Familiar faces of CU, CSU lacrosse set for high-stakes battle at Hughes

Midfielder Ethan Lahoda looks for a spot to shoot at practice last week. Tomorrow at 5 p.m. the lacrosse team will face off against CU at Hughes Stadium at 5 p.m.
Midfielder Ethan Lahoda looks for a spot to shoot at practice last week. Tomorrow at 5 p.m. the lacrosse team will face off against CU at Hughes Stadium at 5 p.m.

After nine years of playing together, Hayden Porter and Zach Pendleton could have never guessed they would be wearing different colored jerseys in CSU lacrosse’s high-stakes game against CU at Hughes Stadium Saturday night.

In 2009 the two parted ways after their senior season at Heritage high school for the first time since the fourth grade. Tomorrow they will be battling each other’s team for the No. 1 spot in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference in the final game of the regular season.

“We experienced a tremendous amount of success, and it was a large part from those guys. They were the ladykillers and charismatic ones in the group; their chemistry on the field was undeniable, as well as their friendship,” former Heritage coach Sean McCarthy said. “This game is going to be exciting because they’re both kicking ass this year.”

Porter and Pendleton are just some of the many familiar faces that will take opposite sidelines at Hughes.

CSU midfielder Zach Arthur’s little brother serves as the CU backup goalie. Cousins Zach and Hayden Kammerzell played with CU’s Greg Kelsic in high school. CSU’s Austin Fisher, Kacy Carter and Tyler Zabor relate back to a peewee team with Ryan Haines and Taylor Herda of CU.

However, none of it will matter by 5 p.m. tomorrow when the game is underway.

“I didn’t know it ran that deep,” Porter said. “(Zack) is one of my few friends left from high school. We remain in contact but I haven’t heard from him this week. We can talk before and after the game, but on the field we ignore each other and play our game we’re supposed to because he’s a Buffalo now.”

Both sporting a 14-0 (4-0 RMLC) record, the matchup between No. 1 CSU and No. 2 CU will be the first time the top seeds in the conference have collided since 2006.

“I don’t think it would matter if it was No. 1 against No. 2, or No. 1 against No. 20, these games are always so close and anybody can take it on any given day,” CU coach John Galvin said.

Since 2011, all regular season games between the Rams and Buffaloes have been won by only one goal, including an 11-10 CSU victory at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in double overtime last year.

Together CU and CSU have combined for 360 goals, 28 victories and no losses in the 2013 season.

“It really is kind of weird to think that one of us will be coming out of this game with a loss, we’re just going to do everything we can to make sure it’s not us,” CU’s Pendleton said. “If anything, it shows the amount of success our state has had with lacrosse because our league is anything but easy.”

The team who comes out on top will enter the postseason as the overall No. 1 going into the RMLC playoffs, where the final four teams will face single-elimination games on the way to the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association’s national championships.

“Everything is set as big as it can be and we want everybody to be there,” Porter said. “The rivalry is set, the biggest game it can be, on the big stage of Hughes under the stadium lights. It’s all in our hands now.”

Club Sports Beat Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at sports@collegian.com.