Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Josh DuVall returns for his SELC Tournament recap and thoughts on the weekend. Enjoy!
(I wanted to do daily updates from Atlanta, but I never had access to my laptop and internet at the same moment I had the time to sit down and type. So here in one glorious post is all that the weekend held.)
SELC Tournament Day 1
Hypothetical: Say you were coaching a team and a time traveler from the future appeared and told you that at your next game only 14 of your players would show and the opposing team would score 17 on you. Do you even bother to go to the game? Do you go if the game is a 4 hour trip away?[stu alias="fivestar1"][/stu]
I’m glad I decided to show up in Atlanta even though that’s exactly what happened. That’s right, only 14 guys on my roster showed up for our first round playoff game, we gave up 17 goals, and I’m perfectly happy with that. Ok, maybe not perfectly happy with the 14 guys showing up, but I’m trying to keep this thing positive.
No matter how bad the above criteria sounds, our opponent, Davidson, had it worse. They showed up with just 10 players, some of whom I’m not sure would typically see the field, including a goalie I’m certain normally plays a different position. Oh, and they were 30 minutes late to the game so the officials didn’t allow them to have any warm up, and awarded us the ball to start the game.
That’s when the magic started. Awful, ugly, flat out terrible magic.
Rocking the flip flops because our faceoff specialist slipped 3 times in the opening minutes wearing cleats; once he had my sneakers on he was good to go the rest of the game.
In what can only be described as “the most embarrassingly terrible, yet hilariously fun game ever” my 49ers came out with a 28-17 victory. At one point when we were nearing 20 goals I thought about sportsmanship and running up the score and all the things you see about that particular issue; but then I realized that our midfielders were so gassed that every time we tried to slow down instead of attacking the cage, Davidson came the other way and scored a goal… so yeah, we kept going.
Let’s stop and reflect on something for a moment… high scoring lacrosse games get into the teens and suddenly people say that it was a “football score.” Well ours ACTUALLY WAS a football score. We hit 4 touchdowns, they had 2 and settled for a field goal. The one thing I haven’t managed to get over is the sheer length of the game. With 48 faceoffs (and a 2 minute period where I’m pretty sure the clock wasn’t running while the game was in action) the game took nearly 3 hours to play.
On top of the game clock error, the scoreboard operator failed to tally our final goal on the board.
I want to give a special shout out to Davidson freshman Nolan Canter, 2011 SELC rookie of the year. If not for him I feel certain Davidson would have been a no show. The kid clearly loves lacrosse and pulled together enough guys to play at the last minute. The kid also started the game playing close defense despite being the most prolific point scorer in the conference this season, because that’s where he was needed. Spent a decent amount of time talking to him and I’m more impressed with him after this game than I was after he shot the lights out against us to open our season.
SELC Tournament Day 2
We got a 15th player for our second round game against Elon. However, he’s without a car in NC and we had some trouble securing him a ride down to Atlanta, so it was halftime of the game before he arrived courtesy of a former player.
We hung tight with Elon for maybe 10 minutes of the game, notching the first goal and trailing just 4-1 at the end of the first. But with such limited numbers for the second game in a row, our team didn’t stand a chance of keeping up with a much deeper and much better rested Elon squad. To make matters worse, one of our primary midfielders suffered a concussion in the second quarter and was unable to return to the game. In his place our LSM began running double duty, simply stepping into the box to switch sticks rather than subbing off to catch his breath. We never asked him to do it; he just stepped up because he knew someone had to pick up the slack. It’s this sort of little thing that reminds me why I spend so many hours on what essentially is an unpaid full-time job; these kids can be amazing from time to time. Heart doesn’t win games unfortunately and Elon had the numbers and talent, which led to a 25-4 loss for the Niners.
The defeat meant the end of our season, and that means having to say goodbye to our two seniors, Collin Miller and Nate Schlimme. Both played well during the two tournament games and earned All-Conference honors. Schlimme had an especially big weekend, scoring 10 goals and 6 assists to end his career with 165 points in 38 games (Note: Those stats are missing 4 playoff games from 2008 and 2009 where I can’t find stats because that predates the MCLA’s current site.)
SELC Tournament Day 3
Sunday saw the SCAD Bees face off against the Elon Phoenix for the Conference Championship. My two assistant coaches and our team president stayed in Atlanta to join my fiancé and me in watching the game, and it gave us a chance to decompress and set our sights on next season. Our club president has some great ideas on how to operate the club more efficiently and my assistants have some pretty interesting thoughts on how to reorganize both our practices and game day strategies.
Most of all, it was nice to be in the stands watching other coaches have the stress on them. The game was fantastic; super close the whole way with a halftime score of SCAD 5 Elon 4. With about a minute left SCAD took a 2 goal lead at 8-6 and began celebrating; big mistake. Elon scored off the next face because SCAD didn’t have enough players on the field. After the next face was won by SCAD, they turned it over immediately because they had an extra man on the field. Elon wasn’t able to capitalize and SCAD got the ball, ran out the clock and won 8-7. However if the referees had been paying attention the Phoenix might have gotten another chance; when the extra man came off for SCAD, an over-eager teammate subbed on for him without the SCAD coaches or the officials noticing.
This is actually from 2008 when we watched Elon play Emory for the title, but the scene was very similar and I actually have photos of watching the title game from 2008 unlike this year, so get off my back.
The Day After
We’re already hard at work on 2012, but I’m taking a little time here to reflect on this past season. It was a season that was filled with organizational challenges; our club leadership quit the first week of the spring, our budget was vastly diminished, and we lost almost all our veteran players. Those three things can individually crush a club lacrosse team, and we survived all 3 at once. Overcoming the obstacles they faced this season was much more difficult than anything a team with a 40 man roster and a fat budget face on the way to a title; I know because I’ve now coached both types of teams. This was my 6th season at the helm of this program, a tenure that includes a team in 2007 that came minutes away from winning the SELC Championship, but I’ve never been more proud of a team than I am of this one. I’m sure my assistant coaches would agree and they both played for me on that 2007 team.