CSU comeback falls just short in loss to Cal-Poly

Tyler Johnson

The Colorado State club lacrosse team came out strong against No. 22 Cal-Poly, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Mustangs as the Rams (4-5) fell by a final score of 7-9.

The Rams got the scoring started with a goal by junior Dominic Santor five minutes into the first quarter. Just seconds later, senior AJ Stewart extended the Rams’ lead with an impressive goal after the face-off. CSU’s defense was impressive in the first frame creating turnovers limiting scoring opportunities for the Mustangs.

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player throws ball
Senior AJ Stewart makes a pass during the first quarter of the game on March 27. CSU lost to Cal-Poly with a score of 9-7. (Julia Bailey | Collegian)

Cal-Poly eventually broke through with a goal with three minutes left in the quarter to cut the deficit to one at the end of the frame.

The second quarter saw an offensive explosion. Cal-Poly scored two consecutive goals while the Rams struggled to get good looks on the offensive end. Another score by Stewart ended CSU’s scoring drought and tied the game at three, but the Mustangs answered with two goals giving them their largest lead of the game.

Once again, Stewart got the Rams back in the match with a goal to end the first-half scoring. Heading into the break, the Rams trailed 5-4.

Early in the second half, the Mustangs increased their lead back to two with a goal from Justin Reno. The Rams quickly settled down and once again surrendered only one goal in the quarter. During the quarter, junior goalie Francis Culhan had a number of impressive saves that kept the Rams within striking distance.

The Rams cut the deficit to one with a goal by freshman Pete Aplet with just a couple minutes left in the third and that score held as they headed into the final stanza.

CSU came out in the fourth with the goal of completing the comeback, and halfway into the fourth, CSU found the goal they were looking for from Stewart. It was the first time since the first half that the Rams had a share of the lead. The re-energized Rams capitalized on the momentum with another goal, this time from Aplet.

The Rams came all the way back and looked to be in the driver’s seat with only minutes left. However, two late goals by the Mustangs gave them the lead and the win. Head coach Ryan MacDonald was happy with his team’s effort, but felt disappointed with the result.

“We were never really out of it,” MacDonald said. “We started to lose our composure towards the end and that’s what got us. It’s a tough loss to take but we’ve got to keep working hard.”

The standout performance for the Rams clearly came from Stewart, whose four goals accounted for more than half of the team’s score. Stewart has now tallied 13 goals on the season, the third-best total on the team.

The team’s focus now shifts to University of California Santa Barbara, who they take on at home on Thursday, March 29.

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Collegian sports reporter Tyler Johnson can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TylerGjohnson20.