#3 Rams Edge #7 Colorado in RMLC Semifinals

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Three weeks ago in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Showdown, Colorado State jumped out to an early advantage and held off a spirited rally by rival Colorado to win 9-8. The final score on Friday afternoon was the same, but the story of the game was reversed, as CSU had to climb out of an early 5-0 hole before eventually posting an impressive comeback victory in the RMLC semifinals at Walker Field on the campus of Mesa State.

The Rams narrowed the gap to 6-3 at halftime before outscoring CU 6-2 in the second half to get the emotional victory. Austin Fisher led the way with five points for CSU, propelling them to the RMLC championship game for the second time in as many years.

Colorado got on the board quickly, scoring three goals before the game was barely two minutes old. An early face-off win led to the first goal and then timely cutting and deadly shooting by the Buffs put the Rams in an unfamiliar position and their biggest deficit of the year. CU led 5-0 with 9:31 left in the first quarter before Austin Fisher finally got CSU's first goal with 4:19 remaining in the stanza.

"We knew it wasn't about x's and o's when we got down," said CSU head coach Alex Smith. "They were simply outplaying us and winning a lot of little battles. They played great in the opening minutes of the game and we had to be careful not to let the game get too far away from us. We showed a lot of resolve in hanging around until we could get on top of the action."

CU eventually led 5-1 and 6-2 before the Rams were able to close the gap to 6-3 at halftime. Immediately out of the halftime break, Cooper Kehoe scored his first and only goal of the game to narrow the margin to two. A wild flurry of goals highlighted the rest of the quarter as the two teams combined for four goals in just under five minutes. When the dust settled, the Rams finished the third period with three straight tallies to finally tie the game at 8 before Austin Fisher emphatically slammed home the game-winner with 13:23 remaining in regulation.

The Rams got a boost from sophomore Dan Warfield, who replaced injured Scott Gelston at the face-off 'x' and won 9 of 17 draws. Fisher led all scorers with three goals and two assists for CSU and seven other Rams registered exactly one point on the afternoon. CU was led by AJ Blackburn with one goal and three assists and Colin Rosemblum's two points. LSM Hap Knowles had an impressive day for the Buffs as well with a goal and an assist.

"One of our goals was to make other people beat us," said Smith of holding Blackburn to a single tally and star midfielder Jack Cranston without a point. "Those are two really good players and we have respect for the rest of their team, but we had a feeling that holding them down would give us a good chance to win. I'm happy that we stuck to the gameplan and gave ourselves a chance down the stretch of the game."

Colorado State moves to 15-2 on the season and will face Brigham Young in the finals of the RMLC tournament on Saturday evening. BYU defeated CSU two Saturdays ago in Provo by an 8-5 and got to the championship game by virtue of a businesslike 11-5 win over Utah in the other semifinal. CSU defeated BYU 15-10 in last year's RMLC title game and will attempt to win back-to-back conference titles for the first time since the 2004 season.

2011-05-07



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