So far this year, we’ve learned a lot about some teams on the East Coast. For others, we’re not quite sure where they stand. Without much out-of-region play for the East, it’s hard to see how they stack up against the league as a whole. Although I won’t talk much about the upcoming second half of the season, I believe that each of these teams will come out with something to prove and some incentive to travel.
To clarify, the notable game is just my personal opinion of the most meaningful game that each team had this semester. It’s not impacted in any way by how any team feels about each game, just how I was feeling when I wrote this article. It could’ve been a score that stood out, a close game, or a win over a strong opponent. I’m also willing to admit that I’m biased towards out-of-region games because I think they prepare teams better for the long run as the season goes on. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s continue.
Gonzalez Ranking: 3 (49.696)
Notable Game: 4-2 Win over SVSU
Yes, I could’ve easily chosen the Dukes win over Towson as their notable game, but I think their trip to Michigan speaks volumes about how talented this team is. After their 2-1 start to the season to the hands of Towson, JMU took the month of October off before marching up to Michigan to take down MSU, SVSU, and CMU, while also losing to GVSU. Although I didn’t have a chance to watch any of these games, anytime an out-of-region foe is able to travel into Michigan and go 3-1 it’s impressive. They also finished the semester with a double header against Towson, which the teams split.
Overall, I think this team showed their talent and depth this semester. When they didn’t get caught in the heat of the moment and let the game break down, they’re as talented as anybody (again, I haven’t seen GVSU this year). They have plenty of arms and catching also seems to be a strength. Their only weakness may be communication and organization, but they have enough talent to make up for it in many games. Their trip to Michigan and a win over Towson will set up JMU well to compete down the stretch this upcoming semester.
Gonzalez Ranking: 28 (37.466)
Notable Game: 2-1 Win over UVA
If you were to ask anybody on Maryland how this previous semester went, I don’t think you would get many positive reviews. I can’t imagine a 1-8 record was what they expected, but I think it also shows how competitive the East Coast is. After going 0-3 in both of their first two tournaments, the Terps finally took down UVA to secure their first win of the season. I’m sure this was a great confidence boost going into the break. They weren’t able to travel out of the East this semester, so it’s hard to gauge how they stack up against other competition thus far this year.
From what I’ve seen, this team is extremely well rounded. They throw well, catch well, and communicate well. They’re very competitive and keep themselves in every game, hardly ever getting blown out. I think a trip outside of the East will serve this team well, but only time will tell.
Gonzalez Ranking: 19 (39.791)
Notable Game: 4-3 OT Loss to Kent
This is truly a team that I know nearly nothing about this year. They secured a win over WVU but didn’t have good fortunes against Towson, Ohio, and Kent. When looking at the records, the one thing that stood out to me was the OT loss to Kent. I didn’t watch the game, but it tells me that this team has talent and can compete. They later suffered a 5-1 loss to that same Kent team, but also played a close game with Ohio in the same tournament. Yes, the record is 1-4, which I’m sure nobody on that roster is proud of, but one point swings could’ve made that 3-2.
Sizing up against out-of-region opponents has benefited PSU thus far this year, but we have yet to see how they look against the bulk of the East Coast. A loss to Towson and a win over West Virginia puts them at… well, the something-th best team in the East. But, they have a leg up over UVA, UMD, and VCU so far, so we’ll see what happens when these teams finally meet.
Gonzalez Ranking: 2 (51.403)
Notable Game: 4-2 Win over Kent
You can go ahead and boo me for not citing either of Towson’s wins over East Coast rival JMU, but I already warned you about my bias. Towson started this season scorching hot, taking down UVA, JMU, UMD, Penn State, Ohio, BGSU, and Kent in route to a 16-0 record. Many of these games weren’t even close, as Towson dismantled their opponents. I think the Kent game shows a lot about this team and their ability to travel and compete in a neutral zone. Eventually, this winning streak came to an end at the hands of JMU during their double-header. They played (and won) a ton of games, knocked off a ton of good opponents, and probably shocked a ton of people.
The top-end talent of this team is insane. They may not be the deepest of teams, but their top 12 is dominant. Don’t take this as a dig to the rest of their roster, because I’ve seen them show out as well, but props are deserved by the top end. They combine strong arms with creative throwing styles (you have to see it to understand) to consistently throw off opponents. I think the only thing holding back this team is the ability (or lack thereof) to travel. From what I hear, they want to travel, but face a lot of travel restrictions to do so. Here’s to hoping the spring semester will provide them the opportunity to play some new teams.
Gonzalez Ranking: 21 (39.203)
Notable Game: 3-2 OT Loss to VCU
No comment. Too much bias.
Just kidding, but in all seriousness, I hate writing about my own team. I think a lot of the same things that were said about Maryland could be applied to UVA. This team wasn’t able to escape the East Coast this semester, and was a victim of the stiff competition. Instead of sounding like a broken record and repeating myself, I’ll hit on another issue. A problem for this team was tournament attendance. Although they made it to each of the tournaments that they committed to, the roster was thin. In all reality, conflicting schedules has been this team’s worst enemy so far this year. Traveling with 12 isn’t ideal and 11 even less than ideal. Virginia traveled with 12 or 11 to two of their three tournaments this year and the results of this showed with a 2-7 record.
The one game that stood out to me this semester was the overtime loss to VCU. To me, this showed that the gap between these two teams is narrowing. Is the gap still there? Until UVA takes down VCU, absolutely. But, I think UVA is making the right steps to closing the gap. In terms of talent, UVA has plenty of it. Full strength, this is a team that has a deep, athletic roster that does a lot of things extremely well. Travelling with subs and getting away from their good friends at JMU, VCU, UMD, and Towson will be beneficial to this team moving forward.
Gonzalez Ranking: 10 (44.944)
Notable Game: 4-2 Win over UVA
Compared to the Hunter Ford Era, VCU really didn’t travel all that much this semester. They didn’t make it out of the East, but they did prove themselves to be a solid #3 in their region. Oddly enough, they were only able to play three different opponents this semester, and against each of those opponents, they got the same result. Two wins over both UVA and UMD, and two losses to Towson. Again, getting out of the East will really allow this team to show their potential and establish themselves as one of the better teams in the country.
I think this team’s biggest strength is their organization. Everybody knows their role, they go into each game with a plan, and they always seem to stick to that plan. It’s hard to catch this team off guard or out of position, which will pay off for them in a lot of close games. Although we didn’t get to see this team square off against anybody from outside the East, they showed the talent and discipline to take down the top dogs of other regions (not named GVSU).
Gonzalez Ranking: 33 (36.792)
Notable Game: 4-3 OT Win over CSU
Last, but not least, is another team that I unfortunately know nearly nothing about. However, I know that their year so far has been a success. This team notched their first three wins as a program this season by knocking off BW, Marietta, and an OT come-from-behind victory over CSU. A first win is big for any team and getting revenge over a slightly more established CSU team that also blew them out earlier in the semester is huge. Although they didn’t have the same good fortunes against BGSU, OU, or Penn State, the three victories were a great start to the year.
I did have the chance to play against West Virginia last year but I can only imagine that they’ve grown and developed a lot since I’ve last seen them. They have a good core and I’m sure they’ve been boosted by their recruiting class this year. Hopefully they’ll be able to make it to a few East Coast events this upcoming semester, as I’m curious to see how they’ll stack up. Overall, great semester for the West Virginia team as it seems that they’re quickly on the rise.