There wonâ€™t be a lack of motivation on Sports Authority Field at Mile High when No. 9 CU and No. 4 CSU meet for the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Showdown at 6 p.m. under the lights.
â€œItâ€™s a pretty bitter rivalry,â€ CSU junior Austin Fisher said. â€œThe hateâ€™s there; the rivalryâ€™s there â€” thatâ€™s a given â€” but I think, really, the focus on ourselves is going to be the key.â€
CSU has not played well offensively in its last two games, losing to BYU and defeating Utah while only scoring 18 total goals.
â€œWe have been in a little bit of a rut here,â€ CSU coach Alex Smith said. â€œBut weâ€™re working through that and Iâ€™m confident our team will put out a good output at Sports Authority Field.â€
Playing in a professional arena will be a far cry from the intimate intramural field settings in which both teams traditionally play.
â€œThe biggest thing is communication, whether it be player-to-player or coach-to-player on the sidelines,â€ CU defensive coordinator Martin Taffet said. â€œIn a stadium that big, one voice gets drowned out by the expanse of it.â€
Smith, who has coached at Sports Authority Field both at the collegiate and professional level, said the key to overcoming that barrier is preparation.
â€œSo much more of the game needs to be about what the players do rather than orchestrated from the sideline,â€ Smith said. â€œFrom a coaching perspective Iâ€™m trying to let the players play, and thatâ€™s whatâ€™s fun about it.â€
Even with that minor handicap, both programs relish the opportunity to showcase their game on the biggest stage in the state.
â€œIt can be a venue to show what club lacrosse offers and the high caliber of talent within club lacrosse,â€ Fisher said. â€œThe perception can get skewed with high school students, I donâ€™t think they realize how competitive it is at the club level.â€
Particularly in the RMLC, which has three of the top 10 teams nationally in CSU, CU, and BYU.
At stake for the Buffaloes will be a share of the regular season RMLC title and potential top seed in the conference tournament. CU leads the RMLC at 3-0, including a win over BYU on April 5.
CSU only has one loss in conference so the conferenceâ€™s top seed is not out of the question, but the Rams are more concerned with playing well and building momentum going into the conference and national tournaments.
â€œWe always want to peak at the right time, which is in the national tournament,â€ Fisher said. â€œThe focus is on continually getting better and honing all elements of the game.â€
Menâ€™s lacrosse Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CU Player to watch:
Junior attackman Riley Seidel #22
2.83 points per game