Arizona Tops Rebels

by Jeff Herr

TUCSON, AZ - It's almost cliche. But you often hear late in a lacrosse game about "finishing strong" to win the day.

Arizona Lacrosse finished strong Saturday against the University of Nevada Las Vegas. It was a 24-4 drubbing in Tucson. 

And yes, the game finished strong. By all measures, the Wildcats have shown great strength all season, especially as they approach the end of a great turnaround year.

"It is a special moment in time for these guys," said head coach Matt Blamey. "All the hard work is paying off. The buy-in to the program is complete and across the board," Blamey added.

For six Arizona seniors, the afternoon home game was extra special with a Senior Day celebration. "These six men have been essential to our season, and to our culture. They will be missed," Blamey said.

Before the game, each senior was presented with an award from Arizona alums, recognition for their part in making Arizona great. Again. In lacrosse. In addition to the awards, the players and fans enjoyed a hilarious slideshow with photos of each senior through the years with video out-takes from friends and family. It's all about the six seniors. They are:

Defenseman, Barry Barker -- the brick wall of a defender from Orange County, CA --  is graduating with a degree in economics. No doubt heading for the big bucks on Wall Street.

Midfielder, Shane Crownhart -- the Pride of Tucson and Salpointe Catholic High School, is finishing his degree in neuroscience and will be headed to medical school in the fall.

Midfielder, Nick Gomez -- from South Lake, Texas is headed for a bright future with a degree in retailing and consumer sciences.

Attackman, Jason Hill -- Part of the San Diego tribe of Hill players on the team has been a huge contributor his senior year.

Midfielder, Colton Lloyd -- the Pride of Tucson and Sabino High School, is graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Midfielder, Alec Moen -- is headed for green pastures with a degree in sports management. He'll be headed to Phoenix when finished in Tucson to hone his skills in medical sales.

Lots of love on display for these six players. A nice touch that past alumni greats presented awards including Richie Dohoney, John Lai, Dave Lyons, Christian Schaffer, Bill Small, and Brett Treude.

Now let's get back to the game against the UNLV Rebs.  Actually, there's not much to tell. Arizona exploded out of the gate to run up to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter. The Cats did not look back with 12 players scoring goals and 17 different players in all with goals and/or assists. 

Leading scorers in the game were junior midfielder Luke Liljenstolpe had five points (three goals and two assists), freshman phenom middie Mason DePaola had four points (four goals), freshman attack Greg Scholz had four points (two goals, two assists), freshman attackman Josh Hackmyer (and Pride of Tucson) had one goal and two assists, senior attackman Jason "hat trick" Hill had three goals,  freshman middie Rhys Rodriguez had two goals and an assist, senior midfielder Colton Lloyd had two goals, senior middie Nick Gomez had a goal and an assist, senior middie Shane Crownhart and freshman midfielder Seamus Hughes had two assists each, senior midfielder Alec Moen and junior midfielder, Issac Mendoza and sophomore LSM Michael Ong and sophomore middie Ryan Charlson each pumped in a goal. Sophomore middie Peyton Boyd also had an assist.

Yes, the scoresheet ran deep. And just about every able-bodied Arizona player enjoyed decent playing time.

Defensively, Arizona had a solid but quiet afternoon. Defensive midfielder Ben Callaghan led with 12 ground balls and won all six of his faceoffs. Sophomore long-stick middie and faceoff guy, Michael Ong, had five ground balls and won 15 of 16 faceoffs. Three ground balls were scooped up by freshman LSM Addison Cryblsky, freshman middie Cyrus Nelson, junior defenseman Exton Bassett, frosh Josh Hackmyer at attack, and sophomore middie Ryan Carlson. Two ground balls were claimed by sophomore middie Luke Dengler, junior middie Luke Liljenstolpe, junior attack Quinn Carrigan, middie Rhys Rodriguez and freshman defender Ryan Van Wert

Despite the relentless pressure from Arizona's midfield and attack, the 12-man UNLV squad never gave up. As the action continued, it was clear that just about every Wildcat on and off the field at some point had their mind on the last game of the regular season this coming Saturday against league leader Arizona State. Arizona now sits at 8-3 overall.  The game will start at 1 pm at the ASU West Campus in Glendale.

The Sun Devils, under head coach Casey Connor, are 10-1 this season with their only loss to UCLA on the road. ASU leads the southern division of the D1 Southwestern Lacrosse Conference, followed by Arizona, Grand Canyon University and UNLV..

Indeed, now is the time for the Wildcats to finish strong. Arizona strong against the dastardly devils from Tempe.