Preseason HS Coaches Polls Released & College Recruiting Chaos
Issue 82 - First games of the season are today, college recaps and more!
Good morning lacrosse fans! Thank you for taking time out of your day for the Utah Lax Report. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to shoot me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Armchair Lacrosse Coach: College Recruiting Chaos
College recruiting is a never-ending and sometimes vicious cycle. For College Lacrosse Coaches it quite literally never ends. For many aspiring student-athletes and their guardians, it can often feel that way. Now throw in a global pandemic to flip the world on its head for a couple of years and we are left with a process that is more confusing than ever. And while I am not even close to the first person to label Covid19 as the mother of all accelerants it doesn't make the description any less accurate. It has affected almost all facets of the college lacrosse ecosystem, especially recruiting. Merely a few years back the popularity of the transfer portal was increasing seemingly in step with the growth of the sport and then almost overnight it became a potential place of refuge for the masses. Administrators were faced with a situation that had no good answers, so policy naturally became a free-for-all across collegiate athletics leaving a landscape devoid of uniformity. Every program, regardless of the initials that accompany it, is in a completely unique situation that was most certainly never planned for. We are left with redshirts, 5th years, grad students, reclassified PG’s (and a bunch of other labels that I have never heard of) flooding the zone and for a few programs we are witnessing an embarrassment of talent riches we may never see again. So when do things go back to normal? My guess is no one knows. Dystopian armchair lacrosse recruiting rant… Check.
Things are definitely out of whack and it is very likely that this situation continues to self perpetuate for some time. However, in political marketing circles, they say “don’t let a good crisis go to waste” and that may be the best way to frame it. Chaos can provide the fuel for opportunity and change and I’m not sure if the old normal should return but that is a different article. Again, there are, in most cases, a lot fewer spots available at the top of the food chain dream school right now. This is true. For the top 5% of the recruiting class, this could be a real complication for sure but most of Utah’s lacrosse athletes are in the other 95%, so I will focus my take on this group and the schools that primarily recruit them.
The way I see it, the chaos and friction in the system right now is not only a tremendous opportunity for the lower echelon schools but for recruits and families to take a breath and reevaluate priorities. Plus, the pool of qualified lacrosse student-athletes looking to play in college has never been bigger and this just puts even more potentially open-minded talent in the pool. This is a good thing for the growth of the game and the quality of the game being played up and down the collegiate ranks.
In the boys class of 2020, there were 4,076 recruited student-athletes headed to the 600 teams across NCAA D1, II, III, NAIA, MCLA and JUCO. That is a big number but it’s also less than 7 student-athletes per program. It is definitely a competitive environment BUT if I had a nickel for all the high school kids I saw post their NLI pictures on the ‘gram and then basically retire from the sport I would be a guy with a bunch of nickels. Way too often, signing day is the end game. That’s the day they lift the hardware. All the travel, time and money to reach that point paid off. Not sure if these are the outcomes that we all set out for. I thought the purpose for it all was to get a shot at the experience of competing in college sports while navigating the academic gauntlet. To be forced to the outer limits of your capabilities in both areas. The bonds and friendships forged from this type of intense team environment are the ones you will have 20 years down the road. And you will be shocked to know that it is unlikely anyone will care what level you played at. They will care even less about your social media profile and the all-important victory announcements made at cocktail parties by competing factions of parents.
Look, I’m not saying the recruiting process isn’t important. People leveraging their athletic prowess to get into a school they might not otherwise get into is a tried and true strategy as old as time. BUT that last sentence is also an important reminder that college sports are about COLLEGE, not just athletics. It all works together. All too often young people arrive on campus in the fall just to find out that the fairy tale they built in their head (and social media) was no match for the reality of it all. So here’s the point. A message to all the players, parents and coaches. Find a place that you want to be. Where you fit in. An institution that has your intended course of study. A school that works for your family financially. Hopefully, at this point, there is no confusion about lacrosse and its inability to pay for college. Check those boxes and then find a place that you can play and a program that will help you chase your lacrosse ambitions.
Lastly, please remember regardless of where you went or what degree you have you are still going to be qualified to do absolutely nothing upon graduation. Even the doctors and nurses will need to be trained. This is where your college lacrosse story really pays for itself. Hiring managers at this point in your career can’t, in all seriousness, ask you about your previous employment experience, career triumphs and the unique skill sets you will bring to the role. Internships are important and an excellent way to build your story but excel spreadsheets and coffee orders don’t have teeth. It will be the attitudes, habits and behaviors regarding how you view work that will get you the job ahead of the others (all things being equal). These are the differentiators that were cultivated and nurtured through your student-athlete experience that will be the centerpiece of the story. Hiring managers are looking for coachable, industrious, adaptable, compassionate, humble, resilient, problem solvers that communicate really well, both written and verbal. Humans that they can teach to do the job successfully with limited hand-holding. This is what successful college lacrosse programs are all about. Mixing the academic work with the athletic work to create the magic formula for future success. This kind of opportunity can be found in all four corners of the US, abroad and 20 minutes from your house. Find the right place for you regardless of all the other noise and the likelihood of that formula coming together will be much greater.
For the seniors, don’t forget you will never get another chance to chase the ‘ship with your high school teammates. Stay focused, don’t waste it, college can wait another couple of months.
Have fun out there! - BL
Boys High School
As always, our polls are brought to you by Salty Lacrosse.
No. 1 Corner Canyon - This should be no surprise to anyone at this point. The defending champs are back with virtually the same squad and a few additions. The Chargers host No. 7 Davis this Friday at 7pm.
No. 2 Park City - It’s common with preseason polls to vote the runner-up as the No. 2 team, so again, no surprise here. The Miners head to the road on Friday for a showdown against Bountiful.
No. 3 Olympus - The Titans kick of the season against Westlake on Friday at home.
No. 4 American Fork - American Fork only lost to two teams last year: Timpview and Corner Canyon. However, the Cavemen fell to the Chargers three times, including in the playoffs. Fourth time’s the charm? That game will have to wait until April 19. American Fork hosts Springville on Thursday.
No. 5 Brighton - The Bengals will waste no time starting the season as they host rival No. 8 Alta on Friday.
No. 6 Mountain Ridge - The Sentinels kick off the season on Friday with tournament games against Roy, No. 9 Lone Peak and No. 10 Green Canyon.
No. 7 Davis - The Darts will hope to put Region 1 on the map against Corner Canyon this Friday.
No. 8 Alta - The Hawks will start its season just up the road at rival No. 5 Brighton on Friday.
No. 9 Lone Peak - The Knights will head to Logan on Friday for tournament games against No. 10 Green Canyon, No. 6 Mountain Ridge and Roy. Next up on the schedule? No. 2 Park City on March 15.
No. 10 Green Canyon - The Wolves and head coach Troy Oldham will host a one-day, tournament-style event with Viewmont, Roy, Mountain Ridge, Lone Peak and of course, Green Canyon. The event concludes with a dinner for all players and coaches which is pretty cool!
The first game of the season begins today as Mountain Crest heads to Cedar Valley for a 4pm start. UMA also takes on Clearfield.
The action heats up on Thursday with a couple of notable games including East @ Timpview in the Freedman Cup game and an interesting non-region game between Bingham and Pleasant Grove.
Also on Friday, Juan Diego and Judge face-off in a key region rivalry game. Corner Canyon looks to defend its title as it hosts Region 1 favorite Davis while Brighton takes on Alta to finish off the week.
Saturday features two tournament-style events with Timpanogos, West Jordan, Provo and Clearfield gathering at Provo High School and Logan, Mountain Crest, Bonneville and Springville playing at Mountain Crest High School.
Girls High School
No. 1 Park City - This has none of us in shock. Park City regained its No. 1 position in Utah High School Lacrosse in the Spring of 2021. Samantha Riely is gearing up for her Senior year, coming off of last spring season with 50 Goals. Park City is playing a non-region game against Andover (MA) on Thursday.
No. 2 Brighton - One of the core players on the team is a name we’ve all heard before: Senior Zoe Heffernan who ended 2021 with 47 goals, 11 assists and 73 GBs. Brighton is playing a non-region game against Syracuse on Thursday.
No. 3 Olympus - Key players; Junior Eva Thorn will be taking the reins for Olympus. The Titans will kick off its season against Waterford on March 17.
No. 4 Mountain Ridge - The power of Senior Morgan Mackey will guide this team to numerous victories. She ended 2021 with 44 goals and 15 assists. Mountain Ridge will take on Pleasant Grove on Friday.
No. 5 Skyridge - The strength of Skyridge starts with the Buechner sisters. If you follow girls lacrosse you know these two. Senior River and Junior Haven collectively had 131 goals and 26 assists in 2021. The Falcons will take on No. 10 Davis on Friday.
No. 6 Herriman - Junior Brinley Hammon has stepped up to the plate to fill some large 2021 senior cleats. Brinley ended 2021 with 50 goals and 6 assists. The Mustangs open the season on March 15 against No. 2 Brighton.
No. 7 Corner Canyon - Senior Maura Henry will once again lead the Chargers. Maura had 71 goals, 27 assists last season. Corner Canyon takes on Riverton on Thursday.
No. 8 Lone Peak- Junior Maddie Potvin will strike again this year as she finished last season with 56 goals for the Knights. Lone Peak kicks off the season against Alta on Friday.
No. 9 American Fork - Coming in hot this spring is Senior Rachel Taylor. She finished off her Junior year with 43 goals and 32 caused turnovers. American Fork faces Bear River on Friday.
No. 10 Davis - The center of this varsity team is Defensemen and Senior Ava Bair who had 40 caused turnovers last season for the Darts. Davis will be tested early at No. 5 Skyridge this Friday.
Provo is kicking off this year with their very first spring tournament, the 2022 Bulldog Brawl – a one-day lacrosse tournament at Provo High School. The tournament includes eight total teams, four boys and four girls, each playing three games. The teams will be altering the time to fit all three games for all eight teams. 2022 Bulldog Brawl will be running 12 minute running quarters. The fun and fascinating aspect of this tournament is that three games will count towards one of the season's games.
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Starts at 9:00 AM
Provo High School - 1199 Lakeshore Dr, Provo, UT 84601
Utah traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to take on the No. 8/11 Jacksonville Dolphins on Sunday night. Jacksonville scored the first four goals of the game to take an early 4-0 lead in what looked like the making of a long night for the Utes. Utah attackmen Tyler Bradbury and Jordan Hyde, along with two-way middie Ruben Santana each scored a goal within 31 seconds of each other to narrow the lead to 1. Jacksonville pulled one back before the Florida native, MJ McMahon scored back-to-back goals to tie the game at 5 at the end of the first quarter. Bradbury would add the only goal of the second quarter to make the halftime score, 6-5 for the Utes.
The third quarter was a back and forth affair until the 4:31 mark when attackman Josh Stout inbounded the ball off a tough ride and a quick restart and took it all the way to the cage. That goal will begin a 6 goal run, including a short-handed goal to make the score 14-8 midway through the fourth quarter. Two goals for each team sealed the deal as the Utes held on for the 16-10 victory.
Utah will stay in Florida to take in the sights before traveling to Baltimore midweek before taking on UMBC on Friday.
Utah Valley hosted first-year program Southern Utah on Friday and won 29-2. The Wolverines head to California for a three-game swing against Dominican, Santa Clara and Cal Poly. BYU will do the same trip, just in a different order.
The Utah State Aggies, coming off an incredible week, hosted Northern Arizona on Friday and won 7-2. In a key RMLC game on Saturday, the Aggies fell to Montana State, 10-8. Despite having the No. 3 ranking in all of MCLA D-II (subject to change), the Aggies will need some help to make the MCLA tournament as they won’t make the RMLC tournament due to losses against the Utah club team and Montana State. If Utah beats Wyoming in April, Montana State and Utah will get the two slots for the Northwest division of the RMLC.
The Westminster Griffins are in Flordia for a three-game trip against Lynn, No. 17 Rollins College and Emmanuel College.
Upcoming Men’s Schedule
3/7 - Westminster @ Lynn - 5pm MT
3/9 - Westminster @ Rollins College - 6pm MT
3/9 - UVU @ Dominican - 1pm MT
3/10 - BYU @ Cal Poly - 4pm MT
3/10 - Westminster v. Emmanuel College @ Rollins College - 6pm MT
3/10 - BYU @ Santa Clara - 7pm MT
3/11 - BYU @ Dominican - 1pm MT
3/11 - Utah @ UMBC - 5pm MT
3/12 - BYU @ Santa Clara - 1pm MT
3/12 - UVU @ Cal Poly - 1pm MT
Pole Goal of the Week goes to Bryan McIntosh from Hofstra.
Utah and Boulder played an incredibly talented and intense game Saturday. The Utes keep us all up to date on their Instagram. The game went 2-2 after the first quarter, 4-3 at halftime, 6-7 after the third quarter and Utah taking home the win, 10-8.
The Utah State Aggies invited Colorado to Logan on Friday where Colorado took home the 18-9 win.
Westminster took on RMLC rival Fort Lewis on Friday but were unable to stop the Skyhawks, falling 17-10. The Griffins then hosted Adams State and won, 23-0.
BYU invited the University of Colorado to their home turf. With no doubt, the Cougars fought hard and won 14-11.
Utah Valley hosted four universities (Weber State, Wyoming, Denver and Colorado Mines) at their home field in Orem. The Wolverines had a very successful weekend, going 4-0. Leaving Utah Valley with 91 goals for Utah Valley and 6 goals against. Weber State battled against the same schools and went 1-3 over the tournament.
March 19 10:00 (NERF, Utah State) Weber State
March 12 3:00pm (North Field, BYU) Utah Valley
March 19 TBD (West Field, BYU) Utah
March 10 5:00pm (Kansas City, MO) Rockhurst University
That’s it for this week, stay safe out there and see you on the sidelines!
— Tim Haslam (Intro/Mens/Boys), Kenzie Christiansen (Womens/Girls) & Brad Lavoie (Armchair Lacrosse Coach)