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RMLC D-I Tournament Preview

The Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference postseason starts today! The tourney will feature three top-10 teams: No. 5 Colorado, No. 6 Colorado State, and No. 7 BYU and will showcase some of the best postseason match-ups in the country. Let’s look at how the teams match-up against each other:
Colorado State Logo      BYU Lacrosse
#2 Colorado State v. #3 Brigham Young 4:00 pm
The CSU Rams caught BYU on the back end of a Colorado road trip after the Cougars had played a tough game against CU, the Rams winning 10-6. Despite that score, these teams are very evenly-matched and this game could go either way — when looking at common opponents, both beat Arizona State by a goal, both played CU relatively close, both blew out Utah, and Utah State, and both barely beat Utah Valley.
At the center X: CSU’s Ryan Chamberlain is winning an astounding 72% of draws on the year, while BYU’s Jack Vassau is no slouch, winning 68% himself. However, when the teams last met, BYU D-pole Spencer Simpson faced off versus Chamberlain with the latter winning 65% of the time.
In cage: BYU’s Matt Brandenburg is saving 62% on the season, but only was able to stop 52% against CSU great shooters the last time these squads met. The Rams’ David Salamie is saving 58% percent on the year, but had a phenomenal 70% against the Cougars in the regular season.
On offense: CSU brings a balanced offense between middies and attackmen, but the man who did the most damage for the Rams against BYU the first time around was attackman Blake Warner who had three goals on the contest. The bad news for the Cougs is that shutting down just Warner won’t do the trick. BYU’s offense looked sluggish and unpolished the last time these two played, but they did have scores from five players, led by Jayden Haws who had two on the day.
Defense: The Cougars have given up roughly 9 goals per contest this year, which isn’t great and isn’t bad. The defense brought back a lot of talent from last year and has underachieved at times, but has the potential to really frustrate any offense. The Rams defense gives up 7 goals a game and has been their strength all season long, and they stymied BYU’s offense for much of the regular season contest.
Intangibles: The Rams probably own the mental edge in this one since they won the regular-season match-up. CSU also was on an eight-game win streak against pretty stiff competition before falling short in their season-finale against in-state rival CU. BYU, on the other hand, hasn’t played like BYU since losing to Grand Canyon back on March 25. The Cougars have struggled to put four quarters together and only really looked back to their early-season form when they played rival Utah.
Colorado Logo  UVU Logo
#1 Colorado v. #4 Utah Valley 7:00 pm
The CU Buffaloes dismantled the Wolverines when these two met during the regular season, winning 19-7 on UVU’s home field. Colorado has been one of the steadiest and most successful programs this season while UVU has had a rollercoaster year. One intriguing detail about this match-up is that UVU started their season with a bang, knocking off defending champ Grand Canyon, while CU lost to that same Grand Canyon squad to start their season.
At the center X: The Buff’s have had limited success at the draw this season — FOS Michael Simboski winning just 52% on the season. UVU’s Casey James has done a bit better for the Wolverines, winning 61% of the time. When these two met, UVU’s James was true to his season average, winning 60% on the day.
In cage: UVU’s Shawn Rowley has been very good at times throughout the season, and has saved an average of 55% of shots on cage this year. However, Rowley had a tough day the last time he faced CU’s powerful offense, saving just 39%. Colorado’s Jensen Makarov has done the majority of the work between the pipes this season and has saved 60% of shots on goal. Against UVU in the regular season he was extremely good, saving 75% on the game.
On offense: CU’s offense is one of the best in the nation because they have so many threats. There are five Buffs averaging over two points per contest, and against UVU last time, CU middie Hunter Molnar was the heavy hitter with 3 goals and 3 assists. Most of the Wolverine’s offense comes from the attack position where you can find all three of their leading scorers. Justin Haws was a bright spot for UVU the last time the two teams played, scoring 3.
Defense: The Wolverines are giving up a pretty standard 9 goals per contest, but their worst game on defense was against this same Buffs squad, who put up an astounding 19 on the Green & Gold. Colorado is actually giving up more goals per game than UVU, at 10, but they managed to hold the Wolverines to just 7 when they last met. Look for this game to be a high-scoring affair
Intangibles: Colorado has been the best-run and single most successful program in the MCLA’s D-I over the past four seasons. They’ve been to the championship game the last three years and have set themselves up nicely to make it four trips in a row. The Buffaloes did have a late-season stumble this year against a red hot Arizona State team, however, which could be a reason for concern. UVU has shown they have a very high ceiling this season, defeating defending champs GCU, and playing many other ranked teams including two close losses to top-10 CSU and BYU. The Wolverines were able to go into the postseason on a win against rival Utah State, which could give them a little momentum to get off the ground running, but they’ll need to play their best for four straight quarters if they want a chance against the defending conference champs.

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