| March 24, 2018

M. Lacrosse: More Than A Rivalry

April 21, 2016

Rivalries have become a staple in sports, as teams consistently fight for bragging rights.

The extra motivation provides a boost for athletes looking to make a move and score an important goal that could define a team’s season.

Saturday’s men’s lacrosse matchup provides a noteworthy Gem State rivalry that runs deep between both programs.

The Vandals will renew an in-state rivalry against Boise State in the team’s final game of the season.

Idaho coach James Courter said the team has been preparing to face Boise State all season long. Courter said the energy level has increased, but the program will treat the game like any other match.

“There’s obviously more excitement in the air knowing that Boise (State) is coming here at home for our last game of the season,” Courter said. “It has added a little bit more intensity. But in terms of how we approach our preparation, everything stays the same.”

Senior captain A.J. Gravel said each program’s season record is irrelevant given the rivalry factor.

“Nothing really before this point matters anymore in the team’s eyes,” Gravel said. “Essentially we have nothing to lose. If Boise State wins, nobody will remember. But if we win, nobody will forget.”

Gravel said the game possesses an extra dimension because athletes from both programs have played with one another before.

“The comradery we build with those guys is all put on hold once we don the uniforms,” Gravel said. “Theirs say ‘Broncos’ on the front and ours say ‘Idaho.’ Everything is left off the field and once we’re on the field, it’s game mode. We’re here to win.”

Courter said the Vandals have continued to work on fundamentals after losing 15-8 to Montana Saturday.

“We just continue to work on the things we need to approve upon from the game against Montana,” Courter said. “We also have to keep a positive mindset on what we’re about to approach and move forward.”

The Vandals have been playing with just 15 men throughout the season, the fewest number of players in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League. Boise State’s roster consists of almost 30 players.

Courter said the team has overcome the challenge despite low roster numbers.

“We understood our situation was at the beginning of the season — we started with 15 guys and we still have all 15 in our roster,” Courter said. “As a coaching staff, what we did was we addressed it one single time and we allowed anyone to vent any sort of frustrations over our roster size and we left it at that.”

The rivalry game will take place Saturday at noon on Guy Wicks Field. Idaho played its three previous home matches on the SprinTurf.

Courter said the grass field will not impact his team’s performance.

“The majority of our games have been played on artificial turf, but in lacrosse you play on all different surfaces,” Courter said. “We don’t necessarily take it into consideration, because we practice on grass two days prior to the game.”

The matchup provides a rare meeting between the two schools. Boise State ceased the rivalry in football (2010), basketball (2014) and volleyball (2014).

Gravel said he expects a large crowd in attendance for the team’s season finale.

“The fact a lot of the teams don’t play Boise (State) anymore, it’s a really good opportunity for us to get that fan base,” Gravel said. “They will add fuel to the fire on the rivalry because we get to renew our rivalry everyone grew up hearing about.”

Luis Torres can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @TheLTFiles

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