The No. 20 Utah Utes edged out the Montana Grizzlies by the score of 11-10 in a showdown Saturday night at Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City.
The Utes (4-2) got off to a great start by controlling possessions and taking the right shots. Halfway through the first quarter, the Utes found themselves up 2-0 on goals by Attackmen Tyler Kunz and Midfielder Bridger Walzer.
Montana (0-3) answered with two goals of their own to tie the score with 4:45 left in the first quarter. After a long possession, Utah Midfielder Matt Mersereau went one-on-one from the top left, beat his man and slotted home the go ahead goal. However, as time was expiring in the quarter, the Ute defense allowed Montana Attackmen Patrick Shelso to sneak around the crease and tie the game at 3.
The Utes wasted little time scoring in the second quarter, winning the faceoff, taking a settled possession and scoring on an iso goal by Midfielder Cody Cantrell. Montana answered back 3 minutes later on a settled possession of their own to tie the game at 4. The Utes would score two more goals in the quarter to take a 6-4 lead into halftime.
Montana came out with high intensity in the second half, hustling to ground balls and outplaying Utah. Montana scored four goals in the quarter and held Utah scoreless for only the second time in 24 quarters this season. The four goal run by Montana gave them confidence and a 8-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Utah wouldn’t go away, scoring on the opening possession on a goal by Kunz. At the 12:49 mark, Mersereau collected the ball top right, dodged a defender, planted his feet and ripped it top right to tie the game at 8. The Utes continued to run, scoring three goals to take a three goal lead with 3 minutes left. Montana fought hard until the end, scoring with 1:02 left and again with 39 seconds left to come within one goal. Utah won the faceoff, took it into the box and called timeout. Midfielder Mac Schwoebel started with ball and ran behind the cage, getting double teamed. Just when Schwoebel looked to have been trapped, he slid through the defenders and ran to open space as time expired.
“Montana came out and played hard and pushed us through four quarters and we had to work real hard to get the job done today,” said Utah Head Coach Craig Morris.
The Utes were led by Kunz who notched 4 goals. Mersereau had 2 goals and 1 assist on top of winning 15 out of 19 draws at the X.
“Matt [Mersereau] is just a blue collar, bring it all night kind of guy,” said Morris. “He’s facing off, getting ground balls, scoring goals. He’s just and old school lacrosse player and I love watching him play.”
Utah will scrimmage MCLA D-II Metro State on Friday, March 9 at 7:00pm followed by a RMLC match-up with New Mexico on Saturday, March 10, at Noon which will kick off the 2012 Champions Challenge.
“We schedule these scrimmages to get all of our guys playing time,” said Morris. “After that, we’ve got to win our conference games so we’ll get out and get after them.”