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Men’s lacrosse team makes the most of their opportunity against Stout at the Xcel Energy Center

February 22, 2007

Playing in a professional arena under a different set of rules did not deter the UW-River Falls men’s lacrosse club team from defeating rival UW-Stout on Sunday.

The 14-7 exhibition victory at the Xcel Energy Center may not count in the standings, but was a huge stepping stone for the Falcons’ confidence and the team’s hopes in bulking up their fan base.

“This definitely segues us into a high intensity fast-paced season with an optimistic outlook,” team president Blake Ashley said.

The Feb. 18 game was played immediately following the Minnesota Swarm’s 17-14 victory over the New York Titans.

“It was just so fun to get out here and get a little taste of what the Swarm gets,” defender Jeff Ginter said.

The playing dimensions, goal sizes and number of players in action in indoor lacrosse differ greatly from what both UWRF and Stout were used to.

Typically the teams play on soccer fields, which are more than 300 feet by 180 feet with 10 players to a side. Indoor lacrosse at the Xcel is played on a field the size of a hockey rink, about 200 feet by 85 feet. With smaller dimensions the speed of the game and scoring opportunities are increased.

In outdoor lacrosse there are ten players on each side, three defenseman, three midfielders, three attackers and a goaltender. In the indoor game there are five players and a goaltender on the field at a time.

The changes lead to a much quicker and chaotic game with increased scoring chances.

“Outside, more [off the ball movement] can go on,” goaltender and team captain Ben Wilson said. “Inside, you have twice as many open passes.”

The Falcons came into the game looking to strike early, but the Blue Devils got on the board first when captain Noah Hall scored two minutes into the game. Hall would end up scoring three goals.

“He’s an offensive genius,” Wilson said.

Hall coached Falcons attacker and co-captain Matt Ribar in high school. It was Ribar who coined the term ‘offensive genius’ when referring to Hall, Wilson said.

The game remained 1-0 in favor of Stout for the next seven minutes until the Falcons capitalized on a determined offensive possession. Moments after attacker Trask Reed just missed on a great scoring opportunity Ginter tied the game with a shot from the point with 10:55 to go in the first quarter. His goal sparked a run that saw the Falcons outscore the Blue Devils 7-1 over next quarter and a half of play. Ginter scored two goals during the run, which helped the tone.

“I’m a defensive player, so if I can score two goals early it pumps the other guys up,” Ginter said.

The early scoring run was capped off with a goal by defenseman Joe Huettl on a feed from Reed with three and a half minutes to go in the first half.

Stout didn’t go down quietly, scoring two goals in the last two minutes of the half including Hall’s second of the game to cut the lead to 7-4.

Things got chippy right before the half as a melee broke out in front of the UWRF bench, involving several members of both teams. Even though the two teams are rivals, Hall didn’t like what he saw from his team.

“I got infuriated,” he said. “I had to discipline them.”

By discipline, Hall meant giving his team a Bobby Knight-style, profanity-laced, tongue lashing, he said.

The start of the second half of play saw both teams tentatively come out of the locker room.

Then Ribar broke a five and a half minute scoreless streak after a pass from Huettl set up a breakaway attempt. Ribar put a shoulder fake on Stout goalie Mike Zemanovik en route to scoring his second goal of the game.

“It put a little damper on their [two goal] streak,” Ribar said.

Besides putting an end to Stout’s two-goal run, Ribar’s score also sparked another Falcons run that saw them outscore Stout 5-1 during the third quarter. That run was capped off by midfielder Adam Becker’s goal with 1:17 to go in the quarter, which gave the Falcons a 12-5 lead. Hall scored the only goal of the third period for the Blue Devils.

The fourth quarter saw each team score two goals, the final one was scored by UWRF defender Nate Jacobson with 1:49 left in the game.

Wilson’s play was vital to the Falcons victory. His aggressive style of play made him stand out throughout the game.

“When I play aggressively, it’s like having another defender,” Wilson said. “When it’s one-on-one, I’m too assertive to let them rip a shot on me.”

Wilson, who has played offense before, said he is also looking for the team to spark the offense by charging downfield and looking to make long outlet passes to set up scoring chances.

“The ball can move faster than people can run,” Wilson said. “I like to take advantage of that.”

Even though Wilson’s play stood out, the Falcons victory was a true team effort as 12 different players scored goals for River Falls.

The final totals for shots on goal were 32 for the Falcons and 28 for Stout. Wilson made 21 saves for UWRF and Stout goalie Mike Zemanovik had 18 stops.

The Falcons begin play in the Great Lakes Lacrosse Conference on March 31.

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