Mercer junior attackman Zack Ward had an impressive game on Saturday, netting four goals on six shots as the men’s lacrosse team dropped a 15-9 decision to Air Force at the Moye Lacrosse Complex.
A week before the Air Force match-up, the Bears dropped another close one to first-year program High Point University. Freshman goalie Mike Nugent tied a program single-game record with 18 saves, but his efforts weren’t enough to stop HPU from earning a 12-10 comeback win over Mercer on Saturday, March 31.
Sophomore midfielder Timmy Geran got the Bears off to a quick start, netting a pair of goals in the opening 5:13 of play to help Mercer take an early 2-0 advantage.
Shortly after a High Point goal, freshman attackman Chris Baxa found the back of the net off of an assist from junior Cole Branch, giving Mercer the lead 3-1.
In the second quarter, the Bears put three straight on the board. The Panthers responded by going on a 6-1 run, putting High Point up 8-7. Mercer responded, however, with a goal from Branch and freshman Clay Rivers with 11:07 remaining in the third quarter. Rivers’ goal marked his first goal of his collegiate career.
At the start of the final quarter, the teams were deadlocked at 10-10. High Point put two more on the board to make the score 12-10 with 5:45 remaining in the game. Mercer posted three more shots before the final whistle, but couldn’t convert any of the attempts.
Mercer’s most recent game against Air Force was Mercer’s fifth-straight loss and dropped the team to 3-7 on the season.
“The game was a tough loss for us as a team. We made some fundamental mistakes that might have cost us the game, but we know the mistakes that we made are fixable,” said Ward.
Air Force started the game off with the first four goals. It wasn’t until the 8:17 juncture of the second quarter that Ward registered his first goal. Less than two minutes later, Ward added another one to the board.
Baxa found the net with 2:20 to go before halftime to cut the Bears’ deficit to two, 5-3.
With 5:47 left to play in the third quarter, Air Force took the lead 10-4 after posting five of the game’s next six goals.
The teams played an even 5-5 mark before the game’s final whistle.
Despite the loss, several Bears stood out with exceptional play in the competition. Ward finished the afternoon with five points from four goals and one assist while Baxa netted two goals and Branch had one goal and one assist himself.
Nugent posted an impressive 16 saves in the losing effort.
“We are going to work hard on improving our game for the next three weeks in practice,” said Ward. “The final step is to finish the season off with two wins.”
The Bears return to action in their final road game of the regular season at VMI on April 14. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m.