The CSU lacrosse team went to Utah to test out its 6-1 record and No. 3 ranking in the United States Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates poll. Two victories over BYU and Utah Valley State and an upset by Utah were the result.
CSU’s first game, a nationally televised event against BYU, was a nail-biter that came down to the end of the game. Kelton Johnson led the offensive charge, scoring two goals and assisting another.
The Rams were up by three at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but a Cougar comeback shortened the gap to one. John Naab’s score with three minutes left in the game, held strong and won the game. The star of the game was goalie Alex Smith, who had 21 saves and only allowed six goals on 38 shots in the 7-6 victory.
“Alex was unbelievable,” assisstant coach Chris Gemperline said. “He showed his leadership capabilities and led the defense to a great victory.”
The next game featured a pounding over UVSC with a final score of 17-5. CSU attacker Jeff Epstein fired six shots into the back of the next and picked up two assists. Goalie Pete Jokisch had 19 saves and only allowed five goals on 26 shots.
“I was glad all of our young guys could get a chance to step up and play,” Epstein said.
Less than 30 minutes later, the Rams had to take the field again for their last game against Utah. The Utes came out strong and put the first two points on the board. Each team added two more goals before halftime, maintaining the Utes’ lead at 4-2.
Fourth period goals by midfielders John Naab and Jared Katz brought the game to within one goal, but Utah managed to hang on for the 5-4 victory.
“I think we were emotionally and physically spent after BYU,” Gemperline said. “We laid it all out on the field and we struggled to get going after the UVSC game. We stayed in it though, it was a good game.”
CSU’s record now stands at 8-2 as they look to host No. 1 Sonoma State today at 4 p.m. on the intramural fields in a repeat of last year’s national championship game.
The Rams will then face No. 4 Michigan at Rocky Mountain High School at 7 p.m Friday. Michigan enters the game with a nine-game winning streak, which the Rams hope to end in the Wolverines’ first trip to Fort Collins.
Women’s volleyball wins MWC
For the third year in a row, the women’s club volleyball team took the Mountain West Conference championship. The team beat Cal-Poly in three games to advance to the finals against Missouri. The match also went to three games, but the Rams came out on top.
The girls entered the 18-team, Las Vegas tournament at No. 10, but left at No. 1.
“We weren’t expected to do well by anyone’s standards, except maybe our own,” senior middle blocker Jenny Kaiser said. “Then we took the whole tournament. We played with a lot of determination and heart.”
The Rams will now journey to Columbus, Ohio, for the four-day national tournament starting Thursday. There will be 60 teams competing in pools of four teams each.
“Hopefully we can do pretty well,” Kaiser said. “We probably won’t have the surprise factor anymore, but I think we should do good.”
Men’s volleyball wins Silver Division
The men’s club volleyball team will also be playing in the national tournament, due to its 11th-place finish and Silver Division championship at the regional tournament.
The team beat Utah Valley State twice, then Arizona, Colorado and finally BYU-Idaho in the finals for the Silver Division trophy. Middle blocker Bill Aradi played well enough to be named as a member of the all-tournament team.
The men’s national tournament will include 160 teams split up into three divisions. CSU will be in Division I and up against 59 other teams.
“We have lots of talent, lots of depth and a lot of returning players,” coach Angela Knopf said. “I am excited for them because I think they have a lot of potential.”