SALT LAKE CITY, U.T. — It was certainly a celebration for the sport of lacrosse.
Here comes @UtahLacrosse pic.twitter.com/fX5Qer6BnV— Chris Jastrzembski (@CFJastrzembski) February 1, 2019
“Awesome day for the Utes and Utah and lacrosse and this city and our players and our program, and we’re doing nothing but moving forward,” said Utes head coach Brian Holman.
But the result didn’t go in favor of the home team, as the Vermont Catamounts spoiled the debut of the Utah Utes, 21-6, in front of a crowd of 3,215 spectators at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Vermont got off to a quick start nine seconds in, as Ben French found Dawes Milchling for the first goal of the 2019 college lacrosse season. Holman thinks the spectacle of the first game affected his team’s start.
“I don’t think it caught up to me,” Holman said. “I do think it had a little effect on the players. I thought we looked a step slow, I thought we looked a little heavy-legged, and that’s emotions. It’s like nervousness. And we talked a lot about not being nervous, but they’re 18-year-old kids. I got 36 freshmen and he’s got eight, nine, ten. He’s got four that play.
“To have these guys go through this and look at their faces in that locker room and they know they didn’t play at their highest levels, I’m good with that. We’ll keep going.”
The Catamounts got a goal from Rob Hudson to extend their lead to 2-0 before Robert Morris transfer Jimmy Perkins scored Utah’s first ever goal from Sam Cambere to cut Vermont’s lead in half.
FIRST GOAL IN UTAH HISTORY! Scored by Jimmy Perkins with an assist from Sam Cambere. Utes trail 2-1. #goutes pic.twitter.com/phPChgufpl— UtahLacrosse (@UtahLacrosse) February 1, 2019
Despite the early goal, it was tough to stay with the Catamounts for the entire 60 minutes of play. Vermont went on a 5-0 run and two 4-0 runs and scored their 10th goal with 10:17 left in the first half.
French led all players with four goals and two assists on the afternoon. Milchling had five points (2 Gs, 3 As,), while Hudson and David Closterman each recorded hat-tricks for Vermont. Sal Iaria and Jonathan McConvey both recorded two goals. Defensively, Nick Washuta recorded nine saves in the win.
For the Utes, the star in the loss was Josh Stout, who had a hat-trick and one assist on 10 shots. Aaron Fjeldsted and Jake Stout also scored in the game. Liam Donnelly made 11 saves despite allowing 18 goals in the game.
But even though one might see the 21-6 outcome, it won’t affect the Utes.
“We weren’t worried about the outcome, we obviously wanted to win,” Jake Stout said. “But we knew the biggest thing for us is continuing to grow. Just continuing to get better and that’s all that matters to us and the coaches.”
“The scoreboard is a non-factor in our lives right now,” Holman said. “What has to be a factor is get more ground balls, has to be a factor is get to the right spot on a clear, has to be a factor is get organized on offense. All those things are important factors. Whatever the scoreboard says at the end, that’s what it says.”
Holman also mentioned the experience and playing time many of his players got today will help in the long-run, whether it’s for the remainder of the season or for years to come. It’s a building block for what hopes to be a bright future.
Up next for Vermont is a trip to Annapolis to take on the Navy Midshipmen next Saturday. Utah stays in Salt Lake City for another week as they welcome in the Mercer Bears.
Three Stars of the Night
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Jake Stout, A, Utah (3 Gs, 1 A)
⭐️⭐️: Dawes Milchling, A, Vermont (2 Gs, 3 As)
⭐️: Ben French, A, Vermont (4 Gs, 2 As)