Mercyhurst College men’s and women’s soccer teams both defeated rival school Gannon University this past week.
The women started the trend on Friday when they humiliated the Golden Knights 7-1 on Mercyhurst’s Senior Day.
The men won 1-0 on Sunday in a dramatic fashion.
There was just 21 seconds left on the clock when junior Alex Manea sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“There’s always something special about playing a team that is only a few blocks away,” said senior Tommy Lund, who was also celebrating Senior Day.
Lund has experienced the rivalry for four years, seeing both victory and defeat.
“Mentally, you are more focused than ever to win that game. Beating Gannon can make a bad season a good one, and a good season a great one,” he said.
Graduate student Oliver Gage agreed that it was extra special, and that it was the perfect way to send off the seniors who have done a lot for Mercyhurst soccer.
Gage had been looking forward to this game for a long time.
“The whole atmosphere was great. I had heard a lot about the rivalry but I was yet to experience it.”
“The week leading up to the game the whole campus was buzzing with anticipation, you could see how much it meant to people with the great support we got,” said Gage.
The vocal crowd can be a distraction, said Gage, with so much going on off the field. Still, players must stay focused.
“It’s important to stick to your game plan,” Gage said. “We really showed how mentally tough we are by staying focused for the full 90 minutes, not only by scoring the late goal, but also keeping a clean sheet.”
The victory was sweet for another reason. The Lakers lost starting goalkeeper Diego Gustin last week when he suffered a double leg break against Slippery Rock University.
“Hopefully, this victory will help lighten the mood of our injured players. Diego and Mike (De Rose) – who is suffering with a long term injury – couldn’t play due to injury, but they’re very much an important park of this team,” said Gage.
The Mercyhurst seniors shared the last laugh in this intense rivalry.
“I’ve loved being part of this rivalry for the last four years, and it’s so much sweeter to have beaten them the last three times I would play against them,” said Lund.