#2 Brigham Young Tops #3 Rams in MCLA Semis

Denver, COLO Second-seeded Colorado State saw their 2011 season come to an end at the hands of RMLC rival and #3 seed Brigham Young on Friday afternoon. The Rams led 7-6 at the end of the first half, but were ultimately undone by a four-goal third period by BYU and unable to capitalize on some late opportunities. BYU led 10-8 after three quarters and scored four more in the fourth to win 14-11 and advance to the MCLA national championship game.

CSU started the game hot, going on a 4-1 run in the first quarter, including a half-field goal from midfielder Alex Devlin while BYU tried to execute a ten-man ride. The Rams were clicking on all cylinders, but BYU scratched back into the game, scoring three straight to tie it after one quarter of play. The teams were basically even in the second period before the Cougars' critical second half run.

"I thought we just made a few too many mistakes at the very key times of the game," said CSU coach Alex Smith. "They rode us really well and forced us into some uncomfortable positions and we weren't quite able to react the way we needed to."

BYU's ride was indeed the difference in the game, holding CSU to just 21 of 31 clearing attempts. The Rams dominated the face-off category by winning 19 of 29 draws thanks to the play of Dan Warfield and Scott Gelston.

In the two previous BYU/CSU games this season, the final score was 8-5 with one team winning each contest. The offenses found their stride in this game, combining for 13 goals at halftime of the national semifinal.

"I thought our offense played really well this whole week when we had the ball," said Smith. "We finally started getting some of the looks we've been working all season at finding. Unfortunately the ball just didn't seem to bounce our way very much today. Ultimately, we gave up too many goals, no matter how you slice it. We just needed to have the ball a little more."

BYU was keyed by Ted Ferrin's three points and Corey Gunderson's three goals. The Rams were led by Cooper Kehoe's three points and three goals from Stephen Unkrich. Both teams used two goalies in the game as CSU freshman Jack Regan came off the bench in the middle of the second quarter to record six saves and Wes Goar made one in relief after starter Matt Brandenburg went out with a thumb injury.

CSU graduates a plethora of important seniors, including Kehoe and Jake Flax on attack, starting goaltender Andy Flax, midfielders Garrett Fugier and Spencer Morrison, long-stick midfielder Mark Moskovics, face-off man Scott Gelston, defensive midfielder Jon Cressman and close defenders Sean Albert and Hunter Jones.

"This group of seniors has been so important to our program," said Smith. "They absolutely embody everything it means to be a part of CSU men's lacrosse. I'm very sorry for them that they didn't get a chance to experience winning a championship, but I'm also so proud to have known each and every one of them. They represent our family to the highest extent and we will always appreciate their contributions, both on and off the field."

The Rams close the 2011 season with an 18-3 record and their first MCLA semifinal appearance since 2007. They were the first CSU team since 2004 to win back to back RMLC conference championships and have accumulated an overall record of 35-6 over the past two years. BYU advances to take on Arizona State, who defeated Michigan in the other semifinal.


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