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spacer spacer  MEN'S LACROSSE: 2007 SEASON GAME SUMMARIES spacer
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SOUTHWESTERN RUNS OUT OF GAS AT NATIONALS (5/15/07)

For the third straight year, the Bucs found out they were going to the big dance. for the first time, however, it was as much as a surprise to the Bucs as anyone else. Three weeks prior to the end of the season and Nationals, the Bucs had no realistic chance of making the trip to Frisco. Having lost their AQ after several LSA teams dropped out of the league, the Bucs were solely dependent on one of several at large bids that would be given at the end of the year. With 5 teams form the RMLC in the top 11, the Bucs knew their season was just about over.

Meanwhile, the Bucs, having played their last game of the season against St. Ed's at home in early April, found out that there would be no LSA Championship and that Southwestern would be crowned the Champion by default, if you will after both St. Ed's and UTSA were removed from playoff eligibility because of league violations.

In short, the Bucs, with quite possibly their best season and team ever, had an abrupt end to their season. Or so they thought. After the announcement that no Championship would be played, the Bucs literally and figuratively "hung up their cleats" for the last time, and for many seniors, it was a bittersweet end to an amazing career.

That is, they say, when things got interesting. Southwestern, sitting on the outside looking in from their spot in the National polls, saw, in a matter of two weeks, up to the Final poll, UVSC drop out because of eligibility issues, Montana State lose to an unranked team in the RMLC playoffs, and the Bucs move up to within one spot and a mere 15 points from an at large bid in the final poll. However, the craziness was not over. A day after the Final Poll was released and the tournament field was announced(with Southwestern nowhere in the picture), the team right above Southwestern for the final spot in the National Tournament(Calvin) called and informed Southwestern and the league that they would be declining their bid. In a matter of days, the impossible became a reality. Southwestern received a bid for the third straight year to head to Nationals.

After calling all the players and having a serious talk about the trip, all but three players were able to make the commitment to go to Nationals. Two short practices and a 4 hour van drive later, the Bucs rolled out onto the fields of Pizza Hut Park in Frisco as the #11 seed to take on #6 University of Northern Colorado.

UNC, from the toughest conference in the nation, had played all the best teams and had faired very well during the season. The Bucs were literally trying to find a rythm after having a month long hiatus, and thinking their season was over at least twice.

As the game started, the Bucs slowly remembered how to play lacrosse, and UNC also adjusted to the heat. It was the Bucs that started the scoring with two quick goals in the first to take a 2-0 lead and give them hope that they could actually play with the nations best.

The Bucs soon realized one important factor. As the second quarter began, the Bucs ran out of gas. Literally, after not so much as a friendly jog around the field for over a month, the Bucs legs left them and the UNC Bears started to come alive. They ran circles around the Bucs to bring the score to a tie with just a few minutes remaining in the half.

A scary moment that took well over 20 minutes, when the UNC goalie put his head into the chest of Big Bryson Wersonske, and fell limp on the field proved to be the rallying cry that UNC needed to get them going. The Bucs could not take advantage of the new goalie, or even many opportunities in the second half, as the Bears, slowly and methodically built a several goal advantage. Even the an open net for the Bucs was thwarted by a diving Bear to save a goal that would have tied the game at 5 a piece in the third.

As the game went on, the Bucs clearly did not have the conditioning to play with the Bears, and were not able to even apply pressure on the bears or get to open field ground balls. There simply was nothing left in the tank, and the Bucs fell to UNC by a final score of 9-4. All things considered, the Bucs were very excited to be back on the national arena and to, for the first time in their National tournament history, to have played a solid game against a very good opponent in the first round.

The atmosphere on the team was one of satisfaction as the Bucs played a solid game all things considered, and came away with a feeling that they were a better team than either of the previous two years at nationals. Jones, Claiborn, Nelson, and Irish all played excellent games, as they did all year. The rest of the team stepped up as well.

The UNC goalie was not hurt seriously and was able to play in his game the next day, a loss to eventual National Champ Montana.

- Bill Bowman



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