Denver, CO – Trailing 10-6 with 6:18 remaining in the contest, the #4 Colorado State Rams staged an improbable comeback against the #9 Colorado Buffaloes, scoring four straight goals to tie the game and then winning it in the second overtime period in the annual Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
The Rams only led once, and that was after sophomore attackman Sean Smith (Amherst HS / Amherst, NY) completed his hat-trick with 2:19 remaining in double overtime to give the Rams a dramatic comeback victory against their rivals from Boulder. Smith was named the Showdown’s Most Valuable Player for his effort, which included three goals and an assist.
Colorado held all the momentum after three quarters and led 8-4 heading into the final frame. The Rams continued to trail as the game wore down, despite controlling the ball for long stretches of time and outshooting the Buffaloes by a wide margin. Finally, after CU’s Riley Seidel scored an empty net goal to push the Buff lead to 10-6 with 6:18 remaining, CSU’s offense came alive to tie the game.
Sophomore attackman Kacy Carter (Rock Canyon HS / Castle Rock, CO) scored two goals in just over a minute to get the Rams within two with 4:03 to go. Then Smith connected with 2:54 remaining to make it a one-goal game. Finally, with just :38 seconds left, Carter found junior Austin Fisher (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) just after a man-up expired for the equalizer to send the game to overtime.
CSU won the face-off in both overtime periods and controlled the ball throughout. After moving the ball around the perimeter, Smith received a pass from freshman Mike Wolff (Don Bosco Prep / Ramsey, NJ), stepped around his defender and sent the ball home for the game winner.
Colorado started the game hot, scoring the first three goals of the game and leading 4-2 at the half. Even after junior face-off midfielder Dan Warfield (Smoky Hill HS / Aurora, CO) scored immediately out of the halftime break to make it a one-goal game, the Buffs continued to roll through the third quarter, outscoring CSU 4-1 over the next 14 minutes to get their 8-4 lead.
Colorado State drastically outshot Colorado by a 50-18 margin and scooped up 42 groundballs to CU’s 24. The Rams won the face-off battle 17 to 9 as well, but Colorado was opportunistic with their shooting and their zone defense kept the Rams at bay for most of the night. Warfield was outstanding when it counted most; winning 5/9 draws in the fourth quarter and both in the two overtime periods.
When the CU defense did break down, Bradley MacNee was there to turn away 13 shots. Amazingly, CSU’s goaltending duo of Jack Regan (Sunset HS / Beaverton, OR) and Koltin Fatzinger (Wheat Ridge HS / Thornton, CO) was only credited with one save between them on the evening.
Smith, Carter and Wolff each had four points on the game to lead CSU, who also got a pair of goals from Fisher. The Buffaloes were led by Riley Seidel’s three goals and two apiece from Tyler Dougherty and Riley Kulm. Both teams’ defenses gave up season highs as neither squad had surrendered double digits in any game this year.
With the win, Colorado State (13-2 overall, 2-1 RMLC) moves into a tie with Colorado (7-6 overall, 2-1 RMLC) and BYU for first place in the RMLC. Both the Buffs and Rams have concluded regular season play and will enjoy a weekend off before the RMLC tournament in Grand Junction on May 4 and 5. Very likely, the Rams will claim the #2 seed and will face off against the Buffaloes again in two weeks depending on the outcome of BYU’s game against Utah next weekend.