No. 5 Brigham Young Staves off No. 9 Michigan State

BOULDER, CO Brigham Young started the most difficult week of its regular season schedule with a 5-6 win against Michigan State. The two teams faced-off, Wednesday, on Kittredge Field at the University of Colorado, not having played each other since 2011.

Penalties and long, developed possessions dictated the flow of the game from start to finish.

Over the course of the afternoon the Spartan's junior midfielder Joseph Mikkelsen dominated face-offs, losing only one of all 11 that he participated in. Michigan State used this advantage to methodically work the ball around their offensive half of the field, looking for holes in the Cougar defense.

"Before the game we talked about being patient and playing our game," said BYU sophomore defenseman Quentin Willey. "Ultimately I think our defense held up so well because we waited for the right opportunities to get the ball. We wanted to make things happen, but we played within our abilities and didn't allow ourselves to get lulled to sleep by their perimeter passing."

BYU was able to jump out to a 0-2 lead in the first quarter due to a man up goal by midfielder Nick Stevens and an unassisted rocket by junior attackman Jake Arbon that found the back of MSU's net. The Spartans responded confidently, however, and the period ended with the teams tied, 2-2.

Transitions stayed few and far between for both teams until the later minutes of the second quarter. Three consecutive one minute penalties by the Spartans gave BYU defenseman Jake Folkerson the opportunity to score his first goal of the season. Two minutes later, freshman Aaron Fjeldsted from Utah's Lone Peak High School fed his third of three assists in the game to Arbon, who notched his second goal of the day.

BYU converted three of their four first half extra-man situations into goals. Michigan State failed to take advantage of any of their seven man-up opportunities through the first two quarters of the game. This difference formed a big part of the 3-5 lead the Cougars took into halftime.

BYU's Matt Brandenburg, sophomore goalie from Chantilly, Virginia, feels that he and senior goalie Rob Ostler form a "two-headed monster" that successfully staves off opposing offenses. Both players contribute significant time in the Cougar's crease each game, switching out at the matches' half-way point.

"We've pushed each other all year to get better as goalies. When we transition to the second half, Rob always helps me adjust. He lets me know what the other team's shooting tendencies are and how their offense tries to develop plays. It's great to know that he has my back," said Brandenburg.

Big saves by both BYU keepers held the Spartan attack back. MSU outshot the Cougars in the second half, 28 attempts to 6, but BYU's defense protected a 5-6 lead for final ten minutes of the fourth quarter. A couple of key stops by Brandenburg, especially one made shortly after Michigan State's final time out of the game, gave BYU the possessions they needed to preserve the win.

"We had incredible goalie play today," said BYU head coach Matt Schneck. "These low scoring games highlight great performances by our defense and demonstrate that good goalkeeping has been a common theme for us this year."

"I'm glad that we came out on top today against a great Michigan State team. There's a reasonable chance that we will see them again in the post season," Coach Schneck added.

The victory moves the Cougars to six wins, with one loss in 2014, and a 2-1 record so far this season against opponents ranked in the MCLA Coaches Poll's top 20. BYU will look to improve both standings this weekend as they take on the two top-ranked teams in the nation. Brigham Young starts its Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference schedule Friday against #1 University of Colorado-Boulder. The Cougars will then face-off against #2 Colorado State, Saturday evening in Fort Collins.

BYU dealt the Spartans the first loss of their young 2014 campaign. Michigan State now owns a 2-1 record overall. MSU will also play Colorado State and CU this weekend, opposite of the Cougar's scheduled order.

2014-03-07



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