Mavs overcome slow start to top Argonauts
Lightning delayed the start of Colorado Mesa University’s men’s lacrosse game Friday night by about an hour.
But it was another 15 to 20 minutes after the game started that the Mavericks (5-3, 3-1) decided they were ready to play. Then, it was lights out for Notre Dame de Namur as the Mavericks scored 12 of the final 13 goals for a 14-4 victory in Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association play.
The Argonauts (3-5, 0-3 WILA) took a 3-2 lead with 1 minute, 46 seconds left in the first quarter, but before the quarter closed, lightning struck in the form of Mesa’s offense. Jeremy Best scored six seconds later to tie the game and 52 seconds after that, Austin Pridham gave the Mavericks the lead for good at 4-3.
The Mavericks opened the second quarter with two goals in the first 1:40 for the 6-3 lead it carried into the intermission.
“We’ve been that way all season,” Mesa coach A.J. Stevens said of slow starts. “It kind of stinks, but we have to take a punch in the nose before we start playing.”
Pridham had no explanation for the slow starts this season, but he knew how the Mavericks took control of the game: momentum.
Once Mesa got its offense going, “We got amped and started running our systems and just took off,” said Pridham, who also scored the first two goals of the second half to push the Mavs’ lead to 8-3.
The score that gave Pridham the hat trick was the epitome of teamwork on the attack as Johnny Nitti’s run up the middle drew defenders to him and left Pridham alone on the left side. He took the pass from Nitti and easily beat the goalie on his short shot.
Notre Dame de Namur’s lone goal in the final three quarters came with 4:04 left in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 8-4. The Mavericks added a goal before the quarter’s end, and the Argonauts were not heard from again.
Shutting down the Argonauts was a matter of the defense figuring out what they were running, Pridham said, and, “Brad Brandenburg is just outstanding in goal.”
Stevens echoed that, saying, “Our goalie, he just played unbelievable. He’s one of the best goalies in the country.”
Brandenburg, fresh off being selected the WILA’s defensive player of the week, made 12 saves, and said he was impressed by the way the defense settled in and got comfortable after the offense gave the Mavs a cushion to work with.
“It was really nice to pull away from a team,” Brandenburg said. “This year it seems like we give up a goal then score a goal or score a goal, then give up a goal. Tonight we held and pulled away, which was nice going into our Sunday game.”
Brandenburg was referring to Mesa’s WILA showdown at noon Sunday against Dominican University, which is unbeaten in league play and defeated the Mavs by three goals in their first meeting in San Rafael, Calif.
This time the game is at Walker Field, and Stevens hopes that means something.
“We’ve never beat them at their place, and they’ve never beat us here. Hopefully we’ll keep that up,” Stevens said.
The Mavericks will need to beat the Penguins by at least three goals to pull into a first-place tie, Stevens said. A win by four goals would provide Mesa with the tiebreaker advantage if the two teams end up tied in the final standings.