Lacrosse nabs two easy wins in preparation for BYU

The No. 14 U lacrosse team (10-3) picked up some timely momentum last weekend, rolling to a 26-10 victory over Utah State on Saturday before demolishing an overmatched Colorado School of Mines squad, 21-1.

The FieldTurf of Romney Stadium suited the fast-flying attack of the Utes, whose 26 goals were a season-best. They raced out to a 9-0 lead against the Aggies in the first quarter and never looked back.

Junior Rich Qualey had a big day, tallying a career-high 12 points on 3 goals and 9 assists. The well-rounded attackman leads the conference in assists with 33, and is also the team leader in ground balls. “I wouldn’t say I focus on any particular aspect of my game,” Qualey said. “I try to improve everything.”

Sophomores Tom Fernandez and James Brand both netted six goals against USU, adding to their already prolific season totals.

Fernandez and junior Stefan Turkula are the top two goal scorers in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference, with 43 and 37, respectively. The Utes are well represented statistically, as Qualey and Brand are also in the top seven in points.

Turkula, Fernandez and Brand scored four goals apiece in a 21-1 routing of the Orediggers at Stillwell Field on Sunday. CSM was unable to get anything going toward the Ute goal.

“We came out really fired up, and our ride was working really hard,” assistant coach Dan Schmidt said. “We pushed them as hard as we could with an up-tempo attack, and got great defensive play from freshmen Rob McQuade and Clint English.”

The Utes hope to keep firing on all cylinders when they head into Provo this Friday (7 p.m.) to face No. 3 Brigham Young in their last regular-season contest of the year. “We have a lot of history against BYU,” Qualey said. “Especially me personally, now that I’m a junior.”

The Utes do not have a senior on their roster, and will look to their juniors and sophomore captain Tom Fernandez for leadership as they enter crunch time.

Only the top 12 teams in the national rankings receive an automatic invite to the National Championships in Minnesota, and the Utes would be the odd team out if the tournament started today.

For the Utes to climb up a spot or two, they will need to start with a good showing against the Cougars on Friday and a successful run in the conference tournament. With just a 1-2 conference record, the U will likely face the nation’s top team, No. 1 Colorado State, in the opening round of the RMLAX tournament.

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