Good morning lacrosse fans. Thank you for taking time out of your day for the Utah Lax Report. Don’t forget to forward to a friend, it’s the best way for the newsletter to grow.
Interview with Vessel Kitchen Founder Nick Gradinger
If you’ve been reading the newsletter, you’ll recognize the name Vessel Kitchen. It’s because they sponsor this newsletter, podcast, coaches poll, etc. Vessel Kitchen is owned an operated by lacrosse-loving people and families and on the podcast today, I spoke with Nick Gradinger who started it all. Nick played at Torrey Pines, Deerfield, Cornell and Denver before eventually ending up in Park City.
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Co-founder Nick Gradinger and executive chef Roe'e Levy on top of the newest Vessel Kitchen location in Salt Lake City's popular 9th and 9th neighborhood on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
While you’re out and about at games, stop by Vessel Kitchen. Vessel Kitchen has locations in Midvale, Sandy, 9th + 9th and Kimball Junction.
Week 5 Coaches Polls
No. 1 Corner Canyon - The Chargers are coming off Spring Break and will host Skyridge on Thursday.
No. 2 Farmington - The Phoenix handled Northridge on Wednesday, 16-4, and edge Wasatch, 12-10, on Friday in one of the better games I’ve been to this year. I have to hand it to the Wasps, they came to play and their crowd gets loud.
No. 3 Olympus - The Titans cruised to a 17-3 victory over Box Elder on Friday. One of the marquee matchups this week has the Titans heading to Provo to take on No. 10 Timpview on Wednesday. Olympus also faces Alta on Friday.
No. 4 Mountain Ridge - Mountain Ridge heads to Mountain View on Tuesday.
No. 5 Park City - The Miners beat No. 8 Davis, 21-8, on Tuesday and will host Payson on Wednesday. Spanish Fork will host the Miners on Friday.
No. 6 American Fork - On Tuesday, American Fork will travel to Skyridge followed by a home game against Westlake on Thursday. The following week, AF has Corner Canyon at home and Lone Peak on the road.
No. 7 Green Canyon - I suspect the Wolves will win out starting with a game against Sky View on Wednesday and Bear River on Friday.
No. 8 Davis - The loss to Park City on Tuesday led to a 19-7 win over Syracuse on Thursday. Layton on Tuesday and Highland on Thursday will setup region play for the rest of the way for Darts.
No. 9 Juan Diego - The Soaring Eagle took down Wasatch on Wednesday, 11-9, and Herriman on Friday, 17-3. Juan Diego will finish the rest of its schedule with region play beginning on Tuesday as it hosts Judge.
No. 10 Timpview - No. 3 Olympus comes to town on Wednesday then a home game against Orem on Thursday will round out the week for the T-Birds.
Other games I’ll be watching with interest: Brighton @ Bountiful, Weber @ Syracuse, Copper Hills @ Bingham, Bingham @ Riverton, Bonneville @ Farmington and Skyline @ Bingham. If you can’t tell, I’m anxious to see what Bingham is really about. Three wins this week would be impressive.
No. 1 Park City - The Miners will face Payson on Wednesday and Spanish Fork on Friday.
No. 2 Brighton - The Bengals host Copper Hills on Friday.
No. 3 Mountain Ridge - Despite losing to Herriman on Tuesday, 15-13, the Sentinels stayed put in the polls. A home game against Mountain View is the lone game for the Sentinels this week.
No. 4 Skyridge - The Falcons will be tested this week with a game at American Fork on Tuesday and a home game against No. 10 Corner Canyon on Thursday.
No. 5 Olympus - The Titans are newcomers to the poll and made quite the entrance. A 17-14 win over Riverton and a 13-12 win over Waterford put Olympus on the map. Olympus will host Pleasant Grove on Wednesday and Timpview on Friday. Sophomore Eva Thorn (12g, 4a) leads the team.
No. 6 Waterford - The Ravens beat Highland on Tuesday and lost to Olympus on Friday. Back-to-back games this week begin on Wednesday against Juan Diego and Thursday against Cedar Valley.
No. 7 Alta - The Hawks will take on Orem on Tuesday and Timpanogos on Thursday.
No. 8 Davis - The Darts beat Syracuse, 17-6 (Highlights), on Thursday and will take on Layton on Tuesday and East on Friday.
No. 9 Herriman - The Mustangs entered the picture with a 15-13 win over Mountain Ridge on Tuesday. An away game at Riverton on Tuesday and a home game against West on Thursday lies ahead.
No. 10 Corner Canyon - A key region game on Tuesday against Lone Peak and an away game Thursday against Skyridge welcome the Chargers back from Spring Break.
Several region games take place this week as team vie for a better position. Including the games mentioned above, Farmington @ Bountiful, Bear River @ Sky View and Green Canyon @ Ridgeline are games to keep an eye on.
UHSAA RPI Released
One thing (maybe the only thing) that I love about an RPI system like is used in lacrosse is the fact that each year before the first whistle blows, every team, no matter how many players, talent, coaches, etc. has the same statistical probability or chance to win the championship. Now, as the games begin, that quickly diminishes, but in theory, everyone is equal at the beginning of the season. This is why I feel the winner of the Division A bracket is the 2021 State Champion. Division B and C winners are champions of those brackets, not the state. When/if we divide into classifications, that’s another story. At that point we’d have a 6A State Champion, a 5A State Champion and a 4A State Champion.
Another ‘pro’ to the RPI is that no matter the school size, you can compete for the top title. Some see that as a disadvantage (‘We are a small school, we shouldn’t have to compete with the big boys!’), but I’d argue as a competitor, you want to beat the best regardless of school size. That feels like an excuse to me and quite frankly, in lacrosse, it doesn’t hold true. In fact, of the 27 top tier titles that have been awarded in boys lacrosse history, only two current 6A schools have won one: Bingham in 1999 and Corner Canyon in 2015. Now, is an RPI system perfect? No, I don’t think it ever will be.
As the RPI was released on Friday, the messages started pouring in and like anything, those who don’t favor the RPI were the loudest. To be clear, I don’t have a say in how the playoffs are determined, but I am a firm believer that the cream rises to the top, no matter what seed they are in the playoffs.
I had a whole theory written out about why some teams are where they are but I’m not confident in it yet. I’m going to save it until we get a little further down the line before releasing it.
If we look at the ratings from LaxNumbers (Boys | Girls) it certainly feels more in line with traditional thinking. However, the fact is that we’re governed by the UHSAA RPI so here’s what the brackets would like if the season ended today based on the UHSAA RPI. I decided to create them on another site to save space in the newsletter.
Boys Division A
There’s a couple region matchups (CC/LP, Fremont/Davis) and some great on paper matchups. Timpview knocked Farmington out of the 2019 Division B playoffs so that would be a fun rematch. For the history buffs, Park City/Waterford (two original teams) would be a fun one to see. I think the 8/9 seed, Green Canyon v. American Fork game would be excellent.
Girls Division A
I’m going to be honest and say I don’t know as much about these teams but Brighton at the No. 5 seed is interesting. They have been the No. 2 team in the coaches poll every week. Mountain Ridge beat Riverton, 17-8 on Thursday. Waterford is the No. 10 seed and only lost to the No. 2 seed Olympus, 13-12, on Friday.
I took the average ratings of each region and here’s how it shakes out for the boys:
Region 4 - 0.616 - This should be no surprise since four out of six teams are in the top 16 with the lowest team only being at 30.
Region 6 - 0.596 - Five teams span from 3 to 33.
Region 1 - 0.517 - Having three teams in the Top 16 help, however, Layton at 53 and Clearfield at 44 aren’t helping.
Region 5 - 0.498 - Despite having the No. 2 team, the rest of the conference is in the 21-47 range.
Region 11 - 0.487 - Green Canyon leads at 8 but the other five teams are 23-52.
Region 7 - 0.472 - Mountain Ridge at 6 and Timpview at 15 are great, but the other five teams are 35, 37, 43, 43 and 56.
Region 10 - 0.437 - Juan Diego at 5 and Waterford at 10 are keeping this region out of the bottom with Judge at 46, Cedar Valley at 50 and UMA at 58.
Region 8 - 0.422 - This region runs the gamut with Park City at 7 and Payson at 55.
Region 3 - 0.419 - The top team is Riverton at 17 but four teams are in the 40-57 range.
For the girls, these numbers are a little off because some teams have only played (or reported) one or two games and some are only playing region games.
Region 11 - 0.549 - The top team is Ridgeline at 6 with the lowest being Mountain Crest at 38.
Region 4 - 0.541 - Teams range from 8 (Skyridge) and 42 (Westlake).
Region 10 - 0.526 - With only four teams, Waterford leads at 10 while Cedar Valley comes in at 34.
Region 1 - 0.502 - Davis is at 3 but Northridge (44) and Clearfield (52) are keeping this region in the middle of the pack.
Region 6 - 0.478 - Olympus at 2 and Brighton at 5 are helping to offset Highland at 46 and East at 54.
Region 7 - 0.475 - Mountain Ridge (4) and Alta (9) are the leaders of the region with Orem (50) and Mountain View (53) at the back.
Region 3 - 0.465 - West Jordan leads at 12.
Region 5 - 0.461 - Farmington comes in at 7 but the next closest team is 24 (Woods Cross) with Viewmont at 51.
Region 8 - 0.379 - Park City leads the charge at 1, Wasatch comes in at 19 but the rest are 31, 43, 45, 48, 56, 57.
It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how this plays out.
Next, I took the RPI and organized it by classification to see what those could look like if we ever go to that method. This assumes 3A, 2A, 1A schools would be in the 4A class and this only includes the top 16 teams in 6A and 5A and top 8 in 4A.
I won’t go this in depth every week, that was a lot of data!
Utah faces No. 6 Virginia on Saturday at 10:00 am. The game will be on ESPNU.
Westminster beat CSU-Pueblo on Friday, 17-11 (Recap) and Adams State on Sunday, 16-7 (Recap). The Griffins will host UVU on Thursday at 7 pm and head to Colorado College on Sunday.
BYU beat Concordia-Irvine, 11-10, on Saturday and will take on Chapman today. The Cougars will also head to Las Vegas this weekend for a showdown against UNLV on Friday.
UVU lost to Concordia-Irvine, 15-12, on Friday and 11-6 to Chapman on Saturday. The Wolverines will head to Salt Lake City on Thursday to take on Westminster.
Utah State lost to Boise State on Friday, 13-8. The Aggies lone game left on the schedule is on April 24 against UVU.
Westminster had both its games this weekend postponed. The Griffins will take to the road on Sunday to face CSU-Pueblo.
BYU beat Weber State, 21-3, on Saturday.
Utah State will host Utah on Friday and UVU on Saturday.
UVU will take on Utah on Tuesday.
News & Notes
Men’s Summer League TEAM registration is now open. Click here to register a team. Teams can register from today until May 28th and it costs $25.
Individual Player Registration: April 19th - June 16th
Early Bird Registration - $90 (April 19th - May 12th)
Regular Registration - $105 (May 13th - June 2nd)
Late Registration - $120 (June 3rd - June 16th)
Games will begin on June 10th and will be played on Tuesday & Thursday evenings between 6-10pm. All games will be at Albion Middle School in Sandy through June & July. Depending on league size, Albion and the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex may be used in July and August. Playoffs will be at the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex (RAC).
A Girls U17 National Team will be heading to the National Tournament in Baltimore on May 29 & 30. Tryouts will be April 24th from 8-10 am. Tryouts are open to any current 9th-11th grade girls and will cost $30. Click here for more information.
If you don’t follow on Instagram, I shared these gems this week. All pictures courtesy of Peter Stevenson.
2000 Girls Team Utah in Vail
2003 Orem Girls - State Champions
1999 Orem Boys
Peter and Mark Stevenson after the 1995 All-Star game
— Tim Haslam