Friday, March 25, 2011

California Controversy and Weekend Preview Part 2

First I want to discuss some controversy that occurred in California today. Cal Lutheran and Trinity (CT) were originally scheduled to play their match this past weekend in Santa Cruz. Inclement weather postponed the match and Cal Lu never made the trip up to Nor Cal. Trinity began their trip there and since they were scheduled to be in the northern part of the state for a few days, they decided to stick around and play Cruz Monday night with their other matches being canceled or postponed. Trinity then made their way south and rescheduled the Cal Lu match for Thursday. I believe most teams typically stay in Claremont, which is about 1.5 to 2 hours away from Thousand Oaks, where CLU is located. Thursday morning, apparently Trinity’s staff called CLU and said they weren’t coming because of inclement weather. They didn’t want to make the long trip and end up not playing. I heard about this at 10am PST and checked the weather. It was 60 with a 30% chance of rain until 6pm PST and a 40% chance after that. The match was scheduled at 2pm. Granted, I’ve only heard CLU’s side of the story, but this seems a bit odd to me. You travel across the country to play important matches and now you don’t want to go play? What are you going to do instead during that day? At least make the trip there and see if the weather holds out, which it did. There was no rain. I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything, but it’s clear what this looks like and that’s Trinity protecting their weak team this year. What’s done is done and the match isn’t being rescheduled.

There are 10 matches this weekend, but I don’t expect many to be competitive. A few that I’ll just mention are Hopkins-Kalamazoo, Trinity (CT)-PP and NC Wesleyan-Washington & Lee. These all have heavy favorites and I don’t expect much of a match from any of them.

That being said, there are 7 matches which have the potential to be semi-competitive. Amherst begins the New England part of their season with a good test against MIT, who I believe is undefeated in D3 play. The Engineers have talent, but obviously Amherst will be too much. I think this will be a good gauge for MIT to see where they stand against the best in the country. Amherst should win easily, but I expect some close matches. In Virginia, we have a regional rivalry between 2 teams who are struggling at the moment, Washington & Lee and Christopher Newport. W&L won’t get beaten up by NCW until Sunday, and this match occurs Saturday. W&L took out top conference rival Hampden-Sydney recently, so they have a handle on their conference, but they just aren’t very good right now. A shorthanded CNU recently lost to Swarthmore so they are desperately in need of some confidence if they want to have any shot at NCW in the USA South. Newport really should be ranked, but they probably won’t be if they lose this. They’ve got some good players but can’t put it all together, and W&L is a similar story.

Cal Lutheran has double NESCAC duty on Sunday as they take on Williams in the morning and Middlebury in the afternoon. CLU just doesn’t have enough depth to hang with teams this good, but they will be good tests for the Kingsmen’s top players. I expect fairly routine 6-3 or 7-2 in both of these. I’m anxious to see Midd play against a solid team and this is a perfect warm-up for the Panthers. CLU should be pleased getting 6 points total between these 2 matches, they just don’t have the talent at the moment to match up with the NESCAC powerhouses. These are both top 10 teams and I think CLU has cemented themselves in that 18-22 range.

That leaves the 3 matches I’m most looking forward to. First, Trinity (CT) continues their spring break and takes on Redlands. Due to cancellations, the only ranked D3 team the Bantams have played is Cruz and they got crushed. The strange thing is Redlands had a nearly identical match result with Cruz. I like Redlands in this, but I don’t want to count out Trinity too early. I’d say the loser of this is most likely out of the picture for NCAAs as they probably move back to 9th and possibly 10th in Pool C. I think Redlands will play strong doubles and have too much depth in a much needed win. Next is Chicago at Emory in a match of arguably the 2 most hated teams in the country. One thing I guarantee is that Chicago isn’t scared of anyone, so playing an undefeated team on the road won’t intimidate them. Chicago has talent, but Emory has more, which should result in a comfortable 6-3 win for the Eagles. I definitely think the Maroons can hang, but they are a few days late because Hopkins was the team that gave Emory their wake up call. The Eagles will be prepared for Chicago and I expect Pottish and Goodwin to dominate after shaky performances on Wednesday. This is Emory’s last D3 match until the UAA tournament.

I think the biggest match of the weekend is William at Redlands. These are 2 teams that are in Pool C and could really use a win. I’ve said before that Redlands needs to beat someone above them, and with the way Pomona-Pitzer is playing, this may be their best chance. I think the Bulldogs match up well and they beat Williams 2 years ago in a close 5-4. This is also a match Williams doesn’t want to lose because then they will have to claw their way back into the NCAA tournament picture. I think Redlands needs this more than Williams, and when these 2 get together you know it’s going to be a good one.