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Womens: BYU, Utah Rivalry Game Didn't Disappoint

BYU Womens Lacrosse Utah Womens LacrosseThe Beehive State is abuzz and the head hive of the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates national standings, as three of the Wasatch Front’s finest combine to populate the thin air at the summit of WCLA D-I and D-II rankings. Entering the weekend, the BYU Cougars (D-I No. 7), Utah Utes (D-II No. 2), and Westminster Griffins (D-II No. 1), along with their competing coaching sisters: Oriah Albright (BYU), Celeste Harding (Utah), and Niki Harding (Westminster), are battling for regional supremacy, with national significance.
Utah’s McCarthey Track and Field Complex was the setting for Thursday’s Rocky Mountain Women’s Lacrosse League’s own Holy War, as the D-I BYU Cougars traveled north from Provo to challenge the D-II Utah Utes in their fierce inter-division match in the wickiup. The Cougars entered the fray coming off an atypical 1 and 3 weekend in Boulder, comprised of a convincing win against intra-division foe Arizona Wildcats, and close losses to the Colorado Buffalo Club (D-I No. 6), UC Davis Club (D-I No. 8), and Colorado State Rams (D-I No. 33). The Utes were fresh off a 3 and 1 beach-combing weekend in San Jose, with victories versus the D-I Texas A&M Aggies and Sonoma State Seawolves, D-II Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz, and a loss to the D-I No. 17 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs.
While The Greatest Snow On Earth never quite materialized, Utah’s lacrosse community has been a beneficiary of the mild spring, with shorts, shirtsleeves and sunscreen as unseasonably standard sideline fare since opening day. Thursday evening arrived as cool and crisp as the RMWLL’s ready-made rivalry, with the Big Cats stalking the People of the Mountains at McCarthey. As befits the quality of the competition, the ball did not spend much time on the tipi’s turf, as both squads generally transitioned the rock quickly and cleanly throughout. However, as legend suggests, Cosmo and Swoop’s animal instincts would have sensed the ebb and flow of the adversaries vacillating between wily wolf and casual coyote, as both squads had moments of both demeanors, with BYU holding off the charging Utes, 16 to 13. The win by the Catamounts was tantamount to one of 2012’s best games, and a forerunner to Tuesday, 4/10’s Utes @ Griffins clash, which could be a precursor to the 4/21 RMWLL championship also at Dumke, which could be the foundation of a WCLA National Championship in Colorado Springs in May. Whew!

Cody Rennert - Utah Womens Lacrosse
Cody Rennert
The Red Tailed Hawk was the first to leave droppings in the Cougar den as the Utes attacked to a 2 goal lead early, initiated with a Katie O’Neil (Katie 3) interception of a Cougar pass, and turning the FT into an assist to sophomore Traci Shurtleff for the first of Shurtleff’s hat-trick. Ute defender Baylee Fox slyly forced a Cougar turnover leading to a fast break to put the Utes up by 2 before the Cougs could respond. Respond they did as middie Brooke Smith exploded for 2 draw-win-to-goals in a row for the first of her 10, yes, 10 twine ticklers. The BYU junior’s sawbuck featured a free position assist from sophomore Carrie Westover, and a breakaway helper from senior Kristin Lund. Lund lit the lamp 2 times, and rounding out the scoring for the Cougars were Beth Calderwood with an ace, and senior Brook Erickson finding-filament once, and assisting  junior Shelby Baron for one of Baron’s 2 barn-burners, including a hard one-on-one drive deep inside the Ute 8. The second stanza began with the Cougars up by 2. Ute freshman Katie Baker (Katie 2) finished on a hard crease-roll, and a Katie 3-to-Katie 2 freestyle free-position foray. The Utes intercepted a sling of Cat hurls, with sophomores Taylor Dunn adding an INT to her G, and Alexa Steed pithily pilfering a possession. Dealing dual dingers for the Utes were sophomores Cody Rennert and Haley Poulson, and junior Nancy Ann Little notched a large net-bender. The Cougar’s lead surged early in the second before Ute sophomore Haley Poulson put the difference back to 11 to 13 late in the contest with an assist to Tracy Souvall for one of the junior’s two thread-thrashers. While the D battled hard in both colors, the Blue displayed their experience and blotted out the Red from there.
Goaltenders from both teams stood tall, Ute juniors Jacklyn Amadu, whom was spelled by junior Cathryn Bonitz upon Amadu’s penalty for her follow-through on a clearing pass, and literally by lofty BYU sophomore Megan Mcleary. Cougar keeper Mcleary kept the Cat’s attic clean, shielding a handful of Ute arrows whizzing toward top-shelf.
Both squads will be in action on Tuesday, 4/10, away, but close to home. The Cougars enter the Wolverine den as the UVU Women try to even their W/L record in their very successful maiden voyage, and the Utes roll down the hill to the Griffin lair for one of the season’s most anticipated duels, and possibly a harbinger of championship proportions in Pike’s Peak country in May.
Photos courtesy of Jim Rennert

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