It wasn’t the normal a final “1-2-3, Rams” after Thursday’s CSU men’s lacrosse practice. Instead, the Rams did a “1-2-3- f*** CU” to end the final practice of the regular season and the last time the whole team will be together before taking the field against their Colorado rival.
All the preparation in practice is at a standstill until game time. From this point on it will be a mental game until CSU and the University of Colorado take the field Saturday in their annual match up of the season at Sports Authority Field.
“This is a huge game for us and I think it is just a way to finish strong and get ready for the play offs,” senior Ethan Lahoda said. “We have come so far, we started off slow but now we are playing some of the best lacrosse we have played all season and we are ready for the challenge.”
Saturday is not just the opportunity to be named the best men’s lacrosse team in Colorado, it will determine where each team lands at the end of spring regulation play. The final game of the season is also an opportunity for CSU to show fans, coaches and competitors how far it has grown from the beginning of the season.
“We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do and what they are going to try to do and I think vise verse of what we are going to try to do so there are not many secrets between us,” head coach Alex Smith said. “It is just going to be if we can execute it or not.”
In their final practice of the regular season, the Rams focused on several drills running through plays it does during games as well as the fundamentals on offense and defense. CSU knows it will need to control CU seniors Reily Seidel and Jack Cranston specifically in order to limit shots on net.
“First of all, they are a really emotional team they want to beat us and it has been a while for them from beating us and there attack is on of the best attack group in the country,” Smith said. “They play a lot of zone defense so we are thinking about that a lot and just those little things that start to become of the preparation.”
Smith also comments on his players ability to know who to cover and what to do in this game even without him saying it. CSU stands in the third spot in the conference behind No.1 CU and No.2 BYU . A win will even the teams records at 11-3 on the season leaving the standings down to a tie breaker determined by the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association league.
The Rams can not afford to come without the same intensity as it did last weekend against Utah and Westminster. Smith mentioned previously that Saturdays game against Westminster was its closest attempt to playing a full 60-minute game.
It will not be up to the players to continue its momentum from a week ago into a game just over 24 hours away. It will be pivotal that CSU does not fall back to hold habits and lose the intensity early on.
The Rams have had several games this season come down to the final minutes which has not accustomed them to playing in a several point come from behind experience. Saturdays game is the final regular season game of the season and it knows a win will bring the bronze helmet back to Fort Collins.
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.