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Cougars Drop Heartbreaker to Rams

On a clear night in the shadow of mighty Lavell Edwards Stadium, two MCLA powerhouses took the field in a quest to remain perfect in RMLC conference play. The No. 2 BYU Cougars and the No. 13 CSU Rams are responsible for three of the last four MCLA Div-I championships, and that history fuels an intense rivalry that lived up to the hype Thursday night.
In the waning seconds of the game with CSU up one, BYU came out of a timeout and got a great look at the cage, sending a shot that the CSU goalie couldn’t get to, but the ball ricocheted off the pipe and bounded back up field, eventually making its way out of bounds and the officials awarded the ball to the Rams. CSU was then able to bleed the last thirty seconds away and secure the 12-11 upset victory.
“We knew that it was gonna be a battle coming into the game,” said BYU head coach Matt Schneck, “The CSU-BYU rivalry is always a good game. I’d say this was one of the best CSU-BYU games in quite some time.”
The Cougars looked dominant early in this one, with senior middie Jake Arbon grabbing the first goal of the game by scooping a loose ball and splitting the D on the unsettled situation for the score. After a defensive stop by the Cougars, BYU senior middie Zach Jordan caught a clearing pass at midfield and took a big hit to the head, drawing the flag, but still managed to drive it all the way down for the goal. This drew the ire of CSU head coach Alex Smith, causing the Rams to play two-men down, but they were able to weather the storm as the Cougars misfired, sending several shots wide of the cage.  After some back and forth, Cougar freshman attack Chandler Wescott lost his man behind the cage, giving him a one-on-one with the CSU keeper and the easy tally. Up 3-0, the Cougars looked pretty confident, but CSU started dominating at the faceoff X and on time of possession, giving Ram sophomore attack Brian Taggart a chance to tickle the twine with a low-to-high shot from the low wing. CSU freshman middie Brandon Dyte then executed the exact opposite, dodging from the high wing and burying an overhand shot in the low corner of the Cougar goal. This ended the period with BYU leading 3-2.
The teams traded goals early in the second quarter, but the period would belong to the Rams. A failed BYU clear resulted in an easy Ashton Monheiser goal to tie things up and a Cougar penalty gave CSU’s Collin Zines time and room on the man-up to give the Rams the lead. The Cougars pushed back, though, with a Mike Fabrizio catch-and-finish on a beautiful feed from Jordan, but a three goal run by the Rams to close out the half, including a nifty question-mark dodge from Chase Warren, gave the Rams the 8-5 advantage going into the break.
“We felt like CSU did a better job of doing what they needed to do,” said Coach Schneck, “Our offense was a little bit stagnant…we didn’t move as quickly as we’d have liked to and we gave up a lot of transition goals.”
The Rams were poised to strike at the start of the third, pushing the faceoff forward for the fast break and the quick score, putting them up by four.  A Fabrizio question-mark dodge from X and Cougar score was quickly answered when BYU threw a bad pass on the next clear, allowing CSU’s Brian McGhie the doorstep goal. But BYU responded, scoring two to end the quarter, including a score from longpole Max Neser off the quick restart, making it 10-8 CSU at the end of three.
In the fourth quarter, BYU looked to complete the comeback with early goals from Barrett Johnson on a fast break and Wescott snagging a failed CSU clear and tying things at 10 apiece. But CSU responded once again when a Cougar defender lost his feet and slipped, giving Ram captain and Utah native Brian Allen time and room to score.  On the next possession, BYU’s Alec Grant found himself unguarded on the high wing and sent a step-down laser to the back of the cage, again knotting things up at 11. CSU’s Chase Warner appeared to have ice water running through his veins with just under five minutes to play as he dodged from the top, got his hands free, and sent the five-ounce white orb home for what would prove to be the game-winner as the Cougars were unable to score again in the four remaining minutes.
Coach Schneck on the quick turnaround to play Colorado: “Credit to CSU, they came out on top, but the fact that this game could have gone either way and the guys understand that…helps them prepare for tomorrow. Even great teams have bad days, and this was one for us.”
The No. 2 Cougars (1-1, 11-2) will take on the No. 6 Colorado Buffaloes (1-1, 9-4) tomorrow, Friday, April 10 at Helaman Lacrosse Field at 7 pm, while the No. 13 CSU Rams (2-0, 8-5) will travel north tomorrow to match up with the unranked University of Utah (0-2, 2-7) also at 7 pm.

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