Senior Night Brings 4th Straight Win, 14-12 Over #16 Metro State
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Another ranked opponent, another win for #23 Argo lacrosse. UGF extended its win streak to four games, and finished the season undefeated on Argo field with a tense 14-12 win over #16 Metropolitan State University – Denver. The win also came on senior day, celebrating the first true senior class in program history.
The group of four seniors, including the first player to ever sign with the program, Albert Williams, have been through three head coaches, three losing season, and just six total wins before this season during their careers as Argos. The will lead the program with its first winning season, its first win over a ranked team, its first national rankings, and its first trip to the PNCLL Playoffs.
“I would never have imagined that we would progress so far in such little time,” senior midfielder Arturo Gonzalez said. “It’s so great to see what kind of a difference, in one year, just having everyone putting their heart out into the game for every second can do. It’s great to see the progress that we’ve made.”
The moment was also not lost on UGF Head Coach Fred Boekel, who had coached the team for the past two seasons.
“Holy cow. Coming from a 2-8 season, then a 4-8 season, to now beating the number 16 team in the country, what a great senior day for these guys,” Boekel said. “It’s fun to watch those guys finally have that success.”
Success came early for the Argos against the Roadrunners. Freshman Dante Duran won the opening faceoff and after a wide shot from freshman Connor Gilbert, scored the game’s first goal at the 13:15 mark.
MSUD answered with 2 goals, but UGF then rallied off 4 straight to take a 5-2 lead. Not only was the team’s offense effective, it was also balanced, with each of those 5 goals coming from a different player.
The first player to score twice was junior Josh Smith whose man up goal ended the first quarter with the Argos up 6-3.
Things got even better in the second period. While both teams’ goalies had 7 saves in the quarter, UGF’s Jeremy Smith only let 1 shot read the net, while Metro State’s Jake Miller had 4 balls score on him. The first two of those came from Gilbert, helping the team take a 10-4 lead into the half.
UGF’s lead was a product of a dominant effort at the faceoff X and on ground balls. Through the first 30 minutes, the Argos won 14 of 16 faceoffs and scooped up 20 gbs to the Roadrunner’s 6.
The seniors were honored at the half, and that emotional moment seemed to soften up the Argos, while Metro State came out poised for a comeback. The Roadrunner’s evened the numbers in ground balls and faceoffs and took advantage of 5 UGF turnovers in the third quarter and ended the stanza only down 11-9.
UGF’s one goal in the period came from what might have been the goal of the year for sophomore Chase Clark. The defender/attack started from X, drove around left goal line extended and drew a double team while trying to back down his defender. As the help came across his right shoulder, he abruptly spun to the left, planted his toes outside the crease flicked a shot past the keeper while falling face down from a check in the back.
Even with the sophomore’s effort, the momentum was all pointing the Roadrunner’s way, but a goal from Williams to start the fourth quarter breathed new life into the Argos.
“We could have very easily lost out composure, giving up that many goals in the third quarter. Lacrosse is a game of streaks. We had a great streak in the first half. They had a great streak in the second half,” Boekel said. “The big thing for us was to get a couple of goals and put them back on the defense and we were able to do that. It’s tough, when you get a streak going against you, to stem the tide.”
The teams traded goals over the next six minutes but 2 more goals from MSUD, brought the score to 13-12 with 4:05 left. An unassisted goal from Smith 15 second later, once again but the Argos up by 2 and from there the team’s defense held.
In the final two minutes, goalkeeper Jeremy Smith put in a tremendous performance. The sophomore saved 5 shots in that span of time to keep his team 2 goals ahead. A few of those saves came during the most impressive part of the team’s defensive stand, the final minute.
For 55 seconds of the game’s final minute, the Argos were down a man, thanks to an Illegal body check penalty. Not only did UGF not allow a goal during the disadvantage, they also forced a turnover, got the ground ball and gave the offense a chance to run the clock out for the win.
Jeremy Smith and MSUD’s Miller each had excellent games between the pipes. Miller finished the game with 19 saves, while Smith finished with 13. Smith has now had six straight games with a save percentage above .500.
“Jeremy was, as always, right on his game,” Boekel said. “He had some big saves coming down the stretch. He’s just fun to watch. He’s the real deal.”
While Josh Smith, with 4 goals, and Clark, with 3 goals and 1 assist, tied for the team lead in total points, faceoff men Dante Duran and Joshua Gavin were the real difference in the game. Before foregoing faceoff duties due to injury, Duran was a perfect 8-8 from the X, while Gavin came in and won 15-20.
The Argo’s record now moves to 8-3 (3-2) with one game left to play before the PNCLL playoffs. That game will bring another tough test, as the team travels to Missoula, Montana for a neutral site game against MCLA Division I team Washington State at 3 p.m.
With or without a win against the Cougars, UGF is feeling confident heading into its first playoff appearance.
“They’ve learned that they can play with anybody. I don’t want to see them think they’re better than what they are though, because we still need to improve,” Boekel said. “You know, who knows. I’m not going to count these guys out of anything at this point.”