CSU lacrosse faces its first road trip today and Saturday in Missouri where it will meet Lindenwood and the University of Texas.
The two games will provide an early test and an opportunity for the team to find some chemistry, as well as giving the young players a chance to learn what it takes to win away from home.
The Ramsâ€™ first match up against Lindenwood, a team they have played several times in previous seasons.
â€œWeâ€™re very familiar with Lindenwood,â€ CSU head coach Alex Smith said. â€œWe have played them four or five times, definitely more than Texas.â€
Senior defenseman and Co-captain Andrew Stein remembers what Lindenwood will bring to the game.
â€œThey are really good and are always at the top of the division,â€ Stein said. â€œThey always give great competition and we will bring our best to them, too.â€
On the other hand, the Texas Longhorns are unknown for the most part. Texas has not been an opponent scheduled by CSU in recent memory.
â€œWe donâ€™t know a whole lot about (Texas),â€ Smith said. â€œWeâ€™ll just have to fly by the seat of our pants.â€
CSU has a record of 1-1 so far this season, beating nearby Northern Colorado 17-6, but falling short against a much tougher team in Colorado College 12-70.
Smith said the loss to CC came because of costly mistakes at both the offensive and defensive ends of the field.
â€œWe didnâ€™t take advantage of our possessions,â€ Smith said. â€œWe kept bailing them out with turnovers.â€
To go along with turnovers, the defensive play was also lacking. Stein said it will take more than one person to improve the defense.
â€œI put as much (pressure on myself) as I can,â€ Stein said. â€œOur whole philosophy is team defense, so I lead as much as I can game to game.â€
The young season has also seen another captain raise his level of play in junior attackman Cooper Kehoe. Kehoe leads the team in both goals and shots with six and 14, respectively.
Smith looks to Kehoe to fill the role of primary goal scorer, but Kehoe doesnâ€™t see it the same way.
â€œI just contribute the best way I can,â€ Kehoe said. â€œIt starts downfield, being at the right place at the right time. Everyone on this team can do it.â€
The biggest challenge in Smithâ€™s mind will be making sure the younger players handle themselves properly on the road and hopes it will build team chemistry in the process.
â€œObviously, (the big challenge) is itâ€™s the first trip of the year,â€ Smith said. â€œItâ€™s tough to make sure everyone acts the same way. We need to get ourselves together and establish team identity.â€
Older players like Kehoe have given their advice to the young players as well.
â€œStay focused, one game at a time,â€ Kehoe said. â€œSometimes you look forward. Just win one and then look to the next one.â€
Smith is a former Ram goalie who graduated in 2003. This, however, is his first full year as head coach. He does not feel as if any additional pressure is placed on his shoulders.
â€œI donâ€™t put pressure on winning,â€ Smith said. â€œEvery game is important, personally I feel itâ€™s important to establish identity and come together as a team.â€
Team chemistry is obviously important and the team motto is â€œfamilyâ€ after all. But winning would certainly help.
Club Sports Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com.