The players of the CSU lacrosse team said farewell to their regular season hoisting a 15-0 record and the Bronze Helmet Trophy in front of a standing ovation at Hughes Stadium.
An estimated attendance of 4,500 were on hand Saturday to witness the Rams end their perfect season with an 8-3 victory over CU-Boulder.
“I haven’t seen anything like this in a long time,” CSU senior Hayden Porter said. “This is what we were going for, it’s great. I love playing in this atmosphere of big crowds and big games, it makes the moment that much more enjoyable.”
The CSU lacrosse club was founded in 1969 and has grown considerably since its 1999 acceptance into the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference. According to Flip Naumburg, who coached the team from 1998-2102, an undefeated season had yet to be achieved by any CSU lacrosse team until Saturday.
“At the start of the year I was thinking about having the talk with them about losing because it was an eventuality in this sport. I knew we had some talent on this team but the way these guys stepped up made it possible,” CSU coach Alex Smith said. “(Being undefeated) is cool, but I’m leaving this game thinking we still have stuff to get better at.”
Saturday’s matchup between No. 1 CSU and No. 2 CU was the first time the top two seeded teams in the conference had met since 2006.
The Rams and Buffaloes stayed within striking distance of each other for the entire first half, never leading the other by more than two goals at any point.
“They had an answer for us every time in that first half, they came out with fire and we knew they wanted it,” Porter said.
CU would muster only one more goal after going into halftime with a 4-2 deficit. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Buffaloes were averaging 12.6 goals per game.
“We were definitely ready, we just didn’t play 60 minutes. These are two of the hardest working teams in the country and today they won it, they definitely earned it,” CU senior Danny Schatz said.
Despite its loss, CU still holds on to the No. 2 seed entering the RMLC playoffs that begin in two weeks at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
This weekend’s game between BYU and Utah will determine the remaining No. 3 and No. 4 seeds of the conference tournament. The Buffaloes will meet the winner of that game in the first round and CSU will face the lowest seeded.
“Obviously there’s a really good chance that we’re going to see these guys again in the postseason,” Porter said. “I think it will add fuel to their fire to be ready for us, but we’ll be more ready again.”
After beginning the season with aspirations of repeating its last season, there are now six victories standing between CSU lacrosse and its sixth Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division I national championship.
“As long as we’re playing our best at the end of these tournaments, then we’re going to take our chances with anybody,” Smith said. “15-0 doesn’t mean anything if you end up 18-1.”
Club Sports Beat Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.