No. 4 BYU men’s lacrosse stayed on top of UNLV’s second-half 4-0 run, to win the season opener 7-6 on Saturday at the North University Fields in Provo.
BYU started off strong, stunning the Rebels with five points in the first 15 minutes.
“We were running off of a lot of adrenaline, even with the cold,” said attack-man Christian Taylor.
Head coach Matt Schneck said he was surprised with the quick start but knew they would still need to battle.
“I was actually a little surprised with the 5-0 start,” Schneck said. “But it gave us a good cushion. Once UNLV settled in, they played a very consistent game.”
At the end of the first half, the Cougars led the Runnin’ Rebels 6-2.
Harrison Krueger led the charge for UNLV in the third quarter. He scored first, cutting the lead to 6-4.
In the next eight minutes, the Rebels scored twice, with another goal from Krueger, bringing them within a point.
“We could have done better if we had played faster in the second half,” said midfielder Nick Stevens. “That is something we are going to have to work on.”
The Cougars had the opportunity to score, taking three shots on goal from within 20 feet, but failed to convert.
“We had a couple of offensive players that easily took 10–15 shots this game and had no goals,” Schneck said. “That means the types of shots they were taking are very low-percentage.”
BYU turnovers allowed UNLV to spend more time on the attack. With one minute left in the third period, the Rebels tied-up the game 6-6.
“We were expecting them to make a run, but then our goalie really stepped up,” Stevens said.
Despite playing a man down for a pair of 1-minute penalties, the Cougars clawed back into attack and scored their second goal since the first quarter, giving them a 7-6 lead with eight minutes remaining in the game.
Suffocating play from the Cougar defenders kept UNLV from getting a good look at the goal until the Runnin’ Rebels made one last furious attempt to score with less than a minute remaining.
“With a minute left we were thinking, We gotta get the ball back, we gotta get the ball back, press down hard so we can clear it,” said BYU goalie Rob Ostler.
With time ticking away, the rebels fired off a shot that Ostler deflected out of play. UNLV retained possession and made one last attempt at the goal with five seconds left on the clock.
“They sent a cutter through, and I kind of went blind,” Ostler said. “They shot, but I saved it, clamped it and passed it out.”
Ostler’s last-second save secured a hard-fought win for the Cougars.
“A win is a win. It’s good to start off with a win, rather than a loss. Now we just keep on working until we get a national championship,” Stevens said.
BYU men’s lacrosse, with Schneck leading the way, won the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Championship in 2011, and the team has high hopes of returning this year.
“Every year this team sets the goal to win the national championship,” Schneck said. “At the end of the day, we put a win in the win column, so we’re happy about that. It got us onto the right track.”
The Cougars travel to Idaho to play Boise State on Friday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m. MST. The following day, Saturday, Feb. 15, they square-off against Simon Fraser.
For complete scores, stats and team roster, go to http://byulacrosse.com/.