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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Laxcats can’t top Utah but win two in Vegas

    Freshman attack Corey Smith (left) and teammates on the Arizona club lacrosse team pursue the ball during practice at Rincon Vista Complex. The Laxcats won two out of three games in the Best of the West Tournament in Las Vegas but had to settle for playing in the losers bracket after an opening loss to Utah.
    Freshman attack Corey Smith (left) and teammates on the Arizona club lacrosse team pursue the ball during practice at Rincon Vista Complex. The Laxcats won two out of three games in the Best of the West Tournament in Las Vegas but had to settle for playing in the loser’s bracket after an opening loss to Utah.

    The Arizona men’s club lacrosse team lived the dream of many book-bound students this past weekend by taking a mid-semester trip to Las Vegas.

    But returning home from the Best of the West Tournament, the Laxcats made it clear that, despite the R and R, they had left Vegas wanting what really mattered: the first-place trophy.

    Freshman defenseman Clayton Chu summed up the lukewarm feeling.

    “”The trip was pretty decent,”” he said.

    For the Laxcats, “”pretty decent”” meant an overall tournament record of 2-1, plus an exhibition victory against California prior to the beginning of the tournament.

    An overtime defeat against Utah in the tournament’s first game meant the team was bounced into the loser’s bracket and out of contention for the tournament’s top prize.

    The 8-7 loss to the Utes was particularly galling because the Laxcats held the No. 3 seed and were favored against No. 6 Utah.

    We’re just getting a rough start in fall ball. It wasn’t as good as it could have been, but that’s what fall is for.””

    – Harrison Crawford,
    senior captain

    Adding to the frustration were leftover memories from last season’s loss to the Utes, which the Laxcats also expected to win.

    Junior attacker Jason Gustafson singled out Utah as a major obstacle prior to the tournament.

    “”We lost to them last year, which shouldn’t have happened,”” he said. “”We were the better team. …Getting past Utah is huge.””

    Three-year head coach Ken Broschart expressed his own misgivings about the Utah loss.

    “”We probably should have won that game,”” he said. “”We had a lot of young players, a lot of young guys. We have a lot of injuries right now. We made some mistakes, which you might expect.””

    If the loss was upsetting, the Laxcats didn’t show any letdown, following up their performance against Utah with victories against Cal Poly and UC-Davis.

    “”We were happy because we bounced back,”” Broschart said. “”We got to see some of the younger guys step up and play real well.””

    Broschart summed up the team’s performance in Las Vegas as “”about average.””

    “”I’m not too disappointed,”” he said. “”It could have been better. It could have been worse. We definitely should have won that game (against Utah) and advanced to play better teams. We’re just disappointed that we didn’t get to play some of the better teams in the tournament.””

    Besides the lacrosse, the Laxcats also enjoyed the intangible benefits of their team’s first travel experience of the year.

    “”A lot of good team bonding came out of it,”” said Harrison Crawford, a team captain and senior midfielder. “”And of course everybody loves going to Vegas.””

    Chu, who was taking his first trip with the Laxcats, was equally enthusiastic.

    “”We’re a big family, you know,”” he said. “”Being able to hang out with everybody and play some lacrosse in Vegas, it was good.””

    For the Laxcats, whose regular season begins in early February, the Utah loss is going to stay in Vegas. While disappointed, the team is not attaching a great deal of significance to this weekend’s disappointment, Broschart said.

    More than anything, the Best of the West Tournament represents a useful precursor to the main action of spring, a chance to break up the monotony of constant practice with some in-game action.

    “”We had a tough game,”” Crawford said. “”We’re just getting a rough start in fall ball. It wasn’t as good as it could have been, but that’s what fall is for.””

    Crawford’s coach agreed.

    “”It’s really what the fall is all about, getting the guys geared up for the rest of the season,”” Broschart said.

    If history is any indication, the Laxcats needn’t worry too much about the weekend’s underwhelming results. Last year’s Laxcats won only one game in Las Vegas but went on to compete in the National Championships as the No. 8 team in the nation, eventually losing in the quarterfinals.

    With the Best of the West Tournament behind them, the Laxcats are looking forward to a scrimmage Saturday against ASU, which starts at 2 p.m. in front of the ASU Student Recreation Center.

    After the scrimmage, the team will turn its attention to Homecoming Weekend’s alumni game, then to players’ personal preparation over winter break. Each player is assigned a report card by the coach and given an assignment for what to improve on.

    Taking the initiative in the coming months won’t be a problem for players like Crawford, who are already looking past Las Vegas to the Feb. 8 home opener against Brigham Young.

    “”I have high hopes for this year,”” Crawford said. “”I still think this is one of the most talented groups of guys we’ve ever had, at least in my four years here.””

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