CSU, BYU men’s lacrosse teams to face off in RMLC semifinals

Sophmore attackman Jake Johnson (48) and the Colorado State men's lacrosse team will take on rival BYU in the RMLC semifinals Friday.
Sophmore attackman Jake Johnson (48) and the Colorado State men’s lacrosse team will take on rival BYU in the RMLC semifinals Friday.

Colorado State and Brigham Young University aren’t two schools you would typically consider rivals. The two universities are separated by almost 500 miles, or a seven-hour car ride. For most CSU fans, the last time these two schools played a meaningful contest was when BYU’s men’s basketball team upended CSU 94-85 in January 2011.

However, both have men’s lacrosse programs set to battle in a win-or-go-home game of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference playoffs Friday.

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Since 2011, the two squads have met eight times, each winning four of those matchups. Three of those games have come in the MCLA national semifinals, with CSU winning in both 2012 and 2013 on their way to consecutive national titles. Of their eight matchups, six have been decided by two goals or less.

So, is it safe to say these two are rivals?

While the Rams (10-4) have had the upper hand in recent years, winning the last three matchups before this season, it was the Cougars (14-2) who prevailed in the first meeting this season with a decisive 10-7 victory in Fort Collins on March 8.

But now, with a trip to RMLC finals and a possible rematch with rival Colorado, the Rams have a bit of revenge on their minds.

“All of that stuff plays into it,” head coach Alex Smith said of the rivalry. “There won’t be much we have to say before this one.”

In their last matchup, the Rams had their 33-game MCLA winning streak snapped by the Cougars, who were also the last team to beat them before that streak started nearly two years before. BYU was led by attackman Mike Fabrizio who scored a game-high six goals, including two in the first two minutes. Despite three goals from senior attackman Sean Smith, the Cougars led from start to finish, never allowing the Rams closer than a goal.

After sitting out last week’s 20-9 rout of Utah State, Alex Smith believes Sean, who leads the team in goals, assists, points, and shots, will be ready to go along with fellow attackman Kacy Carter who also sat out the game. The duo has combined for 33 goals and 26 assists this year, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the team’s total points.

However, with both Carter and Smith sitting out, the Rams found another dynamic playmaker in sophomore attackman Jake Johnson who led the Rams with four goals and an assist in Friday’s win, something Alex Smith believes can only help the team moving forward.

“Jake did a great stop stepping up on Saturday, but we have a lot of talented guys in that spot that can do some things,” Smith said. “But, we need to see that from our guys (Friday) because Jake, along with our other guys can do some pretty special things.”

What: No. 5 CSU (10-4) vs No. 3 BYU (14-2)

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When: Friday, 4:00 p.m.

Where: Walker Field, Grand Junction, CO

Collegian Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.