A PLAYOFF BERTH ON THE LINE
Make no mistake, this game is for all of the marbles–––or at least a date with No. 4 Liberty University in the first round of the SELC Tournament next weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. Last weekend, SCAD locked up the Southeast Division’s top seed by virtue of a 10-8 win at FGCU. As a result, the winner of Thursday’s game will move on to the conference tournament as the number two seed, and the loser will miss the conference tournament entirely.
For two teams ranked in the top half of the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Coaches Poll, it’s a surprising reality, but a reality nonetheless. It does not come without precedent, either. Last season, SCAD missed the SELC Tournament, but earned a No. 7 seed to the national tournament.
Thursday’s game in Fort Myers will be played in the FGCU Soccer Complex, getting underway at 7:00pm. Game entry is free. Sailfish fans can get acquainted with Florida Gulf Coast’s athletic campus here: http://www.fgcuathletics.com/
Both teams enter Thursday’s game in the midst of their best seasons in program history.
Palm Beach Atlantic is ranked No. 7 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Coaches Poll, while Florida Gulf Coast is ranked No. 12. The LaxPower computer ratings have FGCU at No. 6 and PBA at No. 9, while the Massey Ratings have FGCU at No. 8 and PBA at No. 11.
A CHANCE FOR RETRIBUTION
In 2012, Florida Gulf Coast toppled PBA 13-9, and grabbed the #1 seed to the SELC Tournament. The Eagles’ win in Sailfish territory was not forgotten and Palm Beach Atlantic will look to return the favor this season. It won’t be easy though. Known for having an active crowd, the Eagles have lost at home only once this season (last week, against SCAD).
PBA leads the all-time series, 3-1, winning all three games from 2009 to 2011.
THE MCLA’S BEST
Sailfish attackman Dominic Scalzo was named the Nike Player of the Month for Division II this week. Scalzo enters Thursday’s game among the very best in the nation, averaging 6.9 points per game.
Last season, FGCU senior Cason Heckle blasted the Sailfish with four goals and two assists. He is one of many scorers from last season’s FGCU team who are no longer with the Eagles or have seen new roles in 2013. This season, a barrage of new faces have carried Florida Gulf Coast, including junior transfer Danny Meyer and his freshman brother, Kevin Meyer. Junior Vinny Valentine has exploded onto the scene in 2013 with 28 points, good enough for second in Eagles scoring.
Also of note, sophomore Tyler Morrone has supplanted junior Mark Bell for the starting goalie position. He has a 66.7% save percentage in 2013.
FOLLOW THE FISH