Loveland, CO – Trailing the 5th ranked Chapman University Panthers by two goals, the #1 Colorado State University Rams rallied to tie the game in the last four minutes and Sean Smith (Amherst HS / Amherst, NY) stuck the game-winner with 2:43 remaining in the third overtime period to get a key out of conference victory on a cold night at the Loveland Sports Park.
With the game tied 2-2 going into the fourth quarter, Chapman broke through with two goals, including what looked like a back-breaker by Ryan Welch with 4:44 remaining to make it 4-2. But the Rams, who struggled to beat the Chapman defense and goaltender Warren Nielsen all evening, finally wore down the Panthers and got goals from sophomore Mike Wolff (Don Bosco Prep / Ramsey, NJ) and senior Austin Fisher (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) to tie the game and set up the dramatic overtime sequence.
The two teams combined for seven shots over the first two overtime periods as both Nielsen and CSU junior Koltin Fatzinger (Wheat Ridge HS / Thornton, CO) made several nice saves. After a key groundball by Chapman in the third overtime, Colorado State’s defense forced a turnover, drew a flag on the clear, and got the ball to Smith, who drove from behind the cage to beat Nielsen on a bouncer to end the game.
The Rams, who benefited from a stellar 11/14 night at the face-off ‘x’ by senior Dan Warfield (Smoky Hill HS / Aurora, CO), were unable to turn the extra possessions into production on the offensive end for most of the night. Nielsen recorded 15 saves in a stand-out effort for Chapman, turning aside several outstanding opportunities. It was only the second time all season that the Rams hadn’t scored double digits.
Meanwhile, the CSU defense held its own to keep the Rams in the game, holding Chapman’s dangerous offense to its lowest scoring output in almost two years. Seniors Hayden Porter (Heritage HS / Littleton, CO) and Tyler Zabor (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) led the charge while goaltenders Jack Regan (Sunset HS / Beaverton, OR) and Fatzinger combined for 10 saves on the evening.
In a game where scoring was at a premium, Fisher and senior midfielder Alex Devlin (Langley HS / Great Falls, VA) led the Rams with two points each. Chapman’s Timmy Andrews had two assists to lead the Panthers, who had four different goal-scorers. CSU held a distinct advantage on groundballs, scooping up 37 to Chapman’s 16, mostly thanks to the dominance at the face-off ‘x’ by Warfield. Neither team were able to cash in on a combined seven extra-man opportunities
Colorado State (10-0 overall, 1-0 RMLC) secured the best start by the team since 2005 with the victory and also earned them their second overtime victory of the season. The Rams will have Easter weekend off before traveling to Utah for two Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference games against #6 Brigham Young and the University of Utah on April 5 and 6. Chapman drops to 7-4 with the loss and will return to California for the remainder of their season.