SALT LAKE CITY — After the pregame ceremonies were over — Utah athletic director Mark Harlan shot the ceremonial first goal — and the Utes had run out of the tunnel at Rice-Eccles Stadium, complete with fireworks, it took Vermont just 19 seconds to score on Utah.
Utah’s first Division I lacrosse game was both a celebration of how far the Utes have come since their days as a club team and a reminder of just how far Utah has to go to defeat teams like Vermont, as the Utes lost 21-6.
“Main takeaway is that we’re a brand-new program, and they’ve been around for a while. We have a long ways to go. We know that, my staff knows that,” Utah head coach Brian Holman said.
Dawes Milchling scored early on for the Catamounts in the first quarter of Utah's inaugural game as an NCAA Division I lacrosse team. Four minutes later, Rob Hudson made it 2-0 for the visitors.
Jimmy Perkins scored Utah’s first Division I goal with 10 minutes remaining in the first period, a powerful strike, assisted by Samuel Cambere. It would be as close as the Utes would get to taking the lead.
After Vermont scored twice to make it 4-1, Josh Stout scored the first of his three goals on the day to cut the deficit to two goals. The Catamounts responded by reeling off six straight goals before Stout scored two straight to make it 10-4 with three minutes remaining in the second period. Utah would score twice in the second half, with Aaron Fjeldsted (assisted by Josh Stout) and Jake Stout (assisted by Reid Lanigan) each netting goals.
Even though the Utes were handed a loss in their inaugural game, there was still plenty to like.
“The good parts, what I loved, is what we hang our hat on — we’re going to play until the bitter end, we’re going to be tough. Coach Feifs (Vermont head coach) commented how hard our kids played,” Holman said.
Josh Stout scored the program’s first hat trick, netting half of Utah’s six goals.
“He’s the hardest worker we have, and it replicates itself on the game field. There’s no substitute for hard work, and Josh Stout is a hard worker,” Holman said.
Stout broke into a smile when asked how it felt to score three goals in Utah’s inaugural game.
“It feels good. It’s a good feeling. I just have more fun being out on the field just playing with everyone on the team. Scoring goals doesn’t matter that much, but it’s just great being out there with my teammates, and this is what we’ve worked so hard to do and we’re finally starting to showcase it a little bit,” Stout said.
Holman knows there’s lots to improve on as the inaugural season continues.
“The disappointing part is that I think there were a lot of things out there that we left out there. I think if we played Vermont 10 times, we would not beat them, but I do believe that if we played our level that we’re capable of, we would be much more competitive, so I was a little disappointed in that,” Holman said.
Getting the first Division I lacrosse game under Utah’s belt was huge, as Holman said the experience of a real game at this level is invaluable.
“You can’t replicate experience, you can’t replicate playing against a very, very good lacrosse team. I think if went in and asked our locker room right now, they would say, ‘Wow coach, everything you were saying is true,’” Holman said. “I told them they were going to be bigger, I told them they were going to be faster, I told them they were going to stronger than us — now they saw it.”
Josh Stout sees room for improvement after his first D-I game.
“It’s just faster. It’s a little more crisp, but there’s nothing that they’ve (Vermont) done that we haven’t seen before,” Stout said when asked about the difference between club and D-I lacrosse. “They’re a great team and so them coming in and playing together, we just didn’t do the little things. We missed a lot of ground balls, we have a lot of things that we can work on and if we do those, it will be closer game, hopefully, next time.”
Utah played its inaugural game at Rice-Eccles Stadium before a crowd of 3,215. Moving forward, the Utes will play home games at Judge Memorial Catholic High School.11 comments on this story
“It’s kind of fun, it’s a crazy environment. It’s really loud, those speakers, it’s tough to hear. It’s just fun, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity kind of and we all just embraced it,” Stout said. “It was kind of cool running out and there’s fireworks going off, I didn’t expect that. It’s fun, it’s a big place and you kind of feel small down on the field,” Stout said.
Friday was a celebration, and Holman and the players enjoyed the moment.
“All in all, awesome day for the Utes and Utah and lacrosse and this city and our program. We are doing nothing but moving forward,” Holman said.