MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– As we approach the end of October, the men’s lacrosse team at the University of Minnesota will soon be wrapping up their fall ball season. Last weekend, they scrimmaged North Dakota State, while this upcoming weekend they will take on the last of the UMLC DII teams on their fall schedule–University of St. Thomas. However, one of the bigger headlines heading into this weekend is Minnesota’s return to the UMLC.
Highlights From NDSU
Last weekend, the Maroon and Gold scrimmaged the MCLA DII national champions NDSU in front of their largest crowd this fall. Minnesota’s offence appears to be getting more comfortable and chemistry between the players continues to grow with 9 of the goals being assisted. The balanced attack between the attack and midfielders, the offense put up 14 goals with 9 different goal scorers. Ian Obert, Clay Diedrich, Joe Poferl, Garrett Lieb, and Amar Batra each had a pair of goals. Kamal Baker, Sean Mark, Malik Ekpenyong, and Will Lawson rounded out the rest of the scoring with a goal each.
The biggest highlight from last weekend was the debut of Micah Schultz who got his first taste of college lacrosse. The freshman goaltender made 9 saves while allowing 7 goals against as he played the entire 60 minutes. Several other young defenders are also on the rise. Freshman Alex Napgazek showcased is athleticism and ability to handle the ball during Minnesota’s clearing attempts against NDSU’s 10-man ride. Sophomore Jeff Watkins also played very well and received praise from the coaching staff and teammates as he received the team’s MVP belt after the scrimmage.
Scrimmage With the Tommies
Minnesota will be hosting St. Thomas this weekend on campus. The scrimmage is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. at the URW Sports Field Complex. The Tommies have become a familiar foe as this will be the third consecutive fall scrimmage against them. In addition, both teams have played each other in the spring every year since 2012. The Tommies who have been a powerhouse in MCLA DII ended last season with a double-overtime loss to NDSU in the national championship game.
Freshman goaltender Jake Rosenow will be making his maroon and gold debut and is expected to play the full scrimmage.
Minnesota Returns to the UMLC
After spending the last 2 seasons as a member of the Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association (CCLA), Minnesota will now become a member of the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference once again. The former CCLA has merged with the former PCLL to become the Continental Lacrosse Conference (CLC). When Minnesota was last in the UMLC in 2016, it was only them and Iowa State representing the Division I side. Since then, the UMLC has absorbed the former Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference and now consists of 10 teams in Division I, regaining it’s automatic qualifier to the national championship tournament.
Minnesota will compete in the DI West subdivision which consists of Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Meanwhile, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Illinois State, and Oakland make up the DI East subdivision. The 2019 UMLC conference tournament will be hosted on April 26-28 at Crown Point Sportsplex (Crown Point, Ind.).
Indiana has been favored to come out as the top team in the UMLC in the preseason coaches polls released this week. The Hoosiers, who had received 4 first place votes, are the defending UMLC champions. Meanwhile, Minnesota came in second with 6 first place votes. Minnesota’s full spring schedule will be released within the next month.
Read the full MCLA release here: "Minnesota Moves to UMLC"
Caines Named US Lacrosse Youth Coach of the Year
Former Minnesota assistant Aime Caines has been named US Lacrosse Youth Coach of the Year. Caines spent 8 seasons as an assistant coach for Minnesota (2009-2016). The former NLL pro has also spent 6 seasons as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Swarm (2010-2015), 8 seasons as the head coach at East Ridge High School (2009-2016), and 1 season as an assistant for Concordia–St. Paul’s women’s team (2017).
Caines is now a director with True Lacrosse–MN where he coaches their youth regional and state teams. He has also been a long-time leader in spearheading the growth of box lacrosse in the state of Minnesota. Caines’ Stars box lacrosse program with True–MN is one of the top rising development programs in the United States.