Loveland, COLO – After enduring a modern-day program worst four-game losing streak, the #13 Colorado State University Rams bounced back in a big way with a 15-12 victory over the #4 Chapman Panthers on Saturday afternoon. CSU led 9-7 at halftime and outscored the Panthers 6-5 in the second half to secure their first victory over an opponent ranked higher in the polls since the 2012 national championship game against Cal Poly.
CSU’s offense came out firing with a seven goal first quarter. Sophomore Chase Warner (Tesoro HS; Mission Viejo, CA) and junior Jake Johnson (Bridgton Academy; Lake Forest, CA) each had two tallies to get things going for the Rams, who jumped out to a 3-1 lead with 9:01 left in the first. After some back and forth play left the game tied at four, CSU ran off three consecutive goals in the last 2:32 to close the quarter up 7-4.
Chapman answered back early in the second with a man-up goal by Scott Jackson to make it 7-5, but sophomore AJ Stewart (Fort Collins HS; Fort Collins, CO) stung one about a minute later to keep the lead at three. Both teams settled in on the defensive end for the next ten minutes before sophomore Luke Ramsey (Cathedral Catholic HS; San Diego, CA) scored to make it 9-5 with 4:56. Chapman got the next two to end the half at 9-7.
After a back and forth third quarter, Conner Reilly tied the game with 13:10 left in the fourth quarter and it appeared history was going to repeat itself for the snake-bitten Rams. This time, however, Colorado State was the team to go on a crucial three-minute tear, scoring three straight goals to make it 14-11. Chapman narrowed the gap to 14-12 with 7:26, but the CSU defense held strong and the Rams got an empty-netter from junior Alex Creech (Rocky Mountain HS; Fort Collins, CO) with under a minute remaining to finish things off.
In the previous four games, CSU had either led or been within one goal at the half only to watch the game slip away in the end. Looking to provide a spark to the defense, the Rams brought in freshman goaltender Jake Bender (Evergreen HS; Evergreen, CO) for his first extensive game action against a ranked opponent. Bender answered the call, making six saves in the second half, including a couple big ones late to help seal the victory.
Johnson led all scorers with four goals while Warner had two goals and two assists for CSU. The Rams also got two goal performances from Stewart and Creech. Chapman was led by Jackson’s three goals and multi-point outings by Dylan Garner, Chris Herrmann, Conner Reilly and Steve Koressel.
CSU hadn’t won a game against a higher ranked opponent since 2012. After beating #1 Cal Poly in the championship game that year, CSU entered 2013 at #1 and won all of its games en route to a second consecutive championship. In 2014, the Rams were on the losing end of five straight games against higher ranked opponents. This year, the Rams dropped games against Arizona State and Grand Canyon before finally getting the win on Saturday.
Colorado State (6-4 overall; 1-0 RMLC) hits the road to end its out of conference schedule this weekend with games against #20 Michigan State and Davenport on Saturday and Sunday respectively. CSU then takes a much needed weekend off before embarking on a three-game road trip to Utah to battle RMLC conference foes BYU, Utah and Westminster. Chapman takes Sunday off before taking on the #1 Colorado Buffaloes on Monday evening.