behind-the-back passes and shots.
As should be the case with such a dominant performance, there were a number of statistical firsts and season-highs. Freshmen Sean Sutton and Joe Hrusovsky each recorded their first career goals in Michigan uniforms, while their classmate Thomas Paras collected career-highs in points (11) and goals (6). Senior attack Josh Ein set a career high in points with eight, as did midfielder Jamie Goldeberg, with with five.
Also the Wolverines did the old man-up-hidden-ball trick to score. Twice.
On Saturday night, the Wolverines made for their slow Friday opening frame by blitzing Central Michigan with seven goals in the first seven minutes, fueling a 19-1 blowout over the Chippewas. Junior goaltender Andrew Fowler got the start in net (more on the goalies later), yielding to McGee for the fourth quarter.
Trevor Yealy (pictured at right) notched one assist to go along with seven goals, giving him an even 200 scores for his career after the weekend. Joey Hrusovsky scored for the second consecutive game, and his big bro Anthony tied his career high with three assists.
The Wolverines dominated statistically, winning 22 of 24 faceoffs (including a perfect 8-for-8 by Edward Ernst), taking more than four times as many shots as Central, collecting a 62 to 29 advantage in Ground Balls, and riding the Chips to a dismal 8-20 success rate on clears.
It's always nice to see the team dominate a pair of lesser opponents, not only because that's what a squad of this caliber should do, but also because it gives young guys a chance to step up and show their stuff. With Michael Bartomioli and Clark McIntyre out injured, some youngsters were going to get a chance to prove themselves either way, but improving the depth by giving bench players some experience is always a positive.
While talking about young guys, I'd better point out that Thomas Paras looks like he's going to be a special player. just a freshman, he is a huge threat to score at any time, and he's significantly more likely than other attackmen to rack up big assist numbers as well. When Michigan returns to full strength, the number of offensive options will be astounding.
As for the goalies, I'm still a little confused as to what to rotation is. Andrew Fowler seemed like the better goaltender last year until he suffered a foot injury midway through the season (though he would come back healthy by the end of the year). That confidence was shared by the coaches, as he went wire-to-wire in the National Championship game, despite a poor first half. This year, Mark Stone is the clear #1, and I'm not sure if it's because Fowler regressed, Stone improved, or some combination of the two.
Next weekend, the Wolverines hit the road (as they've been doing a ton this year, with only four home games out of a 13-game schedule) to take on Colorado and Colorado State. Colorado is pretty bad this year, but a win over the Wolverines could spark a run to salvage their season. With #2 Chapman falling to Oregon, Colorado State will likely be the #2 team in the country going into this weekend, for a huge #1 v. #2 matchup in Fort Collins.
I'll preview both teams in more depth in a diary later this week.
The Michigan lacrosse team finally hits the field for the 2010 season on Saturday, as they head to Tucson, Arizona to take on the Arizona Wildcats in the first game of their 3-game road trip over spring break. They'll also take on Arizona State in Tempe and BYU in Provo.
The Wolverines compete in the MCLA, the country's top organization for club teams. They are the two-time defending National Champions, and look to extend their 40-game winning streak into the new campaign. Michigan hasn't lost since May 16, 2007 - more than 1,000 days.
Key Losses: Riley Kearns, Wes McGowan
Key Returners: Kevin Zorovich, Trevor Yealy, Clark McIntyre, Josh Ein
Newcomers: Zach Dauch, Thomas Paras
Trevor Yealy is the star of the Michigan attack, racking up outstanding goal totals each of the past two years. Last year, he led the MCLA with 4.5 goals per game, including a program-record 11 against Minnesota-Duluth, on his way to All-American and team offensive MVP honors. He's just a junior, so his best days may even be ahead of him. Kevin Zorovich, Michigan's second-leading scorer from last year and a 3rd-Team All-American, missed the pre-season with an injury, but is expected to be back in the lineup by regular season play. He was last year's team MVP. Freshman Thomas Paras only participated in the East-West scrimmage and the final pre-season game, but he impressed in each, totaling five total preseason goals.
Key Losses: Aaron Hodari, Peter Vasher
Key Returners: Jamison Goldberg, Matt Asperheim (LSM), Anthony Hrusovsky, Michael Bartomioli, David Rogers, Svet Tintchev
Newcomers: Max Greenspan (LSM), Matt Joseph, Matthew Levy (RS), Brian Greiner (RPI transfer), Willie Steenland, Sean Sutton, Joey Hrusovsky, Brian O'Callaghan (LSM), Harrison Silver, Lee Boshes (LSM), Nick Asher
Though the Wolverines bring in a huge class of midfielders, the majority of their production from the middies returns from last year. Perhaps the most important three are Michigan's senior captains, Michael Bartomioli, David Rogers, and Svet Tintchev. Long Stick Midfielder Matt Asperheim collected 42 ground balls last year. A bunch of newcomers will join the team as well, including Anthony Hrusovsky's younger brother Joey.
Key Losses: Zach Elyachar, James Payer, Jim Petoskey
Key Returners: Zach Mueller, Jordan Bargas, Harry Freid, Bob Diehl, Justin Burgin
Newcomers: Theo Lederfine Paskal, Matt Rizzo, JD Johnson, Pat Grogan, Forest Cox
Zach Elyachar was a 2nd-Team All-American and the squad's defensive MVP, so he will be a big loss, along with Jim Petoskey. However, the Wolverines have younger players ready to step up. Harry Freid was a 1st-Team All-American last year, and Bob Diehl was named last year's most improved player (all the while notching the team's highest Grade Point Average). Theo Lederfine Paskal and JD Johnson are just freshmen, but got some good minutes in the preseason.
Key Losses: None
Key Returners: Andrew Fowler, Mark Stone
Newcomers: Conor McGee, Cy Abdelnour
Andrew Fowler and Mark Stone split time in the net last year, with Fowler having the slight edge as the #1 guy (he played the entire National Championship game, despite a rough first half). Fowler missed a few games last year with a foot injury, but bother guys have been healthy through the preseason. Conor McGee and Cy Abdelnour bolster an already-strong unit.
Key Losses: None
Key Returners: David Reinhard, Edward Ernst
Senior David Reinhard was one of the best faceoff men in the MCLA last year, and was named a 1st-Team All-American specialist. He won 68.4% of his draws. Unsurprisingly, he also collected the most ground balls on the team, amassing 180 GBs. His backup, sophomore Edward Ernst, won over 60% of his faceoffs last year as well.
Schedule breakdown after the jump.