#3 Colorado State Tops #2 BYU for RMLC Title

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. No. 3 Colorado State used a 6-0 run in the second half and timely goaltending and face-offs to take down #2 Brigham Young in the RMLC championship game on Saturday afternoon. CSU turned a 4-2 deficit into an 8-4 lead before eventually holding on to win 8-5, avenging their loss to BYU two weeks ago and sewing up the #2 overall seed in the national tournament starting on May 17.

Coming off an emotional comeback victory against Colorado in the RMLC semifinals on Friday, CSU leaned on its defense to carry them against a potent BYU team that had won eight straight games prior to Saturday's championship game. Tied 2-2 at halftime, CSU watched as BYU rattled off two straight goals to start the half, a near replica of the regular season contest in Provo where the Cougars used a decisive third quarter run to put away the Rams. But this time, it was CSU who would make the last run of the game and the Rams earned a hard-fought victory in one of the biggest rivalries in the MCLA.

"Even though the second half of this game started a lot like our last one against them, we didn't feel as a team like we were losing control of the game," said CSU coach Alex Smith. "In our first meeting, we were completely out of sorts and not prepared for them mentally, emotionally, physically or otherwise. They really outplayed us. But this time, we were really confident that our gameplan would eventually prevail and I have to give credit to our guys for continuing to stick it out and making the big plays that define a team's character."

After Braxton Campbell scored on a terrific individual effort to pull the Rams within one at the end of the third quarter, CSU scored five straight in the fourth quarter, all in just over six minutes. Midfielders Alex Devlin and Garrett Fugier scored after lengthy possessions and Austin Fisher got one off an errant clearing attempt by BYU with 3:36 remaining. Just thirty seconds later, Greyson Konkel added a man-up tally to punctuate the run and give the Rams the breathing room they needed to run out the clock. Colorado State's outstanding defensive effort was led by sophomores Tyler Zabor and Hayden Porter, who limited BYU's dangerous attack unit all game long. Brigham Young totaled just one shot in the fourth quarter compared to CSU's 11. When the Cougars did get a good look at the cage, senior Andy Flax rose to the challenge, making five saves on the afternoon and clearing the ball efficiently to help secure the win.

"Our defense can really shine at times," said Smith. "If you take away those five goals in the first quarter yesterday against CU, we only gave up eight goals in the next 135 minutes against two top ten teams. I was very impressed with our effort and resolve on that end of the field this whole weekend."

Senior Cooper Kehoe was held scoreless in the contest for the first time since 2009, but he made an impact regardless, drawing the attention of BYU's defense and facilitating his teammates. Konkel had two goals for CSU while Fisher finished with a team-high three points. BYU was led by Ted Ferrin's three goals.

"We talked for two weeks about focusing on details," said Smith. "I think this weekend was the culmination of a lot of hard work and focus. Winning the RMLC is very special and we are proud of it. But this season is far from over. We have our eyes set on a bigger goal and we will need to continue to get better over our last four or five practices to get what we want. Winning this tournament shows me that we are ready to compete against two elite opponents on back to back days and have the legs and drive to play at a high level against anyone."

Colorado State captures its second RMLC championship in the last two years and seventh since 2000. The Rams sit at 16-2 overall on the season and will be the #2 seed in the MCLA national tournament that gets underway on Tuesday, May 17 at Dicks Sport Goods Park. The Rams have drawn #15 Minnesota-Duluth, the automatic qualifier from the UMLL, and will face-off against the Bulldogs at 4:00 pm MST next Tuesday.


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