The Colorado State men’s lacrosse team used a double penalty in the second half to mount a comeback against Minnesota, capturing an undefeated weekend and moving to 5-1 on the season.
The Rams were subject to two very different games, however both with similar outcomes. The Rams blew out Texas A&M Friday night at Loveland Sports Park and chased Minnesota until game’s end on Sunday afternoon.
“I think it (Friday’s game) potentially could have (affected the slow start on Sunday),” head coach Ted Fifield said. “You know you win big on another team, you go 18-1, both sides of the ball are feeling themselves a little bit.”
The No. 6 Rams stunned Minnesota with a last-second goal by junior A.J. Stewart. The goal was made possible by a stingy fourth quarter defensive performance that allowed attackers to mount the four goal comeback, eventually netting a fifth goal to seal the 9-8 victory.
“I think that the defense we’ve had for years has pretty much been the staple to our team and holding them to pretty much nothing in the fourth quarter,” Stewart said. “I give all the credit to them.”
The Rams entered halftime down 5-3 after a sluggish and passive start by the offense which was directly affected by the aggressive game plan from Minnesota. Coming off a loss to Colorado Friday night, the Golden Gophers were aiming to come out strong and create a different outcome.
“They (Minnesota) are growing every year and I think our guys probably took it a little bit for granted and maybe mentally weren’t as ready as they should’ve been at the start of the game,” Fifield said.
The second half started the same way the first half ended. Minnesota kept on the attack and extended their lead to an 8-4 cushion going into the waning minutes of the third quarter. However, the Rams stayed resilient and kept comeback hopes alive.
“They definitely came out strong, but this team persevered and we went hard and just couldn’t have done it without six of us together and all the defenders,” team points leader Ashton Monheiser said. “It took every single one of us to win.”
Monheiser was shut down for the better part of the first three quarters but found a rhythm with assists on both of CSU’s man-up goals to start the fourth quarter following Minnesota’s double penalty. Those penalties served as the catalyst for the comeback as the Rams scored four unanswered goals.
“I think it’s a really great lesson for us to learn that we can’t come out flat at all,” Monheiser said. “And the competition’s only gonna go up from here so we really need to come out flying for 60 minutes.”
The Rams faced adversity for one of the few times this season so far and came out victorious, which teaches a lesson to the younger and older players alike.
“It [the comeback] allows the younger guys to know that we can pull through in something like this and not hang our heads when we’re down,” Stewart said. “And it shows we have a lot of talent from defense to face-offs to offense.”
The Rams will ride the momentum from this weekend into California next weekend where they will face UC-Santa Barbara Friday and CAL Poly on Sunday.
Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lukezahlmann