The University of Utah Men’s lacrosse team edged the No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday at Ute Soccer Field. A seesaw affair led to the Utes taking home a 12-11 victory.
The Utes opened the scoring when Jake Stout found Gus Colonna on the left wing. Gus faked a pass which fooled the defender, leading to Colonna taking a step down opportunity which found the top right corner of the goal. Colorado equalized 2 minutes later on a man-up opportunity. Utah attackman Aaron Fjeldsted capitalized on a Colorado mistake midway through the first quarter when he scooped up a back pass on the crease and buried the one-on-one opportunity. Utah extended its lead when LSM Seth Neeleman caused a turnover on the defensive end and quickly transitioned. Utah attackman Alek Kirschner crept behind the defense which allowed Neeleman to pass the ball forward, finding Kirschner who bounced it past Colorado goalie Jensen Makarov for the goal. The Buffs answered back late in the quarter to make the score 3-2 after the first quarter of play.
Colorado scored on its first possession second quarter to tie the game. Both teams swapped goals midway through the quarter before a two goal run by the Buffs made the score 6-4 with 3:54 left in the half. Stout took the team on his shoulders, scoring the next two goals for the Utes to tie the score heading into the break.
The Utes came out of the break with determination to put the game away and looked to be on that path when Ian Elson found the back of the net. The experienced Colorado squad wasn’t going to roll over as midfielder Colin MacIlvennie reeled off two goals early in the third quarter. Utah tied the game 7 minutes later when goalie Quinton Swinney shot a full field shot on a clear that found the back of the net which sent the Utah bench and fans into hysterics. Elson would tally his second goal of the night at the 1:40 mark to give Utah a 9-8 lead heading into the final quarter.
Both teams traded goals to open the quarter. Utah extended its lead to 2 goals, 11-9, at the 8:10 mark. Colorado bounced back 5 minutes later to cut the Utes lead to 1 goal. As tension in the stands and on the field rose, the ensuing face-off found the ball loose at the top of the Utah offensive box in a scrum. Utah midfielder Deen Anderson picked through the chaos and scooped up the ball then took in the distance like a freight train, bouncing it right in front of the goal which propelled into the top of the net for the goal, making the score 12-10 for Utah. The Utah defense held strong and the Utah offense took the air out of the ball. Colorado scored with 7 second left but it wasn’t enough.
Colonna led the Utes with 4 goals. Elson had 2 goals and 2 assists. FOS Noah Hill had his best game as a Ute, going 14 of 22 from the face-off X. Swinney had 12 saves. The Utes will host No. 10 Colorado State on Saturday at 1pm at Ute Soccer Field.
Head Coach Brian Holman on what to tell a team after a big win:
“I told them it was a team effort. What we’re learning as we go along is that lacrosse is a team game. When everyone on the team is involved, whether they play or they don’t play, then we have a chance to be successful. That was the message all week and honestly it’s been the message all year. Things don’t always happen the way you want them to happen but we’re learning and we’re growing and we’re getting better. It’s a true team win.”
Head Coach Brian Holman on how to carry the momentum forward:
“We haven’t done that well. We’ve had bits and pieces here and there. So what we have to learn how to do is how to have fun with this tonight then we’ll watch film tomorrow, then Saturday we have to come out against another tough opponent and be ready to grow. So we’ll see. That’s another growth process. How do we handle it? I know how I think we’ll handle it. I think we’ll be prepared and engaged.”