Bulldogs Beat Out the Gophers in Rivalry Match
By UMD Media Relations
Duluth, MN (February 27, 2012) In another heated game that builds the lore of the rivalry the Minnesota Duluth Men’s Bulldog lacrosse team secured a regular season UMLC win against the Minnesota Gopher Men’s lacrosse team.
“The feelings towards these games are always much more personal,” said senior captain Matt Madden (#17, Rochester, MN.) “This was a very important game to us.”
Both teams came to play, as evidenced by the fast pace and back-and-forth scoring. The Gophers played outstanding lacrosse in the second quarter, going on a 5-goal run that gave them the lead. But there was no panic on the Bulldog sideline during this “run” – instead, there was a commitment to hard work, and in the fourth quarter, that commitment paid its due.
“We knew going into this game that it would be a battle for sixty minutes. The U of M is a much improved team from top to bottom,” said assistant head coach Sam Litman.
A fourth quarter comeback by the Bulldogs was the furthest thing from the over 800 spectators’ minds after viewing the first quarter. The first quarter started out with a goal from Drake Peterson (#15, Marymount HS, OH) at the 13:32 mark from resurgent attack line mate Kevin Gaydos (#6, Centennial HS, MN). A few minutes later, their attack line mate Alex McNamara (#10, Academy of Holy Angels, MN) would add to the scoreboard, putting the Bulldogs up 2-0 halfway through the quarter.
But the early Bulldog lead was just the start of the battle. At 9:18, the Gophers Tim Rondorf (#33, Eastview HS, MN) passed to Gopher freshman Sean Lee (#25, Mounds View HS, MN) and just like that, the score was 2-1. The Bulldogs had an opportunity to quickly respond to the Lee goal when the Gophers #44 Jack Buckley cross checked a UMD player, putting the Bulldogs one-man up. However, the Bulldogs wouldn’t find a chance to score, and the teams returned to even ground with six minutes left in the quarter. However, Bulldog midfielder Stan Drutowski (#28, Rosemount, MN) would pound in a high hard shot from 15 yards, ending the first quarter with a score of 3-1.
“It’s important that we played all four quarters like it’s our last time stepping on the field, and we did that in the first quarter” said Madden.
The Bulldogs continued this approach at the beginning of the second quarter. Peterson came out swinging, scoring his second goal for the Bulldogs, and stretching the lead to 4-1. That lead was short lived. After some poor Bulldog clearing, and a Matt Murphy (#21, Eden Prairie, MN) blast and Gopher response goal, the Gophers used the extra possessions to go on a 5-goal run, and would end the second quarter with a two goal lead, 7-5. Instrumental to the Gopher’s lead was the play of Rondorf, who controlled play, rode hard and scored the Gopher’s 7th goal with 20 seconds left in the second quarter.
The third quarter started roughly for the Bulldogs, and heat built in the dome — could the Gophers do it again? While the Bulldogs’ McNamara squeezed in a goal around 12:27 into the quarter, the Gopher’s responded, with Thomas Van Valkenberg’s second goal (#8, Green Bay, WI). After a procession of both team’s players to the penalty box, the Gopher’s Max Alexander (#22, Eden Prairie, MN) jammed in one more goal at the end of the quarter, putting the Gophers ahead by three, making the score 9-6.
“Rivalry games like this come down to who wants it more. We had a choice at that time – We could have become mad at ourselves and come apart, or we could come together. The final score shows what our team decided to do,” said Litman.
By the start of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs had had enough. The Bulldogs’ Gaydos exploded from behind, jamming home his chance and closed the gap to two, making the score 7-9. And that goal ignited the team. The Bulldogs’ Ryan Butts (#5, BSM, MN) passed to McNamara, who buried a 12 yard shot, giving UMD another goal. Now down one, the Bulldog’s defense took over, repeatedly extending play, causing turnovers, and clearing the ball flawlessly. And the offense responded in kind. Gaydos took a beautiful feed from senior four-year starter Ben Blaeser (#3, Champlin Park, MN) and tied the game at nine.
Two younger Bulldog midfielders then took over scoring at that point. Drutowski and Murphy each netted their second goal of the day. And that put the Bulldogs up by 2 goals, 11-9.
“Many people were wondering how we were going to replace two of the better scoring midfielders we’d had at Duluth when Brandon Nispel and Max Thomas-Olson graduated” noted assistant Brian Hochman, “but we’re confident in Matt and Stan, and they got the job done today.”
The Gophers did not “go lightly into the good night” – and competed hard all fourth quarter. In fact, with less than a minute left, the Gophers were man-up, but could not convert. The clock sounded, the Bulldogs earned one more victory this season, and made one more notch in the winning column in the Bulldogs-Gophers rivalry. The final score at the end of the fourth quarter was 11-9 for the Bulldogs.
“The Gophers are a good team. We made some adjustments at halftime and into the 4th which helped us. The defense locked it down, and we started to play our game on offense. “said head coach Frank Clark.
The Bulldogs now stand 3-0 in the UMLC and overall.
“Being down going into the fourth quarter didn’t phase the players. They rallied around each other and kept fighting through. The credit goes to the guys for taking back control of a game and showing no quit,” said Litman.
Next weekend on Saturday, March 3, the Bulldogs head to St. Cloud to play against St. Cloud State University at the Husky Stadium.