Fresno State lacrosse advances to MPSF championship

Fresno State's Lauren Kiszely runs down the field in the Bulldogs' game against San Diego State on Friday, April 30. (Kameron Thorn/The Collegian)

It had been two and half months since the Fresno State women’s lacrosse team won a game. But after last week’s loss to UC Davis, head coach Kara Concheck said that as long as her team could play as a cohesive unit, they could compete with anyone.

In the Mountain Pacfic Sports Federation tournament semifinal, the Bulldogs (2-11, 0-2) squared up against in-state rival San Diego State (5-9, 1-1), who they had lost 18-11 earlier in the season. The Aztecs have also won back-to-back MPSF championships.

“I think SDSU is a little reluctant to come up here,” Concheck said last week, “which is exciting for us. Last time we played, we had more scoring opportunities than them. We just needed to put the ball in the back of the net.”

And in Saturday afternoon’s rematch versus the Aztecs, the Bulldogs executed on their scoring opportunities. Fresno State beat SDSU 14-11 to advance to the MPSF championship against UC Davis.

“Today was an incredible team win, and one for the record books,” Concheck said in a news release. “The amount of heart, fight and unity displayed today was Bulldog lacrosse. We were well-balanced and executed our game plan. Everyone contributed to this team victory, and I could not be more proud of this group.”

With 9:18 left in the game, the Bulldogs were tied 11-11 with the Aztecs. They needed just one more goal to send them to the championship game.

They got that and more. 

Devon Ortman, who was named to the all-MPSF team, scored with 6:55 left in the game to put Fresno State up 12-11. The Bulldogs got two more on the board as MPSF rookie of the year Logann Eldredge and Lauren Kiszely scored to make it 14-11, ending the game with three unanswered goals.  

Goalkeeper Courtney Walburger played her part by recording three saves during that span, finishing the afternoon with 12 total. Walburger was named defensive player of the week after her 18-save performance against UC Davis last week.

In the first half, the Bulldogs were in control with an early 3-1 lead, but SDSU fought back, scoring four straight goals to take the lead, 5-3. SDSU’s Caitlin Jones scored three of the four goals.

All-MPSF attacker Sydney Skalstad scored the second of her four goals to cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 5-4. But Bailey Brown scored to put SDSU up 6-4. Megan Walaitis got on the board to put Fresno State within one goal. However, Jones scored her fourth goal of the half four minutes later, giving the Aztecs a 7-5 lead. 

It seemed like SDSU was going to take a two-goal lead heading into halftime, but Skalstad scored for the Bulldogs with one minute left in the game. 

The Bulldogs trailed 7-6 heading into halftime, but quickly tied the game courtesy of a goal by  Eldredge.

SDSU and Fresno State exchanged goals back and forth. The Aztecs led 10-9, but All-MPSF attacker Hannah Krats scored two-straight goals in 11 seconds, giving the Bulldogs the lead.

Taylor Sullivan tied the game up for SDSU at 11. Then, Fresno State took over as the Bulldogs proceeded to score three-unanswered goals to secure the victory. 

Fresno State had six different players score. Skalstad led the way with four goals, while Krats recorded a hat trick. Kiszely had four points, with one goal and three assists. 

Caitlin Jones scored four goals against the Bulldogs and Katy Sharretts had 14 saves.

Fresno State will play No. 1 seed UC Davis in the MPSF championship game on Saturday. May 1 at 2 p.m. 

This will be the fourth meeting between these two teams this season. UC Davis has won the past three matchups, outscoring the Bulldogs 67-35.

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