Players fight for a loose ball during the 2008 Rocky Mountain Showdown against CSU. (CU Independent file/Danielle Alberti)
One month ago, their season seemed lost. After three straight losses and a 2-4 overall record, CU men’s lacrosse head coach Pete Stevenson was fired. But the Buffs have been getting second chances all season, so who knows what the future holds.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Ryder replaced the old coach, and the team has not looked back since. The Buffs flipped their record by going 4-2 since the midseason firing, including a historic upset over No. 1 Michigan. Before that, the Wolverines had won 49 straight games, including beating CU in last year’s MCLA National’s semi-finals by 10 points. However, on Kittredge Fields in early April of this year, they were prevented from reaching number 50 in what was Coach Ryder’s second game as the head man.
“I’ve been approached by a bunch of people so far that have said that’s the biggest win in the history of not only the MCLA, but obviously our program,” Ryder said. “That was definitely a turning point to prove to the guys that they can play with anybody. If you can beat number one, you can play with anybody.”
Ryder’s team has the chance to follow their coach’s words as they are set to begin play in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference tournament.
CU will travel to Provo, Utah to play league rival BYU. The Cougars won the matchup last year when they played CU in the finals of the RMLC playoffs in Boulder. But BYU has seen firsthand that this is a whole new CU lacrosse team as the Buffs beat the Cougars Monday, at Kittredge Field 14-11. They concluded the regular season with wins in four of their last five games, and now Ryder and his team know the secret for beating last year’s conference champs, BYU.
“We played faster than them,” Ryder said. “I think we’re one of the fastest teams in the country, so we knew that BYU was a little slower than us. We’ve got to be able to do the same thing we did on Friday to play with them.”
In just six games as head coach, Ryder seems to have righted the once off course ship. The surging Buffs have won three in a row headed into the postseason, and as their young coach said, there is an entirely new atmosphere surrounding the team.
“We’ve had a lot of success in the second half of the year,” Ryder said. “Everything’s a new program with CU this year, so we wanted to make sure that nothing was really based on last year.”
The team has already avenged two different playoff losses from last season, but Ryder said his team has not proven anything in the postseason yet.
“Just beating a team like that in the regular season is not enough,” Ryder said. “We want to be able to top this year off with a bunch of big wins at the end of the year.”
Colorado plays BYU on Wed. April 30 in Provo, Utah for the first round of RMLC playoff action. If they win, they will play the winner of the Utah/Colorado State game, two teams they lost to earlier in the season.
With a win against BYU, they’ll have another chance for revenge. Something they’ve been getting all season long.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Michael Krumholtz at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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