The annual grudge match between DII RMLC East rival the Northern Colorado Bears and Fort Lewis Skyhawks ended in defeat for the Skyhawks 21-15 in Greeley, CO on Saturday afternoon. This marked the seventh straight victory in the series for UNC, despite a strong effort by the Fort. Even the debut of Fort Lewis’ new alternate uniforms couldn’t get the Skyhawks over the hump. Untimely penalties and sloppy play on defense haunted the Skyhawks throughout the game. Fort Lewis had no answer for the outstanding shooting and transition play of the Bears’ Tyler Vogel (5G, 3A), Ryan Beigl (4G, 3A), and Kody Baker (5G, 1A). The Fort was led once again by senior attackmen Paul Larson (5G) and Kevin Harkey (4G, 2A), with six other players contributing points on the day. Northern Colorado was ranked #20 in MCLA DII going into the game.
Complete game stats at http://mcla.us
The game was back and forth into the fourth quarter, with FLC scoring the first goal and leading 4-3 in the first quarter only to lose the period 5-4. The second quarter finished out 5-4 as well to see the Bears leading 10-8 at the half. Fort Lewis came out firing to start the second half, taking a 12-10 lead before giving up six unanswered goals. Trailing 16-12 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Skyhawks never took the lead again as UNC maintained control until the final horn sounded.
This game was a frustrating one for me as a coach, having never defeated UNC as a player. It was evident from the opening faceoff that we had the ability to defeat UNC, but our execution and discipline let us down. Sometimes a team gets almost too pumped up for a game and they lose their identity as a team when adversity strikes. Defensive breakdowns in this game were overwhelmingly the result of players trying to be heroes instead of intelligent defenders. The big play isn’t always the smart play. To me, the most disappointing part of the loss was how our team became the instigators of physical play and got called by the officials as a result. Typically in this rivalry, UNC has been the team that plays excessively physical, but we fell into the trap and paid for it with a big loss. This game had implications for an at-large berth to Nationals, but a chance at redemption looms in the RMLC playoffs. Now, it is time to regroup, learn from mistakes, and play Fort Lax style lacrosse for the next five weeks.
Thanks to the many friends and family members who came out to support us, I know many of the guys relished in the opportunity to enjoy an evening back home in the Denver-metro area. Special thanks to the Kelly family for hosting us and cooking us a wonderful dinner in Colorado Springs Saturday night. It was definitely food for the soul after a long and tough day.