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[2/15/09] After a week of great weather (it was 80 at practice on Friday afternoon), and working with the league to find a way to host games that were originally scheduled for Dallas, the Bucs settled in on a cold Saturday to serve as host to Missouri State as they played two games almost back to back against SFA and then St. Edward's.

The University, and our trainer were willing to allow the Bucs to host the games at SU, so that MSU would have all the games it wanted and have them at a common place.

The Bucs have played MSU once before, in 2003-2004. At that point, they were Southwest Missouri State, and still very good. That year was the first they had rankings nationally for what is now MCLA Division 2. However, at that point, it was still very informal and there was no National Tournament. The Bears handily took care of the Bucs back then 15-3, and went on to at least share a portion of the national ranking at the end of the year, if I remember correctly.

During that trip, MSU played 4 games in two days, a feat I am still in awe of. They won all 4 if I remember correctly. Needless to say, MSU decided to move up to the upper Division the following year and has competed there ever since, until making the decision to come down to Division 2 this year.

MSU was/is one of those trap games for any team that plays them. As a D1 team the past few years, many do not know how good they are. Enough, it seems, at least recognized in the Preseason Polls that they were worthy of some consideration, however, as they received voted in the national poll for rankings as high as 15.

The Bears came in on Saturday and literally blew by both SFA and St. Ed's with little problem. The wins were convincing, and solidified that MSU was a team that was very capable of playing with anybody, anywhere, at anytime.

On the other side, the Bucs, have played some very tough competition early in the season, including a loss to D1 Texas on Thursday. They knew this was a game they would have to play their absolute best, despite the fact that MSU played two the day before to even have a chance to win. They were right.

Both teams came out fired up and the Bucs struck first on an unsettled situation in front of the Bears crease shortly after the game started. That woke the Bears up, however, as they managed to pour 4 unanswered goals in over the remainder of the quarter to take a 4-1 lead into the second stanza.

As the second started, the Bucs woke up and started playing much better both defensively and in transition. By half time, the Bucs had tied the score at 4-4 and the game was starting to feel like the Baylor game a few short weeks ago.

As the third started, the Bucs were able to take their first lead of the day, and get just a little separation. It was a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the day, as each time the Bears made a move, the Bucs were able to answer back and maintain a 3 goal margin by playing smart lacrosse and controlling the ball.

McDonough, the best goalie few in the nation know about, was spot on brilliant in goal, thwarting many opportunities MSU had. The defense rotated well all day, only making a couple of mistakes. Fletch, for his great play the last few games, this one included, epitomized the new fire Coach Ernst has instilled in our poles and entire Defense, and received the game ball for his play all over the field.

The middies all minimized fast breaks and started many others, by playing in between the boxes with a resolve that was unmatched. Thompson, Connor, Mock, Faulk, Derek, and Titus all were able to place pressure in transition and on rides all day. Our attack, may have played their best game of the day, by managing the game at times when they needed to, and more importantly letting the game come to them instead of forcing anything.

If you love lacrosse and love challenging games, MSU is the team to play. What they tried to accomplish is unprecedented, in 3 games in two days. However, there is no doubt they will be vying for the AQ in the GRLC 2 crown this year. They have great chemistry, play physical, and do not let up for 60 minutes. Anyone watching can tell they truly love lacrosse and competition. Any team that is on their schedule this year had better be prepared or they will come out on the losing end to this group. We wish them the best the rest of their season.

The Bucs have little time to enjoy their OOC win, as this next week, not only do the Bucs open conference play, but do so against none other than rival St. Ed's. The Bucs and the Hilltoppers have met each other in the finals 3 of the last four Conference Championships, and each time has been a spirited contest. The Bucs know they will have to be fully prepared in order to win this important conference game on Family Weekend.

- Bill Bowman