The winning streak continues for the University of Utah lacrosse team as they downed the Bellarmine University Knights, 10-9.
The Utes (4-3) came into this game fresh off of another close, hard-fought win against Furman University, where they again came away with a one-goal win. The two games followed surprisingly similar scripts, as the Utes started hot and had to hold off a surging attack to escape from a late-game comeback attempt by their opponents. Luckily, the team has experience in such situations, and they were able to do just the same with the Knights.
The Utes had another multi-goal first quarter, notching six in the opening frame. Two opening-period goals by Aaron Fjeldsted and Josh Stout were quickly answered by the Knights, before the Utes rattled off four straight goals, to take a 6-2 lead into the second quarter. Bellarmine would come back with two goals to bring their deficit to two going into the half.
Although the team controlled the pace of play through a majority of the second half, the Knights were still able to bring it within a few goals late into the game, and Utah could never quite pull away from Bellarmine, a trend that could bite the team in future tighter-knit games. But head coach Brian Holman’s counseled the players a little differently.
“A three-goal margin seems to be a magical number in lacrosse,” Holman said to Utah Athletics following the game. “My message to the guys was to continue to stay true to who we are. Forget the scoreboard.”
While Holman may have stressed to forget the scoreboard, nobody seems to have told Stout that. His hat-trick performance against the Knights was his sixth of the season.
Although the scoring remained low, the offense was much more spread out. While the Utes would not have won without Stout’s goals, increased offensive production from the likes of James Sexton, Fjeldsted and Samuel Cambere, who all notched goals in this game, was exactly what the Utes needed for the win.
That “share-the-love” mentality was not accidental. Holman stressed that following a balanced offensive game.
“We’re learning how to work better in practice and learning how to become a better team and learning to love each other more,” said Holman to Utah Athletics.
That comradery will need to come together at full force as the Utes will travel to face off with the No. 6 Duke University Blue Devils. With a 5-1 record, the Blue Devils will look to continue their run for the top of the NCAA rankings.
Coming off of an upset against No. 2 Loyola, the Blue Devils will be, by far and away, the Utes’ toughest opponent of the season. The Blue Devils have had a similar style of close, defensive games with opponents so far this season and if the Utes can keep the Blue Devils off the scoreboard as they have against their other opponents, they have a shot at keeping it close with one of the stronger teams in the country.
The game is slated for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12 in Durham, North Carolina in Koskinen Stadium.