SOUTHWESTERN AS COLD AS THE WEATHER AGAINST #1 SAN DIEGO (5/12/05)
In the first ever Div. B National tournament, Southwestern drew #1
in the nation San Diego in the first round. While every player
who made the commitment to make the trip was extremely excited to
be at nationals, they knew they were going up against a tough
opponent in San Diego.
Southwestern, after driving 26 hours straight the day before,
arrived to Blaine MN, with hopes that the weather would hold out
and that the young team would be able to play its best game of the
year. Unfortunately neither happened until a day later.
San Diego is an exceptional team, playing with poise, precision
and a confidence in all aspects of the game that really was a
treat to watch. As the team said before the game started , even
their line drills looked amazing.
At the start of game time, after having rained all day, the
temperature was a balmy 34 degrees with rain and sleet coming
down, and winds up to 25 mph. In short, the conditions were the
worst weather wise that SU had played in all year. The fields,
however, were in very good shape considering the circumstances.
The game started out with a solid game plan for SU, keep San Diego
out of the middle. Unfortunately, that did not work well as San
Diego slashed, moved the ball around and continually found open
guys in the heart of our defense wide open time after time.
While part of the problem was that SU was "pre-sliding" to
quickly, the San Diego team took advantage of an SU team that had
not seen a team play complete team offense all year. By the end
of 1 it was 7-0 and at the half the lead was 10-0, with San Diego
in total control.
As had happened in the only other game we fell behind early on
this year, SU would not settle the ball down on offense,
continually made mistakes by throwing the ball away, and standing
still in the offensive zone. San Diego was to good and
capitalized time after time.
Throughout the entire game SU only got one chance at ground balls
and if it did not end up in our stick, we were chasing the ball
down to the other end.
With a promise to play better defense and at least try to slow the
ball down on offense, the Bucs came out in the second half with a
renewed energy and set up in offense for a quick goal by Wersonske
off an assist by Jones with less than 30 seconds gone in the
third. SU continued to dominate for the next 3 minutes before San
Diego took the wind out of SU's sails and methodically started
dissecting the Buc defense once again.
By the end of three, San Diego held a commanding 16-3 lead with no
signs of letting up, and in fact, with a final score of 22-2, the
only score by SU came in the fourth off an iso by Daulton on a
rocket bounce shot.
To put it plainly, SU had not seen this type of lacrosse all
year. The LSA, especially Div. B simply does not play this level
of lacrosse. To a man, the guys knew they were outmatched and
looked at this as an opportunity to see what the "next level" is.
They were also very quick learners. While playing physical
lacrosse in the LSA can work to your advantage, with the skills
the players had on the San Diego team, physical lacrosse only
plays into the opponents hands. Along with many other lessons, SU
learned that the hard way. Ball control and movement beats
physical play every time.
Jake had a great game, coming up with 22 saves alone, only 9 short
of the tournament record, Div. A or B. I wouldn't doubt if he set
the bar for saves in a Div. B game.
While the game was not close, the Bucs were able to find a way to
get positive feedback in preparation for the game against #5 in
the nation, St. John's of MN, the following morning.
San Diego went on to win the Div. B national championship, and was
able to do so with some ease. Credit and congratulations must be
given to a team that would probably give most, if not all Div. A
teams in the LSA a run for their money.
While the loss was a tough one, the Bucs were able to represent the
university to the best of their ability given the circumstances.
Regardless of the outcome, they knew they were going to be able
to play a much more contested game the following day. A big
THANKS goes out to John Kotarski for traveling with the team from
the university to take pictures and document the trip, Allan Tran
for coming as the trainer on the trip and helping get the guys
ready for games, and to the parents for making the trek, and
standing with us, huddled in masses on the sideline during our
first, but definitely not our last national tournament game.
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