Greenville, SC – The #2 Colorado State Rams used a record-breaking defensive performance and four points from junior midfielder Alex Devlin (Langley HS / Langley, VA) to capture their fifth MCLA national championship on Saturday night in Greenville, South Carolina with a 7-5 victory over #1 Cal Poly. The Rams surrendered just 15 goals in their four-game tournament run to the championship, including holding the potent Cal Poly attack off the scoreboard for over thirty minutes of game time in the finals.
Colorado State jumped on the scoreboard early on a dodge by Devlin with 11:16 remaining in the first. Cal Poly answered back with two quick goals to take their only lead of the night before the CSU defense locked things down. Over the next 34:17, CSU scored five straight goals to take what would ultimately turn into an insurmountable 6-3 lead after three quarters.
Five different players scored during the five-goal run, highlighting a balanced offensive effort by CSU, but the story continued to be on the defensive side of the ball. Hayden Porter (Heritage HS / Littleton, CO) and Tyler Zabor (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) were outstanding guarding Poly’s dynamic attack duo of Scott Heberer and Olivier Schmied, holding the two All-America selections to just three total points and forcing six turnovers by Heberer.
While Cal Poly ended up outshooting CSU 39-36 – mostly due to a 19 shot barrage in the fourth quarter – sophomore Jack Regan (Sunset HS / Beaverton, OR) was up to the task with a 12 save performance, including six in the fourth to stave off Poly’s attack. Regan had two crucial stops on a fourth-quarter possession that deflated the Mustang offensive pressure and gave CSU valuable possession time late in the game.
Devlin led all scorers with four points on the evening and Colorado State also got clutch production from senior midfielder Stephen Unkrich (Mountain Vista HS / Highlands Ranch, CO), who scored two highlight reel goals. Fisher, Kacy Carter (Rock Canyon HS / Castle Rock, CO) and junior midfielder Tim Taggart (Mountain Vista HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) each pitched in with a goal as well. Attackman Matt Graupmann scored twice to lead Cal Poly.
The Rams set an MCLA tournament record by allowing just 3.5 goals against over four tournament games and were healthily represented on the All-Tournament team as a result. Junior close defenders Porter and Zabor joined Regan and sophomore long-stick midfielder Zach Arthur (Cherry Creek HS / Denver, CO) as members of the CSU defense to make the team.
Junior Austin Fisher (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) and Devlin also made All-Tournament for the Rams whose six players on the squad led the way for all teams. Devlin was named MVP of the championship game for his four-point effort.
Colorado State (19-2 overall) avenged an early season overtime loss to Cal Poly at home and has now won a record five MCLA national championships, pulling one ahead of rival Brigham Young in the all-time ring race. The title for the Rams is their first since an 8-7 win over Colorado in 2006 and the first for third-year head coach Alex Smith.
Colorado State graduates seven important players off this year’s squad, including captains Matt Jui (Columbine HS / Littleton, CO) and Andy Siegmund (Smoky Hill HS / Aurora, CO), but will return a bevy of contributors for 2013, including the starting close defense, starting attack, goaltenders and face-off men. For now, the members of the 2012 team will enjoy their victory as worthy champions of the MCLA.