Men’s lacrosse impresses versus Rollins, but loses convincingly at Duke

Under new coach Kyle Hannan, the Mercer men’s lacrosse team started off their season with an impressive win, downing Rollins 13-3 in the official opening of the Moye Football & Lacrosse Complex.
For the first time in the program’s history, Mercer lacrosse opened up with a victory. Along with that team record, junior midfielder Cole Branch set the school record for points in a single game, racking up seven with four goals and three assists. His three helpers also tied the program’s single-game record.  
As a team, the Orange and Black tallied up a single-game record of nine assists, with six different players, recording at least one. The Bears’ 10-goal win was also the team’s largest margin of victory in program history.
In the first quarter, the Bears went up to the Tars 8-1 in a shooting advantage to take the lead 5-0 in the first 15 minutes. Mercer would add on four more scores in the second quarter to go into halftime with a dominating lead.
Along with Branch’s four goals, junior midfielder Harry Baker and attackman Zack Ward each put two on the board. Junior attackman John Avent, sophomore attackman Ian Gelback and sophomore midfielder Timmy Geran each tallied one goal as well.
In his first collegiate start, freshman goalkeeper Mike Nugent got the victory by allowing only two goals and collecting seven saves in the win. Baker commented on their performance in their first competition.
“We played pretty well, but we were not content with the win,” he explained. “We hit a slump in the game and lost momentum. We have to learn how to continue to play hard for the full 60 minutes.”
After a solid first win, the competition for the Bears would step up a notch against no. 13 ranked Duke. The three goals scored late in the second half just weren’t enough in the 15-3 loss on Sunday afternoon.
For the entire first half, the Blue Devils dominated offensively. At halftime, Mercer was trailing 8-0, but at the 10:43 mark of the third quarter, Geran put the Bears on the board with an even-strength goal. This was Geran’s second of the year and fourth of his collegiate career.
Ward and Baker both would add fourth quarter scores, but that was not enough in the Bears’ comeback effort.
 In the fourth quarter, the Orange and Black were finally able to get an offensive momentum and lead in shots 9-5, but Duke came away with a 50-25 overall advantage in shooting.
Nugent played the entire competition in the goal for the Bears and racked up an impressive 18 saves.
Baker explained that they had a solid game plan, but didn’t execute it the way that they had practiced.
“Sloppy game play and a little bit of jitters didn’t help us to a great start,” he said. “Once we settled down and did what we had been practicing, we started to get the shots and looks we wanted.”
Seven different Blue Devils came away with goals, two of which each had four in the winning effort.
Mercer will be working hard this week in practice to come home with a victory next week at Towson. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Feb. 24.