The undefeated Rams of Colorado State University traveled to Provo to take on the BYU Cougars Friday night. The Rams are defending MCLA D-I champions and are currently ranked No. 1 this season as well. With BYU ranked No. 4, a lot was on the line with this game including RMLC standings and rivalry pride. In the end, CSU showed why they are the top-ranked team in the MCLA, beating the Cougars 16-5.
CSU Head Coach Alex Smith commented on the team’s performance, “I really sensed from the start of the day that we were really well focused, and that we were going to come out and do our game plan.”
And it was certainly true that they were playing well from the very start of the game. The Rams’ first goal came within the first two minutes of the game. They were controlling the ball much of the time. Their speed, particularly in transition, was outstanding. BYU simply just could not keep up. By the end of the first quarter, CSU was up 6-1 with more than half of their goals scored from successful clears or face-offs.
“I thought everything really went well,” said Smith about what the team was doing well. “It’s hard to pinpoint that stuff: the three goals we had coming in; getting more ground balls than [BYU]; to win the special teams battle, which we did; and to get more transition goals than they did. Those were big keys for us. When we are sharing the ball offensively, and moving off ball, we play really well. Our defense is better, our goalies are playing great. We had some success in all areas.”
The Cougars were not ready to give up after such a difficult first quarter. They came out with more resolve and they began to dominate possession of the ball. They were out-shooting CSU, but still had a bit of trouble putting the ball in the cage. By halftime the score was 7-3.
Down by only four coming into the third quarter, and the way they had played in the second, this looked like it was going to be a really good ball game. However, CSU was not going to allow the Cougars to close the gap. Within the first few minutes, the Rams had scored two more goals. BYU was struggling with their passing game at this point, which didn’t give them many opportunities to shoot.
Now up 10-4, the Rams really began to shine in the final quarter. They were sharing the ball and they continued to show how fast they could move. They were converting on the man-up possessions as well. All around, they were playing with incredible skill. A 16-5 win over BYU may have looked like an easy game, but the Rams worked for it and they earned it.
Smith continued, “This was our best game; it was our most complete game. It was great to play that well, but we don’t want this to be as good as we get. We want to keep getting better. Hopefully we can stay hungry and keep improving.”
BYU Head Coach Matt Schneck also had some words to say about the game. “There were a lot of things that went wrong. I think that the experience that CSU has and their talent level, I think we were just outmatched tonight. I think it had a domino effect on the guys. We are a young team and the speed at which CSU was playing and their talent level, we had a real tough time matching up. I think it played some mental games with our guys.”
Speaking about what the team needs to work on, Schneck said, “There are a couple things that are important. We didn’t have a lot to lose tonight. The fact that they were coming in as returning national champions, No. 1, they are undefeated. But the reality is that was a little embarrassing for us, to take that kind of loss at home. Certainly because at the end of the game it just started to pile on. We weren’t even competitive towards the fourth quarter. We had a good second quarter, we had a good third quarter, but that first and fourth quarter hurt us.”
Next Saturday, April 13th, BYU will head to Salt Lake City to take on the Westminster Griffins (9-3, 2-0).
“We purposely have scheduled Westminster for many years now,” said Schneck. “We want to support lacrosse in the state. We also knew that at some point in time Westminster would probably become a D-I team. They are a great team. As a matter of fact, this is not a game that we look at lightly. Mason [Goodhand] is always working hard to try to prepare for that game. It’s gonna be a tough game. I don’t really look at it as Division I, Division II thing. In all reality, they are just a Division I team, waiting for it to be official.”