The last time the CSU lacrosse team ventured to Greenville, South Carolina, they returned to Fort Collins with a National Championship title.
Monday, the Rams (17-0) will begin their title defense, facing off against Purdue in the first round of the 2013 MCLA National Championships.
The Boilermakers (9-4) are making their first appearance in the MCLA tournament as the 16 seed after winning their last 5 games of the season, including a thrilling 12-11 victory over bitter in-state rival Indiana in the GRLC Conference Championship.
“This is a big deal for us,” Purdue captain Cameron Kilar said. “It’s the first time we have won our conference and the first time have made Nationals. Just three years ago we missed our conference tournament, so to win that and be a part of the National Tournament says a lot about our hard work this year.”
Meanwhile, CSU ended their season with a bang, defeating second ranked CU 9-6 in the RMLC Championships to capture their ninth RMLC title and their 19th straight win of the season. However, the Rams are not dwelling on what they have already done, they are focused on what they have left to do.
“We treat this like a business trip,” senior midfielder Alex Devlin said. “We only have one goal and one focus, and that’s the game ahead. There aren’t distractions to worry about out here, our only focus is playing good lacrosse.”
Teams that play the Rams will bring everything they’ve got, hoping to hand CSU their first loss of the season.
“Every team we face is going to come in with a lot of energy so we are going into games with the mentality that we are coming after them,” senior defenseman Hayden Porter said. “We want to do what we do and play our game. Hopefully, that will be enough to throw them out of their comfort zone.”
Kilar and Purdue will have to make the most out of their chances, as CSU does not make mistakes often.
“We have a good faceoff guy, so if we can get some solid possessions and keep it out of their offensive end, we will give ourselves a better chance,” Kilar said. “CSU is the type of team that you can’t make any mistakes against, so we are going to have to stay turnover free and keep on playing the lacrosse that we have been playing.”
At the cusp of their final goal of the season, the Rams have a multitude of senior leaders that will play a pivotal role in defending CSU’s national championship. Needless to say, the Rams hope to return from Greenville in similar fashion as last year, bringing home some extra hardware to add to the trophy case.
“Senior leadership is huge, it’s carried us this far, and these really important games, the leaders have to step up,” Tim Taggart said. “With our 14 seniors, it’s really going to help down the stretch. We’ve all been here before, we’ve all played in big games, and we know what to expect.”
Club Sports Beat Reporter Tyrus Coder can be reached at email@example.com.