Tigers Roar by Southwestern into SCAC Title Game

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Colorado College took another step toward its first-ever NCAA tournament bid on Friday. CC, riding a three-goal performance by freshman attackman Jake Smith, roared back from an early 2-0 deficit to claim a 10-4 victory over Southwestern in the semifinals of the SCAC playoffs at Washburn Field.

The Tigers, now 11-0 overall for the season, can claim their second consecutive league title and an automatic NCAA bid on Sunday, when they meet either Birmingham-Southern College or Sewanee: University of the South in the SCAC championship game at noon MT.

"We're happy to be playing," said head coach Guy Van Arsdale. "It's a big deal, an opportunity for this program that's never been there to have complete self-determination in terms of the NCAA Tournament. We know that if we win on Sunday we're going. That's a wonderful thing to have. I think the big thing for us will be how we handle the weight of that kind of background to the game, knowing what's at stake."

Birmingham-Southern and Sewanee met in the other semifinal matchup later on Friday.

The visiting Pirates, who finished fourth in the SCAC standings, grabbed their early lead on goals 4:13 apart midway through the first quarter by Gus Brunger and Edward Williams. CC didn't get on the scoreboard until Carson Christman converted on his own rebound with 12.9 seconds left in the period.

The Tigers evened the count on an unassisted effort by Charles Curtis at 1:03 of the second frame.

Junior midfielder James Mauk set up Smith's first tally of the contest at 9:25, putting Colorado College ahead to stay. Moses Taylor and Smith struck at 10:07 and 11:12, respectively, as CC scored three times in a span of 1:47 before Williams pulled Southwestern to within 5-3 at halftime.

Junior goalie Chris O'Quain, who finished with 25 saves, kept the Pirates close until the Tigers bumped their lead to 8-4 on a pair of goals by Jack Kreitler and Steve Rijo in the final four minutes of the third period. Kreitler and Rijo added unassisted goals midway through the fourth quarter to make it 10-4.

"Southwestern did a nice job of preparing and took away our transition game," Van Arsdale said. "They conceded the clear, got back in and sat in the zone. Then they relied on the goaltender to keep them in the game, and he did. I never felt we were in danger of not getting the outcome we wanted. It's just [a matter of] how we got there."

Christman collected a pair of assists to go with his early goal. Freshman goaltender Zach Steedman made five saves in the Colorado College net.


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