With only one contest remaining in the 2011 season, the sun is setting on the lacrosse team as they search for their second win of the season. Recent losses to Air Force and Presbyterian have shown improvement, though, for a young team in need of experience.
In their final home game of the season, the Bears took on the flyboys from Air Force in a match that quickly got away from Mercer after halftime. With two weeks of practice in between their prior match and the home finale against Air Force, Mercer hoped to catch the Falcons off-guard. They did, in fact, look strong against the Academy’s team when John Avent answered a late Falcon’s goal by Mike Crampton in the late proceedings of the first quarter.
The Bears were doomed, though, when Air Force reeled off five consecutive goals to start the second quarter to take a 6-1 lead. A score by Scott Carter with exactly one second on the clock in the first half helped cut AF’s halftime lead to four, but the damage was already done.
Six seconds into the second half Air Force would record their seventh goal of the day, and despite two answers from the Bears Air Force would outscore Mercer 7-1 for the remainder of the game, pushing the final score to 14-5. Colton Mattei, Harry Baker and Nate Link would be credited for Mercer’s other scoring efforts on the afternoon.
MU goalie Justin Bateman would record ten saves while allowing 12 goals for the afternoon as Air Force kept a commanding lead in terms of shots fired (49-20), ground balls (46-24) and face-offs (18 of 20).
Looking to respond after losing at home, Mercer traveled to Clinton, S.C., to take on the Blue Hose of Presbyterian College. It was a homecoming of sorts for head coach Jason Childs, as he coached Presbyterian prior to taking over Mercer’s program in 2009.
Mercer fought hard, putting together runs throughout the game while Presbyterian would respond with a plethora of goals, but when the dust settled the Bears would drop a heartbreaker 14-11. The Bears fought an 8-3 deficit at halftime with four straight goals after an early PC goal to bring the game back within reach. However, the Blue Hose went on their own offensive tear in the fourth quarter, courtesy of the slick moves from Tyler Melnyk, to put the game out of reach for Mercer. Melnyk would record a hat trick for the game with four goals on the afternoon and three within three minutes of each other in the final period.
MU’s Cole Branch would drop six goals on the Blue Hose for the day, leading the scoring threat while teammates Colin McKay (2), Colton Mattei, Eoin Collins and Brett Eisenmann would also record scores.
“I was very pleased with how hard we fought back,” said Mercer head coach Jason Childs following the contest. “It’s not easy when you dig yourself into a 9-3 hole to come back and tie the game at 10-10. I was ecstatic with the heart we showed in that regard. PC came out with a lot of emotion today and their kids played very hard,” the first-year head coach added.
Dropping to a 1-11 record, Mercer now turns their sights to an away game at Holy Cross in the season finale this Saturday, April 16.