No. 2 CSU Comes Back to Nip MSU in Overtime

FARMINGTON, Mich. Holding a 9-5 lead with just under seven minutes to go in the contest, No. 8 Michigan State looked poised for the upset against a No. 2 Colorado State team that just couldn't get anything going. But the Rams finally found their offense, exploding for six goals in just under three minutes to tie the game before eventually getting the game winner from Austin Fisher in overtime to seal a dramatic 11-10 comeback victory over the host Spartans.

CSU was uncharacteristically sloppy for most of the game as their poor play from the previous night's game against No. 1 Michigan seemed to carry over for a large part of the match-up against MSU. The Spartans had a 6-4 lead at halftime and dominated the run of play in the third quarter as well to stake out to their 9-5 advantage behind opportunistic offense and tenacious riding and groundball play. Meanwhile, the Rams seemed to be stuck in neutral and unable to get on track as the game appeared to be slipping away.

"That's as frustrated as I've been in a while," coach Alex Smith said about the 9-5 lead the Spartans enjoyed late in the contest. "It was never going to be about x's and o's today. I knew way back in August that this was going to be a very difficult test for us and that no matter what happened last night against Michigan that we were going to get Michigan State's best shot tonight."

But when things were at their bleakest, CSU picked a great time to find their offensive rhythm. Goals from Cooper Kehoe, Greyson Konkel and Sean Smith within 1:46 brought the game to 9-8. Michigan State took a timeout to quell the rush and then immediately scored off the face-off to push their lead back to two with 4:47 remaining, but Colorado State was undeterred. Konkel rattled home another one and Josh Gregg finally got the tying marker off the ensuing face-off to tie the game at 10.

The overtime period was helter-skelter as both teams had opportunities. Senior Andy Flax made a huge save on a one on one match-up on the doorstep for the Rams and Smith Atwood had a big save on an outside blast for the Spartans to keep their teams in the game.

Finally, Garrett Fugier took his man off the right wing, drew a slide and jammed it across to Fisher for the game winner with 1:27 left in overtime to send a relieved and exhausted CSU team on to the field to celebrate their first overtime victory since February of 2006.

"It's definitely a game where we could have folded up our tents and gave up," Smith said. "And despite how we played for much of the night, we showed a lot of character in putting our heads down and making things happen at the end. We finally started riding with intensity and we dodged hard. These teams are very good and you need to be on top of your game the whole night. I feel pretty fortunate about the game all things considered."

Konkel had four goals to tie him for a game-high in points with MSU's Michael Bailey, who recorded his four points on one goal and three assists. Patrick Nemes had three goals as well for Michigan State while Fugier's one goal and two assist effort gave him a three point night as well. CSU found great success facing off, particularly in the fourth quarter and overtime where the Rams were a combined 7/8. Flax finished the game with 11 saves while Atwood made 12.

"We won this game and that was great," said Smith. "But upon reflection, we played about 15 good minutes of lacrosse out of 120 this weekend. We have to take more pride in the little things as we continue to move forward in the season and we have to play with that type of intensity for 60 minutes to get wins against good teams. Our schedule is brutally demanding and we need to be a lot better as we move down the stretch."

Colorado State doesn't have much time to enjoy its victory because next up is a weekend home doubleheader against unranked Lindenwood on Saturday and #5 Chapman on Monday night. The Rams move to 2-0 all-time against MSU after their 13-7 victory over the Spartans last season.

2011-04-04



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