Greenville, SC – In their ninth MCLA championship game appearance in team history, the Colorado State University Rams travelled over 1,500 miles to play a team just 55 miles down the road, and on the backs of yet another record-setting defensive performance, they completed their drive for perfection on Saturday night at Sirrine Stadium in Greenville, SC.
#1 Colorado State’s 7-2 victory over the #2 Colorado Buffaloes capped a 21-0 season for Colorado State, who won the MCLA national championship for the second year in a row, and a record-setting sixth time in team history. It also marks the first time in team history that CSU has repeated as national champions and recorded an undefeated season.
Two days after defeating fellow RMLC rival Brigham Young 9-7 in the semifinals, Colorado State faced another familiar foe in the championship game. The Rams had defeated the Buffs 9-3 in the regular season and 9-6 in the RMLC championship before getting together in the MCLA’s penultimate game.
CSU never trailed in the contest after finally getting things going with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Rams jumped out to a 4-0 halftime lead that eventually ballooned to 7-1 in the late fourth before Colorado finally got their second goal of the evening to create the final five-goal difference.
Junior Sean Smith (Amherst HS / Amherst, NY) was the story of the first quarter, rocketing home the first two goals of the game against MCLA All-American goaltender Brad MacNee to make it 2-0 after one. Kacy Carter (Rock Canyon HS / Castle Rock, CO) and Braxton Campbell (Summit HS / Silverthorne, CO) each added a goal in the second quarter to give the Rams their 4-0 halftime advantage.
Neither team found the back of the net in the third quarter, but the Buffs got on the scoreboard with 14:05 left in the game when Ryan Haines bounced a shot home to bring Colorado to within three. But a key man-up goal by freshman Jake Johnson (Bridgton Academy / Lake Forest, CA) less than a minute later seemed to quell the momentum as the Rams methodically turned back any offensive advance by the Buffaloes down the stretch.
By the time Tyler Dougherty found the net on man-up for Colorado with just :56 left in the game, it was too late, and Colorado State swarmed the field in celebration of their back to back MCLA championships and perfect 21-0 season.
The teams were dead-even on shots with 29 each on the evening, and face-offs were nearly even as well as the Rams picked up 7-13 draw opportunities. The Colorado State goaltending duo of Jack Regan (Sunset HS / Portland, OR) and Koltin Fatzinger (Wheat Ridge HS / Thornton, CO) stymied any opportunities the Buffaloes were able to get past the stingy Ram defense, making 8 combined saves in the game.
Colorado State allowed just 16 goals over the course of the entire four-game national tournament, including holding Colorado to a record low of just two in the final game. The previous low in a championship game was held by the UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos, who managed only four against Colorado State in CSU’s third national championship season in 2003.
For their efforts, the senior trio of close defenders, Hayden Porter (Heritage HS / Littleton, CO), Tyler Zabor (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) and Patrick Sullivan (Heritage HS / Littleton, CO), were named championship game MVPs.
CSU’s 21-0 season is the first undefeated campaign by an MCLA program since Michigan went 20-0 in 2009. CSU’s women’s team also concluded a 22-0 season with their third WCLA championship in four years last weekend, giving the two programs an incredible 43-0 combined record in the 2013 season. Colorado closes the 2013 year with an 18-3 record – all three losses coming to the Rams after running the table against the rest of the MCLA.
Colorado State graduates arguably its most successful class in its illustrious team history in 2013. The program loses fourteen seniors, including first team All-American and MCLA Godekraw National Player of the Year Austin Fisher (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) and seven other MCLA All-Americans.
The 2013 class has a record that may not be equaled any time soon, having compiled a 75-8 overall record which included winning their last 29 games, capturing two national championships, four consecutive RMLC conference titles, and an 8-0 record in rivalry games against Colorado.