7 min read

A New #1, But Who?

A wild weekend has opened up the top spots in both division. Who should get it?

Now THAT was a good weekend of MCLA lacrosse. We saw the top team in both divisions go down. On top of that, all the obvious contenders on the DI side to fill the top spot also stumbled. So let’s dive in. Who should be #1? Here are the arguments for and against each of the candidates.

New Hampshire

The Case For

I’ll be up front before we even start, the Wildcats would get my vote. I said on twitter I felt like their win over Georgia Tech might have been the most impressive win of the season. Let me explain why.

New Hampshire had their first game of the two game road trip on Saturday afternoon against South Carolina. A back and forth game that ended up with UNH in firm control ended at ~4:30 in the afternoon. Georgia Tech had a full day of rest after slaughtering the Gamecocks on Friday night. Face-off was at 11:00AM today, and if you factor in stupid daylight savings it was more like a 10:00AM face-off. Give or take a few minutes, New Hampshire was back on the field for warmups something like 17 hours after the game against USC ended.

This probably contributed to their slow start, as the Jackets jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first half (also don’t discount the fact that GT is very good). Despite all of that, the Cats came back and took the win against a Georgia Tech team who has been putting up some huge wins over top 10 teams.

I had a chance to watch this game, and I was pretty impressed with the talent on the field for New Hampshire. There were anecdotes of wow plays, like a perfectly executed bounce pass from a pole to d-mid in traffic on a clear or the goal off a successful ride that included 4 passes that covered ~50 yards in a few seconds that ended up in a doorstep finish to end the third quarter. The game winning goal was scored on a set that would make any DI coach fist pump at nobody in particular.

The Wildcats sport two Top 5 wins, something nobody else in the league can say right now. If Buffalo pops into the rankings this week they will have played all their games vs Top 25 competition and won them all.

I think former UNH Coach Ben Clark summed it up nicely on twitter.

The Case Against

The only case I think you could make is that “you haven’t seen enough”. The only way you can make this argument is if you care more about volume than quality, which seems silly. They did have a close game against Buffalo to start the season, but that may say more about the quality of Buffalo than anything about the Wildcats.

With Boston College and Liberty coming up later this month, if the Cats do take the top spot they will get a chance to validate it soon.


The Case For

The undefeated Flames came into the season with high expectations, and so far they’ve lived up to them. The Flames are 6-0, winning their games by an average of 8.7 goals. They have two ranked wins over #15 Michigan State and #19 Clemson, the Clemson win convincingly by 6 goals. If you felt like Liberty was a title contender coming in to the year, nothing they have done so far would make you think otherwise.

The Case Against

Liberty is missing a marquee win. The win over Michigan State has lost some of it’s luster now that the Spartans have started the season 1-3. The Spartans have had a tough start, but nobody has beat them by more than 3 goals (South Carolina). Liberty’s 2 goal win doesn’t seem that out of line with how the Spartans played USC and FSU. That doesn’t make the win that much better right now.

The Liberty/West Virginia score also raised an eyebrow or two after the Flames ended the game up by 5. Here is how a few other teams stacked up against WVU.

Florida State +15
Auburn +9
Texas +5
Tennessee +13

Margin certainly doesn’t tell the whole story, but it might be worth waiting a few weeks to make a clear statement on how good Liberty is. They have games against Florida State, Florida, South Carolina and New Hampshire before the end of March. If they come out of that unscathed give them every #1 vote you can find.

Cal Poly

The Case For

Cal Poly has a lock down at-large resume built up no matter how the WCLL tournament shakes out. With wins over current #2, #9, #11, #17 and #18, the Mustangs will be in Salt Lake. The win this weekend over California propelled them back into the conversation for the top team.

Nobody has more Top 25 wins than Poly right now and their only loss is to #5 Chapman by 1 goal on the road.

The win against Cal was very solid. The Golden Bears had lost once in their last 25 contests (against South Carolina in the National Championship game last year). The last time Cal lost a regular season game was 2 years ago against UCSB. This was a big win, and for that Cal Poly deserves some serious thought as #1.

The Case Against

Yeah, but they’ve lost. It’s not the strongest argument, but it is one. If you didn’t have New Hampshire with two Top 5 wins and no losses, I think this would be a shoo-in to put the Mustangs at 1. As is, I think they will split votes. If you are a voter who values volume of Top 25 wins, Poly is your team. Nobody has more. If you value not losing, Poly should be your #2.

In my humble opinion, it’s really between those 3 teams this week. Georgia Tech is so close to having a strangle hold on the top spot because of how they have beaten Top 10 teams, but the losses to Utah Valley and UNH stop that conversation before it begins. Tough to think Cal or Chapman could vault Poly. Colorado doesn’t have nearly enough on their resume to be in the conversation for the top spot.

We’ll find out Wednesday. It won’t really matter at the end of the day, but since polls are kind of our schtick, it’s fun to talk about.

Quick Hits

🥍 The DII debate for #1 isn’t nearly as much fun. It should be Kennesaw.

🥍 Colorado won both their games this weekend handily, but they gave up a surprising number of goals in both games. There is no question that when you have a high-paced offense it leads to more opportunities to give up goals, but giving up 10 goals a game seems high. Especially for their competition so far. On the plus side, they are averaging 19.6 GPG on the offensive side. That will win a lot of games, but keep your eye on their defense.

🥍 North Dakota State challenged themselves this weekend by playing one of the hardest road trips in the MCLA, Colorado and Colorado State. They jumped out to a surprising 4-1 lead over Colorado in the first quarter before the Buffs put up 8 in the second quarter to take a lead they would never relinquish. They were down by 1 headed into the 4th quarter against Colorado State before ceding 4 in the final frame to lose by 3. My take away is that it speaks to the depth of DI teams vs DII. Either way, the Bison acquitted themselves honorably.

🥍 Clemson’s win over Virginia Tech was huge for their at-large chances. It was pretty much a must win for them. The Tigers don’t have a lot of margin for error right now. The Concordia loss hurts much more than anyone thought it would at the time. Dominican is a must win and a win over FSU would do wonders for the Tigers. Regardless of all of that, Clemson had the best pre-game graphic of the week. The 1960’s graphic in the background is awesome.

🥍 Speaking of Virginia Tech, they could really use a win or two this week in Florida. The Hokies have yet to put a ranked win on the board this year. Florida feels important. Florida State would be a statement win if they can pull it off.

🥍 BYU’s strength of schedule took a huge hit from where it looked like it would be at the start of the season. The Cougars are in the midst of a 6 game swing against unranked teams. At the end of the last year it looked like at least 3 of the teams would be ranked. ASU looked like it could be a Top 10 matchup. It didn’t seem like a stretch that GCU and Washington would both be ranked. To have none of them ranked is surprising. Projecting ahead, Oregon isn’t really a lock to stay in the Top 25. They have played 2 top 25 teams and didn’t necessarily impress. The margin of a few of their unranked wins has been a little surprising as well. The only teams left on their schedule that look like a lock to be ranked at the end of the year are Colorado and UVU (that Georgia Tech win was huge).

BYU has needed to make statements with their margin in these unranked games. They definitely did that this weekend in Boise with wins by 12, 14, and 14. It’s tough to see a way the Cougars miss the tournament right now barring an unexpected loss, but to get a competitive seeding they are going to need to beat Colorado at least once.

🥍 Every team should be asking for more accountability and transparency from poll voters/the league.

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