The Utah Utes came out on the field as fresh as their new game jerseys Friday, blowing past Montana 20-3 to begin the teams quest for a National Title.
Utah started fast, scoring less than a minute into the game from who other than All-American candidate Mark Manning.
Sophomore midfielder Mack Schwoebel took a drive down the left alley of the Montana defense drawing an extra defender and zipping a pass to Manning on the other side of the field.Â Manning let loose with a blast from the right side of the cage twenty feet out, ripping the back of the net and setting the Utes rolling.
Montana promptly answered back nearly 4 minutes into the game with a quick split dodge through the gut of Utah’s defense from their Junior Midfielder Kent Davis.Â The Grizzlies had come into Salt Lake City hoping to snag a little revenge for last years beating at the hands of Utah (25-8), and with Davis responding quickly it looked to be a tough contest.
After being tied 1-1 early in the game, Utah turned on the jets, scoring six unanswered to end the first quarter at a score of 7-1.Â The Utes took 13 shots in the 1st quarter and 27 in the first half, while stifling Montana’s offense, holding them to 7 total shots for the game.
The Utes dominated face-offs Friday, losing only seven the whole game and winning to many for me to count. Senior Nick Teynor led the way at the face-off X for the Utes, taking much of the pressure off ofÂ Senior Midfielder Danny Polityka. “Tyka” didn’t have to take as many faces as he did last year keeping him fresh for offensive possessions.
When asked about Teynor, Coach Morris said, “Nick has been a huge addition for us this year, he’s really changed us.Â If we can control possession that way every game we’re going to be a heck of a lacrosse team.Â His work ethic is phenomenal, he’s not only made himself into a great faceoff guy but he’s working with every other guy we have out there.”
Every other guy out there was key for Utah, with twelve players getting in on assists and goals throughout the game.
The Utes young players earned some much needed experience in the second half while coasting to victory.
Mark Manning notched 5 goals and 1 assist and fellow Senior Polityka recorded 3 goals and 2 assists as the Utes experienced upperclassmen had an expectedly solid performance.
Sophomore attackmen Tyler Kunz had 3 goals and 3 assists.Â Kunz should be a big part of the Ute offense for years to come with three of their top scorers graduating this year.
Utah will need every member of their team to be ready to perform with a road trip coming up that could set the tone for the rest of the season.
The Utes head to California on February 17 to play UC Santa Barbara. From there the Utah will move on to play Arizona StateÂ on February 19 and UCLA the next day in the inaugural PAC-12 Shootout.
If the Utes have a strong showing in California it could be a huge confidence boost for a young team that has a National Championship on it’s mind.
Photo Courtesy of Haslam Photography