Men's Lacrosse News & Highlights
March 06, 2013
Eagles Slam Poets in Road Test
With the Freedom Conference Champion not owning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, Eastern and the rest of the Freedom teams that used to be part of MAC Lacrosse have to build tournament resumes for the handful of available Pool B bids. Teams in consideration for Pool B bids either belong to conferences without an AQ (like Eastern) or are Independents (like Whittier). In 2012, all three Pool B bids went to schools in Ohio. As the NCAC now has an AQ, none of those teams are in the running for Pool B invites. As a result, Freedom Conference schools are flying around the country playing other schools in the same boat.
The Whittier Poets (3-1) are the only DIII lacrosse school on the West Coast and are considered to be a top contender for a bid. As a result, tonight's game had tremendous meaing for both teams.
Eastern jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes of action. Andy Jameson opened the scoring four minutes after the Eastern attack broke a Whittier clearing attempt. Just over a minute later, the Eagles added another goal in a transition moment. Ron Johnson, one of two Californians on the Eastern roster, found Grant Ferguson on the doorstep, and Ferguson found the mark for his first tally of the evening. Seconds later, it was 3-0 as Chris Farrar finished a Ferguson pass.
Things settled down briefly before Ivy slammed home his first of three on a pass from Farrar with 5:42 on the clock. Farrar finished the first period burst with his second of the day.
Whittier scored immediately following the faceoff to close the gap to 5-1.
Eastern scored the first two goals of the second to build a 7-1 lead before the host Poets started to write a comeback script. Matt Soldano scored the first goal of the second on a strong dodge, and Ferguson picked off a Whittier clearing pass and scored one-on-one for the six-goal edge.
Whittier scored the final three goals of the half to close the gap to 7-4 at the intermission.
The Eagles held an enormous edge in possession and chances through the first twenty minutes, but Whittier, with good faceoff effectiveness and good awareness around the cage grabbed more control of the game in the final minutes of the period. Eastern held an 18-14 edge in shots at half. Aaron Benz made seven of his 12 saves in the first half, but on at least two of those saves, Poet attackmen were on the doorstep to tuck home rebounds.
Whittier's momentum carried into the second half, and the hosts closed the gap to 7-6 with just under ten minutes to play in the third period. Both teams had chances with the game at 7-6, but neither team could find a goal until Eastern's Andrew Travers changed direction three times to shake a defender and fired an eight yard shot with 3:44 to play in the third.
Ferguson completed his hat trick in the final minute of the third. The sophomore attackman has at least three goals in each of the team's first four games this year. He has 15 goals to lead the Eastern attack.
Ivy, a San Diego native and unofficial host for the week, made himself at home in the third period. Ivy scored off a pass from Soldano for a 10-6 edge, and moments later he put the Eagles up five with an unassisted tally.
The Poets again showed signs of a comeback with two straight goals, but Ivy found Ferguson on the doorstep at the end of a 30-second stall warning with two minutes to play for the final margin.
Ivy, Farrar, and Ferguson have combined for 31 goals and 17 assists through the opening four games. None of the three starting attackmen have recorded less than a two point day, in the early going.
The Eagles spent the early part of the week on a variety of service projects and with time for relaxation in the California sun, but the real purpose of the trip was accomplished tonight as the Eagles continued their unbeaten start to the season. The win was also the first away from the friendly confines of Olson Field for the Eagles.
Benz picked up his 34th career win in goal. The Eagles will not play again until next Friday when they host Gettysburg College in another important non-league test.
Updated: Wednesday, 06 March 2013