The Great River Lacrosse Conference covers an area not known for its lacrosse history. The conference is situated right in the middle of the country and includes teams like Missouri Baptist, Missouri St., and Walsh University- St. Louis. With only one qualifying team coming from the GRLC the last few years it is imperative that if you are in the GRLC you need to win the conference to get to Greenville.
The returning GRLC champs are the Walsh University- St. Louis Bears. The bears went last season 10-2 in the regular season, and only lost to Kennesaw St. and Grove City. Although the Bears had a fairly easy schedule they showed up in the post season and beat both Creighton and Missouri Baptist. The Bears will lose their top scorer from last in Dan Fleisher (44 g, 72 pts, 4.8 ppg). They will return two young guns in Jeremy Frinding (20 g, 50 pts, 4.5 ppg) and Jack Barrow (40 g, 48 pts, 3.42 ppg). The bears will also bring back Josh Weinstein (6.8 GAA, 64.9%), who was their starting goalie from a year ago. The Bears will need to strengthen their schedule if they want to win the GRLC championship this season.
The Missouri St. Bears went 5-7 in the regular season, which is a disappointment compared to the back to back national tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010. The Bears will retain their top two offensive threats from last season in Chris Callaham (20 g, 32 pts, 2.46 ppg) and Joey Sabba (12g, 30 pts, 2.14 ppg). The Bears will lose a lot of the leadership they had last season because they will graduate all four of their Senior captains. The Bears will also return a strong defensive core and their starting goalie Fred Neyhard (10.57 GAA, 40.1%).
Although the Bears had no quality wins last season, they did play well against the three top teams from the UMLL (UST, SJU, & NDSU) and also Kennesaw St. The bears will need to pick up play on both ends of the field if they want a chance of returning to their former glory.
The Spartans from Missouri Baptist went 7-6 during last season’s campaign. The Spartans were an extremely Senior dominated team last year, and will lose seven of their top scorers because of it. The real high point looking at returning players is that the Spartans will bring back Ian Brosch (156-2119 FO%, 11 g, 16 pts, 1.07 ppg). Brosch led the team at the face- off x and was really the only one on the team that had any consistency there. The Spartans will also lose starting goalie Blake Barnett. He will most likely be replace by Ben Bowler who, the few games that he saw action, played solid last season. The schedule for the Spartans last season showed an expectation of making it to the National Tournament. When you look at their schedule you would have the old adage ‘ to be one of the big dogs, you gotta play the big dogs.’
The Spartans played six different teams that were in some sort of National Tournament talk. They also played the defending National Champs, Davenport, and the eventual National Champs St. Thomas. Both games the Spartans played well but would lose in the end. The Spartans will need to continue to keep the level of competition up and also they will need to getting their youngsters to step up and deliver if they want to get back to National Tournament.
My pick to win the GRLC championship 2013 is for Walsh- St. Louis to repeat. I see a good team with an extremely good goalie that still has a lot to prove to rest of the MCLA. My only qualm with the Bears is that they need to up the level of competition that they play since most of the GRLC is not a national power nor is it like the CCLA where each sub conference has two ranked teams in it, so I see Walsh needing to get a better out of conference schedule before they are really considered to be the downright GRLC champs.