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CSU lacrosse gearing up for season as returning national champions

Assistant coach Brennan Rachman works with the face-off unit during practice Monday night. The Rams Lacrosse team will face-off against Grand Canyon February 21st in California.
Assistant coach Brennan Rachman works with the face-off unit during practice Monday night. The Rams Lacrosse team will face-off against Grand Canyon February 21st in California.

The melting of snow and twittering of birds signals the end of a long winter. Along with brightening everyone’s mood, spring cues in the start to the Colorado State lacrosse season.

Both the men and women’s club teams made Ram fans proud last season, posting undefeated seasons and taking the championship crown in their respective leagues. Each is hoping to do it again this season.

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The men capped 2013 with a MCLA national title for the second year in a row, giving them six trophies on the shelf in total. Their 21-0 season brought head coach Alex Smith to a 73-8 record. A graduate and former goalie for CSU, Smith spent five years as an assistant coach, one as an interim and has now begun his fourth full season at the helm of the Rams.

Two games into this year, CSU has two more losses than they did last season. In their opening exhibition contest, Denver University smote the Rams 14-3. The team patched themselves up over the next two weeks only to lose 9-5 at Colorado Mesa.

“We were really disappointed and felt that we did not play well, even though it was just a scrimmage,” Smith said. “We identified what we need to focus on, which is effort, intensity and having fun. We struggled with that early on.”

Despite the rocky start, Smith is confident that he can whip his team into shape before nationals roll around in May. The team graduated their entire defense last season, losing 14 total players, so Smith has his work cut out for him.

“It’s created a lack of continuity for sure,” he says. “It’s a different team than last year so we are just trying to figure out who we are.”

For now, the Rams will take baby steps, gearing up to take on Grand Junction Friday afternoon in California.

Their female counterparts did not kick off the season the way they had intended either, going 2-2 at the Santa Barbara Shootout tournament this past weekend. Their victory over rival UC Davis capped the tournament off on a high note, but it couldn’t cancel out their 11-10 loss to Georgia to start off the weekend.

Georgia challenged CSU’s No. 1 rank as last season’s No. 2 team. The Rams faced three of their biggest rivals in Georgia, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis in the tournament, all of whom had opportunities the Rams did not — honing their skills in the warm weather.

“We only had about three or four field practices before the tournament, most of them on top of five inches of snow,” captain Annie Larson said. “But our first year coach did a great job of motivating us throughout the tournament.”

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Though Larson feels her team put up a good front based upon their circumstances, the warming weather will certainly mean increased practice for her team as they head into the season.

“With a few more practices under our belt, our stick skills will be ready for our next tournament in two weeks in Texas,” Larson said. “Although we looked pasty next to those California girls, we came out hard and overall I thought the weekend went well.”

Collegian Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @c_rastsa5.
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