The Montana State University men’s lacrosse team split their two-game week after falling to 20-ranked Gonzaga (GU) and beating the University of Northern Colorado (UNC).
The Bobcats have struggled to find their rhythm this season, leaving behind a trail of losses in the last few weeks. The win against UNC snapped a three-game losing streak that began in March. Last season, the Bobcats started 5-0, (2-0) and dominated their opponents from all spectrums of the field before falling to Westminster College in Salt Lake City. The 2013 season has found them 4-4, (2-0.)
On Friday, the Bulldogs came out swinging, putting the Bobcats down 0-4 in the first 8 minutes. The Cats responded soon after and Preston Knight found Matt Richards on the crease for an easy dump into the net, scoring the first point for MSU. Richards, a senior, has led the Bobcats in scoring this season with 25 goals and four assists, planting five goals each into the net against both GU and UNC.
The start of the second half saw Gonzaga score two quick goals, putting the Bobcats down by eight. Two consecutive scores by Richards rallied MSU, but the Bulldogs quickly shot it down, scoring 6 seconds after a controversial call by the officials when two Bulldogs collided and Montana State was penalized. The fast passing by Gonzaga and sloppy ball handling and defense by MSU resulted in a 9-16 loss.
On Sunday, the Bobcats saw themselves down one goal early in the game. Hungry for a win, the Cats fought hard to lead at halftime. Richards and sophomore attack, Connor Dack, led the Cats in scoring for the day, racking up nine total goals between them. Dack, who took an illegal hit by UNC in the fourth quarter after taking a shot, suffered an injury which resulted in his inability to continue playing as well as a three-minute non-releasable penalty on Northern Colorado. Freshman defender Nick Davis and senior long stick midfielder Chase Deline led a powerful defense, picking up 11 total ground balls and holding UNC to 11 goals.
Freshman goalie, Parker Fairey, stopped 20 shots from the Bears, allowing only five to slip in.
“A combination of great defense by our three long poles and Richards’ five goals helped us come out on top,” said Fairey. “Coach [Mike Robitaille] gave me the starter [position] today and that helped me get my head into the game. I feel like if we play as well as we did today, we will get the job done next game. I really hope Dack can come back from that huge hit he took today because he’s a huge offensive weapon of ours.”
The Bobcats travel to Denver, Colo. next weekend to take on two conference opponents, Regis University and the Colorado School of Mines. Wins against both teams would put MSU 4-0 in the conference and hopefully seal a first round bye in the playoffs.