This is super late, I know, but what can I say? Better late than never? Something like that.
Anyways, as you may or may not be aware, your Idaho Vandals triumphed over the University of Washington Huskies last weekend and locked up their third consecutive PNCLL playoff appearance. Vandal seniors were crucial in the victory as attackman John Kopke came up huge with 5 goals and goalie Blake Uphus secured the win with a last-second game-winning save . Idaho’s freshmen also stepped up — midfielder Patrick Tunison chipped in 4 points on 3 goals and 1 assist while attackman Deric Wilson added 2 goals and 2 assists of his own. The University of Idaho Argonaut has a full game report here.
So what now for the playoff-bound Vandals? The boys in black and gold travel to Tacoma, WA to take on the Oregon Ducks in the PNCLL semi-finals on Saturday. Luckily for me, the Argonaut has me covered again. Go Vandals!
Control the pace
It’s off to Seattle for the Idaho club lacrosse team Saturday where the Vandals will face Oregon in the PNCLL Final Four.
The Vandals came into last Saturday’s contest against Washington needing a win to keep their season alive and were able to pull out a one-goal victory due to a last-second save by Idaho goalie Blake Uphus.Philip Vukelich | Argonaut Austin Volking, freshman defender, runs through drills at club lacrosse practice Thursday on the SprinTurf.
Idaho freshman Colton Raichl said it’s been an exciting few days.
“Everyone’s excited and everyone was super excited when we beat U-Dub over the weekend and found out we were going to the Final Four, so everyone just wants to keep on winning,” Raichl said.
While the Vandals are thrilled to be back at the Final Four, they have a tough opponent in Oregon. Idaho played in Oregon last fall in a scrimmage, and lost to the Ducks by a wide margin.
“We played them in the fall, so we kind of know what they’re coming with,” Raichl said. “We hung with them for a while, then we kind of let them get away. If we focus and play our game we can definitely stay with them.”
The Vandals will have a big disadvantage in numbers against the Ducks. Oregon has 14 more players on the roster than Idaho, making conditioning a key factor for Idaho.
Idaho coach John Andrysiak said he expects Oregon to try to use its numbers to wear Idaho out.
“We’re a little smaller so we’re going to have to possess the ball and take care of the ball if we’re going to take it to them,” Andrysiak said. “I’m expecting them to try to run it a lot … but I think with our work this week in practice we’re going to be able to put a game plan together that fits out style and makes them play our kind of ball.”
The Ducks can sub players in and out quicker, keeping players fresh while the Vandals will have to deal with fatigue late in the game. Andrysiak said the Vandals have to slow the game down and control the pace.
“From an offensive standpoint to playing tough defense, clearing the ball in our transition game and just slowing it down, really controlling the tempo of the game will be huge for us,” Andrysiak said.
One of the keys to Idaho’s victory over Washington last week was resilience. The Vandals led before the half and fell behind in the third, but bounced back to claim the victory.
Idaho senior John Kopke said Idaho has to have the same mentality against Oregon.
“Staying positive in the game, if we go down by a few just staying with the game plan,” Kopke said. “Conditioning plays a big part in that, just staying fit in the fourth quarter and working hard in the later part of the game when they can have fresh legs.”
For four seniors on Idaho’s roster, this has the potential to be the last game of their careers. Raichl said this year’s seniors have been solid leaders and the whole team wants to get a win for them.
“The seniors have been great,” Raichl said. “It was fun to just get them a win and they just keep saying to hold our heads up high and saying they don’t want to lose. Hopefully we can do that for them.”
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This picture and story are from the UI Argonaut, not the Idaho Lax Reporter or LaxAllStars.com