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spacer spacer  MEN'S LACROSSE: 2007 SEASON GAME SUMMARIES spacer
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Ever since Southwestern started showing up on the fringe of the national spotlight in Div. B the past couple of years, they have become a better team each year, reloading and gaining more and more experience against teams that play high caliber lacrosse at a national level.

Last year at Nationals, the Bucs were able to secure their first ooc win at nationals, while also winning an ooc game in the regular season.

This year, the Bucs knew that in order to have a chance to move up in the spotlight, they would have to travel to other conferences to play teams that were better than them.

With a generally weak conference the Bucs prepared themselves with games against solid Div. A opponents in the LSA and scheduled aggressively for ooc games this Spring season, with a huge trip to Rock Island Illinois for a three game round robin against three solid teams from three different conferences. St. John's, the #2 team in the nation and last year's National runner up from the UMLL, Carnegie Mellon from the CCLA, unranked, but soon to be after their showing this past weekend, and the hosts, the Augustana Vikings or "Augies", currently #12 from the GRLC.

This was a perfect opportunity for Southwestern to expose itself to the different conferences and see where we stood.

It was also an opportunity to play Augustana a team that beat Southwestern at Nationals last year pretty handily in one of the worst games of the year for the Bucs. Augustana won 10-4 and controlled the game.

This year, the Bucs arrived to Rock Island for the first of three games against host Augustana on Thursday night. This was Augustana's first game of the year. The field was amazing, played in the football stadium on synthetic turf, and the weather was nice, hovering around freezing with no wind (thank goodness).

The first quarter was one in which both teams seemed very nervous. No one wanted to make a mistake and neither team seemed sure what they wanted to do. Hence the first ended with a 0-0 tie.

As the second started, however, the Bucs were able to settle into an offense that was servicable. With Attackman Webb out because of a dislocated elbow, and torn ligaments, and his status not known for the rest of the year until after Spring Break, Irish had to step in at Attack with Jones and Wersonske.

The second saw Jones take over, as well as the Bucs middies and defense. Our offense controlled much of the quarter, scoring 3 goals over a five minute period before Augustana got on the board with less than a minute remaining in the half to bring the half time score to 3-1.

Again, the Bucs scored in the third to go up 4-1, notching the only goal either team would see in the stanza, as both teams pressured the transition area and the Bucs were able to control posession for much of the quarter.

By the fourth however, the Augies, who had been known to come on late and stay strong as a trademark of their team through all 4 quarters, came out and scored 2 early goals bringing the score to 4-3 with a little over 9 minutes left.

The first key point in the game and the of the weekend came shortly after, as a three minute non-releasable penalty on one of our best defensmen(Cole) for an illegal stick, although the refs did not indicate what was wrong with it, gave the Augies a golden opportunity to turn the momentum in their favor, possibly for good.

The Bucs defense was able to strip the ball and get it to our offensive side and literally kill almost 2 minutes of the penalty on our offensive side.

Play went back and forth over the next few minutes until the next key point with about 3 minutes remaining happened to the Bucs. Jones, who had 4 points in the game hobbled off the field with a bad high ankle sprain and was done for the night.

The Bucs started putting its best middies in at attack in hopes of holding the ball as much as possible and did an OK job, but the Augies did get one final chance.

With .21 seconds left in the game and the Augies with posession in the box, our defense made a great stand to ensure our victory, capped off with a great "de-twigging" of an Augustana attackman by Travis Nelson, who received the game ball for his unbelievable play in the game, which allowed the clock to run out and give the Bucs one of their biggest wins ever, and allowed them start off the trip on the right note.

This was the game the Bucs knew they could play, and was also one they had to win. Not enough can be said about the defense and the middies on defense that played a great game. This would be what held us in games the rest of the way without our two leading scorers and best ball handlers able to play.

What the Bucs had to prepare for now was a game against #2 St. John's without its two best attackmen.

Regardless, the Bucs went back to the Hotel to regroup and rehydrate, with the knowledge they just got one of the biggest wins of the their season.

- Bill Bowman

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