The annual cage fight, no holds barred brawl between CSU and CU for MCLA state lacrosse supremacy is now just two days off. The game will move back to and be played at Invesco Field at Mile High where it had been home for several years before the Monkey Wrench Gang got a hold of it a few years ago. Subsequently we played the game in Boulder in 2009 and then last year’s fracas was at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in lovely downtown Commerce City, Colorado. Finally and after the two-year hiatus we are gratefully back to downtown Denver, which, to me, is a most appropriate location for any kind of CSU vs. CU event. We come in ranked as the #2 team in the MCLA National poll, fresh off an exciting 11-9 victory over #4 Chapman, and C.U. is ranked 6th nationally, and they enter on a roll after pummeling Texas Tech 18-1 in their most recent tilt.
Of local interest for lacrosse, I just want to note that the D.U. Pioneers beat the revered and defending Division I National Champion Duke Blue Devils last week, a very significant event that speaks volumes about the current and emerging state of Colorado lacrosse. Good for the Pios.
SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING
It should be a fun evening on Saturday as both teams are hungry for national recognition this as well as every year, and also after the teams split the last two decisions. I always maintain that the intensity level for a C.U. vs. C.S.U. meeting is just a little or even a lot higher than pretty much any other rivalry that I can think of, and the truth is that people would come out to watch and become emotionally involved even if the schools were competing in Tiddly Winks or badminton, so when it is a game that is already bundled up in a bit of organized violence as part of its very nature you get something that is extremely compelling to watch. I know that I will never forget the double take I took the first time I was part of this rivalry in 1997. I simply could not comprehend the state of the hate that was built into the whole deal, but it didn’t take me long to get up to speed even though I was at the time just a semi-mellow dude who had just ‘surfed’ in from Santa Barbara where Sonoma State and Whittier College was about as ‘bitter’ as things got for UCSB, and those were hardly match-ups in the Auburn-Alabama or Ohio State-Michigan category. It all fit me well quickly, though, since I come naturally from that “hater” place anyway.
MONDAY NIGHT LIVE
CSU 11 – CHAPMAN 9
MONDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
The Chapman game was great to watch and be a part of. It made our record push to 13-1. It’s nice to have any kind of home game, even if the field is more pasture than field of dreams. It was our final game on campus for 2011. Playing on Monday night was somehow novel and exciting as well. From the Ram point of view it was a very positive experience. I thought we played well overall. We made pretty much good decisions as a team all night long, and the best part was that for the most part the Panthers had to chase us for the entire game. We got up early, 4-1, and then they turned it around and crawled back in to tie it at 4-4, but shortly before halftime Coop (#3 – A) scored a huge goal to give us the lead at intermission, and some much needed team energy as well.
A LITTLE HALF AND HALF ADDS FLAVOR EVRY TIME
We surged again early in the third quarter, and again Chapman caught us at 8, but the truth is that we led and they chased for the most part all night, and it is much easier to to have a game be that way than it is to feel like you are always climbing a mountain, be it big or be it small. We played that game from the top position, and we did it against a team, Chapman, that I would consider most excellent and well coached as well. They had some great players, as do we. Ultimately I think our depth carried the day, and the Long Stick Middie position is something that I would point to as illustration. They had one very excellent LSM, and he made his presence felt throughout the game while we had three guys who probably had their best combined game of the season, and our trio of Mark Moskovics (#35), Andy Siegmund (#26), and Kyle Gies (#15) sort of trumped their guy and even though #50 for them was good, the three of ‘us’ pretty much took ownership of the middle part of the field, that space between the restraining boxes.
The face-off X was the scene for a real and ongoing battle as well, and we did not simply own that ball-sized box as we often have this year. It was indeed a boxing match all night, one that might be characterized overall as a draw because neither team gained any kind of clear advantage with the face-off numbers on this night. That, too, was fun to be witness to.
POINT – COUNTERPOINT
Clearing and riding was also a battle of skill and will. I think statistically we got the better of that battle overall, but it was another very compelling part of the game and two good teams competing at a high level.
We eventually took an 11-8 lead as the game waned, so it was not exactly a thrilling conclusion, but at the same time it was a game that a team could never turn its back on, as in ‘we’ve got this one’ in the bag. In fact Chapman scored the ninth and final goal for them on a Hail Mary as time expired, a goal that almost seemed phantom-like and somehow almost fitting in a game that did not in any way have bread crumbs marking the trail as it went.
GET READY FOR THE STAMPEDE
The C.U. Buffs were hardly the stealth upcoming competitor as they came in numbers to see us play and to tape the Chapman game the other night. I’m sure they feel like they have uncovered the secret to winning Saturday night, but whether they did or did not get the scouting report for success, they did for one thing see a great lacrosse game between two MCLA national powers. They also have the leg up on us, or certainly me, because we haven’t really seen the Buffs play this spring. We did play them in the Fall, and I think we know who they are and all, and we certainly have seen some of their stars shine on more than one occasion as well. Without a doubt the Buffaloes have the talent to test us, and they have the will that comes with the desire to taste that elusive National Championship that they have often been so close to. Besides, they are the only team to have beaten Michigan in the last 4 years and that definbitely looks good on the old resume’.
It should be fun. I hope the attendance is large and worthy of the rivalry. The only thing I know for sure is that Drunk and Rowdy will both make an appearance at Invesco Field at Mile High on Saturday night. I wouldn’t want to miss a minute.