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CSU lacrosse uses hot start to drub Utah State 19-5 in conference opener

Colorado State came out firing on all cylinders on their way to a 19-5 victory over Utah State Thursday night.

The Rams were coming off an 11-6 loss to Chapman University last Friday in their final game before conference play. They were plagued by a slow start and lack of momentum.

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“We were a little hesitant going into the game and we got down a couple points and we tend to get down on ourselves when we do that,” Blake Warner said.

The Rams flipped the script against Utah State, scoring seven unanswered goals, six of which came in the opening quarter. The scoring outburst began with two consecutive goals by Warner in the first quarter followed by a third of which Warner assisted.

“We played a lot of good team offense and it was definitely not just me out there, I dedicate almost every one of my points to a solid offense and good teamwork,” Warner said.

Utah State failed to merely cross into the Rams zone until four minutes into the first quarter due to the Rams overwhelming offensive pace and consistent faceoff victories. The Rams hot start was a result of staying upbeat and pushing each other after the Chapman loss.

“We had a really great week of practice and had 3 days where we really focused on us and positivity and just playing hard for each other,” said head coach Ted Fifield.

CSU went into halftime leading 11-2 and riding a wave of momentum caused by a late Chase Warner goal and save by goalie Frank Culhane.

“We just have to focus on the little things. Fundamentals are what got us here and we talked about staying focused on not trying to make hero plays,” Warner said.

Alec Womack had a season-best two goals along with an assist, making the most of his additional playing time in the lopsided contest.

“I give credit to mostly my teammates and coaches believing in me and putting a lot of hard work in and everyone helping push me,” Womack said.

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As the season has progressed, the Rams have come closer and allowed their support of each other to show on the field. The constant momentum boost from the sidelines is one that coach Fifield does not take for granted.

“It’s something that we are constantly working on. I think as a team and as individual players, you’re going to play harder when you know you have your teammates behind you,” Fifield said.

Fifield has taken the roles of head coach and defensive coordinator since being named to lead the program prior to last season. CSU has responded in a big way, continuing their grip on opponents after placing in the top five in scoring defense last season.

“Our defense is always talking and they have the next man-up mentality, which helps us going against them in practice,” Womack said.

The big win allowed younger players to get quality playing time for CSU, and will utilize their strong start to conference play as they continue the road to the playoffs.

“Four more games we have in conference and 3 of the teams we’re going to play are very good teams,” Fifield said. They are two teams that are in the top five in the league in BYU and CU and one is just on the edge of the top 10 in Utah, so those are the battles that will really determine what we do conference wise,”

CSU will look to ride their momentum as they approach a showdown with Liberty University in Fort Collins on Saturday night.

Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann

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