About an hour before face-off, fans were tailgating outside of Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, clutching tickets to the grudge match they had been thinking about all season – CU vs. CSU.
Those faithful fans were treated to a show on Saturday as CSU toppled CU 13-5, in the Fourth Annual Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Showdown.
Head Coach Flip Naumburg was excited for his players after the game and the rivalry that surrounds the game.
“This is a huge rivalry outside of lacrosse, but inside lacrosse it’s a huge game,” Naumburg said. “We held together today and I’m proud of the way we played, we kind of kicked their butt.”
Before the opening face-off, a tribute was paid to Virginia Tech University, and the announcer said one of the student’s who was killed was a member of the men’s club lacrosse team.
Once the silence left the stadium, the fans erupted in cheers, and it was back to lacrosse, and quickly. It took 40 seconds for the Rams to get on the board as attackman Brian Stone notched the first goal for the Rams. But less than one minute later, CU’s Tyler Baruch scored their only goal of the first half, tying the game up early.
Junior goalie Tyson Ehinger played like a man possessed for CSU, stopping nearly everything that came his way the first half. He said it was team chemistry that helped them shut down the Buffs.
“I take care of my guys and they take care of me,” Ehinger said. “It’s all about taking care of each other.”
CSU’s offense would not let up for the first quarter, scoring four more times before the end of the quarter, 5-1. The CU fans quieted down as the CSU fans began to feel the momentum the boys in green were pushing on the field.
Despite the offensive show the Rams put on in the first quarter, they only scored one goal in the second, when midfielder Ryan MacDonald scored with 12 minutes to go in the half. The first half would finish 6-1, in favor of the Rams, and left CU wondering if they would ever score again.
The third quarter was much like the first half, with a lot of Rams goals and not a lot of CU goals. CSU senior attackman Danny Stevens would get his second goal of the game as the Rams put three more in the back of the net before heading into the fourth quarter, with a commanding lead of 9-1.
CU tried to rally with three quick goals early in the final quarter re-igniting a once quiet CU crowd. CSU called a timeout, hoping to throw some sand on that small CU flame. That sand would come in the form of four more goals before the final whistle.
With less than three minutes to go, Garrett Fitzgerald relieved Ehinger, who let out a huge scream on the sideline. He finished with 18 saves and the Most Valuable Player Award, along with Stone, who finished with seven goals, the most of his career.
“It feels really good, being the last game of the season and the best venue we could have,” Stone said. “CU is always a tough team, just their A-game wasn’t their today. It feels good to end the regular season on a high note.”
The season is not over for CSU nor CU, as the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference Tournament rolls into Boulder next week. CU will hope to get revenge on their in-state rivals and CSU will try and ride this momentum into the game.
Men’s lacrosse beat writer Grant Meech can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.