En route to the Pre-Game shootaround. #Precedent pic.twitter.com/tN71C6oUQR— CSU Lacrosse (@CSUVikingsLax) February 4, 2017
Box score: Michigan 13 vs. Cleveland St. 8.
College Crosse Recap.
You couldn’t have asked for a better setting for Cleveland St.’s first-ever game. The Vikings had a sold out crowd, there were no other games on during their prime time match-up, they had a Big Ten opponent in their house, and national exposure on Lax Sports Net. The excitement was palpable. Then it happened ... Cleveland St. scored first. Nick Wendel, a freshman from Vegas, scored an unassisted goal less than 4 minutes into the game. The crowd went wild and Twitter was aflutter. The Vikings had arrived.
Midfielder Nick Wendel from Las Vegas scores the first goal in @CSUVikingsLax history! pic.twitter.com/eIVtNJJ1T2— Chris Jastrzembski (@CFJastrzembski) February 5, 2017
The lead was short-lived, as Michigan would score 3 minutes later and then go on to score five straight more goals. However, all that matter in that first quarter was that Cleveland St. drew first blood. All the years of planning and months of practice came together for one magical moment; this new team in America’s heartland had the lacrosse world’s full attention and the lads were loving every second of it.
How does it feel to score the first goal in program history? Like this!!! #GoVikes pic.twitter.com/tQNUPpZQid— Cleveland State (@CLE_State) February 5, 2017
While it was great to score first, Cleveland St. didn’t come all this way to get blown out in front of their fans in their first game. After falling down 6-1 with 13 minutes left to play in the first half, the boys from The Land battled back. Tristen Copeland, another freshman, made everyone back home in Concord, N.C. proud as he stopped the bleeding with his first goal of the evening. Then freshman Jack Frickleton (from Charlotte, N.C) scored another goal two minutes later. Five minutes after that Tristen Copeland scored his second goal of the game and suddenly we had ourselves a ballgame, as Cleveland St. narrowed Michigan’s lead to two goals (6-4).
Michigan would score again less than a minute later and take a 7-4 lead into intermission. However, CSU demonstrated that tonight they were there to ball, and the Wolverines weren’t gonna leave C-Town with a win unless they took it from CSU.
3 unanswered pic.twitter.com/R4euXmBHNd— Chris Jastrzembski (@CFJastrzembski) February 5, 2017
Unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be a Hollywood ending. Michigan, had too many horses on their side. The Wolverines started the second half on 3-goal run before CSU would answer with their 5th goal of the game. Michigan would score two more goals in the 3rd quarter to extend their lead to 12-5.
The Vikings fought until the end. CSU outscored the Wolverines 3-1 in the final quarter before finally falling 13-8. While everyone in the stands wanted a victory, no one was disappointed with the effort. Seven different Vikings players scored at least one goal on the evening. Additionally, freshman goalie Caleb Espinoza (Colorado Springs, CO) was impressive in his debut, as he made 12 saves on the night. Face-off man Danny Tesler (freshman from Acworth, GA) was also solid in his first game as well, winning 6 of 13 at the dot.
We always say there are no moral victories in lacrosse, so we aren’t going to pander to any CSU fans out there by saying the final score tonight didn’t matter. The score always matters. That’s why you play D1. However, Cleveland St. demonstrated some toughness in battling back after getting popped in the face early in the game. With a little more experience, CSU could have something special in the near future. But there was no denying that you could feel the excitement in the air as Cleveland State officially became a lacrosse school tonight.