Feb 182004
 
Authors: Peter Scalia

It is the oldest sport in North America. A game developed by

Native Americans sometime in the 15th century, adopted as the

Canadian national sport and developed in eastern cities and

colleges before 1900. Lacrosse gained extreme popularity on the

East Coast but has only recently started to gain a strong fan base

in the West.

The first collegiate-level lacrosse game was played between New

York University and Manhattan College in November 1877. At that

time CSU was still the Agricultural College of Colorado.

The CSU Rams lacrosse team, a club team fighting for a slice of

the CSU fans’ attention, will be in a national spotlight when it

takes to the field Sunday at the Pepsi Center in the first indoor

collegiate game in lacrosse history. The game will be lacrosse’s

version of the Rocky Mountain Showdown and will pit rivals CSU and

the University of Colorado against each other. When these two

schools compete, the intensity is raised an extra level.

As part of the National Lacrosse League’s All-Star Game

festivities the game will put arguably the state’s best lacrosse

clubs against each other on a grand stage. In the 127 years

lacrosse has been played in colleges all across America, never has

a game been played indoors, and with boards separating the fans and

players, it should add to the already intense rivalry – not to

mention the change in game plan for the Rams.

“We’ve practiced it,” CSU head coach Flip Naumburg said of the

style of play.

He added that the biggest struggle will be “keeping the team

together” after he had to trim the team’s roster of about 20

players for the game.

The matchup

Since 1999 CSU has played CU 10 times, nine of which have gone

CSU’s way. CU’s only win came in 2000 when the Buffaloes shocked

CSU at home with a 16-13 victory. Between the two teams, goals

aren’t foreign; the only time CSU has been held to a single-digit

score against CU occurred in the last meeting these two had. CSU

won 7-5. CU, on the other hand, rarely reaches double figures when

going against the stingy Rams’ defense. The only time the Buffs

have scored more than seven points in the series since their upset

win was last year in the teams’ first meeting. That was exactly one

year removed from Sunday’s game, when CU forced overtime but lost

12-11.

Not football’s “Showdown”

The Rocky Mountain Showdown for lacrosse, unlike the football

version, has traveled each year back and forth between CU and CSU.

This will be the first time the game will be on a neutral field.

But the last time CSU played a game in Denver (April 7, 2001), the

Colorado College Tigers got the best of the Rams 10-9.

But before the Rams can head to Pepsi Center they need to play

Northern Colorado on CSU’s intramural fields. UNC is a team

Naumburg called “a bug on the road to Pepsi.”

This means if the Rams have troubles with a team with a combined

record of 11-20 in the past three seasons, they are in for a long

day at the Pepsi Center Sunday.

Last year the Rams won the U.S.-Lacrosse Intramural Association

Championship.

“(The Rams) are a real mix of youth and talent,” Naumberg said

of this season’s team. “This is one of the more talented teams

we’ve had.”

This game will be a drastically different game from the football

version for one big reason: the fans. A big question is will the

Pepsi Center be rocking with thousands of screaming Ram fans?

“I really hope the students can come out,” Naumberg said. “I

also think we’ll see a big following of alumni, parents and the

community who will show up.”

CU will be featuring a new head coach this year in John Galvin

Jr. who will be replacing Peter Cooke, who finished his first and

last season with an 11-6 season and a 2-2 record inside the Rocky

Mountain Intercollegiate Lacrosse League. Cooke’s team suffered

both its losses at the hands of CSU. Galvin could not be reached

for comment on the upcoming game.

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