Defense Keys First Round Win for Rams
Greenville, SC – The 2nd seeded Colorado State Rams used a steady performance in just about all phases of the game as they outpaced 15th seaeded Illinois in an MCLA first round game on Monday afternoon in Greenville, South Carolina. The Rams stifled the Illini clear for most of the day and got four goals from junior attackman Austin Fisher (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) as they pulled away for a 13-2 victory to put them in the MCLA quarterfinals for the third straight season.
The game wasn’t a blowout early as Illinois played solid defense for much of the first half, holding CSU to a 2-0 lead after one and 6-2 at the end of the first thirty minutes. Goaltender Matt Walker kept the Illini in the game with four first quarter saves and Illinois played well at the face-off ‘x’ to stay within shouting distance into the third quarter.
But the second half belonged to the green and gold as CSU’s defense shut out Illinois for the final 36:39 of the game and the offense finally broke out with a four-goal run in just over a minute of game time to put things out of reach. The run was punctuated by two goals from Kacy Carter (Rock Canyon HS / Castle Rock, CO).
Fisher’s four points led all scorers while attackmen Sean Smith (Amherst HS / Amherst, NY) and Mike Wolff (Don Bosco Prep / Ramsey, NJ) each added three points for CSU on the afternoon. Carter finished with his two goals and eight other players had a single point for CSU. Illinois was led by midfielder Rhys Southworth’s two assists.
CSU split time in net with sophomores Jack Regan (Sunset HS / Beaverton, OR) and Koltin Fatzinger (Wheat Ridge HS / Thornton, CO) combining for 7 saves. Walker finished with 11 saves for Illinois. CSU statistically won the face-off battle with 12 of 18 draw controls, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter until the Rams started to dominate in that category.
The Rams were stellar on the defensive side of the ball, holding Illinois to just 20 total shots and turning back 8 ride attempts. Two long poles got in the act of scoring as sophomore Zach Arthur (Cherry Creek HS / Denver, CO) tallied a goal and junior defenseman Tyler Zabor (Rock Canyon HS / Highlands Ranch, CO) dished out an assist.
Next up for Colorado State (16-2 overall) is a quarterfinal date with 7th seeded UC-Santa Barbara on Tuesday night. The Gauchos dismissed the Pittsburgh Panthers by a score of 13-9 on Monday evening. UCSB and CSU met earlier this season with the Rams taking an 11-3 decision in Fort Collins. Tuesday evening’s 7:30pm contest will mark the first match-up between the two schools in MCLA tournament play since the 2004 national championship game, which was won by the Gauchos 8-7.