Twice the University of Montana and Montana State University club lacrosse teams have met this season, and twice the Grizzlies have prevailed in overtime.
Where UM won 7-6 in Bozeman on March 9, the Griz earned an 8-7 decision during the inaugural Copper Cup lacrosse championships Friday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Joe Clough found a cutting Andrew Wenzl who turned and shot across his body to deliver the game-winning goal.
“I’ve never done that before,” the junior said. “It’s really exciting. That upper shot is pretty difficult to do.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words right now.”
Wenzl, who also scored UM’s first and fifth goals, finished with a hat trick.
Clough, a sophomore, passed for four assists and had four ground balls.
“He was good,” Griz head coach Tucker Sargent said of Clough. “He was dodging to pass, as we tell them to do. He’d initiate and draw the slide to look to pass.
“He executed that well and our other guys played with him and it worked out. Joe did the job he’s supposed to do and we ended up getting the last one.”
Early on, however, it was all Bobcats.
Junior captain Connor Dack ran past Montana’s midfield and beat goaltender Hank Vieten with a low shot on the right to give MSU the early advantage.
James Corbett then intercepted a pass and found Preston Knight streaking downfield. Knight dished it to Conor Doyle, who scored from the left side – 2-0 Cats.
“Mental toughness has been a worry this season with a young team,” Sargent said. “It was really good to see the guys bounce back and not get down on themselves.”
Sargent’s squad responded with a pair of goals to close out the first quarter.
After Wenzl netted the Grizzlies’ first goal and Knight countered with one for the Cats, freshman Eric Larson completed what can only be described as an alley-oop from Dave Whyel 12 seconds before the first break.
Whyel lobbed a pass up toward goal. Larson jumped up and swatted the ball into the net rather than gather and shoot.
Larson then tied things up at 3-3 early in the second quarter.
“Eric is a freshman and played really well with a tough draw,” Sargent said. “It was good for him to get two (goals).”
After Knight intercepted an attempted pass by Vieten and scored on an empty net, Jeffrey Kit knotted things at 4-4 off a pass from Larson.
The third quarter featured second goals from each of Wenzl, Doyle and Dack, with Dack’s score off a rebound giving MSU a 6-5 edge entering the fourth.
Doyle completed his hat trick early in the quarter to give the Cats a 7-5 lead.
After Mike Hanan cut Montana’s deficit in half midway through the fourth, the home team’s chances seemed slim.
Enter JD Chapman, a junior who had seen limited playing time.
Chapman found himself with the ball in the middle of three MSU defenders and somehow powered the equalizer past goalie Parker Fairey – 7-7 with 39 seconds left in regulation.
“We were down late and we needed offense,” Sargent said. “JD, or ‘Cheese’ as we call him, hadn’t been playing much, but he stepped in and made the most of the opportunity. He had a great shot that got us all tied up.”
Dack nearly finished the game for the Bobcats as he rifled a clear-path shot toward goal roughly a minute into the extra period, but Vieten kept UM’s hopes alive as he cradled in the shot with his stick. It was his 14th and final save.
Following a Griz timeout, Clough found Wenzl for the game-winner with 1:44 remaining.
“Our senior goalie, Hank (Vieten),” Sargent started, “they had one opportunity on him in overtime to put it away and he made a big play.
“Then we tried to run two plays that fell apart, but it was good cutting on the crease and a good pass.”
Sargent said he was just as happy the game was over as he was for coming out victorious.
“It’s a relief,” he said. “Montana State plays us hard every year. I’m just really happy we ended up on top. Two overtime wins against one opponent is hard to do.
“Hats off to them, they played a heckuva game. They’re a great squad, well coached, good players and you almost feel bad for them, but not really because it’s always great to have the Griz win.”
|MSU – Connor Dack|
|MSU – Conor Doyle (Preston Knight)|
|UM – Andrew Wenzl (Joe Clough)|
|MSU – Knight (Doyle)|
|UM – Eric Larson (Dave Whyel)|
|UM – Larson|
|MSU – Knight|
|UM – Jeffrey Kit (Larson)|
|UM – Wenzl (Clough)|
|MSU – Doyle|
|MSU – Dack|
|MSU – Doyle|
|UM – Mike Hanan (Clough)|
|UM – JD Chapman|
|UM – Wenzl (Clough)|