The 2016 MCLA champs have not had the best start to this spring. Don’t look now, but Chapman has strung together three consecutive wins in advance of a date with the No. 2 team in the country, BYU.
No. 2 BYU at No. 14 Chapman — Sat., March 11, 7 p.m. PT
It’s a battle of jungle cats, as the Cougars pay a visit to Orange, Calif. It’s already the fifth game played in Chapman Stadium this season, but the home field hasn’t exactly paid off for Chapman — two of those were early-season losses. Those games were played without 2016 MCLA Player of the Year Dylan Garner (Portland, Ore.), though, and with Garner back we’ve seen Steve Koressel (Huntington Beach) put up 10 points over the past two games. Can this offensive momentum carry through into the matchup with BYU? It’s not going to be easy with Cougars freshman Mason Moon (Frisco, Texas) in the cage. He has a .690 save percentage to go along with a goals-allowed-average of 5.167. Oh, and he is 5-1 through the first six games of his career. Something has to give on Saturday night.
Sun Devils, Gauchos have hands full with Top 10 teams
No. 10 Arizona State at No. 9 Utah — Fri., March 10, 6 p.m. PT
It’s Utah’s home opener, meaning a lot of eyes will be on this one. The Utes generated immense offseason buzz after hiring a decorated coaching staff to lead its program’s push to NCAA Division I. The hype has paid off through three games, as Utah is unbeaten with two wins over ranked teams. It’s not an easy matchup, though, against an experienced ASU team that just had its biggest offensive outburst of the season with a 20-9 win over Utah Valley on Wednesday night.
Coming into that win over UVU, the Sun Devils’ leader in points was junior midfielder Tommy Carrasco (Novato). He’ll need to perform well to help ASU keep scoring pace with the Utes. In its three games, Utah is averaging 15 goals per game. One area in which Arizona State should have the outright edge is in the face-off department, as Trevor Driscoll (Las Vegas) has outperformed anyone that the Utes have had at the X.
No. 6 Colorado State at No. 15 UC Santa Barbara — Fri., March 10, 7 p.m. PT
Between them, these two teams have played five one- or two-goal games. So it’s safe to say a close one could be expected here. These teams are both led by strong defensive units — for Colorado State, it’s face-off man Ryan Chamberlain (Great Oak) who makes all the difference. He was a second-team All-American in 2016 and could prove pivotal in a matchup that could very well come down to the last possession.
For UCSB, the key to breaking up the Rams’ defense will be senior attackman Casey Mix (Corona Del Mar), who’s leading the team with 17 points in 2017.
Ranked SLC South teams fighting for at-large consideration
No. 17 Arizona at No. 21 San Diego State — Sat., March 11, 1 p.m. PT
Both teams are in desperation mode to climb back into the good graces of pollsters. If the season were to end today, neither team would have much of a shot at sneaking into the tournament as an at-large. Fortunately for both, they have big opportunities to climb up, such as this clash with each other. Midfielder Zach Rogers (Oaks Christian) is leading the LaxCats in points with 11, but SDSU goalie Steven O’Sullivan (Frisco, Texas) is scorching hot after recording 25 saves in last week’s win over Oregon State.
Notable D2 Matchups
No. 22 Fort Lewis at No. 10 Cal State Fullerton — Sat., March 11, 1 p.m. PT
Cal State Long Beach at Cal State San Marcos — Sat., March 11, 2 p.m. PT
There are two big-time games on the Division 2 side for the SLC. The first is a non-conference match-up between the RMLC’s Fort Lewis and the traditional runner-up in the SLC, Fullerton. In the Fort’s two games this season, Ian Bragdon (Grand Rapids, Mich.) already has posted nine points. However, he won’t be the biggest star on the field — that honor belongs to Titans senior midfielder Alex Kowalski (Huntington Beach), who took home a second-team All-America spot last season.
The second game to keep an eye on is CSU Long Beach against San Marcos. Neither team is ranked, but this result will play a pivotal role in determining how the SLC South plays out. The Cougars haven’t been able to recapture the magic of the past two seasons, during which they went a combined 20-9. They’re off to a 1-3 start in 2017, facing a must-win in early March.