Men’s Lacrosse Picks Up First League Win

Mont Pooley

In what has become a heated rivalry matchup, the men’s lacrosse team emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon, edging Bucknell 9-8 at Andy Kerr Stadium. While there remains room for improvement, the Raiders put forth their most complete effort to date. Eight players registered at least a point, and the defense held a traditionally dangerous Bucknell offense to single digits despite committing seven penalties.

 “The key for us was we played simple,” head coach Mike Murphy said. “In some of our early games, we were trying to hit the homerun. Today was a game of singles, and we just kept getting the baserunner around.”

Bucknell opened the scoring during the first of seven man-up opportunities, but sophomore attacker Kevin Adams answered with a slick inside finish, and junior Ryan Walsh chipped in less than a minute later to give Colgate the first-quarter lead. For Walsh, the first of his two tallies pushed his nation-leading streak of consecutive games with a goal to 35.

“It takes six guys on offense to score goals, so I have to credit my teammates for giving me opportunities to score,” Walsh said. “I know my role as a scorer on this team, but today proved that we can get contributions from a lot of guys.”

Senior Brendon McCann added to the Raider lead a minute into the second frame when he crept from behind the cage and buried a pretty bounce shot. The Bison quickly responded with two tallies to even the count before Walsh again found the back of the net, this time receiving a feed from sophomore midfielder Cam Williams. With just over three minutes remaining in the first half, Bucknell’s Alex Ryan snuck a shot past Colgate goaltender Brandon Burke, knotting the score at 4-4 heading into the second half.

The teams traded tallies in the third quarter, but it was Colgate’s young midfielders who gained the edge in the frame. Three consecutive goals from first-years Danny LaCrosse and Will Mette and sophomore Eric Foote paced the Raiders, who entered the fourth quarter protecting a one-goal lead. Colgate added to the narrow margin when two-way midfielder Matt Clarkson dodged to the middle of the field and threaded a laser pass to an open McCann. However, Bucknell quickly responded with an even-strength goal and knotted the count five minutes later on another man-up opportunity.

“It’s never easy to win a game when you go man-down that many times,” senior penalty-killing specialist Tim Cashman said. “They may have cashed in a few times in those situations, but our man-down unit was able to hold things together enough to keep them off the board when it mattered.”

With the game on the line, it was Adams who again found the back of the net, receiving a clever feed on the doorstep from sophomore midfielder Eric Foote. Adams’ game-winner came with just 4:26 left to play, and the sophomore’s timely and consistent scoring has been a pleasant surprise for a Raiders’ attack unit looking to adjust to life after program legend Peter Baum.

While the Raiders did improve markedly on both ends of the field, they also received strong performances from two players who have had success all season long. Face-off specialist Alex Kinnealey was dominant, winning 12 of 19 draws. The junior has now won 70 percent of his face-offs, making him one of the nation’s most successful at the position thus far. First-year goaltender Brandon Burke secured his second Patriot League Rookie of the Week honor this season, stopping nine of Bucknell’s 17 shots, including a sprawling kick-save to preserve Colgate’s late lead.

“If those guys continue to play at a high level, we’re always going to have a chance to win,” senior captain Bobby Lawrence said. “When we can complement their play with good ball-control and solid defense, I think we will come out on top more often than not.”

The Raiders now enter a difficult stretch of the schedule that will pit them against in-state opponents Hobart, Binghamton and Cornell as well as Patriot League rivals Boston University and the Naval Academy. These five contests will take place in under three weeks and will test the team’s ability to perform consistently with little time for rest and recovery.

For senior Derek Katchis, success during the impending gauntlet hinges on the Raiders’ willingness to play a team game: “These first few games have given us the opportunity to iron out some problem areas in our game. We have to focus on bringing a complete team effort to every game from here on out. That’s how we beat Bucknell, and that’s how we can have

success moving forward.”          

Contact Mont Pooleyg at [email protected]