Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shoup shots: sports editor ‘grades’ fall athletics

By Nathan Shoup, Sports Editor

It is judgment day – the day when an entire season’s worth of work is measured.

All fall sports conclude their conference schedules this weekend with the exception of the cross country teams, which wrapped up their seasons Saturday at the Northwest Conference Meet. Junior Alan DenAdel finished second in the men’s race.

 Sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Nelson and the Lutes volleyball team is the lone fall sport to win a NWC Championship. Photo by Thomas Soerenes.

The football team hosts Whitworth tomorrow afternoon before flying to California next weekend to play Menlo College in a non-conference matchup.

The volleyball team concludes its regular season tonight, playing fifth-place George Fox in Newberg, Ore.

The men’s soccer team travels to the other side of town tomorrow to play Puget Sound in its season finale.

The women’s soccer team will say cheers to its 2012 season after hosting Willamette tonight and playing at George Fox tomorrow.

As grades are assigned, will the fall teams run home to show parents their report cards? Or will they “forget” their report cards, hoping their parents dionot realize it is the end of the semester?

Football, B+

The Lutes sit in second place in the NWC with a record of 5-2, 4-1, but a loss to Whitworth tomorrow could potentially drop the Lutes into a third-place tie.

Riding a four-game win streak, the Lutes receive a high B because of a difficult start. However, the 1-2 start to the season is more of a testament to the Lutes’ strength of schedule.

In week one, the Lutes fell 37-23 to California Lutheran University. The Kingsmen are 6-1 this season and ranked no. 8 in the country.

In week three, the Lutes suffered their last loss-to-date, falling 31-24 to Linfield. The Wildcats are ranked no. 3 in the country at 7-0.

To receive an A, to win a conference championship and to play in the postseason, these were the games the Lutes needed to win.

Had the Lutes defeated California Lutheran, a strong case could be made for the Lutes to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Had the Lutes defeated Linfield, a win tomorrow would secure the NWC championship and guarantee the Lutes a playoff berth.

But the two losses leave the Lutes on the outside looking in.

B+ is a fitting grade for a 2012 team that was one victory away from greatness.

Volleyball, A

The Lutes won their fifth conference title in seven seasons this year.

Lutes volleyball has simply become a force in the NWC.

The NCAA tournament looms for the Lutes, who have coasted through the 2012 season. However, the Lutes are 1-6 in the tournament since 2004, losing their last five matches.

Last season, the Lutes owned a 2-1 lead over Occidental College of the Southern California Intercollegiate Conference before dropping the final two sets and punching their ticket home.

A pluses are not awarded in college, but if the Lutes pull out a couple victories in the West Region tournament, the 2012 Lutes will be deserving of one. 

Men’s Soccer, B

One year after winning a co-conference championship, the Lutes will not participate in the NCAA tournament.

At 10-6-2, 9-3-1, the Lutes were haunted by a phantom loss to sixth-place Linfield and an inability to knock off conference champion, Whitworth, in two chances.

The Pirates are ranked no. 15 in the country.

In August, the Lutes were picked by the NWC coaches to win the conference for a second straight season.

A win tomorrow against Puget Sound locks up second place for the Lutes. A loss places them in third and a draw places the Tacoma schools in a second place tie.

If the Lutes avoided the upset loss to Linfield and managed to claw out a victory against Whitworth, the 2012 season could have a completely different look.

But mediocre results in the non-conference portion of the season and three conference losses earn the Lutes a B.

Women’s Soccer, C

The women’s soccer team is headed for its sixth straight season finishing in sixth place or lower.

At 4-5-7, 2-5-7 the Lutes sit in seventh place in the NWC.

A seventh place finish would typically warrant a lower grade, but for the women’s soccer program, the C is relative.

The Lutes are finishing their first season under new head coach Seth Spidahl and played with 13 first-years this season.

The 19 total points for the Lutes this season is the most the team has finished with since 2006.

The seven ties for the Lutes gave them a share in a  national record for most ties in a season.

The report card has a C, but 2012 was an above average season for the women’s soccer program.