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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Michigan(s) Weekend Preview: BYU and Pitt

Big weekend for the Wolverines, as they return home after four consecutive home games. A rival squad visits Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, as well as a conference opponent.


Friday, 7PM, Oosterbaan Fieldhouse
v. Michigan State Saturday 7PM, Ultimate Soccer

Record: 8-0 (1-0 RMLC)
Rankings: 3 (adidas), 4 (Prodigy), 4 (LaxPower), 8 (Computer).
Common Opponents: Loyola Marymount (W, 16-12)
Previous Meeting: 2010 MCLA Tournament (16-11 M win, 8-13 Michigan State loss).


BYU has roared out to an 8-0 start to their 2011 season, with notable wins over Loyola Marymount (16-10), Simon Fraser (16-8), Minnesota Duluth (11-10), and Colorado (11-7). In between, they've treated the Sisters of the Poor like, well, the Sisters of the Poor.

They've played about an equally-difficult schedule to Michigan at this point, though the Wolverines haven't gotten quite as far into the easy portion of their slate. What's lacking from BYU's schedule so far? Away games. Though they won at Loyola Marymount (as did Michigan) and Claremont, they haven't played top-flight competition in a true road game.


The Cougars' roster has been wracked by attrition since last year. Midfielder Elliot Grow (the 2010 squad's leading scorer) and LSM Elliott Grow were 1st-Team All-Americans, and both have graduated, as has 3rd-Team All-american defender Dan Crawforth. Honorable Mention all-American Kent Mann (the team's second-leading scorer last year) is not listed on the Cougars' roster, though I don't know why - possibly an LDS mission.

So who is going to carry the torch for Brigham Young? Junior midfielder Andrew Harding was a 3rd-Team All-American last year, though he hasn't produced much in the scoring column this year. The Cougar offense is led by a trio of junior attackmen and a pair of senior midfielders. Junior attack Ted Ferrin was an Honorable Mention selection last year, and is the team's leading scorer so far this season, averaging 5.75 points/game, evenly split between goals and assists. His fellow attack Corey Gunderson is second on the team in points at just over 3/game, though he's more of a scorer than a distributor, and Drew Shumway is fourth on the squad just over 2ppg. Senior midfielders Tyler Monteath and Dan Cole have 3 and 2 points per game, respectively.

On the other end of the field, junior defenseman Jacob Houghton was 2nd-Team All-conference at midfield last season, but is listed on the current roster as a defenseman. Junior Neil Wallace was Honorable Mention All-Conference at short stick defensive midfield last year. Sophomore LSM Grayson Dahl is near the top of BYU's ground ball stats, along with junior defenseman Tyler Sabey.

In goal, the Cougars graduated a successful goalie in Will Hilton (a 2nd-Team All-Conference player in 2010), and redshirt freshman Wes Goar has gotten the majority of the time between the pipes. Goar is allowing just 4.625 goals per game with a .651 save percentage.

On faceoffs, Dan Cole is BYU's main guy, and he's winning around 65% of his draws so far this year. He was 2nd-Team All-Conference last year, and Michigan might struggle against him.


BYU v. Minnesota-Duluth highlights. BYU v. Colorado Highlights:

BYU vs. CU Lacrosse from megan houghton on Vimeo.


Saturday, 7PM, Oosterbaan Fieldhouse
Record: 2-1 (1-0 CCLA East)
Rankings: NR, 52 (Computer).
Common Opponents: None
Previous Meeting: 2008 Conference Tournament (24-3 M win).


Pitt has competed in just three games against MCLA D-1 competition, but that doesn't mean they haven't played much yet. They also have scrimmage "wins" over D2 Seton Hill, DIII St. Vincent's, and club teams from Youngstown State, Robert Morris, and Grove City (MCLA D2).

So what have they done against MCLA D-1 teams? CCLA East squad Toledo was an 11-1 victim of the Panthers, and Pitt split a pair of road games in Florida. They were crushed by UCF 9-22 and rebounded with a 10-8 win over South Florida.


Pitt didn't have a lot of individual honors last year, and their top two All-Conference selections (2nd-Team Attack Rob Musgrave and 3rd-Team Defender Andrew Stypula) are no longer on the roster - though Stypula is now an assistant coach. Honorable Mention Attack Peter Tumbas now plies his trade as the head coach of Indiana's MCLA squad, leaving Honorable Mention goalie Chris Gorham as the only All-Conference player left on the roster.

So, the junior is playing great, right? Well, he is saving 65% of the shots he faces, but that's only good enough for a GAA of 10 per game. The defense in front of him... it is not so good.

Speaking of that defense, a pair of defensive midfielders, juniors Nick Ruff and Elliott Clakeley, are near the team lead in ground balls (though Ruff takes faceoffs, so his numbers require a grain of salt), and junior defensemen Jordan Kepner and Cameron Mallory are right up there as well.

There's not quite the same mess offensively. Sophomore Attack Tyler Novotny leads the scoring with 4 points per game (with very few assists), and freshman attack Alex Powell and junior midfielder Chad Kinslow each average 2.25 points for game, with junior attack Chris Roy not far behind at 2.

On faceoffs, a number of Panthers have taken draws, with junior Matthew Pham the most frequent participant, and also one of the most successful, winning 66%.With Michigan's faceoff issues, there could be a liability there. On the other hand, the competition for Pham probably hasn't been great, so we'll have to wait and see.


Michigan hasn't faltered yet this year (though they came close against Oregon), and I doubt their return to Oosterbaan Fieldhouse against a big rival is going to be the game that it happens. BYU has put up good-not-great offensive numbers against teams that aren't nearly as good on defense as Michigan, and the road atmosphere isn't going to help. As for Pitt, they are unproven (or rather, they have proven to be not very good), and shouldn't even be competitive against a team of Michigan's caliber. Wolverines beat BYU 15-9 on Friday, and follow it with a 21-6 beatdown of Pitt the following night.

As for Michigan State, I think their program has made huge strides, but is not quite on BYU's level yet. If they can pull the upset, they'll be sitting in a great position to earn an at-large bid to the MCLA Tournament. 13-11 Cougars over Spartans.

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