It was an exciting day for the lacrosse community here in Utah and the Boys Division II Championship game did not disappoint. The Mountain Crest Mustangs took on the Waterford Ravens at Brighton High School Saturday evening. Mountain Crest fought a great battle and took home their first title. Scores were close throughout the game, with several lead changes, but the Mustangs won 11-10.
From the very first face-off to the last seconds both teams were playing hard, pushing for the win. Waterford began the game looking very confident. They were passing the ball and helping each other out. They kept control of the ball looking for the right moment to score, and they found it at the 8:51 mark as attackmen Matthew West passed from behind the crease to midfielder Mahdi Sofla for the easy goal.
Mountain Crest answered back just one minute later when midfielder Taylon Niederhauser picked up a ground ball on defense and ran it coast to coast for the goal. Both teams continued executing excellent offense throughout the first and by the end of the quarter Mountain Crest was up 4-3 thanks to amazing rides and taking advantage of face-offs.
Defense stepped up in the second quarter. Offense continued to play well, but defenders were just one step ahead, checking sticks and forcing difficult shots. Mountain Crest scored two goals in the first half of the period. The Mustang’s second goal was scored by midfielder Erik Smith. The assist came from attackmen Dallin Bindrup who had just caught a missed shot behind the crease. With just 1:23 left in the half and down by three midfielder Benjamin White brought the ball from outside the restraining box all the way in for a goal.
Coming into the second half down by two, Waterford was not willing give away the game. The Ravens wasted no time scoring in just 29 seconds. They continued to control the ball after the face-off and scored again quickly during a man-up situation. Mountain Crest was looking a little flustered and they could not hold off the offense. Waterford’s scoring streak continued and halfway through the third quarter they were up by 2.
With just over three minutes in the quarter, Niederhauser stole the ball on a ride to score a goal. Mountain Crest fans were on their feet cheering and it translated to the players. The goal gave the mustangs a burst of energy and and they were able to score twice more in the last couple minutes. The Mustangs were up again with the score at 9-8.
With the game so close, both teams were fighting for this important win. Play in the fourth quarter became more physical than ever. Defense for both teams again stepped it up and they were knocking sticks and players to the ground, and the referees were letting them play. Mountain Crest scored the first goal of the quarter to put them up two. Waterford closed the lead to one again as Sofla displayed some fancy footwork, dodging past defenders to encounter the goalie face-to-face for another easy goal.
Physical play continued as the clock ran down. With just 44 seconds left Mountain Crest got the ball to Niederhauser with the intent to run out the clock. However, as Waterford doubled the ball behind the crease, a lane opened and Niederhauser pushed the ball through and scored. Waterford was still not willing to give up this game. They won the face-off and pushed the ball hard. They took several shots with no success. After winning the ball back, attackmen Matthew West got the ball to attackmen Luke Pyper. Pyper drew a triple team, but got a shot off and with just 5 seconds left the score was back within one. Both teams fought for the final face-off as the clock ran to zero.
This was Mountain Crest’s first appearance in the championships. As the game ended, players rushed the filled, full of excitement for this well-deserved accomplishment. Mountain Crest Head Coach Cody McKee commented on the win. “Even before the game we talked about [Waterford] putting on a good run. We were expecting it and that they would adjust to what we were throwing at them, like a well-coached team would do.” McKee continued, “We just had to make our adjustments to their adjustments. That’s what makes the game go back and forth.”
A contributing factor to Mountain Crest’s win was their transition game; they clearly focused on clears and rides.
“Making it impossible to set offenses and defenses makes us hard to compete with. We are young in coaching with not much experience. Being able to shut down transition is what makes the difference between us and them,” said McKee. “We will bring it at them again next year.”