he second season of Greater Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) men’s lacrosse has been completely void of any consistency, as evidenced by the quick ascent of Seton Hill and Lake Erie to the top of the pack. On top of this, the G-MAC has seen a rapidly-improving squad in the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals, who are just below the Lakers in the standings at No. 4.
But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, take note: the Lakers, under head coach Chris Ryan can still produce up-tempo, high-octane offense and change the tide quickly. And so, the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association 19th ranked Lakers continue to do just that, racing to score four goals in the first four and a half minutes on April 21 and maintaining the offensive pressure to keep the Cardinals from cracking the top three in the conference race with a convincing 17-9 wire-to-wire victory on Tullio Field. The win allowed the Lakers (8-4, 4-2) to remain one and a half games behind then virtually tied Seton Hill and Lake Erie — Hill holding the head-to-head tiebreaker — and secure a conference tournament berth in the process.
Game time saw the Lakers get underway fast, with Colin Greenway needing just 1:10 to open the scoring with a pass from Oran Horn for his 16th of the campaign, running the Lakers’ record to 6-1 when they score first. Greenway then picked up a ground ball 1:09 later, setting up Nathan Grenon to beat the Cardinals’ goalie Jake Lilly (5-8, 12.18) at 3:10 for his 15th of the season. But just a minute later, Austin Robare and Patrick Liddy combined to turn a trick in the style of their female Laker counterparts to each tally in a span of just six seconds, only a Laker grounder by Evan Schumacher coming between them.
The Cardinals (5-8, 3-3) responded defensively with a series of four grounders and four clears before registering their first shot on Laker goalie Alec Starr (7-3, 6.78), overcoming a Greg Weyl turnover on the Cardinals’ Jordan Getz immediately after recovering a grounder and an uncaused giveaway by Jamison Smith, both coming less than a minute apart. The Lakers’ Devin Pipher was called for a giveaway in the final minute of the first, allowing the Cardinals’ Connor Buzzelli to pick up a grounder with 35 seconds on the clock, clear within three seconds, and allow Michael Jablonski to find Dereck Downs on a quick pass with 11 seconds left for his 37th of the season, good for second in the conference. A foul on Schumacher allowed Travis Getz to notch his 11th of the season for the Cardinals after just 40 seconds elapsed in the second, but Weyl responded with a grounder off the ensuing draw, allowing a clear to reach Sam Crusha for a relay to Grenon at 1:46 immediately as Getz was booked for slashing.
However, on the ensuing save by Lilly, the Cardinals cleared to kill off the penalty, but Laker goalie Starr stopped Philip Burns on the other end and cleared for Nicholas Bartone’s third of the season at 5:25. Buzzelli caused a turnover on Grenon off the ensuing draw, but Jarrett Cook of the Lakers responded with a causal himself on Michael Schonhiutt. Laker Brandon May needed another minute to catch the grounder and finish the clear on 23 minutes, which allowed Greenway and Horn to reverse their game-opening tally and extend their lead over the Cardinals. This ultimately proved to be the smallest for the remainder of the contest, as Laker Austin Robare capitalized on a foul on Fernando Martinez and allowed Horn to become the first Laker with 20 goals this season just 37 seconds later.
But the Cardinals again settled down defensively and got two saves from Lilly to keep the hosts from adding to their lead before intermission. After Starr stopped Downs with 4:40 left in the second, the Griffins’ Jordan Getz picked up the rebound and volleyed with Downs nine seconds later for his 16th of his season. Yet Grenon needed just 2:05 of the third to restore a six-goal Laker advantage, taking a feed from Horn to finish off a hat trick, but Griffin Matt Lee capitalized on the ensuing faceoff win by Martinez to respond with his first of the day just 52 seconds later. Not to be outdone, however, Bartone took a grounder from Schumacher off the draw and found Crusha at 3:36 for his first of the afternoon.
It was immediately on this tally that the Cardinals’ Scotty Gwyn was booked for slashing, but Pipher needed just 22 seconds to pick up a shot from Crusha and convert his 17th of the campaign at 4:10, the Lakers’ 13th power-play goal this season. But a turnover from Will Agate allowed Lee to respond 1:03 later for his 17th, then Robare and McLean Fitzmarin exchanged tallies on 38 minutes to keep the lead for the hosts at six. But Lee was booked for unsportsmanlike conduct at 8:37 of the third, allowing the Lakers’ Dominic Perna to tally his tenth of the campaign just 17 seconds later as the Cardinals fell to 1-5 this season when allowing multiple power-play strikes.
But Schumacher was booked in losing the ensuing draw, allowing Jordan Getz and Downs to reverse roles from their second-quarter tally and find the Cardinals’ conference-high fourth shorthanded goal this season, Downs’ 38th of the campaign overall. Mike Stillings needed 2:18 after that strike to again bring the deficit to just five off a clear for his first tally of the campaign; but Starr stopped Lee with 2:36 left in the period, allowing Horn to spark a 4-1 run for the hosts to close out the contest just 1:12 later. A quick series of grounders then opened the fourth well for the Lakers, culminating 1:52 into the frame as Pipher found Crusha for his second of the contest.
But the Cardinals killed off an interference minor to Ryan Gossett 27 seconds later, using the momentum to allow Burns his tenth of the campaign at 3:41 left in the contest. But the Cardinals would not reach any closer, as Dan Kritkausky took advantage of a foul on Nick Csenar for his fifth 52 seconds later; then Horn finished a four-goal day with 2:58 left in regulation, catching a feed from James Rettinger to run his tally to a team-high 22.
The Lakers, who then beat Roberts Wesleyan College 13-5 on April 23, finish the regular season with another hosting affair on April 28. Hosting Ohio Valley, the Lakers (9-4) look to finish the season strong in the G-MAC. Ohio Valley is 3-8 overall.