The No. 2 BYU Cougar lacrosse team fell to conference rival Colorado State in a hostile 12-11 game Thursday night.
“Even great championship teams have bad days, and this was one for us,” BYU head coach Matt Schneck said.
The loss snapped an 11-game win streak for the Cougars and dropped their overall record to 11-2 on the season.
The Cougars took control early with two goals from Jake Arbon and Zach Jordan.
That’s when the game turned ugly.
Colorado State received a two-minute penalty for illegal contact to the head of a BYU player, after which CSU’s coach ignored the referee’s warnings, continued to argue the call and earned his team a second penalty.
“There’s a deep rivalry between these two teams, and I think that comes from the fact that there are an exchange of championships over the years between them,” Schneck said. “There are 10 national championships between these two programs, so you know that this is always a battle.”
The Cougars were unable to capitalize on the two-man-up advantage, however, and the Rams soon came back to score two goals of their own. The first period ended with BYU ahead 3-2.
The low-scoring, deliberate style of play was different from what BYU is used to. The Cougars normally play a fast-paced game with lots of scoring, but Thursday night was characterized by long chunks of possession for each team.
“CSU slowed the game down; that’s part of their gameplan,” Schneck said. “They know we’re a team that likes to run up and down the field, and the way that they’ve been able to respond to that is to try to slow the game down.”
The scoring went back and forth throughout the second quarter, with neither team taking more than a one-goal lead until the final minute. Colorado State scored two quick goals before halftime to take an 8-5 lead.
It took only eight seconds for the Rams to extend that lead in the second half with a goal from Ashton Monheiser. The Cougars clawed their way back with goals from Jordan, Mike Fabrizio and Max Neser but still trailed 10-8 heading into the final period.
A big save from BYU goalie Matt Brandenburg early in the fourth led to a Barrett Johnson goal on the other end. Chandler Wescott then tied the game for the Cougars after intercepting a pass deep in the CSU defensive zone. The Rams and Cougars again traded goals until the end of the game. BYU had several chances to tie it up in the final minutes; a Nick Stevens shot even clanged off the goal post, but Colorado State was able to pull off the upset.
“The fact that this game could have gone either way tonight helps us prepare for tomorrow,” Schneck said. “The guys aren’t coming out of this with a shaken identity.”
BYU will try to bounce back Friday against Colorado, another conference foe it hasn’t beaten in three seasons. The Buffaloes are also coming off a one-goal loss to Westminster in Salt Lake on Thursday.
“This was a good, eye-opening experience for the guys,” Schneck said. “They’re going to be tested again tomorrow, and they’re going to need to be prepared.”