Mavericks set out to defend 2012 WILA title
A mix of highly regarded freshmen and big-name transfers have been added to a young and already stacked lineup fresh off a Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association championship in 2012. The Colorado Mesa University men’s lacrosse team has good reason to be optimistic.
The Mavericks placed five players on the preseason All-WILA team and narrowly beat out Dominican University (Calif.) in the preseason coaches poll to rate as the favorite to win the league this season.
CMU and Dominican finished 2012 tied atop the WILA standings, and the Mavericks won a goals-against tiebreaker to claim the title.
An NCAA rule change adding a 30-second shot clock will affect the rivalry games between the two squads.
“It’s a big rivalry for us,” coach A.J. Stevens said. “I feel like the new shot-clock rule will change how we play. It will be a high-scoring game against (Dominican), hopefully. They’ve been around for six years, while we’ve been around for three. I feel like we’re still growing, and we feel like we’re the better team.”
Michael Biemford, Dange Wolfe and Ben Thompson are key additions to the Mavericks this season. Biemford, a two-time All-American at Cherry Creek High School, transferred from Ohio State University and will lead the Mavericks’ offense.
“(Biemford) is a big transfer for us,” Stevens said. “He’s mature. He’s basically a quarterback for us. It was one of those situations where he wanted to be closer to home. He went to Columbus, and it wasn’t quite what he expected.”
Daniel Caddoo, who along with Kade Robinson led the Mavericks with 18 goals last season, said the addition of Biemford changed the offensive dynamics of the squad.
“Having a guy who has been through the (Division 1) stuff is great,” Caddoo said. “He’s not necessarily a vocal leader on the field, but he leads with his play on the field, especially on offense where I feel like we were lacking. He provides us another level, and he never takes a play off.”
Wolfe, who scored 52 goals at Tigard High School in Oregon, will help flesh out the CMU midfield and aid in the face-off circle.
Ben Thompson captained the U19 Australian national lacrosse team and will further bolster the Mavericks’ attack, Stevens said.
Caddoo echoed his coach, saying the offensive additions will help the Mavericks meet lofty expectations.
“I feel like last year we were a young team with mostly freshmen and sophomores, and at times it showed,” Caddoo said. “All the new additions have worked smoothly, though.
“The goal is definitely to repeat in the WILA and eventually make it to nationals.”
The Mavericks scrimmaged last week against the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, and open the season on Feb. 24 against Pace University (N.Y.) in Denver. The Mavs’ home opener is March 3 against Colorado College.