Fort Collins, CO – In their first contest of the year against a higher ranked team, the #3 Colorado State Rams were focused and efficient in all phases of the game, turning a 5-0 halftime lead against the 2nd ranked UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos into a comfortable 11-3 victory on Thursday evening on campus. CSU got five points from junior attackman Austin Fisher (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) and a career high 11 saves from sophomore Jack Regan (Sunset HS / Beaverton, OR) in the win.
After a nip and tuck first quarter that ended with the Rams up 1-0, CSU exploded in the second frame for four goals, including three within just over two minutes to stake out to a 5-0 lead after the first half. Junior midfielder Dustin Grybinas (Kirkwood HS / Kirkwood, MO) led the charge for Colorado State, scoring consecutive goals in just over a minute’s time as the Rams began to click on all cylinders.
Even with the five-goal lead, the Rams were far from comfortable at the break, having surrendered a 5-1 halftime lead against Cal Poly just six days ago. UCSB struck first in the third quarter to narrow the gap, but the Rams scored four of the game’s next five goals to put it out of reach heading into the final fifteen minutes.
The key third-quarter run was punctuated when sophomore attackman Sean Smith (Amherst HS / Amherst, NY) rifled one past UCSB goalie Andrew Noto and then senior midfielder Greyson Konkel (Regis Jesuit HS / Aurora, CO) buried a goal on man-up to give the Rams a 9-2 lead with just under :20 in the period. UCSB’s Jamie Bridgman scored with :01 left on the clock in the quarter, but that was the last goal the CSU defense would surrender on the evening and the Rams salted away the fourth for a big victory in their final out of conference game of the season.
CSU’s Fisher led the game in scoring with his three goals and two assists while Konkel and Grybinas notched two goals apiece. Smith ended the night with three points, adding two assists to his third-quarter tally and UCSB was led by Bridgman, who scored twice. Again, the CSU defense, led by junior Hayden Porter’s (Heritage HS / Littleton, CO) five groundballs, was stifling and when UCSB did break through for shots, Regan was there to snuff them out.
Shooting totals were fairly even on the night with CSU holding a 33-29 advantage, but the Rams made hay on groundballs and riding – scooping up 34 gbs to UCSB’s 25 and turning the Gauchos over on six clearing attempts. UCSB was held scoreless on their five man-up chances while CSU scored on one of their three opportunities.
UCSB split goalies with Conrad Carlson and Andrew Noto each playing a half and recording six saves apiece. CSU’s Regan went the distance, piling up 11 saves to just three goals against. Regan’s season save percentage now stands at 73% after another impressive performance.
The Rams (11-1 overall, 0-0 RMLC) are now in the home stretch of their season with three games remaining on the schedule, all against Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference opponents. Next up for CSU is #4 Brigham Young, the team that knocked the Rams out of the MCLA tournament in 2011. The game next Saturday night is CSU’s annual Hall of Fame Game that will feature four new members inducted into the CSULAA Hall of Fame at Shea Stadium in Highlands Ranch, CO. It will also feature a high school game between Cherry Creek and Mountain Vista, two perennial Colorado lacrosse powers.
UCSB suffers their first defeat of the season and falls to 8-1 on the year. They must lick their wounds quickly before facing a suddenly hot University of Colorado team on Saturday in Boulder, CO.