Sportsmanship, Region Updates, MCLA Brackets Revealed
Issue 90 - WCLA Tournament starts this week. RMAC Men's Tournament to be hosted by Westminster.
Good morning lacrosse fans. It’s May which means we’ll be crowning champions at all levels!
I recorded a podcast this week with Adam Ghitelman. There is tons of insight, so please give it a listen. We chatted about all the different things he is involved in, which is a lot!
Brad Lavoie asked for a week off from writing the Armchair Lacrosse Coach segment so I thought I’d take a moment to talk about sportsmanship. I was at a game this week and saw an admin actually asking fans to be quiet, not because they were yelling too loud, but because they were yelling inappropriate things. I spoke to this admin after the game and thanked him for actually doing that and he told me an interesting thing which boys coaches have now been emailed about. He said that in the UHSAA Executive Committee meeting that day, boys lacrosse had been brought up and if sportsmanship on and off the field didn’t improve, there was a chance that it would get put on probation.
What does probation mean for an entire sport? It would mean fewer games next year. Now, I know some of you reading this are probably thinking fewer games is a good thing, but being put on probation is a bad thing. I spoke with Jon Oglesby at the UHSAA who said that lacrosse, both boys and girls, has been a great addition but noted that with any merger, there are challenges and bureaucracies, etc.
The reality is that we have a different audience than we once had. More people are paying attention and what they are seeing is a sport with players fighting, fans going over the top while cheering (usually in the form of threats towards officials) and coaches behaving like amateurs. “Well I don’t get paid much to do this,” is not an excuse to behave poorly. If you’re complaining about the pay, then you’ve chosen the wrong sport and are coaching for the wrong reasons. I have seen way more conduct and ‘after the play’ penalties this year than any other year I’ve been doing this since 2011. Some of this is because we have seen a big uptick in participation which is a great thing!
Now, this isn’t just a lacrosse issue apparently. Just this weekend, Utah Youth Soccer implemented a Zero Tolerance Policy in regard to behaviors toward officials. The first sentence reads, “As you are aware we have a severe shortage of referees, due in large part to the abuse they are subjected to by coaches, players and sidelines.” The penalty for poor behavior: the referees assigned to the games will be told that Team X is not allowed to have ANY spectators within 100 yards of the field, or the game will be forfeited by the team.”
We fought for sanctioning so that lacrosse could be part of the school and ‘play in the football stadium’. It’s going to be really awkward playing in an empty stadium… but that’s where we are headed if the behavior doesn’t improve.
From the officials point of view, it’s a lose-lose. If they are too strict or actually judge the rules as written, they are ‘too strict’ and don’t ‘let them play’. If they aren’t strict or inconsistent, there are safety concerns. I spoke with Joe Cronin, head lacrosse official, and he said that the #1 comment by coaches is ‘you need to make sure our players are safe.’ Cronin said, “That comment is odd to me in the fact that they want players safe on their team and then when one of their players creates an unsafe situation that the officials are not being fair.” Also, isn’t it ironic that assistant coaches are yelling/talking at the refs about rules when in fact they are breaking rules by yelling/talking to the refs?
The reality is that we are losing officials each year and the future could look like a fanless, 1 ref, 12 game schedule.
Boys High School
As always, our polls are brought to you by Salty Lacrosse.
No. 1 Corner Canyon - The Chargers dismantled Westlake, 20-6, and No. 6 Lone Peak, 22-5. Corner Canyon finishes its regular season this week against Skyridge on Tuesday and No. 6 American Fork on Friday.
No. 2 Olympus - Due to a rescheduled game with Mountain Ridge, the Titans played three games in five days, winning all three. On Tuesday, Bingham was the first to try and defeat the Titans but walked away with an 18-1 loss. On Friday, region foe East gave the Titans all they could handle but Olympus edged out the Leopards, 13-8 which was the closest game Oly has had all year. The Titans then followed it up with a 15-4 drubbing of Mountain Ridge which was 11-3 at halftime. Up next for Olympus is a showdown with No. 4 Park City on Wednesday. Dane Stewart and I will be streaming the game live on KSLsports.com at 7:00 p.m. The winner of this game will likely take home the Region 6 title. Olympus finishes the week against Brighton on Friday.
No. 3 American Fork - The Cavemen have scored 15 goals in their last four games. American Fork took down Pleasant Gove on Tuesday, 15-7, then beat Skyridge twice, 15-2 and 15-3 on Thursday and Saturday. American Fork takes on Westlake on Tuesday the closes out the season against No. 1 Corner Canyon on Friday night.
No. 4 Park City - The Miners beat Highland, 22-1, on Wednesday and Brighton, 13-5, on Friday. Park City heads to No. 2 Olympus on Wednesday for a great showdown against two top teams. We’ll be streaming the game (see link above). The Miners will host Skyline on Friday.
No. 5 Davis - The Darts took down region foes Layton and Clearfield this week by a combined score of 45-1. Davis will look to do the same this week against Roy and Syracuse. Assuming all goes well, Davis could clinch the Region 1 title this week.
No. 6 Lone Peak - The Knights beat Skyridge, 14-8, on Tuesday then lost to No. 1 Corner Canyon, 22-5, on Thursday. Lone Peak will face Pleasant Grove on Tuesday, Westlake on Thursday and Brighton the following Tuesday.
No. 7 Alta - The Hawks more or less clinched Region 8 on Tuesday with a 20-3 win over Timpview. A 18-1 win over Jordan on Thursday ushers the Hawks into this week where they will face Lehi and Orem with a final game on May 10th against Timpanogos.
No. 8 Mountain Ridge - It’s been some time since I’ve seen a team go for 4 games in one week, but that’s exactly what the Sentinels had drawn up. On Tuesday, the Sentinels took down Copper Hills, 10-7, and then had a West forfeit on Thursday. Mountain Ridge then beat Riveron, 14-5, on Friday then lost to No. 2 Olympus, 15-4, on Saturday. Busy week! Bingham and Herriman await this week with Riverton the following week. The Sentinels could clinch Region 3 with two wins this week.
No. 9 Bountiful - A 17-4 win over Woods Cross on Wednesday followed by a 13-9 win over Northridge on Friday were the highlights for Redhawks fans this week. Bountiful still has 5 games left on its schedule as it starts the return games in Region 5.
No. 10 Fremont - Despite a 14-goal loss to Weber on Friday, the Silverwolves remain in the polls. The offense was riding high for Fremont this week with two big wins before the loss. On Tuesday, Fremont beat Layton, 24-4, then Syracuse on Thursday, 18-5. Fremont has games with Roy (Tuesday), Farmington (Thursday), Clearfield (5/10) and Farmington (5/12).
Other games of note: Clearfield beat Syracuse, 7-6, on Tuesday. I was at the game and was really impressed with how far the Clearfield program has progressed. Coach Dugger and crew have the Falcons in a great spot. Wasatch picked up a key win with an 8-7 win over Maple Mountain on Wednesday. Northridge beat Viewmont, 10-9, on Wednesday with a comeback win after trailing in the first half. Sky View beat Green Canyon, 10-7, on Friday. We streamed the Viewmont @ Bonneville game which ended with a 9-6 final.
It was also announced that Jeff Brzoska has taken the head coaching position at Judge Memorial. Congrats to Jeff! Looking forward to what he can do at Judge.
Here are my super non-scientific estimates of how the regions will shake out.
Region 1: Davis - The only way Davis doesn’t win is if Davis lost the next three games (Roy, Syracuse, Weber). That’s not going to happen lax fans.
Region 3: Mountain Ridge - This is a two-horse race between Mountain Ridge and Bingham. The Sentinels are undefeated in Region 3 and beat Bingham, 13-11, in the first meeting. But that was a month ago and these two teams meet on Tuesday in a big game. If Mountain Ridge loses, they would also have to lose to Riverton or West Jordan in order for Bingham to take the title outright.
Region 4: Corner Canyon - The region is *technically* not clinched, but let’s be honest, it is. The scenario to upend this would be if the Chargers lost to Skyridge and American Fork this week.
Region 5: Bountiful - The Redhawks are 5-0 in region play as they begin the second half of the region schedule. The closest game in-region so far was on Friday in a 13-9 win over Northridge. I don’t see Bountiful taking an ‘L’ in this region.
Region 6: Simply put, this region will be settled on Wednesday when Olympus hosts Park City.
Region 8: Alta - This region belongs to the Hawks who have beat the second-place team, Timpview, twice already.
Region 9: Wasatch - The Wasps were the favorites coming into the season and more or less won the region last week with wins over Maple Mountain and Spanish Fork. There are still four more region games for Wasatch, so it’s not quite set in stone.
North 4A: Sky View - The Bobcats are playing really well and have four region games left. The lone tough game will be Ridgeline who the Bobcats edged in overtime in the first meeting. Should Sky View lose that game, they will still be in first place as they only would have one loss.
South 4A: Juan Diego - The Soaring Eagle should have no problem securing the region title.
Girls High School
The coaches poll has spoken. Not a whole lot of movement besides Olympus shifting down one and Mountain Ridge moving up one. We’re within region games right now and it looks like the coaches have made up their minds on who the Top 10 teams are.
No. 1 Park City did not have a game this week. Based on inputted stats, Senior Samantha Riely is one of their top players with 49 points. Their next competition is Monday with Waterford at Park City.
No. 2 Skyridge defeated American Fork Thursday night with an 11-point goal differential, 18-6. Based on imputed stats, Junior Haven Buechner is one of their top players with 64 points. Next up for Skyridge is playing at No. 7 Corner Canyon Tuesday night. This is the second round with No. 7 Corner Canyon, with the first round ending with a score of 16-6. Stay tuned to see if Skyridge takes home another big win.
No. 3 Brighton had a striking win in their game against Juan Diego. Brighton left the field with a win of 19-6. Based on inputted stats, Senior Zoe Heffernan is one of their top players with 53 points. Next up for Brighton is hosting Highland Wednesday night.
No. 4 Mountain Ridge took down West on Wednesday night with a grand score of 26-0. Based on imputed stats, Senior Paige Runia is one of their top players with 60 points. Next for Mountain Ridge is an away game at Bingham Wednesday. Earlier this year Mountain Ridge beat Bingham 22-4 we’ll see soon if Bingham has stepped up their game against Mountain Ridge.
No. 5 Olympus defeated East 26-0 Friday night. Based on imputed stats, Sophomore Hazel Baker is one of their top players with 30 points. Next for Olympus is an away game at Copper Hills Monday night.
No. 6 Lone Peak stole the game from No. 7 Corner Canyon Friday night with a 1-point lead, 11-10. Based on imputed stats, Junior Maddie Potvin is one of their top players with 57 points. Next for Lone Peak is a home game against Pleasant Grove Tuesday night.
No. 7 Corner Canyon was defeated by No. 6 Lone Peak, 11-10. Based on imputed stats, Senior Simone Parker is one of their top players with 58 points. Next up they hosted No. 2 Skyridge at their home field. We’ll find out Tuesday night if a change of venue also equals a change in point differential.
No. 8 West Jordan defeated Bingham 17-8 on Friday night. Based on imputed stats, Senior Sydnee Brinton is one of their top players with 99 points. Next up is an away game against Riverton. This will be their second go-around with each other. With West Jordan winning 17-15. We’ll see Tuesday night if they have kept their stamina.
No. 9 Bear River defeated Ridgeline once more Saturday, 22-4. Based on imputed stats Junior Jenna LaCroix is one of their top players with 67 points. Next up for Bear River is heading up to Logan to play them in their second round on Wednesday.
No. 10 Davis had a great win Tuesday night over Layton, 17-6. Based on imputed stats Senior Macie Wood is one of their top players with 34 points. Next up is playing Syracuse for the second time with this game being at home.
Brighton vs Juan Diego Brighton had a smashing win over Juan Diego Thursday night. Beating Juan Diego 19-6. “I am so proud of our team this year. I think as a whole, this team has the best stick skills Brighton has ever had. I’m very proud of how they’ve played - but also how they’ve come together as a team. We learned that playing every minute with full energy and full heart is the best way to be successful as a team. and is the most fun,” said Brighton Head Coach Melissa Nash. When asked about how Brighton projects their season to end, Coach Nash answered “We have big plans! No matter what happens, these girls should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished on and off the field. Everyone who knows me, knows I love my Bengals! These girls, this team and this program are something I love being part of!” The MVP of this game was Zoe Heffernan. Zoe is the most graceful player. She makes everything look easy from draw controls to ground balls to perfectly placed shots. Her ball control is incredible. She had some awesome draw controls, ground balls and shots in this game.
Skyridge vs Lone Peak Skyridge had some great competition with Lone Peak! They were only able to pull ahead with 2 extra points, leaving the game 13-11. Skyridge nominated River Buechner as their MVP of this game. River was the lead of the energy when it came to this game. As the team slowed down she picked them back up and kept them going. “Another come from behind win is nice, but we really shot ourselves in the foot in the first half. Lone Peak is a good team, and they came out with a lot of energy and started with a quick lead. We slowly built some momentum leading into halftime and then had a slow grind to barely pull ahead at the very end. Kudos to Lone Peak for coming out on fire and playing well, and kudos to our girls for retaliating when it mattered most to pull out the win. Also, Brooklyn and Allie wanted me to mention they (Skyridge) lost the coin toss,” said Coach Gill
Do we really know as much as we think we do about the Utah girls lacrosse High School rules?
Lacrosse officials know the rules of the game better than most, but hands down no one in Utah knows the rules of girls lacrosse better than Cassie Cottle. I met with Cassie and asked her “what are some rules you would clarify to the Utah Girls lacrosse community if you could?"
“I think it would depend on the skill level of the players. But I would probably start with checking including cross-checks. Then, I would talk about attack fouls vs defensive fouls and what’s the difference.” Let's break this all down for us that don’t know as much as we think we do.
Major Foul: Blocking, Charging, checking to the head (card), stick in the sphere, dangerous contact (Card), dangerous follow-through (card), dangerous play, dangerous propelling (card), dangerous shot, false start, forcing through, goalkeeper fouls, holding, hooking (use the webbed area of the stick to hook the bottom end of the stick (butt checking)), illegal deputy( field players stepping in for the goalie), illegal picks, illegal shot, illegal stick to body contact, playing the ball off an opponent, pushing, reach across the body, rough/dangerous checks, shooting space, slashing (card) and three seconds More can be found on page 56-59 in the 2022 girls lacrosse rule book
Checking: I think most players and coaches understand the basics of checking fouls, but there are a few things that get confused. Checking from behind is not illegal, but reaching across the front of the body for a stick that is on the opposite side of the defender is illegal when she is level with or behind the ball carrier. Checking toward the body in the high school game is always illegal and all checks need to be done in a controlled manner. Empty checks or covers are only illegal if they impede another player from playing the ball.
Cross Checking: In the high school game players are not allowed to make stick-to-body contact. So, using the shaft of the stick to touch, hit or hold a player is illegal. This gets confused with the college rules. In college, players are allowed to touch (not hit, push, or displace) their opponent with their sticks.
Minor Foul: Covering, delay of game (Failure to move 4 meters away, repeated self-start from beyond the playing distance or when a self-start isn’t allowed and any type of behavior which in the official's opinion amounts to delay), Early entry on the draw, empty stick check, illegal re-entry, illegal stick request, illegal substitution, Illegal timeout, Improper equipment, improper use of the stick ( Throwing the stick in any circumstance, or take part in the game if not holding a stick) Playing from out of bonds, resumption of play (Failure to be ready to start the game), squeezing the head of the stick and Warding. More can be found on pages 53-56 in the 2022 Girls Lacrosse Rulebook.
Attack/Defense Foul: Determining whether a foul is an attack foul or a defensive foul can be tricky sometimes. As officials, we are taught to look for who closed the gap. Which player was the one that caused the contact? In girls’ lacrosse, a defensive player's feet don’t have to be planted in order for a charge to be called. But, maybe the defensive player was the one that got there late or maybe she sticks her knee out as the attacker is trying to go around her. The contact can happen so quickly and it takes practice to get really good at deciphering it sometimes. Sometimes the contact isn’t even a foul and is commonly referred to as a meet and greet.
I want to spend a moment and talk about safety, fair games and keeping the fun of the game. Without a doubt, every team in Utah has grown tremendously this season. As we progress on remember to stay clean and classy, while always having fun.
#7 Autumn Engstrom, Midfielder and Senior at Alta High School
Autumn has dedicated 5 years of her life to playing lacrosse. “Autumn is the type of player to give it her all and never stop. She will keep going until she can’t anymore. She’s a leader on the field and off the field (Student body president). As a coach, you like players that take the information you give them and use it, Autumn will add in what you say/suggest the moment you tell her. She’s a coach's dream. She keeps the energy up during games and practices. Autumn is a super-loved person by everyone she meets. She makes everyone feel a part of the team. She is always happy and ready to learn,” said Abigail Breur.
In the NCAA ranks, Utah beat Detroit Mercy on Saturday, 16-9. The Utes finished the ASUN season undefeated and went 9-3 in the regular season. The ASUN conference tournament awaits as the No. 1 seeded Utes will face No. 4 Bellarmine on Thursday at Noon MT on ESPN+. The winner of that game would then face the winner of No. 2 Robert Morris/No. 3 Air Force on Saturday for the conference championship with an AQ bid to the NCAA National Tournament on the line. Should the Utes win, there’s a chance Utah may host a play-in game on Wednesday, May 11 so maybe keep your calendar free. Lots of lacrosse left to be played…
Westminster beat Colorado Mesa, 13-10, on Saturday in a big RMAC rivalry game. Westminster needed to defeat the Mavericks by three goals or more to become the Co-RMAC champs and host the RMAC Tournament, which they did. With Westminster hosting the RMAC Tournament, fans will get to see two games on Friday and the conference championship on Saturday. Stay tuned to the Westminster social channels for game times/locations.
The MCLA National Championship brackets were announced on Sunday. In the Division I ranks, BYU was given the No. 2 seed and will take on No. 15 TCU. Both teams beat Texas A&M in the regular season. BYU beat Concordia-Irvine by 1 goal while TCU lost to Concordia-Irvine by 17(!) goals.
In Division II, two teams from Utah will represent the state. The Utah Club team earned the No. 5 seed and will take on No. 12 North Dakota State. The teams had two common opponents, which isn’t always the best metric to judge teams by, but nevertheless, we’re here: Utah beat Montana State twice by 2 and 7 goals, NDSU only beat them by 1. They also both played Utah State. Utah beat the Aggies by 5 and 1 goal while NDSU lost to the Aggies by 7.
Speaking of the Aggies, Utah State was given the No. 10 seed and will face No. 7 Rhode Island. This is an interesting matchup and I really think the Aggies could pull off the upset. Rhode Island is 9-2 with their two losses coming to MCLA D-I teams. It’s going to be a great game!
The games begin next Monday. I’ll be there on-site to commentate on the streams so be sure to tune in!
Westminster fell to Regis on Thursday, 20-4, and UCCS on Saturday, 21-7, eliminating the Griffins from RMAC playoff consideration.
The WCLA National Tournament begins this week. You can track all the action here.
Wednesday, May 4
10am - Utah v. UCLA
1pm - BYU v. Florida State
UVU has a 1st round bye and will begin play on Thursday, May 5th against the winner of Providence/Oakland.
Should any Utah team make it to the championship, the game would be on Saturday.
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)