After a near-perfect regular season, the CSU menâ€™s lacrosse team is going into the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.
The RMLC tournament, held in Provo, Utah, also includes Utah, CU-Boulder and BYU. The Rams (14-1) will face Utah in the first round today, a team they handled easily during the regular season, 12-4.
CSU played most of the season undefeated with their only loss coming at the hands of the University of Michigan 10-6 on April 11. Other than that game, the Rams have dominated their competition, nearly doubling opponents in total goals scored 204-103 throughout the season.
Such an overpowering campaign brings the team into the conference tournament with plenty of confidence in their chances to come back RMLC champions. The championship would be the first for CSU since 2006.
Senior and team captain Cooper Kehoe is a force to be reckoned with on offense, leading the team in goals, assists and points.
â€œI think weâ€™re pretty confident,â€ Kehoe said. â€œWeâ€™ve pretty much had conference games this whole time so far, so we just need to keep doing the things we do and go with the flow.â€ Head coach Alex Smith knows that his team is as good or better than any other team in the tournament, but wants to make sure they do not look too far ahead.
â€œIt is definitely going to be challenging,â€ Smith said. â€œIf we can get through Friday, I think we have a good shot.â€
The previous meeting between the Rams and Utes provides the team with additional confidence because they have an idea of what to expect from Utah.
Senior Andrew Stein expects his team to come out and play a complete game in order to repeat its success against the Utah.
â€œWeâ€™re looking to come out and take care of business like we did last time,â€ Stein said. â€œWeâ€™ve learned that we need to put together four quarters and a full game.â€
If CSU defeats Utah to advance to the finals, either team they could face, CU or BYU should serve as a quality matchup.
â€œBoth teams are such good rivals that, either way, it will be an intense, passionate game,â€ Smith said. â€œFrom our point of view, we will take on whoever it is, but none of that matters until we get through Utah.â€
Being the No. 1 team puts a huge bullâ€™s eye on the back of CSU, but the players are not feeling any of that pressure.
â€œI donâ€™t feel like there is that much pressure and itâ€™s nice right now because we get to play the No. 4 team,â€ Kehoe said. â€œI think we know what we have to do and weâ€™ve played every team, so we know what each team has.â€
The coaching staff has worked all year to prepare the player for what is required from a championship-caliber team.
â€œThis week weâ€™ve focused on coming together as a team and having fun,â€ Smith said. â€œWeâ€™re starting to get the flow of what it takes to be a championship type of team and the guys have really responded well.â€
Club Sports Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.