Teams need to learn to handle adversity over the course of a season, and the CSU menâ€™s lacrosse team showed its resilience, splitting its two weekend games.
CSU lost for the first time this season, 9-8 in overtime Friday against No. 4 Cal Poly, but bounced back by throttling SMU 20-2 on Sunday.
The Rams looked every bit the top-ranked team in the country in the first half against Cal Poly, jumping out to a 5-1 halftime lead. CSU controlled possession, out-shooting the Mustangs 20-10 before halftime.
â€œWe like to do some set plays in the beginning and get everybody comfortable in the flow of the game,â€ CSU junior Kacy Carter said. â€œWe just executed really well.â€
Cal Poly stormed back in the third quarter, netting four goals to tie the game at five entering the fourth.
â€œI honestly donâ€™t know what happened. We just pulled it together,â€ Cal Poly senior Peter Chiang said. â€œEverybody started moving the ball real quick, and we pulled it out.â€
Both teams put in three goals in the fourth quarter, while CSU tied the game at eight on a rocket shot from Dustin Grybinas with 36 seconds remaining in the game.
â€œWe have heart; thatâ€™s one of the things that we were really proud of,â€ CSU coach Alex Smith said.
The Rams took the opening face-off in overtime, but couldnâ€™t find the back of the net.
Chiang scored the game-ending goal with 15 seconds left in overtime to secure the victory for Cal Poly.
â€œIt was stick-side high so he had a chance, but Iâ€™m lucky it went in,â€ Chiang said. â€œStorybook finish, for sure.â€
CSU moved past the loss quickly, however, blasting SMU 20-2 Sunday afternoon behind a dominant defensive effort.
â€œWe had a plan today to really get out and pressure their guys, get in their hands and make them uncomfortable. They did just that, forcing turnovers all game long,â€ CSU goalie Jack Regan said. â€œOur midfielders barely let the ball over (midfield).â€
SMU was playing its second game in as many days after losing to Cal Poly 14-1 on Saturday in Fort Collins.
â€œWe have 17 guys on our team that are freshman, and for them this whole trip was about lessons for the future,â€ SMU coach Karl Lynch said.
CSU lead 9-1 at halftime, and kept the pressure up into the third quarter, scoring four goals in the first five minutes.
â€œWe did a drill at halftime when typically weâ€™ll kind of sit there, instead we decided to change up our routine a little bit and thatâ€™s what weâ€™ll do from here forward,â€ Smith said.
Fridayâ€™s loss will likely knock the Rams out of Tuesdayâ€™s coming MCLA poll down to about third or fourth according to Smith, while current No. 2 UC Santa Barbara will most likely take over the top spot.
The Rams play UCSB Thursday, and Smith hopes the fan support for that game will replicate what his team saw over the weekend.
â€œWhen we look across and we see the whole sideline filled and everyoneâ€™s into the game it gives us a lot of momentum,â€ he said. â€œWe really appreciate it, and we hope it happens again.â€
Menâ€™s Lacrosse Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top Weekend Performers
Junior attack Austin Fisher: 5 goals, 1 assist overall
Junior attack Kacy Carter: 3 goals, 2 assists overall
Sophomore goalie Jack Regan: 1 goal against, 5 saves vs Cal Poly