Traveling to the West Coast for the University of California at San Diego Tournament, the CSU men’s lacrosse team left Fort Collins with a 3-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the country. However, despite going 2-1 in the round-robin competition, the Rams were ousted from the top ranking after losing to No. 2 Sonoma State.
Facing its toughest competition of the season, the defending national champion Ram team came into the tournament with a target on its back. CSU faced Stanford in its first game and handled the Cardinal 13-7. The Ram attack men came up big with Ryan Davis scoring three goals, Nick Stanitz-Harper two goals and an assist and Mike Napolilli adding a goal and two assists. Goalie Alex Smith saved 16 shots for CSU.
After the 7 p.m. game on Friday, the Rams were back at it Saturday morning to play Sonoma State, the team ranked second behind them. Sonoma upset the Rams 11-9, handing CSU its first loss of the season.
“The teams we played were better than we thought,” said Smith, the team president. “The marquee match-up was us versus Sonoma. We weren’t in it energy-wise, but basically we didn’t show up and we had way too many penalties.”
Napolilli had another big game for the Rams with three goals and an assist, while Tim Farquhar added two goals and Doug Priebe had a goal and an assist.
The Rams will lose their No. 1 spot and will most likely be replaced by Sonoma.
“It was a tough trip,” said junior captain Kale Nelson. “We knew we were going to get a good match-up with Sonoma, we just didn’t play our game.”
In the third and final game of the tournament, CSU started its young players against a weak UCSD team. However, UCSD gave the Rams all they could handle, forcing the underclassmen to pull it out in overtime, 8-7.
The games moved the Rams’ record to 5-1 on the season heading into one of the biggest games of the season against BYU on Saturday.
Not only are the Cougars big rivals, but the game will played in Hughes Stadium – a first for the CSU lacrosse team and also the first time any club team will get the opportunity to play in Hughes.
“It’s huge for us and it puts us in the spotlight,” Smith said. “It’s also big for the sport of lacrosse in Colorado. We’ve invited all the high school teams and we hope to get a lot of people out there. It’s one that we’ve marked on our calendars.”
The game will start at 1:30 p.m. and is free to the public and students.
“Every time we play (BYU) it’s kind of like the Super Bowl,” Nelson said. “We’ve had a rivalry with them for years; it’ll be a clash of the titans.” n