(Photo: Dig Baton Rouge)
The Lone Star Alliance is the finest MCLA lacrosse you’ll find in the state of Texas, but as a conference there hasn’t been much national success. Will that trend be reversed in 2015 with a new team in the South division to help beef up the competition? Here’s a look at how the chips might fall in 2015, with an extensive look at the conference as part of our Taking a Look series focusing on each conference in the MCLA.
~WCSN lacrosse editor Trey Lanthier
Looking back at 2014
Last season, the LSA South was full of competition as Texas topped the 2014 conference preseason polls but fell to Texas State during regular season play. Despite the upset, the Longhorns were able to beat the Texas State Bobcats in the LSA tournament and represented the conference in the MCLA playoffs but lost to Michigan State in the first round. Along with the obvious leaders (Texas and Texas State) there is Texas A&M, who sat atop the LSA North with SMU, now joining the south half of the conference to up the competition in 2015.
Looking ahead to 2015 (2014 results in parentheses)
After a 2014 season with no victories in the MCLA tournament, the LSA South is looking to do things a little differently and represent well in the 2015 MCLA Tournament. This season, the LSA South is welcoming the Texas A&M Aggies from the LSA North, after the loss of Rice and UTSA to Division II.
University of Texas (14-5, 4-1 LSA South)
After a MCLA championship bracket appearance and a conference championship win over Texas State, the Longhorns will be put to the test this season as they are lead by new head coach Kyle Loda. He is no stranger to the Longhorns tactics, as he worked alongside former Texas head coach Andy Garrigan at Austin High School. Along with the transition with a new coach, the Longhorns are faced with replacing Second Team All-American goalie Jordan Lee (a career save percentage of .641 with a goals-against average of 6.22). His former back-up Stephen McCreary is entering his senior season in 2015 with 17 games under his belt (15 total saves and 11 goals against). The Longhorns are also looking to replace their leading scorer, midfielder Elliot Chang-Tung (43 goals, 3.47 points per game). Fortunately, the future seems promising with senior attackman Sam Jones (30 goals, 19 assists) and senior defenseman Turner Kerr.
Texas State University (14-3, 6-0 LSA South)
The Bobcats come into the 2015 season as the reigning regular-season LSA Conference champs, and with three returning All Americans, including attackman Liam Kelly (59 goals, 14 assists), junior midfielder Bucky Desadier (27 goals, 17 assists), and junior face-off specialist Mack Starnes (6 goals, 9 assists). After beating the Texas Longhorns in the regular season and then losing to them in the post season the Bobcats are ready to bounce back and make a 2015 tournament run.
“We want to win a tournament game. I think we are built to win a tournament game, and there’s no reason why we can’t make it far in the national tournament,” said assistant coach and former head coach Michael Brand.
Texas A&M University (8-8, 5-1 LSA North)
With the loss of UTSA and Rice to the LSA Division II, Texas A&M is moving from the LSA North to the LSA South. Last year the Aggies, with an overall record of 8-8, made it to the LSA Final Four, where they lost to Texas State. A&M is led by sophomore attackman Stephen Sattler, who averaged 5.6 points per game and had 51 goals on the season. Goalie Chase Stanford returns for his senior season after career totals of 237 saves, with 176 goals against.
“We’ve just got to learn how to play with each other because all these players have come from different systems and different styles of play and they all bring different attributes to the table,” said head coach Tony Scazzero.
Louisiana State University (7-5, 4-2 LSA South)
LSU is coming off the 2014 season with only two conference losses (to conference leaders Texas State and Texas). Even without an appearance in the LSA conference tournament, the Tigers were still able to finish the season with a winning season, an overall record of 7-5. Led by senior attackman Hunter Stinson, who won Third Team All-LSA honors last season and recorded 29 goals and 15 assists, and senior Goalie Paddy McClernon, the Tigers are ready to make a statement at the LSA Tournament.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette (6-8, 3-2 LSA South)
The Ragin Cajuns are coming off a sub-.500 overall season but were able to pull out a 3-2 record in conference play, giving them a berth in the conference tournament. Led by senior captain attackman Nick Russell, who leads the team in scoring with 34 goals on the season. Senior goalie Brodie Lejeune could emerge as a threat in the conference, with a .565 save percentage. Louisiana is looking forward to having him back for his senior season to compete with the upper echelon of the conference.
University of Houston (8-8, 2-4 LSA South)
The Cougars are entering the 2015 season with new head coach Andris Dikmanis, as former head coach Justin Rich has moved into GM duties for the team. Dikmanis is no stranger to the program as he was an assistant coach last year under Rich. Houston’s two leading scorers from last season return in 2015, senior attackman Greg Sattler and junior attackman Steven Hartshorn, after recording 100 combined goals between the two of them as some of the most prolific scorers in the country only a year ago.
Attack – Stephen Sattler, Texas A&M
After scoring 51 goals and 33 assists, Sattler earned All-Conference Rookie of the Year honors along with Second Team All-Conference Honors. Even against Texas’ high-powered defense, Sattler played a role in 3 of the 4 goals scored by the Aggies. Now that Texas A&M has moved to the LSA South, Sattler will be faced with new challenges from Texas and Texas State. However, with the way he performed his rookie season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sattler atop the 1st Team All-Conference Attack list.
Midfielder – Bucky Desadier, Texas State
Desadier is coming off the 2014 season averaging 3.14 points per game, with 27 goals and 17 assists, earning him MCLA Honorable Mention All-American Midfield and LSA First Team All-Conference midfield. Desadier’s success comes along with his supporting cast that also earned MCLA Honorable Mention All-American. Desadier played a vital role in the team’s success against Texas in the regular season and if he was contributing against Jordan Lee (Texas’ Second Team All-American goalie) then expect him to do a lot more against Texas now that Lee has departed.
Defensemen – Turner Kerr, Texas
Kerr is coming off his junior season being named a First Team All-LSA defense only a year after being named Third Team All-Conference defense during his sophomore season. Recording 44 ground balls last season, Kerr is looking to come back even stronger in 2015, but with the loss of Texas’ All-American goalie, it will be interesting to see how he produces.
Goalie – Paddy McClernon, Louisiana State
With a .627 save percentage, McClernon earned LSA Honorable Mention All-Conference but after the loss of the 2014 LSA First-Team and Third-Team All-LSA goalies, 2015 will finally be McClernon’s time to shine. He only allowed 76 goals in 2014 and is looking to put up even better numbers and it’s important in this conference that is only getting stronger.