The expectation was that the top-ranked team in the country would provide a sharp test for the Mercyhurst Lakers women’s lacrosse Head Coach Kevin Cooke’s girls, but not serve as a true warm-up for PSAC play.
But despite an early Laker lead, that the game went to the visitors Saturday afternoon.
The Bloomsburg University Huskies (4-1, 1-0) caused the conference’s first major shakeup this season, using runs of four and five straight and exceptionally minimalistic midfield play to hand the No. 15 Lakers (3-2, 0-1) a rare unranked home loss and consecutive defeats on Tullio Field. 14 and a half minutes into the second half after the teams exchanged runs and goals to run the scoreline even at seven, the Lakers’ Victoria Sullivan was called for a foul.
This in turn allowed the Huskies’ Hannah Jaskuta a free-position for the tally, and the second Husky lead of the game. A minute later, the Lakers MacKenzie Shanahan was booked on the far sideline at about midfield after sending a Husky player to the ground, leaving the Huskies’ to start a fast-break and convert at 16:56 for the eventual game-winner.
Each of the next three tallies would stem from the Lakers’ 12 second-half turnovers (25 overall), first on Laker Kiera Boettcher off a causal from the Huskies’ Delaney Schappert to her teammate Kelsey Kilgallon, who scored. After Boettcher won the ensuing faceoff, the Huskies’ Abby Nocito caused the reversal off Laker Brenna Fosco to spark a relay. Nocito found Jaskuta, whose shot was caught in Laker goalie Raelyn Tiberio’s (3-2, 9.00) net for one of her seven second-half saves and 12 overall.
But Fosco missed the outlet pass from Shanahan 12 seconds later and allowed the Huskies to convert their third-to-last of 10 second half clears; and a foul on Kira Kolb handed the Huskies’ Abby Kalish her second of the day. Less than 90 seconds later, Laker Julia Rescott couldn’t capitalize on the converted clear—one of only two statistics where the hosts outplayed their visitors—sparking another Husky relay and allowing Anna Dempsey to find teammate Grace Kelleher.
Sullivan brought the Lakers within four after taking a pass from Hubert and ripping the shot over the right shoulder of Husky goalie Angela DiPasquale (3-1, 9.50), but the Huskies had effectively run out the entire second half during their 5-0 run.
The Huskies had originally taken the lead after Laker Angelina Simon opened the second just 1:24 in with a free-position off Dempsey for a score. Dempsey won the ensuing draw but Husky Taylor Skawinski was turned aside by Tiberio, then DiPasquale and Rescott combined for the same result before Rescott caused a giveaway on the Huskies’ Gabrielle Piccolo and immediately lost it to Jaskuta before Kelleher converted at 3:46.
She repeated the feat less than two minutes later to break the tie before Dempsey and Anna Kenyon exchanged turnovers to allow Tiberio a save on Erika Biehl, leading to a relay to allow Emma Hubert a free-position tally off of the Huskies’ Lana Paulo, her 23rd of the season good for second in the PSAC. Hubert had opened the scoring 1:08 into the game on an earlier free-position from Biehl, but Kelleher immediately responded on three minutes.
The Lakers then went on a 4-0 run to open up their largest lead of the day, with Simon scoring consecutively after two quick stops on the Huskies’ Kalish and Abby Bergman, followed in succession by Fosco at 8:51 and Boettcher at 12:03. But on exactly 13 minutes, Kolb was called for a free-position foul, allowing Biehl to convert.
Simon was then coaxed into a congruent play at the midpoint of the half, handing Kelleher the free conversion.
The Lakers were able to stand down for the next seven minutes before Jaskuta found herself a causal on Schmitt and Kelleher completed her hat-trick with 6:26 remaining. Two more Laker bookings and turnovers led to a team foul with three minutes left on the first-half clock, allowing Kalish to convert the free and hand the Lakers their second-straight opening half allowing four in a row.
The Lakers are in action on March 23, with a visit to Shippensburg University.