For the third time this season, the game between Westminster and No. 10 Colorado Mesa was decided by one point. The Mavericks defeated the Griffins for their fourth-consecutive Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament Championship.
It was a cautious first half for both teams playing some tough defense and both goalies coming up big with saves to deny the opposing team. Conner McFarlane finishes the half with five saves, while Remi Reeves finishes with seven.
Westminster opened the scoring with a pair of goals and a two-point lead. Jacob Taylor assisted Nick Marcy for Westminster’s first goal, and Thomas Sarjeant scored the second on his first attempt of the game. Colorado Mesa responded a couple of minutes later scoring a man-up goal. The quarter ended, 2-1, in Westminster’s favor.
Troy Vance scored on a fast break early in the second quarter, giving the Griffins a 3-1 lead. The teams combined for 15 shots before the next goal was scored. A shot by Blake Gross gave Westminster a three-point lead with four minutes remaining in the first half. With one minute remaining, Colorado Mesa scored, and the teams went into the half with Westminster leading 4-2.
An explosive start to the third quarter saw the Mavericks score two goals in the first minute and a third goal just before five minutes had passed. Colorado Mesa had its first lead of the game, 5-4. The score was tied two more times, and the lead went back to the Griffins before the quarter ended. Sarjeant scored at the horn to end the quarter for the lead, 7-6.
The Mavericks went on a 4-0 run to take their second, and largest lead of the game, 10-7. Two minutes and two mistakes by Mesa quickly allowed Westminster back into the game. A foul on the faceoff gave the ball to Westminster, and it converted on that possession. Minutes later, Reeves was caught in possession and turned the ball over to Lane Kadish who scored on the open goal to make it 9-10 for the final seven minutes. Westminster had the final chance to score with two seconds remaining after a shot clock violation by Colorado Mesa but was unable to beat the crowd of players in front of the goal.
Head coach Mason Goodhand was pleased with the team’s performance and praised them after the game.
“I am very pleased with our ability to compete over eight quarters of closely contested, high-level lacrosse in a span of 22 hours," he said. "We played with patience and determination and nearly reached our goal of single-digit turnovers.
“The attack was unselfish and worked very hard on every ride. The middies, led by Freshman of the Year Kyle Williams and senior Troy Vance, waged war on every faceoff to win some possessions we desperately needed.”
Westminster won 3-of-8 faceoffs in the first half.
“We were stout in the 6 vs. 6 defensively. Braden Pelly had a tremendous day covering Reece Callies, the Offensive Player of the Year," Goodhand said. "He earned five possessions by beating the opponent to the end line on shots.
"From the start, this year was about testing the waters against teams that were in the top 20 and raising the bar for the program. We saw excellent competition and got better with every game. Despite the losses, it was one of our most successful years. The future is promising.”
McFarlane, Sarjeant, Kadish and Bridger Fisher were named to the All-Tournament team. McFarlane ended the tournament with 21 saves, and Sarjeant scored five goals and had two assists. Kadish was the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals, and Fisher scored a hat-trick against Rockhurst. They were joined by five players from Colorado Mesa and one each from Rockhurst and CSU-Pueblo.
Kadish scored a hat-trick to lead the team with three points. Sarjeant and Gross each scored a pair of goals for two points. Troy Vance and Nick Marcy scored one goal apiece. Jacob Taylor and Brad Belasco each tallied an assist.
Kyle Williams was 5-of-22 on faceoffs, collected two ground balls and caused one turnover. Vance led the team with four ground balls. Christian Pompoco, Kaidsh and Chase Flinders each picked up two ground balls.
Grant Phillips and Vance each caused one turnover.
Eric Stephens is the Director of Athletic Communications and Events for Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. Westminster is a provisional member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at the NCAA Division II level.