Colorado State University’s club lacrosse team is “hungry for success this season.”
Senior defenseman Peter Hull believes the Rams will be extremely competitive. After missing the playoffs in the spring of 2015, CSU club players are working for better results in 2016.
CSU has played exhibition matches against three in-state opponents this fall, highlighted by an Oct. 17 match with Denver University, the defending Division I National Champions.
The Rams lost the exhibition 27-7, but playing the best team in the nation gave CSU an opportunity to grow as a team, and also highlighted areas the Rams need to improve on going into the spring season.
Offensively, CSU was able to score seven goals and get 25 shots on net, an impressive feat against Denver, who only gave up eight goals per game last season, playing other D-I programs.
“We knew that (losing) was a possibility,” Hull added. “DU is one of the best teams in the nation. We wanted to go out there and compete.”
“You go into the game ready to give your best effort, because you know you’re playing the best team in the country,” junior defenseman Peyton Trask said. “We didn’t really worry about the result, we worried about doing the best we could, and improving our team.”
Under interim head coach Brandon Hulett, Colorado State completed the fall with exhibition victories against Northern Colorado and Colorado State-Pueblo Sunday. Hulett, formerly the offensive coordinator, took over for Alex Smith, who abruptly left the program this month.
CSU won both match ups, winning 10-4 against CSU-Pueblo and 15-1 against UNC. None of the starters played against UNC, but the game with CSU-Pueblo was competitive.
Although the fall exhibitions do not count toward the standings, Hull looked at the exhibitions as chances to prepare for the spring. The scrimmages give the players in-game experiences against other teams and chances to make adjustments.
“Our shooting wasn’t where it needed to be in the first half against Pueblo,” Hull said. “We got it going in the second half though.”
Hull came to CSU following the recommendation of his high school coach, a former teammate of former CSU club coach Alex Smith. Hull was a redshirt freshman on the 2013 National Championship team, so he has seen the club reach its highest potential.
“We need to put in work if we want to get (the results) that we want to get out the season,” Hull said. “So I think everyone is willing to work harder.”
Being a club team, Colorado State lacrosse players do not receive scholarships, so the athletes play for the love and passion of the game.
“We don’t have to put in the work like Division I athletes,” Hull said. “We put in the work because we love it.”
That type of passion for the game has brought a lot of success to CSU club lacrosse team, winning the national championship six times since 1999. CSU hopes to see similar success in 2016.
Playing teams like UNC and CSU-Pueblo give CSU a chance to match up against what could be considered adequate competition, but playing against teams like DU really gives CSU the opportunity to grow as a program.
“They (DU) play at such a high level that it really highlights what we need to work on,” Trask said. “At the same, it’s rewarding when you do something well. I was really proud of our offense that game.”
The defenseman from Steamboat Springs admits the Rams have plenty to work on going into the spring, but says the team practiced hard following the exhibition with DU, and improved a lot Sunday.
“I feel really good about where we are as a team,” Trask said. “If we continue to improve, I see us being playoff contenders, but we have to step up to the challenge of the season first.”
The schedule has not been publicly released for the spring season yet, but matches against the University of Colorado and BYU will highlight the season. Both Hull and Trask pointed to those opponents as crucial games.
The CSU club lacrosse team holds itself to high standards. Every year, the players and coaches expect to be a championship-caliber team. Playing big-time opponents like DU, and putting in work this winter, are the first steps in getting there.
Collegian Sports Reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JustinSportsCSU.