Lacrosse club closes season with strong effort

The Utah lacrosse club had an excellent season-ending performance as the team competed last weekend in the Las Vegas Round-Robin Invitational Tournament.

While no official champion was declared, Utah finished with one of the top records of the teams in attendance. According to Blake Gaudet, the team’s media spokesman, the purpose of the tournament was to give the lacrosse club a chance to face opponents from outside of its traditional region.

“The tournament gave us a chance to play against schools we normally wouldn’t play,” Gaudet said. “It gave us some really good experience.”

In a twist of bad luck for the Utah squad, the team found itself paired against the best team in attendance (California Polytechnical Institute-ranked No. 9 last year) in the first round. Adding to the unfortunate circumstances, the Utes were scheduled to play less than one hour after a long drive to Las Vegas.

“It was tough after such a long drive,” Gaudet said. “We just weren’t ready getting right out of our cars.”

In a game that turned into a defensive struggle, the Utes lost 3-0. The team had trouble getting into any kind of rhythm offensively, as evidenced by the final score.

Sophomore goalie Cole Hale played an excellent game, giving up only three scores and keeping the U within reach for most of the game.

Although disappointed with the loss, head coach Mason Goodhand remained upbeat about the outcome.

“We showed that we have the ability to compete with highly ranked teams,” Goodhand said. “And that is something positive for our team to build on.”

After a troubling first game Friday night, the Utes recovered with a vengeance Saturday morning against Claremont with a dominating victory.

The team scored early and often as the defense delivered an 11-0 shutout. “It really wasn’t much of a game,” Gaudet said. “Our offense held the ball for most of the game, which made it easy for the defense. Whatever problems we had the night before, we solved them, so it was important for us.”

The next game on the tournament docket matched Utah against Nevada-Reno.

In another blowout, the Utes notched a commanding 8-2 victory by jumping out to an early lead and never looking back.

The final game of the tourney came against Arizona State as the team played its third game in one day.

It was critical because ASU’s only loss was also to Cal-Poly, meaning that the victor would emerge as the de facto second-place team.

In what Gaudet called a “really good game,” the Utes struggled early, falling behind 3-1 in the middle of the first half. Urged on by the solitary goal of freshman Adam Ashton, the team rallied to finish the half with a razor-thin 4-3 lead.

In the second half, the two teams appeared evenly matched as the game turned to a defensive power struggle for ball control.

Midway through the second half, ASU tied the game 5-5.

Sophomore standout Tom Fernandez broke the deadlock with the go-ahead game winning goal and led the U to a nail biting 6-5 thriller. Sophomore defender Will Sargeant was credited with playing a pivotal role in shutting down the ASU offense throughout the second half.

“It’s hard to play three games in one day,” Goodhand said. “To be able to fight as hard as we did, and not allow fatigue to become a factor in that final game, says a lot about our team’s character.”

With the fall season coming to a close, the group now looks forward to the spring season when it will have the opportunity to vie for a regional title.

[email protected]