SPREADING THE WEALTH AROUND

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Oct 062003
 
Authors: Justin Goldman

Just about every single problem a college lacrosse team could

have, the Rams experienced last year. Plagued by injuries,

suspensions and other losses, CSU defied all odds and captured the

2003 United States Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates National

Championship in May.

This season, they face a new obstacle; trying to become repeat

champions with a conglomerate of new players. To compensate for the

youth on the squad and the number of new players, head coach Flip

Naumburg is taking weekly practices more seriously.

“Don’t watch it, be a part of it,” Naumburg yells to a

defenseman during practice. His energy level and efficiency leaks

all over the field and players recognize it. They know they must

give 110 percent for Naumburg, who is attempting to win his fourth

USLIA title in only six seasons.

The number of new players, combined with only one senior on the

team, presents a hefty task for Naumburg. He must mold and form a

team identical to the skill level of last season’s team, a team

that surprised many throughout the season en route to the

championship game against UC Santa Barbara.

“The most difficult thing about coaching a young team like this

is learning the system,” Naumburg said. “A lot of these guys play a

lot of different styles.”

On Saturday, Naumburg got a chance to put his new players to the

test against the University of Denver’s club lacrosse team. In fine

fashion, the Rams played a revved-up match, frustrating DU players

and forcing them to take many unsportsmanlike penalties. CSU won

8-3 in a game of positives on and off the field.

The hunger is still there. Passion promotes success, and the

amount of trash-talking and physical play throughout the game

proved that the Rams were willing to give 110 percent for Naumburg,

even in an exhibition game.

The Roster

So who will be making waves for the Rams this season?

The first place to look is in goal. Freshman Pete Jokisch has

come out of nowhere to replace Alex Smith, who was lost to

graduation and was CSU’s leading goaltender.

“Most definitely Pete has stepped in and filled our void in goal

nicely,” Naumburg said.

Jokish, who comes to CSU from Missouri, has silenced critics and

received praise from his coach and teammates.

“I think the player who has surprised me the most so far is

Pete,” senior Mark Plonkey said.

Plonkey, a long-stick middie, is now the only senior on the

lacrosse team. He is a first-team All-American and his position,

presence and passionate play on the field are a huge piece of the

puzzle for Naumburg and company. Plonkey returns as the emotional

leader of the team as well.

Ryan Price, a junior, is the core of the Rams’ defense and

should bring some experience to the younger long-sticks. The Rams

lost a major defender in All-American Jeff Schmid, who

graduated.

“Our defense looks pretty solid, and I’m pretty confident we can

hold things together,” Jokisch said.

On offense, the Rams are stacked. A pair of juniors, Nick

Stanitz-Harper and Kelten Johnston, will lead them at the attack

position. Johnston returns as the Offensive Team MVP.

At midfield, CSU remains strong with Derek Koll, Thomas

Robinson, Tim Farquhar and Phil Eichhorn.

Even though coach Naumburg has a serious task ahead of him, he

already has found something to smile about.

“The biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s

team is that I think we will be very multi-dimensional,” Naumburg

said.

The Rams have until next semester to prepare for their regular

season, which starts on the road Feb. 6 against the University of

Arizona and Arizona State University.

The team will participate in a lacrosse tournament at the end of

October in Las Vegas. The Rams have had success in the tournament

in the past, going undefeated last year.

On Oct. 18 CSU holds a weekend tournament that includes two

separate CSU teams and teams from Colorado College, Ft. Lewis,

CU-Boulder, DU and Galyan’s. The tournament takes place on

campus.

 

 

 

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