Even after wrapping up its third consecutive Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference title Saturday, the CSU menâ€™s lacrosse team still has one more goal â€“â€“ a national championship.
The Rams avenged their only regulation loss of the season by defeating BYU 14-7, granting them an automatic bid in next weekâ€™s Menâ€™s Collegiate Lacrosse Association national tournament.
â€œFor a lot of our guys it wasnâ€™t a new thing,â€ CSU coach Alex Smith said. â€œWeâ€™re definitely happy with the achievement, but we know thereâ€™s more on the table in front of us.â€
CSU opened the tournament Friday with an 8-5 win over third-seeded CU-Boulder, the Ramsâ€™ second win over their bitter rival in two weeks.
â€œWe made it a focus to keep the game tempo quick and I think that really paid off for us, just pushing the ball and not letting them settle the game like they wanted to,â€ CSU junior Austin Fisher said.
No. 2 BYU, the tournamentâ€™s top seed, handled Utah 13-7 to advance to the title game against CSU for the third consecutive year. The Rams prevailed 14-7 to clinch their third consecutive conference title Saturday night.
BYU took an early 2-0 lead after two man-up goals from midfielder Patrick Matheson. Following a goal by Fisher, BYU senior and RMLC offensive player of the year Ted Ferrin put the Cougars up 3-1. They wouldnâ€™t score again for 15 minutes.
â€œOur defense was outstanding,â€ Smith said. â€œWe did a great job limiting them in transition.â€
While they kept BYUâ€™s offense in check, the Rams started pounding the ball into the net. CSU scored five goals in the second quarter to extend a 6-3 lead to 11-4 by halftime.
â€œOn offense we were really moving and meshing as a unit,â€ Fisher said. â€œI think that was creating opportunities for everyone.â€
Fisher propelled CSUâ€™s offense, collecting four goals and one assist in the game. He finished the conference tournament with six goals and two assists. The RMLC does not award an MVP trophy for the conference tournament.
â€œIf they would have I would say Austin Fisher or Danny Wurfield would have been my choices,â€ Smith said. â€œThose two really stuck out for me.
Wurfield took 26 of 38 faceoffs and picked up six ground balls in the two games.
â€œWhen you can rely on your faceoff guy to win 80-90 percent of the faceoffs each game, it puts you in a great spot,â€ Fisher said. â€œWe definitely count on Dan to get us the ball.â€
With the victory, CSU secured a spot in the MCLA national tournament in Greensboro, S.C. The MCLA released it’s bracket late Sunday night, and the Rams will open the tournament as the No. 2 sees against Illinois.
The Rams have been in this position for the last two years, but couldnâ€™t close the deal in the national tournament.
â€œThatâ€™s the big challenge. We do have finals this week, so having a couple of days off might give them an opportunity to focus on schoolwork and recover in their bodies a little bit,â€ Smith said. â€œHopefully then we can build momentum up in the next three practices. I think we prepared for (the conference tournament) really well, and weâ€™ll use the same blueprint heading into the national tournament.â€
Menâ€™s lacrosse Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.