by Eric Oslund
The Rogers boys lacrosse team suffered their first loss of the season when they traveled to Park of Cottage Grove on April 22.
They looked to rebound in their next game when they hosted Buffalo on April 28, and, at the start, things were looking good. The Royals jumped out to a 5-0 lead, despite poor ground-ball play, and for a while it looked as though the home team would run away with the game.
“They had some turnovers, I think, that hurt them,” head coach Kyle Ficken said of Buffalo. “Especially early on in the game when our ground balls weren’t on point. They tried to force some passes and we played some tough D, kind of got the ball back.”
Unfortunately for the Royals, their woes in the ground ball game would continue, while their opponents began to clean up their mistakes. Not only that, but the Royals began turning the ball over themselves, which gave their opponents multiple scoring chances – Ficken believes Buffalo scored five or six goals on fast breaks off turnovers.
Then throw in a 3-minute non-release penalty on the Royals, which Buffalo scored three goals during, and the visitors were right back in the game.
“It’s tough,” Ficken said of trying to fight off those penalties. “That three minutes can seem like an eternity if you don’t have the ball and the other team has the ball. It ticks very slow at that point.”
Buffalo would eventually tie the game 12-12 late in the fourth quarter, but credit the Royals, they never gave up. It’s easy for a team to shy away from adversity when everything seems to be going against them, but when there were about two minutes left on the clock it was Michael VanStelten of Rogers burying a goal in the back of the net.
And that is how the game would end, a 13-12 victory for the Royals, improving them to 3-1 on the season.
“It seems like every game we’re always keeping it close, whether it’s a tough game or a not-so-tough game,” Ficken began. “Seems like teams are ready to play us now. We’ve had a couple good years and it seems like we get teams’ best and it’s always a dog fight. The good thing about this group of boys is they know how to win now. Even if we’re not doing, maybe not playing our best game at the time, they find a way to grind it out and to win.”