Notebook: Water Really Heating Up
Nov. 2, 2009
By Trevor Freeman
Special to NCAA.com
With postseason play kicking off next week, the action is only getting more intense. This week treated us to regular season championships and a number one team almost becoming a road victim. We will dive into that and more in this week’s column. However, we begin with a special treat as I sat down with one of the true legends in our game. Mike Schofield has coached at Navy for twenty-five seasons and has led the Midshipmen to fourteen NCAA appearances. I sat down with Coach Schofield prior to Navy’s wins over Johns Hopkins and George Washington, which clinched his Midshipmen a share of the CWPA South regular season title. Below is our interview.
Stevie Ray is having a tremendous season for your team. Can you tell us a little bit about what has led to this breakout campaign?
Stevie is one of the hardest workers on the team. He pushes himself every single day. He listens well and tries to do what coaches ask. Stevie is a big, strong kid about 6'5, 215 pounds. He has a lot of tools in the toolbox. He had a lot of adjustments to make along with the typical freshman challenges. He has worked hard to be successful and overcome those challenges.
Kyle Wertz was an All-American last year for your squad. Can you tell us what you think he will bring to the table for the rest of the season?
Kyle is a thrill you or kill you kind of guy. He is very much an asset when he is working hard and doing the right things. Right now, he is in a bit of a sophomore slump and is going through some growing pains. Last season, he came up big down the stretch and hopefully he will do the same this season.
This weekend your team can clinch a tie for the CWPA South regular season crown. What does Navy have to do to get back to that fourth straight Final Four?
At the bare minimum, we need to be top four at Southerns. Even if we win these games this weekend, Princeton wins the tiebreaker over us. That being said, we need to take care of business this weekend. To make the Final Four, this team needs to maximize its potential and be much more efficient in converting opportunities. We have been letting teams stay in games with us because we have not been consistent in cashing in on our opportunities. Luke Baldwin and Kevin Bell have been our two most consistent players this season. Hopefully everyone can follow their lead down the stretch.
Thursday night almost marked the biggest upset of the season as top-ranked USC received a gigantic scare from the ninth-ranked Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara. This contest was a tight affair that wasn’t decided until Shea Buckner put home a rebound opportunity with 1:28 left to give USC a two-goal lead at 6-4. That would be the final as USC escaped with a hard-fought victory over a UCSB team that turned in their best defensive performance of the season. It should be noted how much the Gauchos improved from their previous matchups with USC as they lost the first two times they met this season by a combined twenty-four goals.
Second-ranked California and third-ranked Stanford are hot on USC’s heels and they were both in action over the weekend. The Golden Bears took on seventh-ranked UC-Irvine and used a 5-0 second quarter run to grab an 8-3 halftime lead. From there, Cal kept the Anteaters at armslength the rest of the contest to win 13-10. Brian Dudley scored three times to lead the Golden Bears. Second-ranked Stanford also faced top ten opposition as they took on a UCSB team that was fresh off of their near-miss against USC. Stanford avoided the trouble that USC had with the Gauchos as the Cardinal scored eight goals in the second period to build up a 10-4 halftime lead. From there, the Cardinal cruised to a 13-8 victory. Jacob Smith scored five times in the Stanford win.
Fourth-ranked UCLA won two games against conference foes over the weekend as they defeated fifth-ranked Pepperdine and eighth-ranked Long Beach State. The Pepperdine game was the nip and tuck affair that everyone expected. The game turned in the fourth quarter when UCLA opened with the first two goals to stretch a 6-4 lead to 8-4. From there, UCLA was able to hold off the Waves for a 9-6 win. Josh Samuels, Griffin White and Scott Swanson each scored two goals in the victory. The game against Long Beach State should have been titled “The Chay Lapin Show” as he was tremendous. Lapin blocked twenty-one shots to lead the Bruins to a 9-3 win.
Elsewhere out West, sixth-ranked Loyola Marymount defeated eleventh-ranked UC San Diego 11-6. The key to the game was the power play as the Lions went an impressive four for five on the extra man. Andy Stevens paced the Lions with thirteen saves. Meanwhile, Whittier solidified their grip over the SCIAC with a 10-9 win over Pomona-Pitzer. Rilesh Desai’s four goals and Casey Regehr’s thirteen saves led the way for the Poets.
Wednesday night's Fordham-Iona thriller represented everything that is great about college athletics. Two fierce rivals faced off with a share of the CWPA Northern Division regular season title on the line and it was incredible theater. The Messmore Aquatic Center on Rose Hill was packed to the brim with supporters on both sides fully decked out for the occasion. Iona's supporters made the trip up to Fordham dressed in full Gael regalia or body paint. Fordham countered with an incredible turnout of both students and alums. As good as the atmosphere was, the game was even better. The level of emotion and determination each team displayed made this game a classic. Down 12-9, Fordham came storming back to win 15-14 in overtime. The Rams were bolstered by the scintillating play of two-meter Ali Arat. Arat scored four goals with three of them coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Andrew McKernin also had four goals for the Rams. Joe Przekota and Seth Tasman each scored five goals to lead the Gaels.
Player of the Week
Chay Lapin, UCLA, Sr.: The senior compiled twenty-one saves to lead the Bruins to a 9-3 win over eighth-ranked Long Beach State. Lapin has trained with the United States National team and is considered to be one of the top goalie prospects in the country.
Game to Watch
Fourth-ranked UCLA hosts cross-town rival and top-ranked USC in what promises to be a monster clash. These two teams have met twice this season with each side emerging victorious once. Both games were one-goal thrillers and I would not expect anything different this time around.
Out East, the CWPA Northern and Southern Division tournaments will be contested this weekend. The top four finishers in each will head to the CWPA Eastern Championships. The Northern Division should come down to Brown, Fordham and Iona. Winning this tournament is extremely important as the winner should avoid a first round Easterns matchup with the three favorites in the South who are Navy, Princeton and Bucknell.