After a slow start to their season, the men’s lacrosse team proved why they were selected to finish third in the PAC preseason coaches’ poll as they defeated Centenary 8-4 on March 26th in their home conference opener.
The Eastern offense started quickly, with junior Michael Ryan scoring his first goal five minutes into the game. Less than two minutes later he doubled the Eastern advantage.
Centenary tied up the score in the opening minutes of the second, but Ryan took the lead right back, firing his third of the day a minute later.
Right before the half, junior Nick Mandia put the Eagles up 4-2, scoring off of a long left-handed shot.
After a quiet opening to the third, the Eastern offense turned it up in the last five minutes, as sophomore Dave Mojica, first-year Matt Colello and Mandia all reached the back of the net, making the score 7-2.
Centenary managed to sneak in a goal early in the fourth, but the Eagles controlled the ball for the majority of the quarter. In the final minutes, junior Ben O’Donnell gave Eastern another goal off of sophomore Andrew Minnick’s fourth assist of the day.
Centenary rallied enough to get one final tally but fell well short of the win, 8-4.
Throughout the game, junior Zach Rivest continued to play strong in the goal with eight saves, and the defense continually frustrated their opponents. But the bigger story was the strong offensive showing, as Eastern out-shot their opponents 44-25, which was something Head Coach John Levis had hoped to see happen.
“Our goalie play has done exceptionally well, and the defense has definitely been playing real solid,” Levis said of his team thus far this season. “We want to continue to bring the offense along.”
Although the Eagles 2-7 overall record may not look impressive, Levis said the team is right where he thought they might be. “[The season’s] been great so far,” he said. “We’d hoped to have another win or two right now, but the conference schedule is just starting up.”
Levis believes the team can finish in the top three of the conference and improve upon their semifinal playoff appearance last year. In only their third season as a varsity sport, the team continues to get better, even with a tough schedule.
Already this season, they have faced two teams that are ranked in the top ten nationally. Against #8 Haverford, Eastern led for most of the first half and were only trailing 3-4 at halftime. The Fords put together an impressive six goal third and ended up winning the game 5-13, but Levis was still very pleased with the game.
While they still have a lot of work ahead of them in the conference, the team has already faced their toughest PAC competition, nationally ranked Cabrini, losing 0-13 to the #6 Cavaliers.
According to Levis, Shenandoah and Misericordia are the team’s biggest competitors as they fight to finish second or third in the conference. However, no game can be taken too lightly. “Everyone’s big,” Levis said. “Sometimes you beat the ones you’re not expected to.”