U lacrosse gets revenge on UVSC

It was like dj vu. Last year, the U lacrosse club, after playing a brutal road schedule, received a national ranking just days before its showdown with UVSC.

The same sequence of events was unfolding, eerily, as the Utes took the field Tuesday afternoon.

The club had received word only a day before that they had been ranked by a prominent ranking service.

The news came with mixed emotion as the ranking was announced: No. 22. It was the same ranking they were given last season before being handed a devastating defeat by the scrappy UVSC players.

Determined to avoid a historical repeat, the Utes jumped out to a 6 2 lead in the game Tuesday afternoon.

But fate seemed to pull the undermanned and undertalented UVSC players back within reach as they fought back to tie the score at 6 as the game approached halftime.

By the half, the Utes had re established a slim lead, but UVSC was still well within reach.

What happened in the halftime meeting we may never know, but the Utes came out in the second half like a team possessed as they proceeded to pour on eight unanswered goals to put the game away for good, and the Utes prevailed, 18-8.

After breaking the “No. 22 ranking curse,” the players spoke about the importance of picking up the win.

“We needed that one,” said Blake Gaudet, the team’s media liaison. “It was important to our mindset that we didn’t have the same mental breakdowns as we did last year.”

Sophomore attackman Stefan Turkula, one of the team’s leading scorers, agreed with his Gaudet that the win was essential to the health of the club’s mental approach for the rest of the year.

“It’s great to be ranked,” Turkula said. “Last time we got ranked was last year, and right after that we lost. So it was good for us to get a win this time.”

With a team consisting of only one senior and no juniors, head coach Mason Goodhand has managed to work his young team into the national limelight for the second consecutive year.

Last year’s group consisted primarily of freshmen, which may help explain the post-ranking meltdown at the end of the season, but as Tuesday’s game demonstrated, this year’s group is growing up quickly.

“We are young, but this year’s group is [almost] all freshmen and sophomores, and last year we were really just freshmen,” Turkula said. “So I think we are starting to mature as a group.”

Goodhand agrees that the team is coming together nicely, but he sees room for improvement in the team’s focus level.

“A lack of focus can be very common for a young group,” Goodhand said. “We’ve made a lot of progress with this year’s team, but one of the things still on this team’s to-do list is to stay focused for four quarters. We’ve had peaks and valleys, but we haven’t played a complete game yet with the focus we will need going into the next few games.”

With just three games left on the team’s schedule, the need for focus will be amplified as the club, which stands at 7-4 right now, looks for a solid seeding in the regional tournament coming up later this month.

The U club will play two mid grade teams in the upcoming week that they should defeat easily, setting up a crucial season-ending match with archrival BYU at Juan Diego High School on April 24.

After the UVSC victory Tuesday, Goodhand spoke about the importance of being ready to play the Cougars.

“This brings us one step closer to accomplishing something this program hasn’t accomplished in over a decade-beating BYU,” Goodhand said.

“There will be quite a few people there to watch us wage the holy war, and we have to be ready.”

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