Editor’s Note: One of my favorite parts of running Virtually Varsity is engaging in discussion with people around the league that view things differently than I do. Surprisingly, not everyone always agrees with me (imagine a shrug emoji here). A lot of these discussions happen on twitter, but just as many happen in my direct messages or email box. One tough aspect of covering the MCLA is that almost everyone who is passionate about it has found a way to be involved with a program one way or another.
Because of that involvement, we end up with the vast majority of people who follow the league closely that aren’t publicly voicing their opinion because they don’t want it to reflect back on “their team”. This includes people who are no longer in an official capacity with a team but still feel associated closely with them.
Knowing that background, we’ve been approached and asked if it’s possible to publish content with names left off. After talking about it with some of the VV brain trust, I’ve decided to do it if it meets the following criteria.
- The content is valuable or interesting
- It’s respectful to teams, players, and administrators of the league
- I know who has written it, and have vetted their intentions to the best of my ability (making sure they aren’t self-serving or otherwise nefarious. Good word. Nefarious.)
Notice that I didn’t include “I agree with the content”. As you read through you might realize that the thought process and conclusions are very different than other polls we have produced in the past, but I believe that giving people another perspective of how other thoughtful voters would rank teams is a great thing.
So with ALL of that said, I’m excited for you to check out the first in the “Clean the Ice – Top 25” series. The series will be written by a member of the MCLA community who is not on the VV staff.
As always if you have thoughts, you know where to find us!
Editor or whatever other made up title he would like
Sometimes we gotta clean the ice. In the old days of the CollegeLAX forums all of us had Zamboni Driver to come in with some fresh takes, drop some hate on the poll, but mostly just give us good sound logic to rankings and inevitably everyone agreed with him. Man was the MCLA version of Warren Buffett. So here we will attempt to fill these shoes, straight impossible but who doesn’t love good challenge. It is our first go around so definitely @ us.
We don’t love preseason polls, but we will use the preseason poll as a barometer for where coaches believed teams to be to start the season (right or wrong).
- 1. Michigan State (2-0)
The former champs are 2-0 with convincing wins over Minnesota and Pittsburgh. They are the only team that gets to stay here until they lose based on 2018 results. Big games loom with Chapman, Arizona, and Concordia. Three games in four days, champs will have their work cut out for them.
- California (5-0)
The Golden Bears are off to their best start in years with convincing wins over Florida State & Cal Poly, along with close but still big wins against Arizona State & Chapman. They are just waiting for the Spartans to get nicked up before they take the #1 spot. The rest of their schedule doesn’t feature much top 25 competition, but the date with the Hokie loom. Is this the Golden Year for the Golden Bears?
- South Carolina (3-0)
The Gryffindor graduated 60% of their top 5 scorers from a year ago. The Griffins (Bailey & Giles) will need to do their best Potter / Weasley combo to keep the Gamecocks in this slot. Close calls with FSU & BC have us wondering if they are the Top 5 team the preseason projected them. Dates with VT, Chapman, UCSB, and BYU in the next two weeks will tell us a lot. Those are all must wins if the Gamecocks want to retain a Top 5 ranking. At this juncture, that group is just 4-8 including the VT 2 goal win over WVU.
- Georgia Tech (5-0)
The Ramblin Wreck flew 3,000 miles to win a crucial game against Chaptown before laying the smackdown on the Aztecs. The defense isn’t quite what it has been in years past but who cares, 4-3 games are boring anyway. Winning 12-11 and sustaining a 4-1 start by the Panthers says a lot about Yellow Jackets resolve. Should any of the three in front falter, GT will be in uncharted territory as #1 in the land.
- Colorado (2-0)
The Red Hot Buffs are just that Red Hot. After being down 1-4 in the first quarter, they went off to win 17-6 before following up to win against Oregon State the next day. With a steady stream of former Top 100 Division I commits, the Buffs look like they are a force to be reckoned with, but more importantly when is the next episode of Club Ball coming out?
- Arizona State (3-1)
In two games this year the Sun Devils have dusted the competition sending the Gauchos and Beavers packing with barely a sniff on cage. The bigger concern is allowing both California & Cal Poly to double digits despite having arguably the best faceoff / goalie combo on the field. As temperatures rise in Tempe, so should the Devils play and that combined with their specialty position talent, this team could be dangerous come May.
- Stanford (5-0)
Never thought I would be dropping the “Defense wins championships” line in the shot clock era, but apparently, the Cardinal doesn’t like allowing or scoring double digits. After a 12-11 barn burner to beat the Gauchos, the Fighting Trees haven’t allowed more than 5. Now they face a proven offense in the Mustangs, can the defense continue? Most of that might ride on the shoulders of #8 Brian Hanley who has lost just 24 faceoffs in two years…….
- Liberty (3-0)
The Flames are a trendy pick for the Top 5. Not much to argue there. Nearly knocked off Chapman last year in the quarters and return all but one player. The win over Clemson is nice, but Flames haven’t really tested themselves yet this year. The loss to UConn last year cost them in seeding, while the win over MSU secured their AL bid. Can they get dubs over both this year? Oregon, South Carolina, and VT all on the schedule presents opportunities. Is this the year the Flames blow things up….figuratively of course.
- Concordia-Irvine (4-0)
Wins over BYU, TCU, and USC are all solid wins. BYU is a perennial contender and USC / TCU are teams to be reckoned with. With the upgrade in the coaching ranks, the Eagles might be on track to do what they did just two years ago in Division II, win it all. The attack combination of Mayo, Woodard, and Leinhart is lethal. Gauntlet is coming to town with Northeastern, Sparty, and the Lopes. Gotta snag 2 out of 3 in that group if you want to be a Top 10 team.
- Virginia Tech (2-0)
Are the Mountaineers for real? For a minute they nearly knocked off the Hokies. Tech pulled it out and then went on to drub NC State 12-3. Shaking off the rust was essential as the Hokies play UConn, South Carolina, Stanford, Cal Poly, and California in the next five games. Hokies could 2-5 or 7-0 at the end of that stretch. Regardless, this ranking is purely based on speculation that VT always finishes in this vicinity. On Monday, we will either applaud ourselves or put our face in our hands.
- Chapman (1-2)
Best #11 team of all-time! Losses to #2 and #4 by a combined 2 goals, it is a close as you are going to get to winning. Good news, they are putting the ball in the back of the net and the Bonham, Stemmler, McGuirk, and Lemus is well, fantastic. Bad news, the defense hasn’t held either team to under 10 in the loses. Life will remain challenging as #1 Sparty comes to town this weekend followed by Northeastern who is itching to prove they belong. Need not worry, Chapman has started slowly before and then are in the Championship game come May.
- Boston College (2-1)
No idea what this team has. The schedule isn’t particularly challenging with only FSU remaining as a proven entity. This team is going to need to take care of business in league play to get into the National tournament. Lots of teams behind them have stronger schedules and are going to start leaping them if they falter at all.
- Cal Poly (1-2)
Hmm…1-2 and in the Top 15? 4 goal loss to California didn’t look great but then the Bears went on to beat everyone else in their path, so maybe that coupled with 1 goal loss to Arizona State and win over GCU indicates this is the right spot for the Mustangs. Cardinal is coming to town on Saturday. Must-win territory to keep this ranking.
- Florida State (2-2)
The Seminoles have been hard to place. Two-goal loss to South Carolina looked like they were a competitor and they followed that up with wins over Georgia & Santa Clara, but then they gave up 18 to Cal in a game that was never close. The passing of legend Coach Harkins give the Seminoles and Coach Darby Brower some added incentive. Coach Harkins was one of the MCLA greats and certainly a great influence on the Seminole program. Boston College comes to town Saturday.
- Texas A&M (7-0)
Biggest highlight so far, Coach Scazzero’s 500th win. Congrats Coach! Fireworks are coming on Friday and Saturday when the Aggies head to Atlanta to play Auburn and Georgia Tech.
- Colorado State (2-0)
The Rams are 2-0 for the first time since, oh, last year. After their 2-0 start, they went 2-10 the rest of the way in 2018. Questions loom if the Rams are in fact “back” but a sound beating of Oregon State and a 2 goal win over Oregon is a solid start. They travel to the desert this weekend to play Arizona State and Grand Canyon. Have to go 1-1 or better on this trip.
- USC (4-2)
The Trojans have a winning record and grabbed a good win over Arizona. Couple that with a close battle with Concordia and they are sitting here. Questionable scheduling has them playing three games in three days finishing with #2 California. Hmm…will they run out of gas?
- Oregon (1-2)
Win over Simon Fraser to open the season was a good start but giving up 27 and scoring just 14 in two games is not an ideal way to head home from Colorado. Nike U still has the freshest gear in the MCLA. Temperature might be too hot for the turf when the Ducks take on the Flames on March 23.
- Simon Fraser (1-1)
The Clan always start slow so a loss to Oregon early wasn’t surprising. The 15 goals dropped against Santa Clara was. After graduating two studs (Kirby / Lunde), they are still finding a way to tickle the twine. They face BYU on Saturday. Loser drops out of the poll winner starts the trek back towards the top.
- Arizona (2-2)
This team grabbed a big win over Santa Clara to open the season, but since dropped a game to USC and Stanford having scored just 24 goals in the last three games and 31 on the season. Offensive woes will have to improve, but in the meantime sophomore tendy, Wyatt Hill has been dynamic in cage. Perhaps he can play offense too?
- Santa Clara (3-3)
The Broncos turned heads to start this season with a road trip victory over Lopes. Good news, Collier is off to a blistering start with 30 points in 6 games. Bad news, the defense has given up 10+ goals in 4 out of 6 games. Can the Broncos buck the sluggish defensive start and put together a string of dubs? Gauchos, Mustangs, and Trojans are all on the docket. 6-3 gets them back in the Top 15 conversation.
- Grand Canyon (1-2)
Lopes have given up 10+ goals in all three games this year. Defensive woes are holding this team back as they have also scored 10+ goals in all three games this year. Next four: Colorado, Colorado State, BYU, Concordia-Irvine. The Lopes decide their own fate. Early season loss to Santa Clara stinging more now.
- UC Santa Barbara (1-4)
Why is a 1-4 team in the Top 25. Great question. Don’t like any of the resumes of the team below them. Maybe a lot of wins, but no proven entities. Just like GCU, slow start hurts, but they decide their own fate beginning with Santa Clara on Saturday.
- Brigham Young (1-2)
No idea where to place these guys. Need to beat Fraser to stay in the Top 25.
Knocking On The Door (aka #25)
West Virginia | Close game with VT bodes well for future.
Clemson | 4-1 start is good.
Dominican | Off to a hot start. Game v. Cardinal determines how hot.
Northeastern | They were good last year…