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: Photo Gallery

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.

Bill Bowman

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