Tuesday, May 15, 2012
NATIONAL MCLA QUARTERFINALS
CSU 6 – UCSB 3
STAYING ALIVE… (Bee Gees)
I was a little concerned coming into tonight’s (last night, since it is 1:00 a.m. now) quarterfinal rematch with UCSB for the right to play BYU two days hence in the semi-finals of the national tournament here in Greenville.
I know that we had beaten the Gauchos at ‘our’ Fort about a month ago, and to the naked eye that particular win might have seemed like an easy one. The final was 11-3, and we really played well that night. The Gauchos were and are in my mind much better than that night might have suggested, and their coach Mike Alan was definitely not happy with the play of his team that night, which of course meant to me that he would get them extremely motivated to NOT let that happen again. On the other hand I worried that we would just assume that the Gauchos would be the same team we played earlier even though I totally knew they wouldn’t be that team at all. We so dominated the first UCSB game in April that convincing the Rams that they might get ‘gored’ by a Gaucho in May could possibly be a tall order no matter how ‘humble’ we might try or pretend to be. I knew better, but you can’t just put up a sign for your team that says “Beware of the Gaucho” , and all would then assimilate well. Nothing is ever that easy. So, we were in a dogfight and we fought like dogs, er, I mean Rams on a mission. The Gaucho made the Ram compete and it was all pretty intense.
That’s what made tonight (last night) so cool. UCSB threw a real challenge at us and took an early lead that held for much of the first half. We did not panic and we did not blink. We only whined a tiny bit at the officials. We just played hard, and first matched the Gaucho fire, and then eventually, quietly and methodically took over the game. It was tied at 2’s at the half. The third quarter ended with us ahead 4-3. The quiet sounding final score of 6-3 perhaps does not reflect how much action the game really had. There were several sub-plots going on. Lots of good stuff made for a compelling game, at least to me. One parent described it as an ‘ugly’ win when it was over, and I suppose I get that, but really it was quite beautiful from my view. There were some turnovers and unforced errors thrown in there to be sure, but that was not nearly as prevalent as two pretty good teams playing at a very high level in a game of high stakes lacrosse. UCSB really came after us, and that is what you want, even in a ‘careful what you wish for’ world. We responded well to their challenge. The process (game) was fun, exciting, and ultimately rewarding. We overcame deficits and injuries.
Fish (#9) was great with 3 goals and an assist figured into our six-goal total. I know six goals doesn’t sound like a lot, but there was plenty of offensive thrust in the game. It wasn’t just two teams overprotecting every possession by throwing the ball around the perimeter for five minutes so they can say they controlled the all non-important (to me) ‘time of possession’ statistic. I am real big on quality over quantity, although I do like us to take lots of shots and I am not all that concerned with scoring percentages. I am much more interested in creating a barrage of good shots and putting constant pressure on the other defense. Shot clock please….
If you take smart shots and commit few or no turnovers, how can you lose?
Our defense was terrific. How can I not talk about them? What can you say about a team that has given up just 12 goals in the last three games, BYU, Illinois, and UCSB? All three teams have talent and dangerous offensive skills on the field at all times. These are not ‘bottom’ ten or twenty teams. Do they still do that (Bottom 10 football rankings)?
As a bonus we have been clearing the ball well, and we have been getting long pole points, too, although I don’t think we had one in the SB game. We did clear perfectly against Illinois, like 25 for 25 or something, although we had our more than fair share of turnovers in that game. I don’t know what our clearing numbers were against Santa Barbara, but they were pretty close to really good I would say.
WHAT IS THE GOAL? It must be around here somewhere
Our two-goalie system has just begun to shine, but alas, it has shrunk down to one plus a Fiore (#55) as Koltin (#17) blew up his hamstring early in the third quarter, while on one of his patented push the ball down the field jaunts, and it is unlikely that it will be all better the day after tomorrow. I feel so bad for him. He has worked so hard and gotten himself into a great groove. Thank goodness (and his parents) for Jack (#7) Regan. We’ll be okay. We have to be.
ARE GROUNDHOGS MORMON, TOO?
It is Groundhog day and it is May in South Carolina.
We’ve come all the way across the country in search of our 2012 destiny, and at the almost end of the day, who the hell is sitting right in ‘front’ of us one more time but our Best BYU Bosom Buddies.
HOW CAN I ‘LOVE’ TO ‘HATE’ SO MUCH? It makes no sense
I suppose it is all more predictable (BYU vs. CSU) than it is serendipitous. We could have encountered another team in the semi-finals – NOT! – Anyway, it is the rubber match for the 2012 edition of this very ‘alive’ and lively lax rivalry. You gotta love this. I get all excited when I just hear all the wives, children, and other family members of the BYU players getting loud and cheering on the other side of the field when we play them (anywhere). Where else would you rather be? Have I used that one lately (LOL). I think there is some kind of BYU barbeque planned to take place ‘after they win’ on Thursday, so I think we want to have some kind of say over how much fun that party will be for the Mormon contingent.
Last year we played these games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, so it was closer to home, but set in a very ‘inconvenient’ place for our team just the same, even though or especially because it was only 50 miles from CSU . Dick’s is big and completely impersonal. This Greenville venue is more intimate with 5 or 6 fields sprinkled around on different ‘levels’ at a site that is hidden in the woods instead of like 200 fields in an overgrown parking lot set in The ‘lovely’ Commerce City out on the plains east of Denver in a place no one would ever go if they didn’t have to. The Greenville feel is cozy, almost ‘St. Louis’ like. I’ll tell you what you can do with, or where you can stick your Dick’s Sporting Goods Park thank you very much. You could actually park your car there, however, a laughable concept here.
Greenville is growing on me, and not just because we made the semis. Other than the humidity, it feels good to be here in South Carolina playing serious lax for all the marbles. They (marbles) are here on the table where we are seated (seeded). Where else would you rather be?