The long drive to Logan, UT turned out to be the easy part for the 2013 Fort Lewis Skyhawks lacrosse team. After four long months of indoor practice on the hardwood of the Fort Lewis Student Life Center, Fort Lax began their season with a trip to Utah to play RMLC opponents the Utah State Aggies, and the Montana State Cougars. The rust was evident as both games ended in losses for the Skyhawks, who entered the season ranked as the #20 team in the Inside Lacrosse/MCLA coaches poll. The 0-2 start droppedFort Lewis to #23 in the most recent poll going into an exciting early season stretch against some of the best teams in Division 2.
The opening game saw early defensive miscues turned into a 7-3 first quarter lead by Utah St. While the Skyhawks more than held their own with great hustle plays and some outstanding goals by the freshman attack pair of Max Segal (Littleton HS) and Tom Rosenbaugh (Heritage HS), the Fort could only manage to pull within five goals, 15-10, at the end of the third. Despite a furious rally of shots, 19-10 ended up as the final. Grant Arthurs helped the Fort stay within striking distance by going 13-6 on faceoffs for the game. Unfortunate injuries to several Fort players hurt the Skyhawks severely, as an already short-handed roster couldn’t make up for the losses, but increased minutes for key reserves should prove beneficial in the long run.
In a Sunday morning rematch of the RMLC semifinals from last season, the Skyhawks again dug themselves an early hole with some missed slides and costly turnovers after a solid first quarter. Shaun Koenig opened the game with a coast to coast clear off the opening faceoff that resulted with him getting off a great shot, but an equally great save by Montana St.’s goalie set up a disappointing day for the Fort. A 9-3 MSU lead at the half was the result of a balanced Cougar attack effort, with 4 players scoring multiple points. A great effort by Freshman goalie Chris Sowder in the second half wasn’t enough to bring the Skyhawks closer than 6 goals after the 3rd quarter. The young Fort team managed 5 goals in the final frame thanks to the continued faceoff excellence of Grant Arthurs who managed 11-6 on faceoffs to go with 1 goal and 6 assists in the game. The Fort defense played very well in the second half, forcing multiple turnovers against the physical Cougars who still managed to pull out the 14-10 win despite 5 fourth quarter goals by the Skyhawks.
With two games of experience on a full field under their belt, Fort Lax is much better prepared to face the long road (literally) ahead to the full spring break schedule. Midterms, snowy fields, countless hours on the road, and cramped hotel rooms are the name of the game for Fort Lax. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Good luck to USU and MSU this year, and thanks to USU and classy coach Jon Atwood for hosting us. MSU coach Robitaille, we look forward to seeing you again in the RMLC playoffs!