Men's Lacrosse News & Highlights
April 20, 2013
Eagles Recover to Beat Cougars
The Eagles had not yet had a close game in conference play, and, according to head coach Kevin Wallace, they got a wake up call with a rough start today.
"They were ready for us, and we did not come ready today," he stated. "Give them a ton of credit. It was their senior day, and they brought a bunch of emotion and they did some different things that we struggled to adjust to. We need to realize that we have to be ready for every game, and I think our guys got the message today."
The Cougars scored the first two goals of the game and led 3-1 at the end of the first quarter. The Eastern offense, which had averaged well over 15 goals a game in league play this year , had 11 first-period shots, but only a single Grant Ferguson tally in the 11th minute to show for their activity. Perhaps more troubling, was that after Ferguson's goal, the Cougars scored in the waning seconds of the period to stretch the lead back to 4-1.
When Eric Waibel scored twice in the middle of the second period to tie the game, it seemed that the momentum had shifted in Eastern's favor. The host Cougars, who will in all likelihood finish as the third seed in the Freedom Conference playoffs, had other ideas. Sean McGuigan scored his second of three on the afternoon on the ensuing faceoff to stop the Eastern burst. Though Andrew Travers scored with 5:28 in the half to tie the game, the pace of the first half definitely favored the hosts.
Eastern had a 27-15 edge in shots, but Misericordia goalie Patrick Johnson made 10 of his 18 saves in the first 30 minutes to hold the Eagles to four goals at halftime.
Misericordia scored three unanswered goals to start the second half. The first two of those goals came only 12 seconds apart less than three minutes into the period.
A slashing penalty with ten minutes remaining in the third opened the door for the Eagles. The Eastern man-up unit converted the second of four special teams goals on a Zac Ivy finish. The goal opened the doors for the Eastern offense as Des Decker scored 50 seconds later and Travers tied the game with his second of the day with 6:11 to go in the period. Ron Johnson gave the Eagles their first lead of the game with 4:13 to play in the period.
"Once we started to play fast," Wallace said, "the game opened up and good things happened. We got caught early in the game by some of the different things they were doing defensively, but if we move the ball and take advantage of transition chances, we can be very dangerous."
Though the Cougars tied the game with 3:42 to go in the period, the energy of the game had shifted toward the visiting Eagles. Eastern held a 13-6 edge in shots in the period.
The Cougars had a chance to grab the momentum back when AJ Ryan was called for unnecessary roughness and sent to the box for a minute. The Cougars had scored a man-up goal on four chances in the first period, but Jordan Norris popped a ball free and the Eagles were again flying in transition. Andy Jameson ran stright up Main street and buried the short-handed goal to put the Eagles up for good.
Two minutes later, Grant Ferguson and the Eastern man-up unit gave the Eagles a 10-8 lead. Ferguson caught the ball on the crease. Johnson saved the initial shot, but Ferguson was there to drop in his 43rd tally of the year. With Norris off for a push, the Cougars closed the gap to 10-9 before Matt Soldano closed the scoring for the Eagles with his 17th goal of the season.
The two teams combined for 18 penalties in the game. Aaron Benz was credited with eight saves as he picked up his 41st career win. If Benz picks up the win in Eastern's next win, he will be the goalie of record in exactly half of the wins in the program dating back to 1999.
The win locked up the top spot in the Freedom Conference Tournament for the Eagles. Eastern won the MAC and the Freedom Conference last year, but this year, all the Freedom teams are seeking a select few Pool B bids to the NCAA Tournament. The win today keeps the Eagles under consideration for those bids.
McGuigan had three goals and Kyle Calabro had two goals and three assists for the Cougars.
On Wednesday, the Eagles host Arcadia University in their final regular season game. The program will honor the accomplishments of a tremendous senior class prior to that game.
Updated: Saturday, 20 April 2013