No. 5 Chapman (13-3) at No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (11-1) – Saturday, 1 p.m. PT
COYNE: While Arizona State may eventually have something to say about it, this is likely a preview of the SLC championship game coming up on May 6. In addition, both these teams are looking pretty good for a top five seed in Greenville at this point. So what will separate these two teams on Saturday?
The most obvious is the locale, and playing in The Pit will undoubtedly give the Gauchos a bit of an advantage. UCSB’s talented midfield unit is another feather in its cap, but all of the rest of the check marks are with the Panthers. Madison Fiore and Andrew Clayton are a battle-hardened attack duo while Mat Walrath leads the stingy Chapman defense from his LSM position. Faceoffs and goaltending lean toward Chaptown, as well.
It’ll be close because this is a decent rivalry, but Chapman escapes Isla Vista unscathed, 10-8.
SCHOOLER: The selfish side of me wants the Gauchos to lose this game so I have one more home game to watch, but the Gaucho side of me cannot do that. I think I have picked against UCSB once in the last three years, and I will never hear the end of it. So it is no surprise that I am going with the home team.
UCSB finally decided to play hard against a weaker opponent last weekend when it stomped San Diego State, 19-4. But Chapman also roughed up a quality Loyola Marymount team. So both teams are looking strong heading into what has turned into one of the best SLC rivalry games.
Chapman might as well leave the four bus loads of fans at home because this is going to be a Gaucho clinic. UCSB takes down Chaptown, 11-8.
No. 10 California (9-2) at No. 15 Sonoma State (7-2) – Saturday, 1 p.m. PT
COYNE: I think it’s unlikely that the WCLL will be able to get a second bid to nationals unless one of the challengers upsets Cal Poly in the conference tournament. The schedules, while decent, don’t have enough weight to go head-to-head with some of the other at-large contenders out there. With that said, if there was going to be a second challenger out of the WCLL, it will be the winner of this game.
Both of these teams are enigmatic for me. They don’t have any superstars; just a bunch of grinders who chew up the middleweights, but can’t quite contend with the big dogs. The Seawolves don’t have much of a home field advantage – they are currently 0-2 in Rohnert Park – and the Bears have a game-changing FOGO in rookie Evan Price. Possessions will be crucial, and Cal will have the extra ones it needs to take down ‘Nomas. Da Bears, 11-10.
SCHOOLER: This would normally be a no-brainer for me. Why would I ever pick against my beloved Cal Bears? Here is why: they have not played against a quality opponent since they narrowly lost to Cal Poly back in February.
Sonoma has played pretty well as of late. They knocked off a quality (even though the polls say otherwise) Texas team on the road. They also beat up a solid Stanford team. But every squad they beat drops in the polls. Could the voters be wrong? Maybe the Seawolves are good and the teams they beat are not as bad as voters think.
Going with my line of thinking, and the fact that the Bears are playing in Rohnert Park, I am taking ‘Noma, 10-8.
No. 9 Colorado (7-5) at No. 4 Colorado State (10-2) – Saturday, 6 p.m. MT
SCHOOLER: If there is a game that rivals the BYU/CSU game, this is it. Neither side takes this game lightly, and the Rams better not take a break because Colorado has turned their season around.
After upsetting BYU, the Buffs are hot. Coach Galvin has them believing they can win this game and every game left this season.
A part of me wants to pick the Buffs, but I know how Coach Smith approaches games like these. He is similar to Coach Galvin in his mindset. There is no doubt in his mind that they will win. That is the swagger that the Rams approach their business.
Colorado State needs to win by more than two goals to secure the top spot in the RMLC playoffs, and I don’t see them having trouble doing this. Rams win 9-6.
COYNE: Colorado caught BYU looking ahead to CSU and likely snagged a victory that will propel them to Greenville. Nobody can take that away from them. But this is also a team that lost to both Loyola Marymount and Arizona, and mustered just a pair of goals against UCSB.
The Buffs are going to have trouble scoring goals against an amped up Rams squad, and State has the offense to put this one away early. If they meet again in the RMLC playoffs, it might be a little closer, but it’s the Rams in this one, 11-3.