BYU lacrosse to face two top-five teams

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    By David Rueckert

    The Cougar lacrosse team will have to grow up fast this weekend when No. 8 Colorado and No. 5 Arizona come to Provo Friday March 7 and Saturday night March 8. Both games will be broadcast by KBYU.

    Each opponent has already played critical games, giving them experience against high-profile teams the Cougars have not seen yet. They bring a level of talent and discipline to the field that the Cougars need to play against in order to prepare for the post-season.

    “This is a semifinal caliber championship weekend,” coach Jason Lamb said. “Our guys understand what we are getting into. This is not a ”mop-up” weekend.”

    The University of Colorado (2-1) has a veteran defense lead by goalie Chris Bluse, a 2002 All-American. The Buffaloes beat Colorado College, a Div. III team, in late February.

    Colorado coach Pete Cooke said his team”s focus will be the key to success this weekend in Provo.

    “We won”t let the TV be a distraction,” Cooke said. “I”m expecting an exciting atmosphere.”

    Attackmen Chris Bok and Tim Leonard lead the Buffaloes in scoring after their first three games.

    Cooke said he expects all his offensive players to be ready to step up and fill needs on the field. He said he knows his team has been scouted by BYU, so he plans to change things up for Friday night.

    “I plan on giving a completely different look this weekend,” Cooke said.

    The University of Arizona (5-1) returns key players from its 2002 team, which lost in overtime to eventual national champion, Sonoma State, last spring in St. Louis.

    Adam Hopkins, coach at Arizona, tabbed his defense as the team”s strength. The defense returns all of its starters from last year.

    On offense, attackman James Locheridge quarterbacks the action and leads the team in points.

    Arizona has been successful early this season, despite injuries that have dampened its firepower. The Laxcats” only loss came in mid-February to No.3 Colorado State, 6-5.

    “Whenever we need something to happen on the field, a lift comes from someone,” Hopkins said.

    To win in Provo this weekend, Hopkins said his team will need to take the Cougars out of their game with ball control.

    “We need to control the tempo of the game by keeping the ball on offense,” Hopkins said. “BYU”s a physical team, and I want to have our guys dominate physically in-between the lines.”

    The solid defenses and efficient play these teams showcase will have their hands full with the Cougars, though.

    Lamb said middies Jordan Peel and Mark Tschaggeny have been stepping up the intensity at offense to compliment the potent attack unit.

    BYU”s defense is “nameless” but everyone is playing solidly, said Lamb.

    “As a unit they stand out,” he said. “They”re awesome.”

    The two-week break leading up to this weekend has been valuable time for key players to recover from injuries. Lamb said he is confident he has the players to create powerful lines come game time.

    “To succeed this weekend we have to focus on our defense,” Lamb said. “We can”t give up a boatload of goals. We have to outplay them physically and come up with every groundball.”

    Faceoff time is set for 7 on both nights.

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