The Hoppers started group play by blasting the LA Mavs 15-2, followed by handily defeating 3d San Diego by a score of 10-1.
Said head coach Brandon Horoba, “I don’t know if we surprised the LA Mavs, but we kind of took it to them in the first game.”
The Hoppers then faced ADVNC Sacramento, beating them by a score of 6-2. “ADVNC Sacramento was a really tough game. We played them really tight,” said Horoba. “Physical battle. Our kids worked a little harder and got a few extra ground balls and extra possessions and it ended up working in our favor.”
The Hoppers’ closest game came against ADVNC San Francisco in the semi-finals. “ADVNC is notorious, very good club program,” said Horoba. “[It] was back and forth.”
The game ended up coming down to the final seconds. “They went up by one with about a minute or half left or so,” Horoba said. “We ended up scoring the game-tying goal with about five seconds left on the referee’s watch to send it to overtime.”
According to Horoba, the credit for the goal went to Riley Mulholland, who forced a turnover and got the ball to Blake Franckowiak who finished on the crease to tie the game. In overtime, Jack McHenry took advantage of a loose ball on the defensive end, getting the ball to Chase Beyer who scored the game winner to move the Hoppers on to the finals.
Hoppers Lacrosse then faced Mad Dawg West. While the outcome wasn’t what the Hoppers hoped for, Horoba reiterated to his team how the game could be used as a learning opportunity. “That’s the lesson we want to take away from here, ‘OK, we did a great job, but we still know we’ve got a ways to go. We’ve got work to do.”
The Hoppers are a relatively new team to the Utah lacrosse scene. The team is restricted only to the 2023 age group, but has players from Fremont all the way down to Provo, and over to Park City.
While Horoba enjoys winning, he said that it’s “more than just lacrosse. It’s about these guys being friends and building lasting relationships,” Horoba added. “We’ve got an awesome group of boys that get along with one another and enjoy being around one another.”
For more information on the Utah Hoppers, visit their Instagram account.