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Spring sports battle through tough season in competitive conference: three make playoffs

Women’s Lacrosse

The defending PAC Champions performed on a different stage this season. Returning from their PAC Championship run last season, the Lady Eagles wanted to make a statement early. The Eagles stumbled at the beginning of the season, but, like a championship team, they picked it up.

“Every game, we showed improvement some way,” Head Coach Camrin Azzarano said.

The Eagles seemed to find their championship form against Misericordia University with a 22-11 win.

The Eagles also faced numerous non-league competitive teams. Their non-league schedule included teams such as Ursinus, Rowan University and The College of New Jersey. Eastern was defeated by all these teams, but in this situation, losing was not a bad thing.

“We scheduled heavy in our non-conference games to try to balance some of the less competitive teams we have seen in the past,” Azzarano said of previous seasons. “Going into this year, we did the same thing and with the new teams in the MAC, it clearly has been our most competitive season.”

Seniors Jessie Basch, Katie Choquette and Erin Fries and sophomore Grace Griffith each finished with 20 plus goals this season. Senior Kim Campbell anchored the defense once again with a save percentage just under .500.

“Regardless, whether you have eight seniors or one senior, how the team works together as a unit makes a big difference,” Azzarano said. “I believe that (next season) we are going to take whatever weapons we have and try to use them to our best advantage.”

Men’s Lacrosse

The men’s lacrosse team has had some tough losses this season. The program had many successes in recent years in the PAC. With that said, the Eagles were ready for the competitiveness that the MAC would bring.

“I think the biggest difference in the two conferences is that talent between the teams in the MAC is much more even,” senior midfielder Ben O’Donnell said.

“In the PAC, there was Cabrini, who was very good, and some teams who weren’t that good,” O’Donnell said. “With this league, you don’t know when there is going to be an upset.”

The Eagles started conference play on the right foot as they defeated Messiah 9-8 in their first MAC game. After that huge win, the Eagles dropped three consecutive conference games. In each of those losses, the Eagles were defeated by three goals or less.

The Eagles went on to win four out of their next six games to give themselves a chance in the playoffs.

One of their best offensive performances this season was a 20-5 win over Alvernia last Saturday.

One of the Eagles’ weapons this season was senior Nick Mandia. Senior Michael Ryan was another major asset, and senior Zach Rivest anchored the Eastern defense, allowing an average of eight goals a game.

“It was really important for our seniors to have a winning season,” O’Donnell said. “We knew we were in a new conference. It was our last year so we wanted we wanted to help the team out in the future to make a name for ourselves in the MAC.”

Baseball

Coming into the baseball season, the Eagles did not know what to expect from the MAC. They posted a league record that they may not have been satisfied with, but this season was all about learning for the future.

“This season was a challenge in many ways,” Head Coach Matt Midkiff said. “We had a young team with a small roster and moved into a more competitive conference.”

Even with a conference that was loaded with talent, the Eagles lost four conference games by four runs or less. Midkiff noted that pitching will be the main focus going into the off season.

“We struggled on the mound, which in baseball is often the key factor for any team,” Midkiff said. “The positives are that we had a lot of young guys get on the field quite a bit and gained experience in big situations.”

Sophomore Josh Alley led the team in innings pitched. First-year Andre Butler, sophomore Ryan Polk, sophomore Phil Clark, junior Jim Crowley and junior Ramon Reyes will return to carry the offensive load.

“Although the results weren’t what we had hoped for, I am confident that the baseball program is moving in the right direction,” Midkiff said.

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