Saturday holds the biggest regular-season game of the year for CSU’s men’s lacrosse club: a showdown with in-state rival Colorado in Hughes Stadium.
Not only is it a part of the never-ending ruthless CU-CSU rivalry, but the teams will be fighting for a second-place final standing in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference, and the higher seed for the conference tournament in which the Rams (9-6, 3-1 RMLC) and Buffs (11-4, 3-1 RMLC) will inevitably face each other again in the first round.
Building momentum for that first round of the RMLC Tournament is what this game is about just as much as the rivalry, according to CSU head coach Alex Smith.
“I think if either team gets swept here, they probably won’t be going to the national tournament,” Smith said.
CSU will also be seeking revenge from last year’s loss to the Buffaloes, which came after three victories over CU in 2013. But the departure of MCLA All-American attackmen Riley Seidel and Jack Cranston from CU should make it easier on the Rams. Not to mention, CSU has home-field advantage playing in Hughes Stadium, which the Rams expect to decently fill with a home crowd.
“We’re excited to get that opportunity (to play in Hughes),” Smith said. “It’s definitely going to add to the flavor of the whole match.”
According to Smith, 2,000 tickets to the game, slated for a 6 p.m. face-off Saturday, have already been sold. Students can buy tickets for $10 and adults for $12 at csutix.com and Saturday at the gate.
Though they no longer have to worry about Seidel and Cranston, three more Buffs are quite dangerous offensively this year. The trio of senior attackman Jace Glan, freshman Colin MacIlvennie and junior midfielder John Clayton have combined for 77 goals on the season, with Glan leading with 29 goals to go along with his nine assists. The Buffs average 15.9 goals per game, indicating a high pace of play, so CSU goalies David Salamie and Jake Bender will have to be on their toes.
“I’m very confident in our defense,” Bender said. “I’m very confident we’ll be able to stop those top scorers, and kind of shut them out of the game and make the other guys try to beat us. I feel like when we worry about their offense more than we worry about our defense is when we fall apart. If we play our defense and control the game on our defense’s side and then let the offense do what they need to do, good things are going to come out of the game.”
In the goal for the Buffs will be freshman Jensen Makarov, who allows 9.57 per game on average with .568 save percentage. Makarov will be facing a CSU attack led by sophomore Ashton Monheiser, who’s netted a team-leading 28 goals on the year to go along with 12 assists.
“I really think it’s anyone’s game this year,” Bender said. “If we put our heart into it, and finish all the way through the fourth quarter, we’ll come out with a W. The whole 60 minutes is going to be jam packed with pressure and a lot of excitement.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.