Colorado State Wins Third Straight RMLC Crown with 10-9 Win over Colorado
By Alex Smith
May 1, 2004
The Colorado State Rams and the Colorado Buffaloes played a
tight 8-7 game in Highlands Ranch, CO several weeks ago that nationally
confirmed a regionally known fact. Simply put, this is one of the best
rivalries in the USL-MDIA.
On another perfect day in Provo, UT, the two teams put each other to the
test for the 2004 Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference Championship. Both
teams played their hearts out as Colorado State jumped out to an early lead
and held on to beat their rivals from Boulder 10-9.
In the last meeting between the two teams, #2 CSU came out flat and let the
Buffaloes get on top in the first quarter. Saturday’s game told a different
story when the Rams scored the first three of the contest to put #5 CU in an
early hole. The Rams struck first after an early loose ball in front of the
CU net found its way into Michael Murphy’s (Lake Oswego HS, OR) stick. The
sophomore bounced a shot into the empty net to give the Rams the lead with
exactly 12:00 left in the quarter. Colorado State played with emotion in
the beginning portions of the game, riding hard and getting the ball back to
the offensive side of the field. The Rams kept the pressure on CU
goaltender Chris Bluse and the Colorado defense with an unrelenting attack
Tim Chorey (Algonquin HS, MA) was just the spark the Rams needed in the
first quarter. Chorey scored three first quarter goals, including a
spectacular catch and finish from his knees and a garbage goal over his back
on the crease. Chorey played perhaps the best game of his career and was
more than a handful for whichever of the Colorado longsticks was assigned to
him. After Matt Disney (Heritage HS, CO) came from behind the goal and
dumped one over the head of Bluse, the Buffaloes got their first of the game
when midfielder Brandon Bailey blasted home an outside shot that just dinged
the crossbar. Bailey was all over the field for the Buffs. He and CSU long
stick midfielder Mark Plonkey (Golden HS, CO) were locked in a tight battle
all day long.
Chorey finished the first quarter scoring with two goals within forty
seconds to give the Rams a 5-1 lead after one. Neither goalie had gotten on
track in the first frame, but that was all about to change as the game wore
CU got back within three early in the second quarter when attackman Andrew
Upah finished a play from Jeremy Kellogg to make the score 5-2. The Rams
were then flagged for an illegal body check just after the face-off to give
the Buffaloes a chance to tighten the game even further. But the Colorado
State man down defense held strong, getting the ball on the ground and up
the field courtesy of freshman defender Adam Schnirel (Mt. Lebanon HS, PA).
Schnirel crossed the midfield line and charged the Buffalo net. With no one
sliding to him, the long pole from Pittsburgh let a shot fly on the run from
about ten yards and beat Bluse for a man down goal. That was CSU’s last
goal of the half.
The Buffaloes continued to chip at the lead and got two goals from Joel
Massey and Brian Morgan. CU was playing a very smart and disciplined
version of offensive ball, drawing slides and getting backdoor goals. Five
of CU’s nine goals were assisted on the day. Both Pete Jokisch (Rockhurst
Jesuit HS, MO) and Bluse made six saves in the second quarter. Just as the
quarter was about to expire, Jokisch made a stellar save on a point blank
shot to keep the Rams up by two. At the half, the score was 6-4 in favor of
The Rams started the second half in similar fashion to the first. Matt
Disney dodged from behind again and scored his second goal of the game just
1:13 into the third quarter. Then, just over two minutes after that, Tim
Farquhar (Collegiate HS, VA) finally got one past Bluse to make it 8-4.
Bluse had a phenomenal day against the Rams’ best shooters, making six saves
on Farquhar and five on Pat Bird (Bishop O’Dowd HS, CA).
If Colorado State thought that the new look Buffaloes were about to fade
into the distance, they had another thing coming. CU battled back with two
goals of their own in the middle part of the third from Adrew Upah and Brian
Morgan. The Buffaloes were starting to gain momentum in the latter stages
of the third while CSU struggled to keep the ball for any type of meaningful
The fourth quarter started with Farquhar taking his man lefty and blasting a
shot that caromed off Bluse’s stick into the top right corner of the net.
Both teams were getting a little bit nasty as the play started to heat up in
the afternoon sun. Tim Chorey scored his fourth of the day on a flawless
end to end fast break for what would prove to be the Rams’ last goal of the
day. The play started on the defense end of the field when a CU attackman
drove towards the net. Midfielder Thomas Robinson (Memphis University
School, TN) slid to the dodger and got the ball on the ground and eventually
into his stick. Robinson ran the break to perfection when he found Kelten
Johnson (Bainbridge HS, WA) on the doorstep. Johnson fooled everyone in the
stadium when he tossed the ball back across the grain to a waiting Chorey,
who blasted home a huge goal for the Rams. Unfortunately for CSU, that
would prove to be their last goal of the game.
Trailing by four, the Buffaloes needed a break badly. The Buffaloes’
leading scorer, Jason Anderson, finally found the back of the net with 6:34
remaining for his first goal of the game. The Buffs then got a rare
face-off win and scored again just :21 later to make it a two goal game.
With the score at 10-8, the drama was just about to begin.
Colorado called for a stick check on CSU face off man Dave Clark (Cherry
Creek HS, CO) just before the next draw. After a long day in the sun,
Clark’s stick was deemed illegal and the Buffaloes found themselves on the
right side of a three minute illegal stick penalty that had the entire venue
on their feet. With 6:13 left in the RMLC Championship Game, the Rams would
turn to their man down unit again to get them out of a bind.
Mark Plonkey won the initial face-off of the man down and the Rams killed
precious time off the penalty. Jokisch and the Rams’ defense held tough,
making several quality stops but the Buffaloes executed a play with just
thirty seconds remaining in the penalty to pull within one. Jokisch was
stellar in the final frame, making seven saves as the Buffs poured on the
Then, karma paid the Rams back for their unlucky stick mishap. Just as the
penalty was about to expire, the Buffaloes got a mini break on the far side
of the field. A CU shooter blasted a shot high and hard that elicited a
roar from the fans.
Anyone that has ever been to a hockey game or a highly attended lacrosse
game can tell the difference between a “goal” roar and a “pipe” roar without
seeing the play. Much to CU’s bemusement, this time it was the latter.
The ball ricocheted hard off the crossbar and came back to the middle of the
field where CSU was able to safely clear it to the offensive half. Knowing
that their one goal lead was not safe, the Rams had several opportunities
for an insurance goal but were unable to get anything past Bluse, who
continued to keep his team in the game with acrobatic saves. Bluse made
three stops in the last three minutes of the game. The Rams made several
stops on the ride, but gave the ball back to the Buffs on pushes and loose
After a scrum for the ball with less than twenty seconds left, CU called a
timeout to set up a play to tie. In their game against the Brigham Young
Cougars the day before, the Buffaloes used a midfield isolation play to
score in overtime to win 10-9. The CU coaching staff hoped for a similar
result this time around and gave the ball to sophomore Brian Morgan, who had
already netted two goals on the day. Morgan found himself matched up with
Mark Plonkey with :18 seconds left. Plonkey tied Morgan’s hands up and got
the ball on the ground before the midfielder could get it in the box. With
the ball on the ground and sticks swinging wildly for it everywhere, Plonkey
shoveled it in the air towards the CSU offensive zone. The Rams fought hard
to keep the ball on the ground as the clock expired and raced out to their
goalie to celebrate an incredible 10-9 RMLC Championship victory over the
CU’s leading scorer was freshman attackman Andrew Upah, who registered a hat
trick and sophomore attackman Jason Anderson, who had two goals and one
assist. Tim Chorey led all scorers with his four goals and the Rams got two
goal performances from Matt Disney and Tim Farquhar as well. CU's Chris
Bluse finished with 18 saves while CSU's Pete Jokisch made 20.
Even with the Rams taking the RMLC’s automatic birth to the National
Championships, both teams will certainly be a lock for St. Louis. CU was
tied for fifth in the polls with BYU and after beating the Cougars in the
semifinals, could move as high as #3. The Rams will likely be a #2 or #1
seed depending on the outcome of the Arizona vs. UC-Santa Barbara game in
Los Angeles on Sunday. CSU moves their record to 21-1.
- While the Friday evening crowd for CU/BYU was considerably larger thanks
to the BYU home fans, the RMLC finals still drew a large contingent of fans.
Almost all the other RMLC teams were in attendance, in addition to many
local Utah high school and youth players.
- This was not the first time CU and CSU have met in the RMLC finals. In
2000, Colorado State beat BYU in the semifinals to earn a meeting with the
Buffaloes on CSU’s home field.
- The game continued the trend of close games between the two teams. The
10-9 decision was the fifth straight in the series that has been decided by
two goals or less.
- Dave Clark was instrumental on face-offs again, winning 13 of 21 draws
against CU's Michael Gerhard.
- CSU was flagged for six penalties while the Buffaloes had two.
- CU’s Mike Edmunds and CSU’s Kelten Johnson matched up throughout the day
on the CSU offensive half. Edmunds was later named RMLC Defensive MVP and
Johnson the league's Offensive MVP.
- This is CSU’s third straight RMLC title and sixth straight final game.
Their last loss was in overtime in 2001 to BYU.
Score By Quarter:
CSU: 5 – 1 – 2 – 2 = 10
CU: 1 – 3 – 2 – 3 = 9
CSU: Chorey (4), Disney and Farquhar (2), Murphy and Schnirel (1)
CU: Upah (3), Anderson and Morgan (2), Bailey and Massey (1)
CSU: Johnson (2), Bird and Robinson (1)
CU: Bok, Anderson, Bailey, Kellogg and Edmonds (1)
CSU: Jokisch (60:00 minutes, 20 saves, 9 goals against)
CU: Bluse (60:00 minutes 18 saves, 10 goals against)
CSU: 6 for 6:30
CU: 2 for 2:00