We have been talking about a championship the entire season. —Utah State head coach Jon Atwood
BOULDER, Colo. — The Utah State Aggies took home the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference Division II championship trophy on Saturday in Boulder, Colorado, with a 19-9 win over Fort Lewis. The win gives the Aggies an automatic bid to the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Tournament in mid-May in Southern California.
"It feels fantastic," said Utah State head coach Jon Atwood. "It was scary for a bit and the score doesn't necessarily reflect how close it was in the third."
Aggie attackman Blade Garlow scored the first goal for the Aggies when he powered through the Skyhawk defense and shot the ball low, finding the back of the net. Garlow scored again to extend the Aggie lead, but Fort Lewis answered right back. The Aggies answered with a three-goal run, giving them a 5-1 lead early in the first quarter. Utah State dominated the second quarter, scoring five goals while allowing none to give the Aggies an 11-4 lead at halftime.
Five minutes into the second half, the game was delayed by lightning. After a 45-minute delay, the teams took the field. The Skyhawks benefited most from the rest, which led to a 5-1 run, bringing the score to 12-9 for the Aggies. The Aggie sideline was silent as the Skyhawks continued to pour goals into the back of the net. The Aggies came out in the fourth quarter and dominated the game, scoring six goals and holding the Skyhawks to zero.
"We have been talking about a championship the entire season," said Atwood. "We have had 6 a.m. practices, conditioned and tried to make our guys mentally tougher and stretch them in any way."
Garlow led the Aggies with six goals and three assists.
"I told my mom that I would take her to California," said Garlow. "And now we're going."
In the nightcap, BYU took on Colorado for the Division I title. The Buffaloes came away with a 15-14 overtime victory in a back-and-forth affair.
The Buffaloes took a 4-3 lead after the first quarter while they controlled most of the possession. BYU began to settle in its offense in the second quarter while the defense stood tall, making the score 8-6 at halftime in favor of the Cougars. As one would expect, the third quarter was as close as the other two as the Cougars led 11-10. BYU began to make mistakes in the fourth quarter, giving Colorado key possessions that it capitalized on. As time was winding down, the Cougars trailed by one but midfield Zach Jordan was able to find space with 6.9 seconds remaining, shooting between the goalie's legs to tie the game at 14.
In overtime, Colorado controlled the opening face-off and called a timeout to set up its play. After the short break, the Buffaloes peppered BYU goalie Matt Brandenburg and the entire BYU defense with shot after shot, but BYU was able to get a clear and begin to transition into its offensive half. After a BYU midfielder carried the ball over the midfield line, the officials blew the whistle and penalized BYU for having too many men on the offensive side of the field. The penality gave Colorado more time to find a weakness in the stout Cougar defense. After more shots, the Buffaloes broke through on a goal by John Clayton, giving Colorado the automatic bid to the MCLA National Tournament and the RMLC D-I title.
The Cougars still have a chance to make it to the National Tournament as an at-large selection. The MCLA brackets for D-I and D-II will be released Sunday night.
Tim Haslam is the editor in chief of Utah Lacrosse News, a local website dedicated to the sport of lacrosse. You can reach him at [email protected]