Off to a rough start (Lacrosse)

The No. 12 Ute lacrosse team dropped two tough contests against No. 17 Chico State and No. 22 Chapman last weekend for a frustrating 0-2 start to their 2006 season in Irvine, Calif.

“It was a good trip for us despite what looks like a painful result,” head coach Mason Goodhand said. “With a couple of losses in the offseason, we’re finding it a little more difficult to put the ball in the cage right now.”

Chico State edged the Utes 5-4 in Saturday’s low-scoring affair, netting two goals in the third quarter to take the lead for good.

With team leaders Stefan Turkula and James Brand out for the season due to a ski accident and personal commitments respectively, the Utes already find themselves trying to find other sources of offense in the young season.

In the Chico State game, freshman Pat McIntyre scored twice for the Utes, although his starting nod came as news even to him. Would-be starter Walker Hewlett sat out a couple of practices last week with a pulled hamstring, and Goodhand implemented his policy of not starting players who have missed training. But he forgot to tell somebody of Hewlett’s absence.

“When the game started, there were only nine guys on the field. Nobody on the coaching staff had bothered to tell Pat he was in. At least he didn’t have time to get nervous,” Goodhand said.

Freshman Matt Qualey and sophomore Adam Grow tallied the only other scores for the U, with senior Parker Ellison adding an assist.

Sunday’s loss to Chapman (3-0) saw an even tougher defensive effort by the Utes but more of the same from their stagnant offense.

“Defensively we changed,” Goodhand said. “We just went out after people and made them run at the net and take shots. That’s a fatiguing way to play, and we kind of fell apart in the fourth.”

Trailing 7-6 after three quarters, Chapman went on a 6-0 run for a seemingly convincing 13-6 win, although the Utes outshot the Panthers 36-24.

“It was kind of weird,” Goodhand said. “They got a couple of scores, and the air was just deflated.”

Tom Fernandez led the Utes with two goals, while Ellison, Rich Qualey, Ben Bowen, Rich Levi and McIntyre added the others. Fernandez and Ellison nabbed five ground balls each, and Matt Qualey had two assists in the loss.

“Losses hurt, and I would imagine that this will knock us out of the top 25,” Goodhand said, “but there are worse times to be beaten. We suffered a setback but one that can be recovered from.”

The Utes will host unranked Simon Fraser University in their home opener at the Spence Eccles Field House tonight at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $3 and covers facility costs for the team.

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