A three-team race for playoffs goes head-to-head
The Idaho men’s club lacrosse team sits in a tight three-team race with Oregon, who they just defeated, and their next opponent, Montana, for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League Division I.
There are just three conference games left on the schedule for the Vandals and all of them are crucial. Idaho put itself in great position with the win over Oregon last Sunday, propelling them into the No. 4 seed in the conference.
A big test comes Saturday as Idaho travels over to Montana to play the Grizzlies on their home turf. Although the Grizzlies do not have a conference win (0-2), they are 5-5 in overall standings and are not a team to look over.
“It is fun to play them because they are a very physical team, play really hard and they match up really well with us because we are really similar style teams,” senior goalkeeper Craig Patrick said. “We are both battling to get into playoffs right now so it will be pretty fun.”
Even with a win against the Grizzlies, which will be hard on its own, there is still work to be done. Including this weekend’s games, Idaho only has three conference games left.
The remaining games after Montana are Idaho’s two big rival games. First is the Palouse battle at home against the Washington State Cougars. The Cougars sit in dead last in the conference without a single win on the season (0-8, 0-4 conference).
If Idaho can get a win against both the Grizzlies and the Cougars, they will play their final game of the regular season for the No. 3 seed in conference. Their opponent for the season finale is in-state rival Boise State.
The Broncos currently sit with a 4-2 conference record with only Idaho left to play in conference. If the Vandals can notch these next two wins, both teams will be sitting at a 4-2 conference record, leaving the final game of the season the decider for the No. 3 seed.
But these scenarios do not sit well in the minds of the players.
“Three big games, three conference games, at no point should anyone have in their mind that we have playoffs,” senior Austin Volking said. “We have to keep rolling. We have to keep moving forward because when you put yourself in that mentality, you put yourself in the same boat as the other teams.”
The Vandals are set to faceoff at 11 a.m. Saturday in Washington Grizzly Stadium and it will be their only game of the weekend.
“It’s nice to only have one game this week and have Friday off,” junior Blake Batman said. “But we have to stay focused in practice this week. It is always scary after you win a big game and looking forward to a team who maybe has less talent.”
Ryan Pavel can be reached at email@example.com