BYU Takes Solace in the Rain, Beats CSU
Brian Mathay helped BYU rally past Colorado State, 14-11, and advance to the MCLA Division I national championship on Saturday against either Michigan or Arizona State.
© Cecil Copeland
When the skies opened up and another cold, hard Denver rain came down on Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Brigham Young plays started feeling better about themselves. Despite trailing Colorado State, 4-1, in the first quarter of the first MCLA Division I semifinal, the Cougars knew their luck was about to change.
"Our team plays a little bit better when it's wet," said Tyler Monteath, who scored two and set up a third in BYU's 14-11 win over the Rams. "I don't know why, we just do."
"I think it's a matter of what we deal with all year long," said BYU coach Matt Schneck. "We only had one game at home that was not in the rain or snow. It was all year long and pretty soon it became a badge of honor. All of a sudden we got some wet weather here and we knew we were used to it."
The Cougars took their cue from the precipitation and scored the next five goals – all by different players – allowing BYU to take a 6-4 lead midway through the second quarter. It wasn't the decisive run of the game, as the Rams responded with a three-goal streak of their own to retake the lead at 7-6, capped by a bounce shot from Cooper Kehoe.
With the rain still falling and the field getting slick, all of the conditions were right for BYU to make their move. It started with a Dan Cole marker and finished three goals later on a strike by defensive middie Mickell Walker, putting the Cougars back in the lead, 10-7, with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
It was a lead they wouldn't lose.
"You could see it was a game of runs," said Monteath. "They scored four, we scored five or six. Then they scored a couple and we went back up. We were just trying to be the ones to score the next goal."
"One of our goals at the beginning of every game is to avoid any type of run," said Schneck. "Sometimes the guys are more dialed into that than other times."
Colorado State would cut the lead to 10-9 at the beginning of the fourth quarter on a Stephen Unkrich rip, but Corey Gunderson and Grayson Dahl responded to push the lead to 12-9 and the Rams wouldn't threaten the rest of the way.
The first two meetings between these GRLC rivals featured a pair of defensive struggles with a combined 13 goals, with the team splitting the wins. The two matched that in the first half.
"I think both teams just said, 'Screw it,' and started going hard to the goal," said Colorado State head coach Alex Smith. "There was a lot of intensity and neither team was holding anything back on offense. We just made too many mistakes in the middle of the field and didn't clear very well."
"You've got to get into a groove and our offense is finding its stride, which is a good because we have a talented offense," added Schneck. "I think playing multiple days in a row helps us pick up on the little things."
BYU will get a chance to play one more game against the winner of the Michigan-Arizona State game on Saturday at 6 p.m. MDT. The Cougars will hope that their offense is still clicking, and they'll pray for rain.
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