(Photo: Texas Lacrosse)
Taxes, death, and Texas winning the LSA. For the fourth consecutive year, the Longhorns took the conference crown, but this year could be different. Lots of changes will hit this roster in 2015, so in order for the streak to continue, a lot of players are going to need to step up in their new roles. This is part of an ongoing series during which we will focus on one of the MCLA’s top teams each day, counting down till Christmas to the true “cream of the crop.”
Postseason finish: MCLA Tournament First Round
Quick season recap: Another year, another Lone Star Alliance title for the Texas Longhorns. Four straight years and running that the LSA has sent Texas as its lone representative in the MCLA Tournament. Also four straight years that Texas was sent packing with a first round loss. The highlights of 2014 for Texas were sporadic, but the team started 6-0 in the first month of play before running into the gauntlet of Colorado and Colorado State, both games that the Longhorns dropped (but they did hold CSU to a one-goal defensive chess match, 4-3). Tough road wins at ranked Oregon and Simon Fraser were an impressive way to end the season, and then of course the LSA Tournament run (capped off by a 9-8 victory over Texas State in the championship) that led the team into the tournament. Although the Longhorns played Michigan State to a good game, the Spartans staved them off and ended Texas’s 2014 season.
Roster losses: Overall, this team is losing more talent than any of the MCLA’s “cream of the crop” teams. Whenever you graduate your top-five points leaders (a combined 238 total points), it’s going to be a transition year. Elliot Chang-Tung and Cody Crews both broke the 60-point threshold in 2014; no returning player broke 25. In front of the net, All-American goalie Jordan Lee is graduating, taking his stellar .656 save percentage with him. And defensively, two of only three rostered defensemen (both of whom were captains and All-Conference selections) are graduating as well, leaving behind only one returning defensive long pole.
Who to watch for: Mac Maguire, junior attackman
As only a sophomore last year, Maguire was an effective piece in this offense with 15 goals and nine assists. This year he’ll be asked to shoulder a lot of the load, though, with so many graduating players gone from this offense. He sports a small 5-foot-7, 155-pound frame, but as he showed early last season, he’s capable of going off. Maguire had the best game of his career against Houston last season, when he had four goals and two assists. Aside from that, he struggled to make a lasting impact in many games, but expect his experience from last year’s tournament run to give him a shot at breaking out in 2015.
They’re dangerous if they’re able to reload enough to overpower the Bobcats of Texas State. The primary goal on the Longhorns’ mind has to be winning the LSA, but if they’re able to do that and grab the conference’s automatic-qualifier, who knows what could happen in the tournament. However, this is all a hypothetical based on whether or not this team can restock. Should that one criteria be met, it’s a conference that’s very winnable. It’s easier said than done, though, with holes all across the lineup after last year’s strong senior class departed.
Achilles’ heel: A brand new roster. No matter what talent was waiting in the wings from last year, there’s a ton of question marks on this roster that need to be addressed. Of all of these, it’s the new goaltender that will be user the most pressure. Jordan Lee was the best goalie in the LSA last season, and replacing him won’t be easy. Not only will his replacement be under the stress of having to fill his predecessor’s shoes, but there will likely be a defense in front of him that will allow a lot of shots in a schedule that pits Texas against some heavy-duty offenses.
Trey Lanthier is a lacrosse reporter and editor at WCSN, as well as a contributor for Inside Lacrosse. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter, @TreyLanthier.