No. 15 Bulldogs Come Back to Beat the Gophers

Duluth, MN (February 27, 2012) In another heated game that builds the lore of the rivalry the Minnesota Duluth Men's Bulldog lacrosse team secured a regular season UMLC win against the Minnesota Gophers.

"The feelings towards these games are always much more personal," said senior captain Matt Madden (#17, Rochester, MN.) "This was a very important game to us."

Both teams came to play, as evidenced by the fast pace and back-and-forth scoring. The Gophers played outstanding lacrosse in the second quarter, going on a 5-goal run that gave them the lead. But there was no panic on the Bulldog sideline during this "run" instead, there was a commitment to hard work, and in the fourth quarter, that commitment paid its due.

"We knew going into this game that it would be a battle for sixty minutes. The U of M is a much improved team from top to bottom," said assistant head coach Sam Litman.

A fourth quarter comeback by the Bulldogs was the furthest thing from the over 800 spectators' minds after viewing the first quarter. The first quarter started out with a goal from Drake Peterson (#15, Marymount HS, OH) at the 13:32 mark from resurgent attack line mate Kevin Gaydos (#6, Centennial HS, MN). A few minutes later, their attack line mate Alex McNamara (#10, Academy of Holy Angels, MN) would add to the scoreboard, putting the Bulldogs up 2-0 halfway through the quarter.

But the early Bulldog lead was just the start of the battle. At 9:18, the Gophers Tim Rondorf (#33, Eastview HS, MN) passed to Gopher freshman Sean Lee (#25, Mounds View HS, MN) and just like that, the score was 2-1. The Bulldogs had an opportunity to quickly respond to the Lee goal when the Gophers #44 Jack Buckley cross checked a UMD player, putting the Bulldogs one-man up. However, the Bulldogs wouldn't find a chance to score, and the teams returned to even ground with six minutes left in the quarter. However, Bulldog midfielder Stan Drutowski (#28, Rosemount, MN) would pound in a high hard shot from 15 yards, ending the first quarter with a score of 3-1.

"It's important that we played all four quarters like it's our last time stepping on the field, and we did that in the first quarter" said Madden.

The Bulldogs continued this approach at the beginning of the second quarter. Peterson came out swinging, scoring his second goal for the Bulldogs, and stretching the lead to 4-1. That lead was short lived. After some poor Bulldog clearing, and a Matt Murphy (#21, Eden Prairie, MN) blast and Gopher response goal, the Gophers used the extra possessions to go on a 5-goal run, and would end the second quarter with a two goal lead, 7-5. Instrumental to the Gopher's lead was the play of Rondorf, who controlled play, rode hard and scored the Gopher's 7th goal with 20 seconds left in the second quarter.

The third quarter started roughly for the Bulldogs, and heat built in the dome -- could the Gophers do it again? While the Bulldogs' McNamara squeezed in a goal around 12:27 into the quarter, the Gopher's responded, with Thomas Van Valkenberg's second goal (#8, Green Bay, WI). After a procession of both team's players to the penalty box, the Gopher's Max Alexander (#22, Eden Prairie, MN) jammed in one more goal at the end of the quarter, putting the Gophers ahead by three, making the score 9-6.

"Rivalry games like this come down to who wants it more. We had a choice at that time We could have become mad at ourselves and come apart, or we could come together. The final score shows what our team decided to do," said Litman.

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